During a conversation with Atheist frontman/guitarist, Kelly Shaefer, we jokingly asked him to come up with 5 of Atheist's worst songs. Now, normally this is no-go territory for any artist with a high sense of self worth, but Shaefer was a cool dude about it. In fact, he laughed. And then said, "I fucking hate my shit!" He laughed some more. Of course, we thought he was joking, but turns out he was way into the idea. Herewith are Kelly Shaefer's Top 5 Worst Atheist Songs.
4. “Fractal Point” / 5. “Displacement” (tie) — Elements (1993) Ugh, well yes there are two in one here because they are in fact interludes on the album Elements, and I had the idea of everyone just doing a special little piece of music on their own to connect all of the songs together. Now Rand Burkey is one of the most brilliant guitar players I have ever met, and his work on three albums was stellar, but these guitar doodlings are depressing, lifeless, and boring. He was always a fan of guitar swells, and he did a masterful job of creating the swells at the intro to “Piece of Time”, but these were just not fun to listen to. Choy did “Samba Briza”, which I loved, and Frank Emmi did “See You Again”, a great little ‘clean’ guitar section, that was a nice calm before the storm before the last tune on the album. If I heard these two interludes, I would either take the disc out, or quickly fast forward to the next tune. Rand, I love you bro, but these are my least favorite things you wrote with us! There it is. A little self-deprecation for all of you.
3. “Earth” — Elements (1993) “Earth” is not a horrible song, but it’s one of my least favorites for a number of reasons. First being the 808 bass drop in the middle, and the guitar part is somehow not interesting enough. There were so many other ways we could have gone, but as you know we had 40 days to write and record that whole album, and that is the only song that I feel suffered from lack of time to evolve. Another thing I don’t like is the guitar part underneath [the lyric] ‘That little planet of the hill’. All of these things are my fault. [Laughs] Lyrically, I don’t mind it, but it’s at the bottom of my list of favorites.
2. “Life” — Piece of Time (1989) This was written at a time when speed was everything. And [we] were so concerned with speed rather than substance. That is never a good thing. Lyrically, it was about choosing your own fate, and how you would do so? Total fucking cheese death metal shit, that we were never about, but I wrote this when I was like 17. And it shows. ‘If chainsaws are your fantasy, I’ll cut your body into 3". Yikes! I probably have not listened to this song since 1990. Again, musically we were not yet ripe. This is one of the earlier Atheist tunes, and we progressed from this to songs like “I Deny” and “Piece of Time” within a one year period. So, the only thing I do like about it is Roger Patterson’s little break. Otherwise it’s annoying to me.
1. “Why Bother” — Piece of Time (1989) Well, the first reason would be that I tend to hate to be overly topical, especially in terms of a timeline lyrically. I prefer to be vague and poetic, but “Why Bother” was a song about the elections that year. 1988, I think. And I think that I thought that would be a good idea at the time. Musically, it has riffs in it from like 1985 that are just kind of like musical kindergarten for me, and no one wants mom bringing out old ‘little’ kid pics from way back. It was also a bit too Bay Area thrash to me, minus the vox. Not [a song] I would ever intentionally show someone.
** Atheist's new album, Jupiter, is out November 9th, 2010 on Season Of Mist. Order it here.