KELLY SHAEFER (TILL THE DIRT, ATHEIST): “Many Who Wished For More Speed And Brutality Will Find It On This Record”

Till The Dirt band photo

Death Metal outfit Till The Dirt are set to release their debut album entitled Outside The Spiral on August 25th via Nuclear Blast. Till The Dirt’s frontman Kelly Shaefer (also of Atheist) took the time to talk with Metal Express Radio about their debut album, the formation of the band, working with the special guests on the album such as Jeff Loomis, and more. Check out the chat below!

Metal Express Radio: Your band, Till The Dirt will release their debut album entitled Outside The Spiral on August 25th, what can you tell fans about the upcoming release?

Schaefer: Well I can tell you it’s quite a different offering than anything I have ever done in my career, it’s a hybrid of many styles of music that have moved me over the years, but it came through in a very unassuming, organic way. I think the contrast of combining the darker sides of the Seattle sounds with the speed and ferocity of my roots in underground metal. I was also able to use many different voices on this record that perhaps would not be welcome on an Atheist record. It’s a very angry, pissed sound cooped up with a plethora of melody. I think it’s unapologetically catchy yet ferocious.

MER: How was it writing and recording with this group for the first time?

Shaefer: I wrote the record solitarily, during covid lockdown. I got myself set up with a small studio at home and entered into one of the most prolific writing spells I have ever experienced, writing 25 songs in about a 6 week span. I found myself inspired somehow by the seclusion, and unknowing state of affairs that were happening around me during that period in 2020.

MER: How did the formation of the band come about?

Shaefer: After producer Scott Burns agreed to help me and supported this new music in a way that was also very inspiring to me, I had these very listenable demos and we didn’t really know if we should release it as is, or bring in musicians to play along with me on the recordings. So we chose the latter. So many friends helped me on this journey, both in support as well as their musical offerings. Jeff Loomis did the solo on a song called “Privilege,” Steve Di Giorgio played fretless bass on the title track, and John Longstreth played drums on “Insist and Demand.” Atheist bass player Yoav Ruiz-Feingold also played bass on the record, as well as contributions from other musical friends to play what I had written on the demos. I also played guitar on this record for the first time since 93. Once the record was done, I assembled what I feel is an amazing band to carry out the vicious intent. Dylan Marks on drums, Ian Waye on guitar, Jerry Witunsky guitar, and Yoav Ruiz-Feingold rounding it out on bass.

MER: Do you feel fans of Atheist will also be into Till The Dirt?

Shaefer: Well I think so, and many who perhaps wished for more speed and brutality will find it on this record as its chock full of speed and groove. And vocally it’s a new frontier for me. As an artist you never know what anyone will gravitate towards, you just have to organically create and hope the honestly and integrity will shine through

MER: How would you describe the similarities and differences between Atheist and Till The Dirt?

Shaefer: Honestly in many way they are night and day, but at the core of it it’s me, I wrote a lot of guitar stuff on Atheist records so I would Imagine by default you will hear my style on the Till The Dirt record, and hear what part I played in the sound of Atheist. At the same time, I wrote these new songs under a different Influence mentally, and toxically so to speak. But to be clear, THIS is not an Atheist record in any way. It explores way different textures, and is far more of a modern statement musically.

MER: What do you see as plans for you and the rest of the band for the remainder of 2023?

Shaefer: We hope the record is well received and we can then bring it to the stage. These songs will be scalp peeling in a live setting I think. So we will see what the future holds

MER: Who do you hope to tour with and why?

Shaefer: I can see Till The Dirt blending well with any Metal setting, but I think we have an appeal that will lend itself to tour with bands that maybe Atheist could not, so hopefully these opportunities will present themselves.

MER: What have been some of your favorite releases of 2023 so far? 

Shaefer: Sleep token is very interesting, the new Entheos album is crushing, the new Cattle Decapitation record is stellar as well. I listen to much more music outside of Metal

MER: Who are some of your favorite artists on Nuclear Blast? 

Shaefer: Suffocation Ministry, Origin, Possesed.. the list goes on. Nuclear Blast are the biggest and best Metal label on earth! So many great bands.

MER: What are your hopes for your band’s future?

Shaefer: To tour and make music…Till The Dirt!


  • Matt Zaniboni

    Matthew is an interviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He started his passion for music journalism back in his college radio days serving as the Heavy Metal Director at WKKL out of Hyannis Massachusetts. During Matt’s tenure in radio, he has had time working for commercial stations in Boston Massachusetts such as WAAF, WZLX AND 98.5 The Sports Hub before landing with Metal Express Radio. Anytime you want to talk heavy Metal, hockey, Guiness, and dad life, Matt is your guy m/

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