Zur deutschen Version gehts hier.
Whoever might have guessed that the concert review of the STALLION and SANHEDRIN show in Erfurt was the last you’d hear from me about that, clearly guessed wrong. I seized the opportunity to interview Jeremy and Nathan prior to the show. In depth, we talked about their new album Lights On, their tour and everything that comes with that. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed the interview itself!
Huge thanks, as always, to lightinmirror.de for the amazing pictures!
Shieldmaiden’s Voice: If you had to describe your musical style in three words, which would you choose?
Jeremy: In three words…
Nathan: Dinosaurs fighting each other!
Jeremy: I wouldn’t go that far. I would say Heavy Metal Rock. It’s not really exciting. I don’t have a clever answer, unfortunately. Maybe you should just use his answer!
SV: What inspires your music the most?
Jeremy: I would say that it’s the combination of the three of us as individual players and what we do to inspire one another to create the song. There are a lot of different styles of music that we listen to separately and when we come together we pull inspiration from that. We try to get a song that has power, sincerity, maybe inspires you, maybe makes you think…
Nathan: Also, what’s happening in the world, what’s happening with us personally, so it’s like past, present and future that inspire us and other bands too, obviously.
Jeremy: Inspiration itself is like an almost magical thing where it’s hard to say where certain things came from. It just sort of happens.
SV: Which messages are you trying to convey with your new album?
Jeremy: It’s not so much a message as it is a perspective. We’ve all gone through a lot of things over the last couple of years and I think specifically with the concept of Lights On we try to convey that. If you look at the album cover, it shows this beautiful, serene picture, but then there’s some force behind it showing light and what you really see behind the curtain is destruction or mayhem or things that are not so good. With the technology and information being so available to us, more and more people can see behind the narratives that push society in a way that isn’t the best way forward and it allows us to question that.
Nathan: To summarize, people are awake now, people have been in the dark for a long time and now everyone’s paying attention. Before, a lot of things where happening behind the scenes and now they’re very much in plain view.
SV: With everything that happened the last couple of years, how did the pandemic influence your work on this album?
Jeremy: Well, it was a crazy thing, but I was actually living on the West Coast when the pandemic started and shortly after that I lost my mother. For me, having this album to work on, was a very positive force out of that. In terms of technical stuff, we had to learn how to work remotely and still be creative. Instead of getting into a rehearsal room once a week, we went to sending e-mails, we wound up recording our whole demo for the album separately from one another. Nathan played drums on his iPhone, I played guitar, e-mailed it to Erica, she played bass and e-mailed it back to me and I mixed and sent it off to the label. We had to adapt our process, but it wasn’t as big of an obstacle because of how much the band means to everybody.
Nathan: We also had a lot more time to work on this than we ever had before. It was decided that we would take as much time as we wanted, that we were going to spend as much money as we needed to on the recording and that we were really going to put our best foot forward. It was our first time on a much larger label so we were really going to maximize our output. As far as the process was concerned, most of the songs came together with us in the same room with Jeremy coming to visit us. As Jeremy also mentioned, the process was very different for us because we were separate from each other.
Jeremy: And because we had the songs written for quite a while before we were able to go to a studio that was open, we wanted to use the same studio we used for the first two records. We had a lot of time to discuss very specific details for which we wouldn’t have had the time to do so on the last record. This time around, we could make very tight and cohesive songs and had a vision of how to record them when we finally did get to the studio.
SV: Would you say that this whole experience led to elements being on this album that really distinguish you from other bands of your genre?
Nathan: I don’t think that this was our mission. Our mission was more like digging our heels in and define who we were, to be clear about our message and our sound. I, personally, wasn’t looking outward.
Jeremy: With it being our third album and having some success, particularly in 2019, prior to everything going to shit, we were able to sort of use our own music to influence us versus other artists we like and which have influenced us for years. We were like „What is a quintessential SANHEDRIN album now based on the two sets of songs we’ve written before?“. We wanted something that was true to those sounds, but also continued to branch out because we like to explore different sounds. It’s not our goal to sound like any other band even though we may be rooted in familiar sounds.
SV: Have you already had the chance to pick out a favorite song of yours to perform during the last couple of days you were on tour?
Nathan: Of the new songs I really like Change Takes Forever because you just have to go for it, you really gotta throw down for this one and be intense. But I also really like playing No Religion. It’s a great song and at this point we’ve been a band for so long and it’s special because it was the fourth or fifth song we ever wrote together.
