Matt Sinner has several irons in the fire, and he has forged metal since 1982. Sinner is still driven by ultimate passion for music and metal. Primal Fear, Sinner, and Rock Meets Classic are his current priorities but there’s also much more going on in Sinner’s world. Metal-Rules.Com had the great opportunity of sitting down with Matt and have a conversation. Both Sinner and Primal Fear have new albums out, which are outstanding products and a must-have for every heavy metal fan.
Interview and pics by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjala
A BUSY MAN
You just put a new Sinner album out, you’re doing the symphony stuff, and now you’re here at Swedenrock with Primal Fear. How do you have the time for all of these projects?
Matt Sinner: I love my job, and I appreciate that I don’t have to work in a factory or something to make my living. If you love your job and you love music, and you appreciate that you can make your passion to your job. Something for me, it’s easier to work hard than I don’t love my job and I have a problem and no clue about what I’m selling or whatever. So for me, it’s like I’m delighted that I can live from the music and make people happy and I’m happy too.
You started out in 1982, and the whole industry has changed a lot since then. But you still have a lot of passion for the music and making the music, because you’re putting albums out with different bands all the time.
Matt Sinner: The point is I know all the music there have different characters in all ways. I worked for eight years as a label manager for Nuclear Blast. So I know the industry and that was at the time where a lot of things were changing. I’m also managing bands. I am consulting agencies and record companies. But first I’m a producer and a song writer and a musician. I think over the last 30 years a lot of things happened, and it was still here at Sweden Rock I played metal. So yeah.
I don’t know how many active bands you have at the time – I think it’s like five?
Matt Sinner: At the moment my active bands are; I’m doing Rock Meets Classic, I’m doing Primal Fear, and I have played jaws with Sinner. That’s it.
What about Voodoo Circle and Jorn?
Matt Sinner: Voodoo Circle, right, we’ll start recording a new album now. It will take some time, and we’ll play some shows in September, I think. Very few ones, just to check out a new singer and this doesn’t take a lot of time from me. I also played on the new album of Jorn, which I did because I like the music. I didn’t have the time to do it, but in the end, I’ve heard the songs and Jorn asked me if I could play bass on the album. In the beginning, I didn’t have any time to do it, and then I heard the songs, I said wow. This is cool. I took the time to record it and there is some other good stuff I’m doing here and there. I’m producing a German band with the German language, a young group. We’ve just signed a major deal with Sony Records and a band from Argentina. I love the guys and stuff like that I’m doing. But mainly the biggest time it takes away from me is Primal Fear, my true love, and I think we will continue for some more years and Rock Meets Classic is the other thing I’m working on. Sinner is my vacation, and I can do whenever I have the time to do it. All the other stuff is the little spice on the list. Not taking a lot of time away from me
Besides all these bands, you’re a music composer in general. Where do you find all the inspiration for creating the music and how do you know which song suits best for which band?
Matt Sinner: When we write a new Primal Fear album, I will dive deep into the music of Primal Fear and not having any other influences. So I write for Primal Fear, and it never happened, that I wrote a song which I said, “Oh! This song is too much for Sinner or something.” We separated the music of Sinner and Primal fear very much, I thought 15 years ago. I just want to have a classic rock band, a traditional rock band. As Sinner, we are more based on melodies, and I have a heavy metal band with Primal Fear, which relies on riffs. This is a big difference. So I write for them, for them. If I write for other people, I’d just write for other people. There was never a song, which I for example as we wrote Kiske/Somerville album. It was never a song I did for another project. It was focused writing 11 songs, 12 songs. That’s it.
RULEBREAKER – The 11’th opus
Last year Primal Fear released its 11’th studio album titled RULEBREAKER. To be honest, I think that album sounds more Judas Priest than the band itself and I’m saying that in a positive way.
Matt Sinner: Thanks “Laughs” I hope they can still make an album which sounds more like that.
Don’t you mind if somebody is saying that you sound a lot like Priest?
Matt Sinner: The album charted in 10 countries. We charted for the first time in the whole career of Primal Fear in the American Billboard Chart. We played on five continents. We played more than 100 shows. We did great with this album. Why should I think about it? We gave the Primal Fear fans what they love, and we made a lot of new friends too.
As far as a couple of albums are concerned they were more generic, power metal style of stuff to be honest, but with this album, you have gone back to the roots. It’s more straightforward and catchy than some of your other stuff.
Matt Sinner: Yeah. I think from the strategy of the band; we started with UNBREAKABLE in 2011. To get back to our roots. Then DELIVERING THE BLACK was even more in that case. With RULEBREAKER, for me, it’s like the best album for a lot of years. For me maybe the best album since NUCLEAR FIRE. But you can’t write this album and make the sound as we do in this, no. A lot of bands would do this if they were that easy. It was a kind of beautiful combination of sound, songs, and vibe; I love this album.
You recorded the album at the Hansen Studios in Denmark – Did he, Jacob Hansen, bring some elements, ideas to you when you were recording the album?
Matt Sinner: I was a producer.Our machine is very well oiled; we know what to do. I liked to work with Jacob; we’re doing it for DELIVERING THE BLACK, we started to work with them on the mix. We mixed the Kiske/Somerville, the second album with him, and we began to record RULEBREAKER for the first time in the studio. The good thing is that he hears some things which I don’t hear, and I hear other things which are not so important for him. So, for me, it’s a great combination and a great partnership in working with him. So Jacob is very important, and also that the sound of RULEBREAKER is fantastic. I have to say that the recordings went great. So we have a great drum sound without any sampling of stuff. It was well done. Well played, well prepared. Good production and a good sound. Also, the guitars came up right this time. So, if you’re sitting there on the desk and you just put the faders up. You have a great sound. But then to make it unique and organic, it was a lot of good work from Jacob. I think we’ll continue to work with him because we were a perfect team. So there are no changes needed in the future.
