Drummer Metyou ToMeatyou, guitar/vocalist Robby Luckets and bassist/vocalist Mark Denkley – Sandness
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Roberto at Rockshots Records for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Rockshots Records for the promo pictures of the band.
Promo pictures taken by Alessandro Boschet
From Italy comes this three piece glam/sleaze act called Sandness. The band’s also released three albums so far with the latest being 2019’s UNTAMED. Now in 2020 they’ve released their newest record, the ENTER PLEASE EP.
I had the pleasure of speaking with all three band members, drummer Metyou ToMeatyou, guitarist/vocalist Robby Luckets and bassist/vocalist Mark Denkley. As I’ve never heard their music or interviewed them before, I had to dig deep into the vault as we talked about the new 6-song EP, the past present, and future of the band, and a little about the deal with their new record label Rockshots Records. If you’re into Reckless Love, HE.A.T., and Def Leppard then you’ll probably also enjoy the music of Sandness.
Hi guys thanks doing this interview today. How are you doing?
Metyou: Good day everybody, you’re very welcome! We’re super excited to do this interview with you guys!
Let’s take it from the beginning, when was the band formed and who is the founder?
Metyou: The Sandness machine is the product of an idea that dates back to 2008, when young bass player Mark decided to form a band, so he took his friend Metyou away from his guitar and put him on the drums. After a few attempts with different guitarists (hi guys!), Robby joined the band and we immediately felt that he was the right one.
Why did you choose to have co-vocalists share lead vocals?
Metyou: Easy: we decided to vary our song’s melodies by exploiting the different vocal extensions of Robby and Mark.
When did you begin to write material on your own?
Metyou: Since day one!
Which bands and artists inspired you at the beginning? Do the band members have any artists that you collectively look up to?
Metyou: No, we don’t. In fact each one of us likes different artists and genres and we think it’s a good thing because more inspiration means more ideas!
When did you play your first live show? How was that?
Metyou: In 2008, after a few months of rehearsals we played in public for the first time in the square of our town’s biggest museum. That new experience was definitely great as well as scary.
Where in Italy do you guys come from?
Metyou: We’re from northern Italy and live in small villages around Rovereto, a town located in a valley among the Alps.
What did critics and media think of your debut album LIKE AN ADDICTION (2013)?
Metyou: We got some bad and lots of good reviews and since it was our first album we were very content with that.
The follow-up was HIGHER AND HIGHER (2016). Do you feel the band evolved on that album compared to the debut release? If so, in what way?
Metyou: Although it was not welcomed positively by the critics, we’re still very fond of this album because it certainly was the beginning of a more conscious musical growth.
Who came up with the band name and does it have any special meaning?
Metyou: The band name was an idea of Giulio, one of our first guitarists. He came up with a very deep meaning for it but we (Giulio included) don’t remember it…maybe it was just the beer talking!
In June last year came your third album, UNTAMED. What did fans and media think of it? Do you care about what critics and media writes about the bands work?
Metyou: Yes, we do value the opinion of critics and fans a lot and therefore we are glad to see that lots of people liked it and that this work allowed us to reach a wider audience.
London (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
You’ve been support act to a lot of well known bands like Nazareth, Tygers of Pan Tang and L.A. Guns. What’s it like to open for such known acts? Did you have a favourite to open for?
Metyou: Opening for famous bands and artists is always exciting. Among the ones you named, the band we get along best with is Tygers of Pan Tang because they are very humble and friendly guys. We even put the “Y” in our song “Tyger Bite” as a tribute to them.
I know the band has toured through Europe. Which countries have you visited and which of the many festivals you have performed on was your favorite?
Metyou: We have actually never played big festivals abroad. We have been to Germany, Latvia, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, France, Holland, Austria, and Croatia but we have always played in pubs and clubs. It’s impossible to choose a favorite gig because we had lots of fun on every occasion.
Have you ever visited Scandinavia? If so what did you think of the North?
Metyou: As a band we’ve never been to Scandinavia but we really hope to have the chance to play there sooner or later. Mark went to Sweden twice on vacation and loved it!
Where in the world would you say the band has it’s biggest fanbase?
Metyou: We are grateful to have a lot of fans from all over the world, some of which have been constantly following us since the beginning! We can’t really tell which country has the biggest fanbase but we’re glad to see that the Italian public, which is famous for being picky about music, is growing more and more!
Why did you choose to keep the band a trio and not add a second guitarist?
Metyou: For the first five years our band was actually formed by four members. During that time we tried some guitar players but we realized that adding a new member to an already tight-knit group was not easy at all, so we decided to adapt our sound instead, in order for the band to remain a power trio.
ENTER PLEASE EP
You wanted to get out the song “Alive and Kickin’” as soon as possible and therefore released an EP. Why couldn’t you wait and release it on a full length album?
Robby: It was the first song written after the release of UNTAMED, and it was like love at first sight. Plus we missed our recording studio (The Groove Factory in Udine, IT)! It took just few rehearsal sessions to learn and practice the whole song, and the first thing we thought was that it sounded right like a missing song from our last album UNTAMED.
Besides that song the EP includes 5 tracks, two of which are covers, and three live songs. Can you tell me a bit about the covers and why did the band wanted to record those?
Robby: The two covers are “Get It On (Bang a Gong)” by T-Rex and “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” by Elton John. We’ve always wanted to record a couple of covers in our style and the first choice was easy, as “Get It On” was already part of our live set list, haha.
While the epiphany for the second one came after watching the biopic “Rocket Man”. I saw it and thaught it would be a great idea, as the two songs are from the same decade.
