Musicscan: First of all: What's to say about the status of Ahtme in the North American death/extreme scene - did people already notice you, or do you take a fresh start after signing to Unique Leader? Is the re-release an attempt to draw people's attention and to spread the name of Ahtme?
Ahtme / The Roman Holiday: Well when TRH was playing we had a really awesome and I'd say pretty substantial fan base here locally in Kansas City. The scene here is actually pretty big and the fans are really passionate. We stopped playing for a few years back around like 2011 or 2012 and I think we all kinda thought that would be the end of it. We all continued to write music but didn't play as a band again until just about a year ago. Once Unique Leader made the announcement that they had signed us we actually got quite a few messages from people in other parts of the world letting us know they were glad to see us come back and that they had been following TRH over the years. We were pretty surprised since The Demonization was never officially released but I guess that the magic of the internet hahaha.
The re-issue of The Demonization is I think first and foremost a way to kinda give potential new listeners an idea of what they can expect to hear out of ahtme, but also we had a really good opportunity to put out something that we all worked really hard on and were really proud of, and we didn't want to pass that up.
Musicscan: I'm pretty surprised seeing the release of The Demonization as this album was finished 2009. Who came up with the idea of doing it - the band or Unique leader? Listening to the songs years after you completed the work: which aspects you are still proud of and what do you especially like about the album? Are there things you would like to change from today's perspective?
Ahtme / The Roman Holiday: I think we all assumed that we would just be starting fresh with Ahtme and kinda leaving The Demonization and TRH behind us but when we talked to Erik at Unique Leader, he mentioned wanting to do a re-issue with an official release. He said he really liked the album and he seemed to think other people would too and like I said earlier it was a good way for people to get an idea of what to expect from Ahtme. We all really love this album even though it is a bit different form our current material with Ahtme. Navene Koperweis was an absolute blast to work with and he really did an incredible job bringing that album to life. He really knew how to get a great performance out of us and pushed us in ways that I think show in the album. If he was the only guy we ever recorded our albums with again I'd be beyond thrilled. I think at the time we recorded that, those songs were exactly what we wanted to be playing so I wouldn't necessarily say that I'd wanna change anything about them, but I will say there is a pretty significant difference between that album and the album we are finishing up writing now for Ahtme.
Musicscan: As there has not been an official release of The Demonization yet: what were labels tell you back in 2009, when you were searching for someone putting the album out? Has it been a problem of bad timing?
Ahtme / The Roman Holiday: We didn't really try too hard to find a label to put the album out back in 2009 actually. I was 18 at the time or had just turned 19 and the average age of the band was probably like 20 and we were just glad to be out of highschool and playing music hahaha. We all liked the idea of having support from a label and an official release and everything but we were young and didn't really know how to go about it and it wasn't really a huge concern. We did send off a few emails but Idon't think we ever got a response, or if we did obviously nothing came of it. I think it probably had a lot to do with us just not really understanding how to go about the business aspect of being in a band.
Musicscan: There must have been the option to put out a new record, because you surely wrote new songs since The Demonization was completed - or not? Tell us something about how your sound evolved since 2009, please.
Ahtme / The Roman Holiday: We are currently working on a bunch of new songs for the first Ahtme album. For the most part they're all completely written, I usually write and record the riffs on my computer at home and program some simple drums to have as a reference for the other guys to hear. I tab out the songs and then we all get together and work from there. Usually I come up with the original idea but by the time the rest of the guys put their spin on it and everyone kinda throws around ideas the finished product is not always too much like the pre production stuff I started with. Its a bit of a process but its the best way for us to write songs and ensure that everyone is happy with it by the end. We have actually a huge surplus of songs that have just been piling up since TRH ended, I'd say probably over 20 that we all like, though some of them may have been written like three years ago so it takes a while to go back and re learn the parts and tab everything out like that. I think our style has changed pretty substantially between moving from TRH to Ahtme. We were all pretty young when we wrote the songs in The Demonization, I mean one of the songs on there was written when I was like 15 hahaha. I think Ahtme is a lot more mature than TRH musically. I think what people liked about TRH is that the songs were catchy, we kept that aspect and just I think getting better at our instruments over the years and our taste kind of maturing a bit has really changed our sound for the better.
Musicscan: From your point of view: what separates Ahtme from other bands playing a similar style in between extreme death and teach metal - what are your trademarks to say so?
Ahtme / The Roman Holiday: I think we have always really focused on writing catchy and sort of groovy riffs if that makes sense. I always love the kind of riffs that get stuck in your head and you can just sort of bob your head to it. I think we try to combine that catchy-ness with technicality, I'd call that more of a tendency than a trademark. As you can hear in The Demonization the songs are all pretty different from each other. I think the album as a whole feels really cohesive still but the songs are all pretty different from one another stylistically speaking and it kinda makes it hard to say that we really have a trademark.
