For years, Harper College professor Greg Herriges has taught classes on rock n’ roll history. Now, he’s becoming part of rock n’ roll history.
Herriges and his band, Athanor, are getting a record contract 40 years after they first recorded a collection of demos. They recently signed with the European label Guerssen Records, and their first album, “Flashback,” will be released on 12-inch vinyl on March 7.
The band, which consists of Herriges and his childhood friend Rick Vittenson, recorded several songs (many inspired by classic literature) in the early ‘70s, when Herriges would teach during the day and go into the studio at night. Though they continued to play together and occasionally recorded new material, the band never took off the way they hoped.
Then, in 2012, a man in France contacted Herriges about how he had heard Athanor’s music on a psychedelic rock anthology and on YouTube videos that had become popular in Europe. It was news to Herriges, but the viral success of their song “Urizen” reignited interest from several record labels and, suddenly, Athanor was in demand again. Herriges and Vittenson spent eight weeks back in the studio, working with Chicago producers to remaster their old tapes into digital files for the new album. “We had to get used to a whole new way of engineering,” Herriges said.
For Herriges, the band’s newfound success just deepens a lifelong friendship he has had since age 14. “It’s nice that this has happened for us – that something panned out from way back then. It’s another level of our friendship.” Herriges said that Guerssen Records has already expressed interest in releasing an album of demo material, as well as an album of new material. "Flashback" will be released on CD in April.
Herriges has been at Harper College for over 20 years, and has teamed with Professor Kurt Rein to teach classes on rock music and The Beatles for nearly a decade. “Because I teach a rock ‘n’ roll class, this gives me some extra credentials with the students, and some added perspective to work into my classes,” he says. “It’s an unbelievable experience.”