Nearly two full years had passed since Floridian prospects Afterlife were able to step onto a stage and perform. The band wrapped up a breakout 2019 on a much more conventional cycle however. Closing out a touring cycle that successfully introduced with their well-received debut Breaking Point - the stylistic meld of metallic punch and hip hop-inspired lyrical delivery, combined with the band's incendiary live translation positioned Afterlife as a unit on the rise. The album's range of influences from the likes of Slipknot to Linkin Park, resonated well with a growing base of fans that championed the band for their energy and their penchant for progression.
Rolling into the start of their sophomore effort with a strong swell of momentum, 2020 started with every inclination that Afterlife would eclipse their own pace of the previous year. Fueled by the effectiveness of Breaking Point, and armed with a new perspective earned though the miles logged touring on that album, the band was transitioning from buzz worthy to bonafide and equipped to prove that with a fresh collection of new music.
Three weeks steeped into the studio recording process of what would be the band's second full length album, the world turned upside down and delivered a from dose of circumstance. The pandemic would force Afterlife to interrupt the progress they had made on the album - a critical blow to the creative velocity the band was riding up until then. With weeks turning into months, the band found themselves unable to capitalize on a crucial frame of time. Recording stalled, the stage grew further and further away and as it happens - life got in the way of art.
Aside from the band's stall in the studio as a result of the pandemic, they endured the personal trauma that remains all too common a storyline from 2020 as well. Strained personal relationships, isolation, and the fallout from one of the most divisive times in history only added to an accumulation of scar tissue that made the music difficult to tend to, despite being more of an emotional reprieve than ever before.
Well in tune with the pressure to meet and exceed what they had accomplished with their debut, Afterlife took on the added adversity of having to hold off on their attack with a complete creative halt - a reality that likely would ova derailed other bands. Proving especially resilient and harnessing the weight of an all too heavy time, the band would eventually resume work on the album and churned out their most personal show of force yet. The aptly titled Part of Me delves into the broad spectrum of sentiment that marred the past year in a collection of 10 tracks that showcase the band's competent of balance of intensity and introspection.
Afterlife frontman Tyler Levenson explains how the last 608 days has tested the band in ways they never anticipated. Gauging pressure that comes requisite with the release of a sophomore album, along with the added distress of a disastrous 2020, it would have been easy, if not understandable for the band to retreat. Instead, they harnessed that pressure, practiced some patience and reemerged with their most complete work yet.
Just taking in the singles thus far, there is a obvious contrast between tracks like “Burn It Down’ and “Envy” versus songs like “Part of Me” and "Miles Away”. Was writing this record as therapeutic as it translates?
Levenson - 100%. We really wanted the songs to represent the emotions of the band at the time, we felt it was necessary to show all sides of the band on the album, the heavy songs, the softer songs and everything in between! It’s also amazing live to absolutely crush the crowd with a heavy song and then transition into something slower and more laid back. It provides a great dynamic live and on record.
How real was the sophomore album pressure on this one? Breaking Point did well in introducing the band but was there any thought to exceeding expectations with this one and how did that weigh on you creatively?
Levenson - It was absolutely on our minds but we didn’t let it affect how we wrote the album. We know our fans are incredibly open to all styles of the band so we wanted to push the boundaries as much as we could and as long as it felt natural we took the risk. If anything it pushed up to write a better album, we know we had to blow people’s expectations out of the water so it was basically fuel for us at the end of the day.
2020 seemed to go one of two ways for people - either the noise of the world made it tough to focus and write or it opened the floodgate of ideas. Did you run into any creative stalls during the Part Of Me sessions?
Levenson - We faced a lot of unavoidable issues during the writing of the album, 3 weeks into the album recording we had to cancel due to covid. We met back up in May of 2020 and just ran out of time so it
Afterlife is a band that has always blurred genre lines - since its inception. It seems now though that the space of aggressive music really has become more nurturing of artists that think outside the box. Do you feel like the climate is just right for the band given the quality of the product and the circumstances?
Levenson - 100%. More music listeners want exciting new music and not the same thing rehashed over and over again. They appreciate risks and are more open to something that feels fresh and exciting. It’s a VERY good time for heavy music and it’s amazing to be putting out our album at this time, very thankful for our fans.
It’s a question that has been beat to death but how daunting is it releasing such an important album during such an uncertain time?
Levenson - Honestly pretty scary (laughs). With no solid touring it’s hard to ensure the album being a hit but we really made sure the rollout was as involved with the fans as possible and so far the reaction has been insanely positive. We have some festivals booked and just did a record release show so the fire is there to get back out there and put these songs into the public.
Given how personally loaded these songs are, plus the fact that you have been away from the stage for so long - have you imagined what that first show back will be like? Imagined what finally sharing these songs live will feel like?
Levenson - We actually played our album release show last night (8/15) and it SOLD OUT! Our first show back in 608 days and it was nothing short of amazing, hearing people singing the new songs despite the album being out for 2 days was amazing. The songs sound amazing live too! I wouldn’t have traded last night for the world!
It takes confidence to put out something so personal like Part of Me. How much of that confidence was built from the miles you guys logged touring in supporting of Breaking Point?
Levenson - I think from the touring side of Breaking Point it allowed us to be more honest with ourselves, to really decide what type of band we want to be and what type of things our fans love. You never know how the shows will be until you go out and play the songs, so it really shed some light on us as performers and I think it allowed us to write a really solid album to follow Breaking Point and exceed what that album did for us.
Taking inventory of Part of Me as a whole - what do you hope the fans take away from it other than enjoying the music?
Levenson - I really hope fans understand how much of ourselves we put into this album. This album almost killed me, I was going through one of the hardest times of my life while finishing the album and I really hope it makes some difference in our fans lives. We wrote this album for them. They’re a part of us as much as we are a part of them.I want them to be honest with their feelings, use them to create better opportunities in their lives, use it as a catalyst to grow and become the best version of themselves.
Part of Me from Afterlife is currently available via Hopeless Records. Order the album - HERE