MATG Exclusive Interview – Jason West of Athanasia
Interview by Mauricio Adan
Athanasia just returned stateside from their European tour in support of Civil war and Nightmare. The L.A. based metal band recently burst back onto the scene with the release of the video for ‘Spoils of War,’ off of the upcoming album, The Order of the Silver Compass. A powerfully heavy blend of classic arena, thrash and black metal, Athanasia is both brand new and a few years old, simultaneously – I’ll explain.
Originally formed back in 2004 under the name Ascension, founder Caleb Bingham put the project on hold for a time, after a few demos and an EP, when he landed a spot in the then newly formed Five Finger Death Punch. After leaving 5FDP in 2007, he joined up with Swedish death metal band, Zonaria. A few years in, he suffered a severe leg injury while performing with the group causing him to part ways with the band. Bingham then decided to pursue his original project once again and reformed the group under the new name, Athanasia. For the new lineup he recruited bassist Brandon Miller, possibly the most metal bass player you’ve ever seen, and drummer Jason West, formerly of Murderdolls, Wednesday 13, Murder FM, Sebastian Bach, Cult to Follow and Pitbull Daycare. I caught up with Jason West right after their set on one of the last shows in Germany to talk a little bit about the band and what’s in store for Athanasia in 2017.
MAURICIO ADAN: So how’s it going man? Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Can you start by telling us a little bit about how you joined the band? The guys are from L.A. and you live in San Antonio. How did you end up in Athanasia?
JASON WEST: Well, yea. So you know the band was formed by Caleb Bingham awhile back and he got the band back together with Brandon Miller on bass and me on drums. They contacted me on Facebook, uh, I think it was last summer. It was a little while ago. I didn’t know anything about them. I’d never met the guys, I don’t think I was even Facebook friends with them or anything, they just found me and asked me if I’d be interested in doing this. And well, shit, I don’t know, I guess I gotta check it out. Sometimes I get stuff through email and stuff (asking me to join bands) and I’m kinda like, “Oh my God,” you know? (Laughs) But I listened to this shit and I was like, “Damn! This stuff is really good!” I was surprised by it. So I joined up and we quickly shot three videos. ‘Spoils of War’ the title track, ‘The Order of the Silver Compass,’ and we just released the ‘White Horse’ video, which is kind of a different song from the other ones. It’s a heavy ballad. We shot it in the mountains, in the snow in California. That was a hell day. (laughs) The video came out pretty killer, though. But yea, so we’re on this run with Civil War and Nightmare and trying to get the name out here in Europe and trying to make some contacts and get the ball rolling so we can get this record out.
MAURICIO: Do you have any idea when the album will be released?
JASON: We don’t have anything line up yet ‘cause we’re trying to find a label to put it out. So, if that doesn’t happen, we’ll probably end up putting it out ourselves to get it out there. We’re just gonna keep touring and keep pounding it, you know, until something comes along.
MAURICIO: But there is definitely an album’s worth of material ready to be released?
JASON: Oh yea, it’s ready to roll. (Laughs) And we’re out here playing every song on the album in our set right now. It’s a 35-45 minute album. It’s got some real cool stuff on it.
MAURICIO: So, what are some of your favorite tracks? What are you having the most fun with playing live?
JASON: Uhm, ‘Order of the Silver Compass,’ ‘cause it’s just a crazy double bass pattern that I’ve really never played before, so I had to practice the hell out of it just to get it down. (laughs) That, and there’s a song called ‘Mechanize the Soul,’ that’s another favorite.
MAURICIO: Cool man, so on that note, how are the shows going?
JASON: They’ve been great! We’ve gotten a way better crowd response than we thought we would, being the first band on this package and nobody having any idea who we are ‘cause we’re brand new. So, surprisingly it’s been going good. We’ve been selling ton of merch like crazy. We’re almost out of merch. It’s ten shows, ten days in a row, so it’s been pretty crazy.
MAURICIO: Badass man! So, has there been any talk touring the States after this?
JASON: Ah, not really, not yet, but I’m trying to make a plan to get the band down to Texas and you know, maybe do a couple San Antonio shows and maybe Dallas and Houston. A few shows in Texas would be cool, kinda get the word out there. There’s a huge metal scene in San Antonio, so I think it’ll go over pretty well down there.
MAURICIO: Well, cool man, so is there anything else you’d like to share about the band, the tour, or anything else with the metalheads out there?
JASON: Well yea, you can check us out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and of course the website, www.athanasia.se, so check it out. We’re excited to be out here getting the name out, for sure. We hope to keep spreading the word and hopefully seeing a bunch of you guys out on tour somewhere!
Jason West is currently recording the third full length album of Evil United, fronted by Jason McMaster (Watchtower, Broken Teeth, Dangerous Toys) and working on the follow up to the debut EP of his first ever solo project, Down Generation, both slated for release in 2017.