Musicscan: Looking on extreme metal in general you can find lots of sub-scenes and styles, the metal underground is changing all the time. Are there bands you feel connected with that might have a similar agenda to what you have with Ahtme?
Ahtme / The Roman Holiday: Oh definitely, actually it kinda seems like we're seeing it more and more in modern death metal. I know that personally I am hugely influenced by older decapitated. Their first three full lengths are untouchable in my opinion and I listen to them every day for inspiration. I think a newer band that really focuses on catchy memorable riffs and really heavy groove is Soreption. I wouldn't compare Ahtme to them necessarily as I don't think we sound alike at all but the kinda catchy style of guitar playing they do is reminiscent of the older decapitated albums we all love so much.
Musicscan: And how do you feel about your place within the metal scene at all as well as in between tradition and gaining new ground to bring forth what the metal heroes you grew up with did before Ahtme were around?
Ahtme / The Roman Holiday: I think we really know what we want to do as a band and we do it well. We all bring our own individual influences to this project and as a band we create some really original material. I'm not sitting here telling you “Oh man, its like nothing you've ever heard before!” hahaha but I think just what the five of us create together is different from a lot of other bands. We have always written the music that we wanted to hear and we've been lucky enough to come across a bunch of like minded people who apparently enjoy what we do and support us. I don't expect that some kid some day is gonna have a poster of Ahtme up on his wall and ya know he worships us like I do Decapitated hahaha but if one guy hears our songs and loves them or half the global population buys our album and digs it its all cool with us. We are just super happy to be doing what we love together. We've all been friends for so long and for us its all about the joy of creating together.
Musicscan: btw: Can you perhaps tell us something about the intention and the spirit of Ahtme when the band came to be ten years ago. Has this early intention/spirit changed in any way until today? What is the story behind changing the name from The Roman Holiday to Ahtme?
Ahtme / The Roman Holiday: We started TRH long ago simply cause we wanted to play death metal. We all loved it and we had ideas and we wanted to see them come to life. We were young kids and like every guys first band we sucked hahaha, but we loved playing music so we did it all the time and just from practicing and playing and writing nonstop we slowly got better as a band. Way back like in early high school, our drummer was George Schmitz, now in the hardcore band Stick To Your Guns. He was and is an incredible drummer and he really brought us together as a band. But after he left our current drummer Jordan and our other guitar player Will both joined the band and we all knew that was the lineup. It was perfect we all clicked just perfectly. The spirit of Ahtme is really the exact same as it was for TRH. We all love playing and writing music and thats really the driving force behind everything we do. Having the support from the label and the distribution that comes with all that ya know is all the more inspiring and since signing to Unique Leader we've all kinda kicked it up and we're really working hard to make sure we're on our chops. The name change was just something we wanted to do to make a little distance between the new project and TRH. Our style has changed since then and we didn't want people to hear the old TRH songs and think thats exactly what the new stuff was gonna sound like. Also after such a long break we just though it would be a good opportunity to name our band something that people don't associate with an Audrey Hepburn movie hahaha.
Musicscan: Listening to Ahtme i have the feeling that your style of play is based on intuition, gut instinct and impulsiveness, less on planning and technique… Do you like this summary, and is it close to what you are doing? The sound/style is technical and extreme for sure, but not nerdy/too technical and listeners always get the clue...
Ahtme / The Roman Holiday: Hahaha thats awesome! Yes we do like that summary a lot actually, I don't think I could have put it better myself. We are all self taught musicians and I know nothing of technique or music really hahaha. I know what I like to hear and thats about it, which makes it really difficult when it comes to tabbing out songs I've written and needing to actually use the appropriate notation and everything. I would agree with that summary for sure, I think our music has always had something for both sides of the listening spectrum, ya know we try to give something to the casual listener and at the same time keep the tech/death purists happy as well. Our bass player is in school right now and he is learning music and its really helpful that he can hear something I've written and kinda break it down for me, I'd love to learn music I'm sure we all would and maybe in the future it will happen but I think Ahtme will always be the kind of band that plays what we want and go with our instincts like you said, even though it may not make perfect sense to the guys with music degrees.
Musicscan: Lastly: is there something you would like to say to European listeners? What do they have to be prepared for once Ahtme are putting out a new album or come to Europe to play a tour?
Ahtme / The Roman Holiday: European listeners need to be prepared for some fucking intensity. Intensity, and passion, and some violent fucking angry and aggressive ass death metal. We are practicing our asses off all the time to ensure that these songs hit you as hard as they can, and if we can get over there we are going to guarantee to give you a hearty dose of some head banging, bloody nosed, grit your teeth, clinch your fist modern American mid-western technical death metal! You all had better be ready, cause we fucking are!! Thanks for the questions and your interest man, we can't wait to show everyone what the fuck we're about!