DATE OF INTERVIEW:
4th May 2007
MD: The music of Atheist has undoubtedly been a huge influence on the whole technical/progressive death metal scene and all of its related sub-genres. Are you a fan of any contemporary technical death metal bands?
MD: What music are you currently into, metal or otherwise? Any bands you think visitors to Metal Discovery should ‘discover’? And if you haven’t heard of them already, can I recommend Italian virtuoso band Ephel Duath to you who play very original progressive jazz-metal – they’re playing Hellfest in June too.
MD: What was your motivation behind setting up Starrfactory Records? Was it primarily to licence the reissues of the 3 Atheist albums?
MD: Before the release of the re-issues, were you surprised by the large amounts of money exchanging hands in ebay auctions? (‘Unquestionable Presence’ in particular would regularly fetch £70+ in UK auctions).
MD: How have the re-issues done in terms of sales?
MD: I understand you plan to release a Neurotica compilation album in 2007 and heard there could be a possibility of some live dates?
MD: It’s been widely publicised that you auditioned for the job of vocalist in Velvet Revolver. Was it disappointing not getting in the band – perhaps one of those “shit – could’ve been really rich” moments?
MD: You also sing in a band called ‘Big Machine’ with songs co-written by AC/DC’s Brian Johnson. How did this collaboration come about and are there any plans for an album release in the future?
MD: Has becoming a father changed you in any way? And being the extremely busy man you are, do you find it difficult to find a balance between your professional and personal life?
MD: I checked out the paintings on your website – some great, provocative work there. What inspires you to paint, and are there any artists who influence you?
MD: With all your artistic outlets including 4 bands and a talent for painting, do you feel a constant need to express your emotions and self in various creative forms?
MD: You mention in the sleeve notes for the re-issue of ‘Unquestionable Presence’ that smoking a lot of weed opened you up creatively in the songwriting process for that album. Do you still experience the same levels of creativity from smoking?
MD: How did you come to own 2 smoke shops in Sarasota, Florida? Presumably, 2 shops implies business is good!
MD: And finally, what can the world expect from Kelly Shaefer in the future? Any more ventures planned or unfulfilled dreams to live out?
MD: Thanks very much indeed for taking time out for this interview, and good luck for the future in your many different ventures.
KS: Well I do not listen as exclusively to extreme metal like I used to, but I think bands like Textures, Necrophagist, Martyr, Dillinger, to name a few are doing brilliant things. The thing I am most impressed with is the level of speed involved in today's drummers, people like Flo Mounier are fucking inhuman!! If only they were able to have that as well as finesse, it would be PERFECT. Usually there is not a lot of dynamics to it, and it's all blazing and crazy. I like to bring it way down and blow it up again within the structure of a song, but I take nothing from today's crop, they are VERY talented...it makes us very proud.
KS: I will check them out thanks!
Ummm...well I dig The Mars Volta a lot, Tool is amazing. I am signing a band from Greece called Tardive Dyskinesia, they are heavy as fuck and very creative, not entirely technical, but they can play, but they will move your fucking bowels that's for sure. Watch for that on Starrfactory in the next few months. We will handle to licensing worldwide from them - in other words find them a good home here in the States
KS: Yes initially...but it became something that I thought I might be good at if I had the time, and now I do have the time and the enthusiasm as well. I will start slow and build a monster in the coming years I hope.
KS: Very surprised as well as bummed that people had to spend that much $ on our music, that's what led to the whole re-issue thing to begin with.
KS: Way way beyond expectations to say the least, people have really come out of the woodwork like never before for us, and we are humbled by that!
KS: Hell yes, I think it's a good time to do so, many came to the meet and greets for Atheist with Neurotica records, and I think Europe will really appreciate the attitude of Neurotica. When we made that music Limp Bizkit was the flavor and Neurotica was again for an outcast in timing. It seems to be my M.O. but we want to find a Euro label that will serve it up correctly, it's gonna be amazing I think.
KS: Well to be honest I never anticipated that I would get a second glance after they had gone through some 650 singers and demos, but it was worth a shot you know? And at the end of the day I feel honored to come from where I come from, which is totally underground technical death metal, and get in a room for a weekend in L.A. with 3/4 of Guns and fucking Roses! It was a surreal experience for me, and probably the most (pun intended) "Technical" thing I could do, you know transform into rock dude enough to not only make the audition, but make the final 4 choices. I was fucking honored, I ALMOST got that gig, if I had... it would have been a very "unique" thing for a death metal guy to front rock icons like that, how bizzare! Imagine Glen Benton fronting Van Halen hahaha.
