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Sanctus: Interviewed at The Reverb in Toronto, August 10th 2000

Interviewed by Waspman


Hi Jason, how?s it going? First off, let me compliment you on your release, Aeon Sky ? it rules! Anyhow, to start off, let me ask you about the name Sanctus, what does it mean or where does it come from?

I guess its Latin translation is ?sancticide?, so y?know, basically we got it from a movement in Mozart?s Requiem Mass. It?s a classical music reference, but, I guess its more sarcastic because it is such a religious word and we are a very non-religious band. I don?t want there to be any mistake that we are some secret Xtian band, ?cause we are definitely not!


Yeah, I kinda gathered that from listening to the album! (haha) What is your musical background, have you guys been in any other bands at all?

Well no, no one?s really been in a significant band, this is our first real thing. I think about have the guys read music and have taken lessons, but no one is really a big-time Berkeley grad or anything. We?re all pretty much self-taught for the most part.


I only ask because it?s a very professional recording, you guys sound incredibly tight for a new band.

Thanks! I think y?know, we could actually be tighter ?cause we?ve only been together for?well, when recorded the album we hadn?t even been together for two years, so it?s nice that you can hear that.


What bands have influenced Sanctus the most?

Well, a lot of things. Obviously, you can tell that we?ve grown up on a lot of Emperor, Cradle of Filth and Morbid Angel, y?know, also for most of us growing up in the 80?s we were big Iron Maiden fans?Metallica when they didn?t suck, Megadeth when they didn?t suck. Now, a lot of us also like Dream Theatre. I personally listen to a lot of things like the Cure and 70?s prog-rock. That maybe doesn?t come out in the music, but it does influence the way that we write songs. We try to work things out and not just stick riffs together. I think that a little bit of stuff on this album meanders but that?s something that we work on.


Actually, I?d say that all of those influences come out a little bit, especially the prog tendencies of Dream Theatre, in songs like ?Odyssey? or ?Thought I Saw Your Wings?. You mentioned that you were influenced by a lot of black metal but none of you have the typical black metal image. How do you see yourselves fitting in to the black metal scene?

Well, y?know we don?t dress up like that because we feel that it?s been overdone. And especially for an American band to pretend that they are from Norway, it just seems kind of silly. To me, it?s a fad that was out in the mid-90?s so I think that it would be a waste to do that. As far as fitting in, I mean, from the outset we?ve always been kinda concerned about the music more than anything, our image is going to develop more, it?s not like we wanna look cleancut like the BackEnd Boys, but at the time we took the photo shoots, we had not even really played, I think we played one live show. So basically we just did it in our rehearsal space, so we didn?t even have the opportunity or need to really develop much as far as the image thing goes. I think that in the future we plan on getting a bit more theatric, but we won?t have full on corpsepaint on spikes. I don?t know about fitting in, I don?t think that its so much about the bands look, I think people are just looking for something different.


Moving to your new album now, how would you describe your brand of black metal?

Cover ImageWell, I think that black metal is probably just one sort of element to it. I think that we mix that type of black metal with more of an American type of death metal with even a doomier side. Kinda like My Dying Bride-type of stuff. We don?t really look at ourselves as just a black metal band, I think that we have taken influences and really enjoy all of these styles. I think that it just comes out in different places here and there. We don?t really sit down and say, ?This is going to be a black metal song.? I mean, we do like the fast stuff and that type of thing but we also wanna progress and shift into something different. It?s hard to really describe what it really is to us.


You mentioned My Dying Bride and that brings up a couple of questions that I have about vocals. One is, do you ever see yourselves moving in a more clean/moaning style of vocal, perhaps like Aaron from MDB in the future?

Um, well, we do have some clean passages on there. It is definitely something that we are going to do more of in the future. Basically, the clean vocals are done by myself and our drummer, Mike. He can do more of that high-ranging power-metal type of singing and I?m more of the lower kind of like Garm from Borknagar type of thing. So, we do plan on doing more with that in the future. As far as the singing goes on this album, it?s pretty much split 50/50 between Mike and myself. Actually, now, we?ve added another guitar player whose taking over my job there, so I?m pretty much the fulltime vocalist now.

