with Jim Sheppard (Bass Guitar) @ Bloodstock 2012
Interview by Joffie Lovett
During my time at Bloodstock 2012 I had the absolute joy and pleasure to meet one of my all-time musical icons, Jim Sheppard.
Being a fan of Nevermore for many many years and then discovering Sanctuary off the back of that it was great to finally meet one of the guys that helped create some of the most influential heavy metal music of the modern era.
Here’s what Jim and I chatted about in the sunny heat of Bloodstock…
It’s 17:30 in the evening here at Bloodstock and I’m here with Jim Sheppard of Sanctuary.
It’s really awesome to meet you, thanks for giving up your time today!
How did your performance on the main stage go earlier and how do you think it went down with the audience?
Jim: I was really surprised, I mean as far as I’m concerned this is one of the best Metal festivals this season that I’ve been to and to get the kind of reaction that we did with the old songs, clearly our albums had a lot more impact than I remember because 20 years later people are still fist banging and singing along to all the songs which is really cool.
And I heard you guys also played at the Wacken Open Air festival this year as well?
That must have been quite a cool sort of homecoming for you guys then to play all the old songs in front of such a massive crowd like that?
Jim: Yeah, that was awesome, and we were blessed because when we went on the sun was shining, and we did a really good performance that night. Then as soon as we got off stage… …sheets of rain came down!
That was pretty lucky then!
Jim: Yeah I heard the next day it rained something like 15 litres per square meter!
Yeah, I remember reading on their website actually that they were having all manner of trouble getting all of the cars and trucks out because of all the rain and the mud and stuff.
Jim: Yeah, our management over there, Continental Management who do a lot of stuff for the festival, were actually there for 3 days after the festival had finished still trying to get cars and stuff out and they actually had to call up farmers with tractors to pull them all out. So I’m just glad to get out of there alive but we did a really good performance, and then we went and played at Metal Camp and that was really cool to play with bands that we’ve known forever like Testament and Machine Head, it’s awesome.
Yeah, and then England of all places has got the nice sunshine and no rain at all!
So it’s been a really nice festival for all of us so far! Do you prefer playing to larger festival sized crowds such as this or do you prefer playing the smaller intimate club shows when you’re on tour?
Jim: Erm, I like the smaller intimate shows where you’ve got the audience so close you can almost touch them. The energy is so much closer with those shows. But the energy that you get with a crowd of like 60 thousand or even 10 thousand or so, it’s a little delayed but when the crowd roars with that sized crowd it parts your hair and you’re just like “woah!” it’s incredible! And as far as performing live, you know the Sanctuary stuff is all from 1989 or 1991 and so the production wasn’t really as good as it is today. So playing it live we actually have a lot better production and it sounds a lot more modern to me.
Yeah, coz when the first Sanctuary album came out, that would have been late 80’s and I would have been barely 5 years old when it first came out, but I love that album!
Jim: Haha! Well, don’t ask me my age!
*we both laugh*
No no! But for us younger folks, it’s really nice because growing up and listening to Sanctuary after discovering them from Nevermore, I always just thought “Ahh this is an awesome band, but I’ll probably never get to see them live” because it was the whole Nevermore thing when I was growing up and that’s what was happening, but hearing Battle Angels performed live for the first time was really special and that was awesome!
Jim: Yeah and when people ask if Warrel (Warrel Dane, vocalist) can hit the high notes… …fuck yes he can!
Yeah, he certainly did today!
Jim: Yeah, he was good; he did a really good show!
Yeah! And the new Sanctuary album that’s going to be coming out, were you saying the title is called The Year The Sun Died, is that right?
Awesome, and when is the new album potentially planned to come out, or is that still in the works?
Jim: Yeah, it’s still in the works at the moment because with Nevermore we were all professional musicians and we were just constantly writing, rehearsing and recording but with Sanctuary the other guys have day jobs and families and mortgages and houses and stuff, but with the really positive response that we’ve gotten for the band from all these festivals I think everybody is really being pushed to start moving on it and our record company wants a single from us right away.
So we’re going to go in and record 2 songs and then go in and record the album after that probably around Christmas time, so we’ll hopefully have the album out in the following summer in 2013, hopefully in time for the festivals!
Well, I think that’s definitely going to be one of the most anticipated releases of 2013 for sure! It’s been a long time coming but it’s going to be really good once it’s out I think! So what’s the plan after Bloodstock in terms of touring, are you guys going to be playing anywhere else or are you going to be on a break for a bit?
Jim: After these festivals we’re going home and going to be really focusing on writing and recording, and then we’ve got another Cruise coming up, it’s called The Barge To Hell, and it goes from Miami to Nassau in the Bahamas; I’m excited about that, and we’ve got a show in Seattle, but we’re going to release the record and see how it works and then hopefully do a lot of touring, because that’s what I love to do.
Nevermore just toured non-stop, but Sanctuary has had such a long break, you know?