KS: Once again another unique chance for me to show different colors, and voices that I am not able to engage in with the world of death metal. Brian has been a great friend to me over the last 8 years. He initially became involved in my career with Neurotica which was my post Atheist band. He saw us in a little punk rock sandwich shop in Florida, and the next thing you know, he is producing our first record and I am on the mic with him on a tune called Deadly Sin that he wrote and we manipulated and updated, and put on our first record "SEED". He wrote all of these songs with our Neurotica producer Doug Kaye and he asked me to sing on it. He had sang on a lot of the songs and recorded them, but would not be able to ..you know put anything new together, and the idea was for me to sing and it came out with more of a traditional Bon Scott era AC/DC of 2007. It's really great music that he wrote but a complete departure for me. It's the most sort of old school approach that I have ever been involved with, it's polar opposite to Atheist, and Neurotica as well. They are shopping a deal for it, and I think those who have waited for ages for a new AC/DC record would find a lot of what they miss about AC/DC on this stuff. We hope to do a record next year as soon as it has a home at a label.
KS: To be honest yes it has been quite difficult to balance all of this stuff, but I have a good support group in my finacee Jesika, as well as my mother and Jess's mother, so with everyone's help, I am able to get out and do what I need to do to support my particular projects. But it has made me want to leave a mark now more than ever, something my daughter can look into and be proud of you know?
KS: Well thanks, it's been very rewarding in between making music and babies to have a new release. I started painting in 2000. When I was a kid I went to a performing arts school, and I thought I would one day be an artist. I enjoyed drawing in charcoal, and pencil, but had never painted until 2000. I hope to have some shows in the near future in NYC, LA and Europe. I have a lot of work to do though to show that much work, but I have a good deal of them. I just this week put up 3 very very early pieces that I did for auction. It's far from my coolest shit, but I just wanted to see if any body cared and the response was great. Just like my music, I roll through many different styles, so it's hard to pinpoint what my art falls under in terms of classification, but that's what I like hahah!
KS: Without a doubt, it's my exhaust pipe so to speak. I need to be able to create almost every day, it's a bit of therapy for me as a human.
KS: No question about it...it's been my songwriting partner for 20 years. Everyone has basically the same size house ie.(brain) and inside that house, are many doors, and inside those doors are many different approaches, and different ways of doing things, and different ways of thinking, and those doors are largely left unopened by most people for fear of straying from safe happy thoughts and ideas, risk free thinking = cliche. For me...weed opens those doors, and I have been pleasantly suprised by the contents of those rooms. And I continue to open new doors at 4:20 every day :))
KS: It was something I did after returning from Holland in 93. I know we dont have the same freedoms as they do, but I thought if I can sell these crazy pipes, and clothing etc, that would be a great way to keep bills paid steady while on the road supporting what ever I was doing, and it turned out to be a very very good business. It's a great way also to locally promote my music, art etc. I live in a little beach town and I grew up here so in Sarasota, Florida, if you come to visit, you must visit my smoke shops. Blown Glass out the ass, and tons of other stuff as well 5900 South Tamiami Trail Suite J Sarasota Florida 34231.
KS: My next big goal will be to have 3 art shows as I mentioned in the next 2 years. As well as re-launching Neurotica in Europe! Europe has never had a chance to check out Neurotica and I think the timing is perfect for a band like Neurotica! Being a good daddy, and maybe having another baby in the near future. Tons of stuff to do, so little time to do it.
KS: Thanks so much brother, and thanks for your patience in getting this back to you. Keep in touch and thanks for everything.
Kelly with Atheist at the Evolution Festival in Italy, July 2006
Photo used with kind permission from Dimitri Borellini -
(Kelly Shaefer on his audition for vocalist in Velvet Revolver)
"I feel honored to come from where I come from, which is totally underground technical death metal, and get in a room for a weekend In L.A. with 3/4 of Guns and fucking Roses!"
Official Atheist Website:
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Official Neurotica MySpace:
Official Unheard MySpace:
Official Big Machine MySpace:
Starrfactory Records Website:
Starrfactory Records MySpace:
Official Unheard Website:
Official Big Machine Website:
Kelly Shaefer's Website:
Kelly Shaefer's MySpace:
Piece of Time (1990)
Unquestionable Presence (1991)