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AFTER THE BURIAL Guitarist Trent Hafdahl Delves Into Rareform LP, New Album & More

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It's crazy to think that it's been ten years since After the Burial's Rareform LP was released. Although their debut full-length album Forging a Future Self came out a couple years prior, it was Rareform that really put the band on the map and started their career with Sumerian Records. In celebration of the 10 year anniversary, the band set out on a tour performing the album in full alongside The Acacia Strain, Erra, and Make Them Suffer.

We spoke to founding member and guitarist Trent Hafdahl about the tour, details regarding the Rareform LP, the next album, and more. Check out the full interview below.

You’re performing Rareform in full this tour, which I believe includes some songs you hadn’t ever performed together, correct? 

No, we’ve actually played all the songs before. I mean, there’s a few that we haven’t done in a long time. We kinda noticed that they don’t exactly fit as well in the live setting, but we have done all of them live before. But it’s been interesting focusing on this album. These are the songs that kinda started us on this journey. It’s been fun.

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The LP was originally written and released in 2008, but was re-released the following year. Can you recall that whole situation and the why and how the re-release occurred?

On the first iteration of Rareform, we had this dude that literally didn’t know how to do anything besides scream into the mic. He didn’t know how to write lyrics or patterns. I wrote all the lyrics and all that stuff for the record because of it. It turns out that he just wasn’t a good human and it wasn’t a good fit for the band. We switched it up and we got Anthony [Notarmaso], who was a friend of ours from DIY tours back in 2005. We played shows together back then. He came at the perfect time and we made it the way we wanted it to sound.

Comparing the 2008 edition of Rareform to the 2009 release, what exactly are the differences? Just new vocals and Dan Carle came in for live drums, yes?

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Everything was all set in stone lyrically, so Anthony [Notarmaso] just re-recorded it all in his own voice. And actually, the drums on both versions of the record are all programmed. We didn’t have a big budget back then. I think our recording budget was less than $3,000 and if you know anything about what it takes to record live drums, that doesn’t get you very far, so we had to really work with what we had in the bank. We spent a lot of time on the mixing for the drums between the two versions, so I'm glad you thought the re-release had live drums.

On tracks two and three ["Drifts" and "Cursing Akhenaten"] there’s guest vocals by Alex Haza and Matthew Downs repsectively. I couldn’t find anything about those names, were they friends of the band at the time?

They’re still friends. They were just homies of ours that would hang out. And that’s not unlike anything we’ve done. Just having the homies in the studio and we’d have them do a little vocal part. Matt Downs has this really great guttural and that’s what his addition to the record was. I think Alex Haza has a spoken word part or something like that. He called and left a voicemail and we pulled the audio and put it in the song.

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Since you're playing Rareform in full, do you plan on doing similar tours where you perform an album in its entirety in the future with other albums?

I don’t think so. Since it was our first actual release on a big label like Sumerian, it meant a lot more. For our band, that album was the first thing a lot of people heard where they turned their heads. It was uniquely us and I don’t think we would do this with the other albums. Rareform was like “here we are, take it or leave it.”

While you guys are focusing on Rareform currently, you have been working on some new material. What can you reveal about the writing and recording process?

Oh no, it’s all done. Yeah, it’s all mixed and mastered and ready to go. We wanted to do this tour first before we went forward with it, but the whole brand new album is done. And it’ll be out next year. We’re shooting for the spring time between February and April. The release date will be established by the end of the year definitely.

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It is my understanding that Dig Deep included a majority of riffs created by Justin [Lowe]. Is it safe to assume that the following album will have material written by Justin as well? 

Well actually, I wrote the majority of the Dig Deep record. I did put some of his riffs in there because he wasn’t in the studio with us. I wish he was more a part of that record, but he just mentally wasn’t there and he had a hard time writing. It really hurt. It sucked a lot, but I just had to step up to the plate and pick up the slack for us. He left after the third day in the studio. In the past, if I didn’t have riffs, he would do the same thing for me. Nobody knew that it was going to go as sour as it did and we were going to lose our best fucking homie. I worked my ass off on that record and it turned out that he didn’t really have any input on it. I tried to put some of his riffs in it though. Even on the new record, I went back in our archive to use anything of his to keep his spirit there. There’s a couple patterns of his that I reworked. As long as we are writing music, I’ll try to throw something that he wrote in there if it fits. Sometimes that means you gotta move a snare or change the key. It means a lot to me to keep him in what we’re doing.

From Rareform to Dig Deep, there’s been a Middle Eastern-sounding aspects in some tracks. Can you talk about the how and why that got included.

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I just love harmonic minor. When I was younger, I played a lot of classical guitar and I loved a lot of South American composers. They always screwed around with harmonic minor and phrygian dominant. It’s a unique sound and it’s very sinister if it’s applied the right way. People like to hear it for sure and it’s been a part of my writing big time. It’s definitely a go-to when I’m trying to write something super catchy.

What’s next after this tour for After the Burial? Just preparing for the new album?

Yeah, we’ll start rolling out the music video process and getting a marketing system ready for the release and getting our tours ready for the next year. It’s a long process and takes four to six months. We’ll be done with this tour and that will be the last thing we’ll do this year.

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