Yeah, I saw Nevermore many many times around London in all different venues and stuff, but it would be nice to see Sanctuary there as well doing some kind of co-headline show or something like that and playing a more intimate show.
So earlier on you were talking about watching Hatebreed on stage, are there any other bands that you’ll be checking out at the festival while you’re here, or are you going to be fairly busy with all the press stuff?
Jim: Hahah, no first and foremost I’m a heavy metal fan, so I’m here to drink beer and listen to heavy metal!
Jim: But I definitely want to catch Testament, and Hatebreed, I’m glad I caught a couple of their songs, as we were doing a signing session while they were on and when we finished I just managed to catch them on stage playing “Destroy Everything!” and they were literally just destroying the entire place! And Machine Head are one of my favourite bands as well…
Yeah I’ll certainly be watching them later on as well!
Jim: Yeah, well you know the thing that kind of sucks about being a musician and watching the bands is that if you go to the side of the stage to watch them, all you see is their backs, and you’re just hearing the stage sound, so I always just disappear into the crowd you know?
Ahh right, do you do that then? Do you kind of mingle in?
Jim: Yeah, I kind of just disappear and I’m just 19 again and headbanging, and drinking beer and then sometimes I’ll see a guy there in a Nevermore shirt and I’ll nudge them, and they’ll look at me and go “Hey! What are you going here?!” and we’ll start moshing! I love to get into the pit and first and foremost I’m a Metal fan!
I think in this kind of environment, in the VIP Area you’d probably get recognised instantly, but once you’re just in the crowd you can just kind of mingle in and disappear.
Jim: Yeah, and if you’re watching someone as intense as Machine Head or Testament then they’re not really paying attention to who’s around them anyway!
Jim: Yeah, every once in a while I’ll be in the pit and push somebody and then they’ll just look at me and go “Woah! It’s you!” and then they’ll be gone. But I’ll see on their face that they’ll be like “what was that!” and then I’ll disappear.
Yeah, my mate that I’m camping with is a massive Sanctuary fan, so he’s quite jealous that I was interviewing you today and he’s really looking forward to the new album coming out and his question that he wanted to ask was, what is it like having the first original line up of Sanctuary back together as opposed to the lineup that was on Into The Mirror Black?
Jim: It’s really impressive to me, coz you know me and Warrel Dane have stayed musicians for the last 20 years. Our guitar player Lenny has been playing a little bit but hasn’t really been progressing music as much, and to hear him playing and writing music it’s like he never took those 20 years off, so it sounds like a progression of Sanctuary, if we’d already gotten 3 or 4 albums behind us.
It’s definitely a big step up from Into The Mirror Black, but I’m really impressed with both Dave and Lenny’s musicianship and of course we’ve got Brad Hull from Forced Entry doing 2nd guitar, and he also helped us out way back in the day when we fired the first guitar player Sean Blosl.
Brad came out on tour with us, so it’s like everything recycles and out of the ashes of Sanctuary came Nevermore, and out of the ashes of Nevermore comes Sanctuary again, and then 20 years later we hire Brad again! And then we’re all back together again and everything seems to just kind of come full circle; and it’s really cool.
I’m excited and blessed to be a musician, to be here in Europe and playing live is amazing!
I’ve got a couple of questions to kind of end off the interview and they’re more like kind of fun questions really! Out of all the bands on the lineup for Bloodstock this year, if you could do a collaboration with any of the artists on the lineup or have them guest on your album or you guest on their album, who would you choose and why?
Jim: Well, it’s already happening, Warrel sang on the Behemoth record, and he’s asked Nergal if he would sing on the new Sanctuary record, as he had some parts already planned out for him. ….Actually, I probably shouldn’t be saying this… …never mind! I would love to collaborate with Hatebreed man, I LOVE that band! And I think with a band like Machine Head, they’ve got their own thing and it’s hard to crack that show, but maybe Eric Peterson from Testament, he’s pretty amazing.
Yeah?! And if you had the opportunity to put on your own dream festival lineup consisting of any bands whether they be alive or dead from any era in history, who would your dream festival lineup be of bands from past and present?
Jim: It would have to be Black Sabbath…!
Everyone has said Black Sabbath so far, absolutely everyone!
Jim: See coz I grew up and I saw the tour where Van Halen opened up for Black Sabbath, so that had to be something like 1976 or 77 and that was the main influence for me to become a musician. I was a fan first but after seeing that show I was like “I REALLY want to do this!” so my lineup would have to have Van Halen, Black Sabbath, of course Dimmu Borgir, Nevermore.
Sanctuary I can’t leave that out, Testament, I got to think hard for a second… …oh I know!
The Scissor Sisters! Just for a little side show!
*we both start cracking up laughing*
Hahaha! As a headliner maybe!?
Jim: Hahahah! No! Just on the side stage, that would be my fantasy but of course it will never happen.
Well, thanks very much for your time today dude, it’s been awesome to meet you as a big fan of both Nevermore and Sanctuary!
Jim: No problem man, it’s been a pleasure talking to you!