“I DONT CARE ABOUT DRUMMERS”
Officially you now have the lineup including three guitar players, but Magnus doesn’t perform live with you, except today. Tell something more about that special arrangement?
Matt Sinner: Right. One of the guitar players so far is only a studio member, except for today, because the festival is not too far from his home. So, he can do it. I think Magnus shows a kind of social side of Primal Fear. He’s been there since 2007, he’s been over ten years in the band, and we work very nice together. He’s a great guy, very friendly. We work together for a lot of other projects, and he also wrote with me some songs for the new Sinner album. So, we’re friends, and it shows that it’s possible to continue in some ways, without hanging together all the time, like the other five guys are doing here. The other five guys who are on every continent of the world, except Africa. Yeah. This is still a strong friendship here.
I think that one of the biggest changes in the band is the drummer Francesco Jovino. His drumming style is a way different to his predecessor Randy Black.
Matt Sinner: To be honest, we don’t care anymore about drummers “Laughs.” Drummers are unusual species. They’re sitting on stage and behind some wall of drums, and so they’re not running in the front. So, they always have problems, but we always find a good drummer for Primal Fear “Laughs.”
I heard that one of your ex-drummers had some serious ego problems?
Matt Sinner: That’s always an issue with any drummers anyway. That’s why they’re sitting behind the wall of toms, and they can’t move. So they have an ego problem. It’s mostly with every drummer. Every drummer will hate me now from Finland, every drummer in Finland will hate me now. I would say I’ve never met a drummer without an ego problem in a metal country. Yeah, but it’s the truth. I tell you the truth. Why should I tell you that drummers are the most friendly persons in the world? No. They’re always first at the catering; they’re eating everything. They’re the first on the…Boom, boom. Even they have nothing to do, boom, boom. Hey, shut up. Boom, boom. That’s it. Yeah. My experience, for 30 years in the business is that drummers are a unique race.
Anyway, Francesco is a great guy and a good fit for the band.
Matt Sinner: Of course, he’s a great guy. He’s playing with me in many projects, and I wouldn’t do it if he’s not a great drummer and a great a guy. He played wonderfully on the new Sinner album. He played great, and he did an excellent job on RULEBREAKER.
What was the fight about between Ralf and Randy Black, when he was let go?
Matt Sinner: That’s fucking private. It’s so private that I will not tell anybody about it. It’s a big secret, and it’s private.
WHEN ROCK MEETS CLASSIC
This Rock Classic thing is a fascinating project if I can say that way. I saw that performing live at Wacken, 2015 for the first time. What kind of process is it for you to go through creating schedules and getting all the artist on the stage after all?
Matt Sinner: I think it’s becoming a day job for me. It’s tough to get the whole thing together. It’s 96 people on tour, 96 is a lot. It’s continuously trying to get the show together; good lights and sound, the band, the choir, the orchestra, the rehearsals and set up the right set list. The show elements and everything. So it’s hard work.
When you did the show at Wacken in 2015 – What happened to Marc Storace who was supposed to perform there as well?
Matt Sinner: He and Dee Snider are not friends. So Dee Snider said he would not do the gig if Marc Storace shows up.So what can I say? It’s like it is, it was not nice for Marc. Dee Snider did a killer job on the shows. But it is like it is.
Do you think that things like Rock Meets Classic are the future of the heavy metal and rock?
Matt Sinner: No. A good club show with sweat and tad is still unbeatable for me. That’s the thing. I’m doing both kinds of things, and I like both, and I like to play with an orchestra, it’s a unique thing. The show is going very well, and next year we will have a ten year anniversary. We’re still working on that. Performing with all those great people is amazing. I never thought 20 years ago I will ever be face-to-face with them. But now I have played with them.
Is there any names you would like to perform with Rock Meets Classic in the future, perhaps Rob Halford?
Matt Sinner: He’s very busy at the moment with the new Priest stuff. It always depends if the guys want to do it. Many artists are now open minded to do it with the band. It was nice that Joey Tempest did it even he is so busy with Europe. But he liked to do it from the beginning, and we found a way and the right dates so that he could join us and we loved his performance. It was incredible to see Ian Gillan standing on stage next to me and when he started with “Highway Star,” it was a beautiful moment. It was also amazing to work with the others; Alice Cooper and Paul Rodgers and much more.
I think of those moments; you were back again a little kid and a fan. You were a little kid as well.
Matt Sinner: Yeah, yeah. It’s a dream come true for me, but I have to say, after nine years of doing it, I’m coming to the point when I have worked so hard, that I deserve it “Laughs.”
Your career started around 1982, and you have been involved in the German metal scene for decades. You have always been loyal to the traditional hard rock and heavy metal but when German thrash metal thing hit a huge way, didn’t you ever think to follow that route instead of this what you’re still doing?
Matt Sinner: No. But I believe that it’s also unnecessary to even think about too much. I don’t think our loyal fans would love Primal Fear and make the last album such a success if they don’t love us like we are. I wouldn’t like to do a thrash metal album, even if we could do one. But I don’t think its necessary thing to do.
You didn’t get interested in thrash metal at all in the ’80s?
Matt Sinner: No.But I’m not the opposite either. I have many friends doing that stuff like Destruction, Kreator, Sodom. They’re all my friends.But I don’t have to make the same music as they are doing.
We thank you for your time.
Thank you, guys. Have a lovely time.
PRIMAL FEAR LIVE PICTURES FROM SWEDENROCK