Afterhours are THE seminal Italian alternative rock band. After turning down an international deal with Interscope at the outset of their career, they set about building the infrastructure for an alternative rock scene in Italy. Much like their American indie counterparts, they booked themselves into now defunct clubs (Helter Skelter), put out DIY record releases through an indie store/label (VoxPop), and even self-funded a showcase jaunt to New York City’s bygone New Music Seminar, all the while trying to keep together a lo-fi scene of like-minded musicians, writers and artists in a fast paced high-fashion metropolis. Nowadays they’ve become a national institution, headlining the large concert halls, sharing festival bills with the likes of Patti Smith and R.E.M., making one-off deals with the major record labels as they please but still striving to support the up and coming talents in their homeland. Here’s a link to Spin Magazine’s Earth TV site featuring a recent live performance in Rome:
and here’s a profile interview from public radio’s “The World”:
The band done an annual tour of the U.S. going back over the last 5 years.
Afterhours has also won the respect of their peers around the world. Their most recent release I Milanesi Ammazzano il Sabato project was co-produced by PJ Harvey collaborator John Parrish and features guest performances by Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers) among others. Lead singer Manuel Agnelli and Afterhours’ creative collaboration with American cult rocker Greg Dulli began when the Twilight Singers joined Afterhours to co-headline an Italian tour in 2004 – the genesis of a relationship which has seen the two bands contribute repeatedly to each others’ work. Dulli went on to produce Afterhours’ previous effort 2005’s Ballate per piccole iene (“Ballads for Little Hyenas), an English language version of which was released in 2006 by the One Little Indian label in the US and UK and co-write several of its songs. Agnelli, in turn co-wrote several songs for the Twilight Singer’s Powder Burns. Afterhours then shared the stage with the Twilight Singers for a 25 date North American tour in 2006, the most extensive by an Italian rock band and returned to tour the U.S. in 2007 and 2008. Other guests on I Milanesi Ammazzano Il Sabato are Parish, Stef Kamil Carlens (Deus, Zita Swoon) and Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes).
I Milanesi Ammazzano il Sabato (“The Milanese Kill Saturdays”), quickly went Top Five in Italy. The project is lead singer Manuel Agnelli’s ode to his hometown of Milan, a city often referred to as the New York of Italy due to a shared focus on business from finance to fashion. The sound is a potent mix of dark post-punk (ala Gun Club, Afghan Whigs, Joy Division) with elements of vintage Italian prog rock. Critical response to the band in the U.S. has been excellent, to wit:
“…varied, openminded, creative, ambitious, and above all adventurous…” Rolling Stone
“…the band’s intense passion and artistic mind meld…make this album totally awesome.” PopMatters
“…espically rocking songs, edgy melodies and Agnelli’s distinctive and husky rasp of a voice…” Washington Post
The title of this eighth studio set is Agnelli’s play on the words of a similarly titled 1969 work by Italian crime novelist Giorgio Scerbaneco, the last before the author’s untimely death, whose work envisioned a Milan in which rampant consumerism would replace quiet family based communities. Called a “.brutal masterpiece.” by Italy’s La Repubblica, I Milanesi Ammazzano il Sabato is a set of Agnelli’s reflections on the evolution of Milan into an impersonal city where people come to work then leave. Saturdays, author Serbaneco proposes, is the only day of the week on which one could find the time and opportunity for a killing. Agnelli’s alternative vision conveys the existential loneliness of leisure time in the metropolis.