AFTER THE FALL
After the Fall is a nearly literal moniker for the Albany, New York, punk band. Vocalist/guitarist and leading man Mike Moak, along with fellow guitarist Tyler, had a band called Downfall in the late '90s as fresh-faced teenagers. "We were super young and I didn't even have a license yet," Moak recalls. "But we opened a bunch of cool, really big shows in Albany: Hot Water Music, Rise Against, Thursday, typically shows like that. Being a freshman in high school it was an awesome experience."
This likely instilled some early confidence in Moak and his high school punk friends, even as Downfall began to splinter and half the band moved onto other projects. Moak and Tyler recruited friends made while playing in Downfall, and After the Fall thus emerged in 2000. 15 years later, their musical style may have changed some, but their mission statement is the same as it was back then: "just to have fun with your friends and make music," Moak says simply. Musically, "at first we were really into more technical guitars and metalcore-ish riffs. We focused a little bit more on that and would scream over that stuff. But we grew up on pop-punk and punk, so we slowly stopped doing as much metal and hardcore-influenced stuff and became more fast-paced and melodic."
That developed style was just about in place by the time the band saved enough money in 2005 to make their first full-length, Everything, littered with cheeky Descendents song title references and recorded at the illustrious Blasting Room Studios in Fort Collins, Colorado. Everything was the beginning of a long journey that found a quartet (sometimes trio) of people juggling real-life responsibilities with a band who were getting offers from increasingly bigger record labels and, especially, often afforded cool, international touring opportunities. "We would just do four-to-six-day runs with our friends' bands and then go abroad as much as we could because it was more lucrative and fun for us to plan trips to Australia or Europe or Costa Rica," Moak says. "We would never have that opportunity without the band, and we had to kind of jump on it while the offers were there."
As the band took the advantage of seeing the world and putting out albums on European labels and noted American indies like Animal Style, Mightier Than Sword, and Paper + Plastick, they also carried a lyrical perspective that changed from one album to the next that began with a bed of profound inspirations. "When we did start, [founding bassist] Brian [J. Peters] was a huge Propagandhi/Bad Religion fan," Moak remembers. "Me and him went to see Howard Zinn speak in Albany. All our original songs were all political and we never wanted to have any other songs about girls or anything else," he says, laughing. "But the older we got, the harder it was to relate to everything the same."
Thus, the band's full-lengths all seem to carry their own interesting lyrical identity. 2010's Eradication had that sociopolitical bent, addressing plenty of varied but largely twisted parts of modern society and culture; 2013's Unkind offered a bitter "fuck you" to a number of different parties in Moak's life at the time; and their far more reflective Dedication, their newest album and Bridge Nine debut, is entirely an ode to Peters, who sadly passed away in 2013 after a battle with cancer. "Without him our band would not exist," Moak said at the time. "He truly was an amazing person and friend, and an inspiration to us all."
Dedication found the band back at the Blasting Room for the first time since Everything, but this time as a hyper-focused, tightly rehearsed band writing and playing their most melodic and concise yet compelling and memorable material to date. "That's what was the best thing about this record: We didn't rush, we were so well-prepared and practiced it front-to-back for months," Moak says about Dedication, beaming.
Now with Bridge Nine behind them and the band intent on getting out on longer and bigger U.S. tours than they've ever been on, Moak agrees that he feels there's a second wind carrying After the Fall--or maybe even a third or fourth one, given their growing and storied history. "Dedication and its recording, it brought us back to life," he says. "Our drummer was going through a divorce and had to move. I had to move to a new place as well, and a bunch of stuff in our personal lives was going on, and the band started to feel a little stale until we were in Colorado and the vibe completely changed as soon as we were there. And it's stayed really positive and awesome ever since."
Mike Moak - Vocals / Guitar • Ty - Guitar • Matty V - Bass / Vocals • Meepy - Drums