AFTM portrait

Athens-based rock band AFTM sits for a portrait on their back porch on June 18, 2019 in Athens, Georgia (Photo/Anika Chaturvedi).

Formed last year, AFTM consists of vocalist and guitarist Forrest Whitlark, guitarists Will MacLane and Kelly Bouchillon, bassist John MacClane, drummer Cam Corsino and keyboardist John Cherry. After performing at last year’s Club Crawl, the band is headlining AthFest on the Southern Brewing Co. Mainstage on Saturday night. Before their performance, The Red & Black sat down with the group to discuss their new song, playing shows in other cities and what they’re most looking forward to at AthFest.

The Red & Black: Is this your first time playing at AthFest?

Will MacLane: We played the Club Crawl last year, but it’s not outdoors on the main stage or anything like that.

Forrest Whitlark: We played at Cine which was part of the AthFest Club Crawl and we had two other DIY gigs that we set up all within the span of 24 hours. So we’re very happy to be playing one big show [this year] instead of three.

R&B: When did you all start playing together?

WM: Forrest, John [MacClane] and I, us three have been playing since way back in elementary school. When we got to Athens for school, [Forrest] went to Belmont for a year and then transferred back to Georgia and we all kind of met up again. We only had three people for a while.

John MacLane: The six of us with Cam has been since May of last year.

WM: Our first song came out in February of 2018.

The Red & Black: Your new song “You and I” comes out Thursday. Can you talk about it a little bit?

FW: “You and I” is the title of the track, and we recorded it back in March. This is probably the longest we’ve gone from recording a song to releasing it.

WM: With this one we’ve gotten to test it out a lot. This semester we’ve been mainly playing outside of Georgia and a lot of different shows where we’ve gotten to try the song out before releasing it, which is cool. It will be making its Athens debut at AthFest.

JM: We recorded it at 1093 and Jeffrey Vernon was our engineer on the track and a resident of this establishment.

Kelly Bouchillon: It’s a good song. I really like it.

R&B: You mentioned that you’ve been playing a lot of shows outside of Athens. What’s that been like?

WM: It’s been great, we just bought a van—

KB: —Van-essa

WM: —and it’s been crazy doing multiple nights on the road.

JM: I think we had a three day stretch recently which was pretty grueling but it’s been really fun. Playing in Nashville was really cool, definitely expanding to a whole different audience which is great.

WM: And just getting to places where we don’t know people but they’ve heard of us through Spotify and things like that is really cool.

FW: It also makes this show a lot of fun because we haven’t played a show in Athens since January...now every time we come back to Athens, we’ve got some time and space between us which is nice.

R&B: You have played at Georgia Theatre several times. Have there been any differences between the first show and most recent one?

John Cherry: I think we’re just better.

WM: I feel we were able to visualize it before the second time after having done it the first time and it just felt like we were all way more comfortable.

FW: Our progression at the Theatre ... we’ve played rooftop shows and then the first time we played the main stage was back in August, and then that led to us playing in January. I feel like each time we’ve played, we feel more comfortable. That venue and the people who work there, we’re kind of close to them now, and it’s a good relationship and feels at home. So hopefully AthFest is going to be one more step in that direction.

R&B: With AthFest coming up, having you been rehearsing more frequently or doing anything different than normally?

JC: We’ve been camping out downstairs … we’ll do three rehearsals this week in preparation and run through songs.

JM: Stuff we’ll be doing different is we’re going to be playing an all-original set and a couple new songs.

FW: We’ve been writing and recording some new music.

WM: And I think playing a lot on the road has geared us up for that.

R&B: All of you are currently or were previously University of Georgia students. During the school year, how do you balance classes with music and whatever else is going on?

JM: It’s definitely tough. I think it’s kind of nice to be so busy because it forces you to have time management. I’d almost rather have a lot going on than not have enough because it really forces me to use my time well. I honestly don’t notice it too much but it just feels like I’m working a lot.

FW: I think I do better when I’m super busy and have to allocate my time a lot, because I could procrastinate all day, but if I don’t have time to procrastinate, I get my stuff done. Music takes top-level importance, I would say, but we’re never gonna jeopardize passing classes. We’re gonna try to get our degrees, like our drummer.

Cam Corsino: I don’t have to worry about it.

Following AthFest, the band is playing two shows in Atlanta next weekend on June 28 and 29 at Aisle 5.

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