Jeremy: It was on our demo in 2015. It was one of those songs that we wrote early in our career that led us to believe that we were more than just an after-work-rehearsal-project and that we were becoming a band.
Nathan: It’s also a song we didn’t play for a while. After The Poisoner came out, we were focussing more on that stuff and we kinda took a break from it for a couple of years and now it just feels really good to play.
Jeremy: If somebody says „Play me one song that is representative of your band right now!“ I would probably pick Change Takes Forever because it’s got a lot of the elements that we explored previously all in one package. And some crazy drums!
SV: How has the tour been in general?
Jeremy: Very good, very smooth, good crowds! It’s always a delight to come here. In Germany, they have much more passion for our band than they do back home so far. Initially, we were supposed to come and play KEEP IT TRUE and that’s why these tour dates got booked and when that festival got cancelled, we had to make a decision whether we should cancel the tour, because of the financial insecurity, or should we just get over there because we just had a new album out and want to play for our fans. That’s why we’re here!
SV: Have you noticed any differences in the crowds between pre-Covid and now?
Jeremy: No, I wouldn’t say so, it’s pretty similar. My impression is, that fans, when I talk to them, are just excited to be out seeing shows as we are about playing them.
Nathan: Also, just back to the last question about how the tour is going: This is our first time touring in Europe with another European band and STALLION has been amazing! Awesome band to play with every night, super hard to get on stage afterwards because they’re so great. It’s also nice to have this European perspective because the other times we’ve been here, it’s been with American or Canadian bands. It’s been extra special to have that part!
Jeremy: If it weren’t for STALLION’s generosity and them loaning us a lot of equipment and the handling a lot of the business stuff here ahead of us coming, all this wouldn’t have been possible. They have been essential to this experience.
SV: If you could share the stage with any band in existence besides STALLION, which would you choose?
Nathan: I have to go with IRON MAIDEN.
Jeremy: Something tells me that would be a fun show! Dream big, right? IRON MAIDEN would be the default answer here.
Nathan: I’d settle for METALLICA. [everyone laughs]
Jeremy: I think the next step for us is to get on a support slot for a bigger band. That stuff gets done by more connected people than we are.
SV: What else have you planned for this year in terms of live gigs?
Jeremy: After we’ve finished this tour, we’re gonna fly back to Brooklyn, we’re there long enough to basically do our laundry and then we head to the midwest United States for three shows including the LEGIONS OF METAL festival in Chicago. In June we’re planning another few shows on the East coast and everything else is kinda coming at us at the last minute. Typically, a tour gets booked several months in advance and right now we seem to be getting things arranged with a month or two in advance, so we’re just rolling with it. We have good booking agents in North America and Europe who are trying their best. As of right now, that’s all we have.
SV: What does it mean for you to be supported not only by your label, Metal Blade Records, but also by your fans?
Jeremy: This time around particularly, my overwhelming feeling is gratitude. In 2019, this [playing and enjoying live concerts] is just what we did as fans and musicians and then it got taken away and you’re wondering when this is coming back. When I’m on stage and I’m seeing people singing our lyrics I get tight and emotional.
Nathan: It’s been humbling and really wonderful to have been able to share what we do with other people who are into it. Our former label, Cruz del Sur, really took care of us, our current label is really taking care of us and when we come out here and can play for you guys, it’s just amazing.
Jeremy: There’s a lot of love in the room this time around. There always was, but it’s more intense now. What’s interesting is that the three of us would be doing this even if we were just local friends because we’re friends. We get along, we love each other and the fact that we can write songs in our rehearsal room in Brooklyn and it turns into plane tickets to Europe or California or anywhere is unbelievable. That people pay money to watch us play our songs is something we’ll never take for granted.
SV: What is the best way to support you?
Jeremy: We have a merch store. If you go to our website, you’ll have a link to our merch store, our bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify and all these things. The most direct way would be to go to our merch store which we just opened up prior to the new record. I’ll pack the orders myself!
SV: Is there something you want to add to this interview that we haven’t talked about yet?
Jeremy: Probably just one big, giant thank you to everybody who continues to support us and bands like us. The metal community at large is something I wish more people in other parts of society could experience and perhaps there would be less problems in the world as a result.
What a fitting way to end this interview! Make sure to check out their merch store and go to a show near you!