An Interview with Black Fast: Laying Down Their Terms Of Surrender

Aaron Akin is the singer/guitarist of Black Fast, a four-piece thrash metal band from St. Louis, Missouri, that has been around since 2010. When Aaron was 19, the members met in a college town in Illinois near St. Louis and have been friends as well as proficient musicians before founding the band.

The Aquarian Weekly recently caught up with Akin to discuss the band’s new album, Terms Of Surrender, various songs from the recording sessions, the filming of their music video for “I Conspire” and more. The transcription is below:

Can you tell me your history as a musician and how Black Fast came to be?

I picked up guitar as a kid when I was 11 or 12; I was trying to do Slayer and Metallica riffs and that kind of thing. This was around 2009 or 2010. We started jamming and writing some tunes with all the shit we had been storing since we were teenagers writing scary riffs. We started playing shows in 2010 and put out that [self-titled] EP in 2011. Starving Out The Light came in 2013; it came together really easily. It was always the four of us, we never had any other members. We all still live together, like two minutes away from each other. I always write my lyrics at the last minute; that’s how it is for me.

Do you consider anyone a mentor-like figure for yourself?

Inspiration wise, Devin Townsend, just on how fearless he is. He did City [Strapping Young Lad] and Ocean Machine [solo album] in the same year [1997] and look at what he is doing now. If I can just watch what that guy is doing and just not give a fuck and do whatever I feel like doing… That’s been someone that has been pretty inspiring to me along the way.

Can you tell me a bit about shooting the music video for “I Conspire?”

We had never done a music video at all so we didn’t know what we were going to do. We kind of had the idea that we wanted to bring all of our friends together and have them show up at this old brewery from the ’20s that has been shut down forever. We wanted to play on a Sunday and have them all kick our asses. It was super fun.

Going into the writing and recording stages for this album, what kinds of preparations were you advised to adhere to since Terms Of Surrender is your first album promoted by a major label?

We went into it very much like Starving Out The Light [2013]. All the songs structurally were pretty much put together. There were a couple of tunes that came together really quick. A lot of the songs had been finished musically for months—maybe even about a year. We’ve always had such an overabundance of riffs, as well as putting parts together and that type of thing. We had been doing pre-production for about four to five months. By the time I started talking to Erik [Rutan, producer at Mana Studios], we pretty much had everything mapped out. We went out there and just laid it down.

Can you tell me about how the recording sessions were?

We had to track the whole album in about 15-16 days. We really couldn’t fuck around with it, or spend too much time on any one thing. If something wasn’t working we just moved on. Obviously you take something away and you learn from every recording process. You say to yourself, “Next time we will be more prepared, and we will do it this way or that way.” Honestly, this last time we didn’t really have a whole lot of time to mess around. We were on a mission and we were as prepared as we could be.

I only starting singing because I didn’t want to get a lead singer. I didn’t even know that I could do it when we started out. I was mostly worried about doing the vocals and writing the lyrics. In the last couple of years I have started to learn how to use it and harness it to some degree.

For me, one of my favorite things as a guitar player there were a couple of solos on there. There weren’t that many, maybe four or five. Trevor [Johanson, guitars] played the bulk of them. I figured it would be good to just improvise. There were a couple of moments where I would be just sitting there and winging these solos on the spot. There was one at the start of “The Coming Swarm” and I was like, “Woah, that is fucking cool.” With me playing guitar it kind of validated the 15 years of playing, going back to when I was 10 going, “Holy shit,” and, “This sounds fucking awesome.” There were those few moments of having to pinch myself, listening to it and trying to not get too caught up in it.

Can you throw out something that you learned from Erik Rutan that you feel like is important to share with people?

Trying to adopt the iron will and constitution internally that this dude has. He doesn’t bend from staying true to his instincts and his gut, doing what he thinks is right. He doesn’t compromise or sacrifice his will. He is a really strong person mentally. That was inspiring to witness, and he is a pro and has been around for a long time. The way he would just fearlessly adhere to his intuition, it was really something to learn from.

The closer on Terms Of Surrender, “Until Dust,” is my favorite song on the album. Can you give me a picture on how this song came to fruition?

Is it really?

Yeah, on my radio show [Japan Nick’s Rock And Metal Pandemonium] I don’t like to play the singles because everyone else is playing them, so I should be introducing people to the rest of the album.

That is fucking awesome. I love that song too just because the way it came about. We wrote that song like two weeks before going into the studio. I didn’t really know it. It was mostly Trevor’s riffs, and the three of them jamming. I don’t think I even played it or jammed it with the guys. We just threw it together, and I believe it’s the shortest one, about three to four minutes long.

It really came together at the last minute. I went down there and had a scratch track of guitar to listen and write the lyrics to. I just knew right away it was going to be the last track on the record. I just started putting some shit together with the lyrics. It’s short and it’s probably the closest thing for us to a punk song. It’s not at all, but it’s short, to the point and doesn’t screw around. I’m really happy with the way that song turned out.

Can you tell me what the song “Vacuous Idol” is about?

                This album in particular, like every day I would be writing pages of stuff. I wouldn’t necessarily be writing lyrics, just writing a lot of content and material that I could use for lyrics. When it came time to pull songs out of that, I had a big block of stone to chisel stuff out of to pull songs from.

There is kind of a linear thread throughout the album. There are a lot of borrowed and shared themes. I’m pretty happy with what I got out of “Vacuous Idol.” I couldn’t tell you where the title came from; it just popped into my head. I wrote a lot of my lyrics in the week of going down there. I just finished it up once I was there. I would get up, get some coffee and listen to the tunes and put everything together.

It’s mostly about isolation. There are a lot of late nights just being awake and just feeling disconnected. That’s probably what a lot of the album is about. A lot of innate subconscious feelings that it doesn’t touch on in a direct way. I let it run over me subconsciously and that is what I came up with.


Black Fast will be playing The Studio at Webster Hall on Sept. 4 with Revocation, Cannabis Corpse, and Archspire. Their new album, Terms Of Surrender, is available now through eOne Music. For more information, go to