So Mike won?t be doing too much vocals from now on?

Yeah, so in the future, I?m going to be doing pretty much all of the growling stuff and the high screaming stuff. He?ll still be in there I?m sure with the clean vocals. But instead of it being 50/50 it?ll be about 90% me. And on stage, it will be all me. We definitely wanna keep the lows and highs and I?ve developed this where I can do the same thing. It certainly won?t be more monotonous. Clean singing is something that we?re into, we don?t even really listen to bands that don?t have some type of clean singing.


A lot of the album carries this sort of ethereal/airy kind of vibe, in both the music and the lyrics. What inspires this kind of writing for you guys?

Well, I?ve always been a fan of albums that seem to maintain a strong sense of atmosphere. A lot of my favorite albums, like In The Nightside Eclipse have that quality. It?s like, it transports you into a nether world. I don?t know if ours does that but it is effective. It also comes out in the lyrics because I think that the lyrics are really abstract and sort of deal with some basic themes like alienation and anger, but maybe not so much telling stories but putting images out there for people to grasp onto and get their own meaning out of them, whatever they can. Luckily for us, the album cover seems to go along with that.


It?s definitely a great album cover.

Yeah, we kinda lucked out with that. It was done by Niklas Sundin who worked with In Flames but is now one of the guitar players for Dark Tranquility.

How did you end up working with him?

Well the first person that we were supposed to work with kinda fell through, so it sorta happened at the last minute. He happened to have a backlog or pieces that he hadn?t used and said that we could use one if we saw something that we liked. It fit what we were going for. We knew what type of cover we were looking for but couldn?t explain it, and his work just fit.

Any chance of maybe writing with him in the future?

Ahh?I wouldn?t say that right now. We haven?t actually met him in person, he?s over in Sweden and we?re over here. I mean, his band hasn?t even played in America yet. He?s definitely a good player and a good writer, and he?s definitely on the list of people I?d like to write with.


To talk of your own writing, the first thing that really grabbed on the album was track three, ?Odyessy?, where you guys break out into this jazzy/swingy type of riff. I was really interesting to hear that in an extreme band like yours. How did that song come about?

Well basically that song and ?Thought I Saw Your Wings?, the two with the chapters, were written by our keyboard player, Adrian. He has a kind of different background than we do and they have this different feel to ?em. We told him that to go ahead and write these songs and it happened to work really well and I think that I was able to do some cool vocal things over it. We wanted to do something different like that because it sort of set the tone for the fact that we?re not really going to just do the same type of black metal over and over. We are going to branch out into these different directions while never leaving one completely. It?s also one of out favorite songs to do now. Recording that song opened up a whole new style of vocal for me, almost an Arcturus vibe.


Well I think experimentation like that within the genre helps to keep it alive.

There?s a ton of bands that are all fighting for something original that sets them apart. It?s not really conscious, it?s just that we?re doing something that we like and we?re not going to not do it just because it?s not widely accepted. You have to take some risks to really get anywhere.


How did you land your deal with Metal Blade, and, for how long is it?

We are signed for four albums, but there?s no guarantee. We got hooked up with them through a three-song demo under the name of Pantheon. They basically signed us on the strength of that demo. We hadn?t even played any shows. Back then, there weren?t any bands that were showing any kind of melodic influence, most of them were copying Cannibal Corpse. It set us apart.


You?ve mentioned that you didn?t get a lot of live experience prior to the album?s release, do you have any current touring plans?

No tours really, we do some shows in our area. We?re actually going to open for Deicide in October. We?re still kind of waiting for a tour. I?m not even sure how that whole process works. We?re ready, but in the meantime we?re going to play around here in Southern California.


One last question ? who would be one your fantasy tour, if you could go out with any bands you wanted?

Wow, let?s see. It?d be pretty eclectic. I mentioned Arcturus, I?d like to see them with a full symphony of something. Dream Theatre. Us. I don?t know. Maybe we could put Metallica on there so we could play a big stadium and show people how much better other bands are than them! That?d be a good tour. (laughs)

(laughs) That would be kick ass! Well, we?re out of time here, so thanks for doing this interview and best of luck writing the new album!


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