Sanhedrin play out and out metal, no shame in that game. Today I spoke with guitarist Jeremy about playing metal , life in Brooklyn, the making of their debut album and much more – read on
* Can you tell me some history of the band? I know you guys formed in 2015 and that you are all vets of the NY scene – but how did you all meet – how did you decide to write in that classic metal style Sanhedrin is etc
Nate and I used to play in a band together prior to Sanhedrin. When that band split up, the 2 of us kept jamming together, just hashing out riffs and ideas with the idea of eventually starting a new band. As time went on, he mentioned he had a friend named Erica who was a great singer and played bass. We had her come in to check out what we were up to and things came together from there. Over time, we learned how the three of us could best accentuate each other’s strengths and Sanhedrin was born. There was no conscious decision on what the style would be. Our sound is a reflection of what our 3 personalities give to one another when we get into a room with guitars, amps and drums.
We seem to have a lot of unspoken expectations of each other and what we expect of the material
* How did you guys approach the song writing on this album compared to your 2015 demo?
The 2015 demo actually contains 3 songs that were eventually re-recorded and put on the debut album. In terms of songwriting, we work very organically. We have songs that were written very quickly, while others were really labored over for months. Typically, I’ll come to practice with some riffs that work well together and throw them at Erica and Nate. At that point, it’s a very democratic process to turn it into a song. We seem to have a lot of unspoken expectations of each other and what we expect of the material, so knowing when a song is done just sort of happens on its own. Bouncing ideas off of each other to see a song to fruition is one of the primary joys we take from being in a band together.
* When recording did you plug straight into the desk or do it old school mic’ing up a couple of Marshall stacks?
Well, nobody in this band uses Marshalls at the moment, but it was definitely a case of plugging into amps and letting them rip. We’re certainly not opposed to using modern technology in the studio, but we really dig our live setup and try to capture those sounds in the studio. That said, we do experiment in the studio when appropriate. Overall though, the sounds you hear on the album and how we sound live are pretty much in line.
* As a guitarist what are your thoughts on digital versus analog rigs? (I have seen bands wheel in massive stacks of cabinets into clubs and see guys come in with a digital rack and a guitar. The old days it was definitely about tube amps to get your sound but it definitely seems like the digital effects have come a long way)
The only rule I have is if it sounds good, it is good. I play in a couple bands, and my gear choices really come down to what serves the song and the vibe of the band. For Sanhedrin, my rig is pretty much all analog. That said, I don’t have a moral opposition to using digital gear if it gets the point across. They’re just tools used to create the big picture. If it serves the material, I will use it no matter what.
* What tricks did you learn production wise that you utilized in your debut album?
The most important thing we did was demo the whole album on our own before going into the studio to make it for real. It’s an important process to sit back and listen to things critically and demoing songs allows you to do that. It also saves you a lot of time in the studio later mulling over small details that chew up precious time. You may hear things quite differently when you’re able to focus on the material without also having to play it. It sort of puts things into perspective so that you can visualize what you want the record to be before you go into a studio and spend precious time and money recording.
Our backgrounds lend themselves more to a realistic take on the world and a desire to bring attention to some of its ugliness
* Subject wise you guys write more about “real life” versus lyrical content of traditional hard rock bands (sword and sorcery etc) what was the deciding factor is taking that route?
Erica is the primary lyricist for the band, so I don’t want to totally speak for her on that front. That said, I think our environment and our backgrounds lend themselves more to a realistic take on the world and a desire to bring attention to some of its ugliness. There are some themes and metaphors that are less direct in some of our lyrics, but Erica definitely has something to say with her lyrics and Nate and I back her intentions 100%. I personally think that the lyrics are the most important aspect of the band’s music, and Erica delivers them with an emotional fire that is a real as anything I’ve ever heard. The world is in a real state of tumult right now, and it’s no coincidence that we titled the album as we did.
* You guys worked with Colin Marsten on this album right. He is reknown for his work with NYC extreme bands. Why did you choose to use to work with him?
My other band Black Anvil did our last record with him prior to Sanhedrin working with him, so I was already familiar with his studio and his demeanor. He was one of a few names we were looking at as the album was coming together, and it all lined up to where he became our top choice. While he is best known for working with more extreme metal bands, I knew that he would be able to understand what we were going for with our music and capture it. He has a very organic approach to recording and a great disposition as an engineer. Upon hearing the final product, I can’t imagine having had anyone else record this album. All 3 of us are very pleased with how it turned out sonically.
* What’s the reaction been to the new album so far?
We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the reaction. We self-released it, so we didn’t have the PR machine of a record label to put it out there. We just told our friends, put it up on Bandcamp, and the word continues to spread! We’ve gotten messages from people from all over the world telling us how much they like it, which is gratifying. It’s really cool to cut the middle man and bring your art straight to the people and let them do what they want with it.
* I know I have seen you guys play a bunch of times on NYC – but have you done much national touring yet? If so whats been your favorite city to play?
We actually have not played outside NYC yet unfortunately. Black Anvil has had a really busy touring schedule this year, so I’m mostly to blame. That said, Sanhedrin is definitely looking to get out there and play wherever people will have us in the coming months and years.
We’ve been able to share bills with amazing bands, both local and national, that we may not have if we were elsewhere
* Speaking of playing NYC what would you say are the pros and cons of being a band in NYC – I know probably half the bands in the country would die to relocate to a major city like NYC or LA and half the NYC bands would die to move out to say Richmond VA or Philly.
There’s a lot to like about being in a band here. We’ve been able to share bills with amazing bands, both local and national, that we may not have if we were elsewhere. I think my favorite thing about being a musician here is being in a melting pot of music in general. Every type of music has a home here, and you get exposed to sounds from all over the globe living here that people who live in less diverse places may never get exposed to. I’m a generally curious person, so hearing all these different sounds definitely informs what I do.
There are drawbacks too. The obvious one is the cost of living, which is really high here. Couple that with making music in an era where it’s been devalued in a lot of ways, and it can be stressful sometimes. It’s also tough to find rehearsal space, and venues have a hard time staying afloat here too. That said, there are a lot of great people here who work hard to put on shows and keep things vibrant in the face of hardship.
* Have you guys played overseas as Sanhedrin yet? If not any plans to do so?
We would love to get overseas. In fact, our record is doing pretty well in Europe so we would like to go over there and play for all the great metalheads over there. All in due time I suppose.
* Sanhedrin is Greek for “assembly” or “council” right? What does the name mean to you guys?
It is Greek as well as Hebrew. I suggested the name when we were trying to figure out what we should call ourselves. We feel like naming the band after a “council” accurately reflects our creative process. In terms of songwriting and how we go forward with presenting our art, it’s important that we do so with a sense of unity amongst each other. We make the decisions as a team, not as one individual telling everyone else what to do.
We will be playing a couple shows in the Bay Area of California
* What can we expect from Sanhedrin in 2018?
Well, in January it looks like we will be playing a couple shows in the Bay Area of California. We’re still working out the details, but we are really look forward to that. Erica used to live out there and played in some pretty accomplished bands, and I know she’s excited to show her old friends what she’s been up to lately. After that, we hope to get out of town when we can and spread the word of Sanhedrin with as many people who will listen. We’ve also begun writing the next album, and I expect we will get a lot done on that front in 2018 as well.
* Any final words?
I just want to give a big “thank you” to everybody who has supported us to this point. We have been pleasantly surprised and touched by the feedback coming our way upon releasing “A Funeral For The World.” It’s been very encouraging and we hope to see as many of you all as we can in person in the coming year.