Are there any other songs you want to cover in the future? If so which ones?
Robby: We have just finished the recordings of a Kiss cover for a charity compilation that will be out in the winter. Unfortunately I can’t spoil the title, but you need to wait only 3 months, haha.
However we had tons of fun recording those covers and for sure we will do more!
The biography states that you wanted to experiment a little with the sound of the synth, could you explain a little closer what that means?
Robby: We’ve used synths on UNTAMED and for couple of songs on the previous albums, but it was just a background thing to make the sound “fatter”.
This time we’ve decided to bring it to another level using it for the main riff, drawing inspiration from the New Retrowave and from the latest pop music releases.
The second part of the EP contains live songs taken from the last album UNTAMED. Why did you pick those specific songs?
Robby: The choice was easy. We had those amazing live recordings of our last gig opening for Lita Ford (OMG, I’m still have goosebumps) and we are better known for our latest singles (“London”, “Tyger Bite”, “Tell Me Tell Me”), so we decided to pick those three songs, as suggested by our producer and friend Michele Guaitoli.
Do you have the entire recording of the show opening for LitaFord? How was it to open for such a legend as her?
Robby: Yes, we have the full recording and maybe we will release something more in the future.
As for the experience in itself, I don’t think that the word AMAZING is enough to describe the feelings we felt that night. It was a pleasure and a honor to heat up the stage for Lita and every memory from that night will be forever impressed in my mind. If I could meet 17-year old me and tell him “one day you will play on the same stage as Lita Ford”, he probably wouldn’t believe it at all, haha.
Who did the cover artwork to the EP?
Robby: Christian Wallin is our man. We’ve worked with him since 2011 and he created our logo, album covers, and also the artwork of the “Street Animals” T-Shirt.
Why the name ENTER PLEASE?
Robby: It started as a joke during a boring road trip: we were just fooling around and trying to find titles including two words starting with the letters E and P (because it’s an EP…). I still have them all saved on my phone as the make for a fun anecdote and I can give you a sneak peek of the other options: “Emeritus Pope”, “Exit Please”, “Every People”, “Exit Poll”…
On your Facebook you call your music hard and heavy but in my ears it leans more into the glam/sleaze genre. How would you like to describe your music?
Robby: Well, I must say that we have written songs that sound like different music genres: we go from classic rock to heavy metal, from hard rock to punk rock. Now I think we can sum it up in only one word: Rock.
The bio states that fans of H.E.A.T, Def Leppard, and Reckless Love would like your music, do you think that’s correct and are you fans of the bands mentioned?
Robby: I think that our sound is a good fit among those names, because lots of our fans also listen to those bands. We absolutely like them! I can easily say that Def Leppard and H.E.A.T. are two influences of mine when I write new music.
Alive & Kickin’ (Official Lyric Video)
I’ve never heard you prior to this EP and think it’s a great release! The material is strong and the music is memorable. Are you happy with the outcome of the EP so far?
Robby: First of all thank you very much for your kind words! Yes, we’re really happy with this EP. It’s been out for less than a month and we have already gotten a lot of very good feedback. We can’t wait to play it out loud soon.
Label and management
You are now signed to the label Rockshots Records, which also released UNTAMED. When did you ink a deal with RR?
Robby: We signed with them in early 2019; we have been having such a good feeling about RR ever since the first e-mail they sent us. When we signed the deal our personal lives were really busy, but RR managed to help us start our collaboration with them in the best possible way.
Are you happy with the work RR have put into the band and the album/EP so far?
Robby: Yes, they put a lot of attention and care into everything we’re going to do together and they follow all aspects thoroughly: from Instagram stories to gigs, to all the press stuff.
We work together as a winning team, and we’re now collecting a lot of good results thanks to this.
Why did you parted ways with your old label, Sleazy Rider Records? They released your first two albums?
Robby: We didn’t have a break-up, in fact we are still good friends with Tolis (SRR boss). Simply put, the contract was over and we decided to look for a new adventure.
What are the main differences with working with RR compared to Sleazy Rider Records?
Robby: They have two different working methods, and the Rockshots way is more suitable to our needs. Of course having the chance to meet them and talk face to face is a big plus.
Was UNTAMED only released on CD and not on vinyl? And what about the EP, is it going to be released on vinyl?
Robby: Yes, UNTAMED and ENTER PLEASE have been released only on CD.
I think that vinyl is beautiful and I’ll tell you a secret…we’re thinking about a special “limited edition” vinyl, but its just a new little project.
Is RR releasing and distributing the EP only in Europe or also in the rest of the world?
Mark: As far as I know, Rockshots Records takes care of the distribution worldwide together with their local distributors.
I took a look at the two biggest internet record stores in Sweden and they have had your albums in store but now it’s an on-order item. If you’re a fan of the band here in Scandinavia it’s hard to purchase the albums. What are your thoughts on that?
Mark: I didn’t know that it’s hard to find our physical albums in Scandinavia and I’m really sorry about that because I know that Scandinavia has a BIG musical culture and appreciation for rock music. Luckily nowadays it’s easy to get ahold of CDs and vinyl thanks to websites like Amazon, Ebay and Discogs. Our albums are also available on a lot of other websites worldwide, on our official store and on the label’s one.
Are the albums available on iTunes and Spotify?
Mark: Yes, of course. Our albums are available on all streaming platforms and digital stores. I’m an old school guy and I actually prefer physical copies, but you gotta keep up with the times!
Are you currently working with any management? If not, do you have any plans on it?
Mark: We had a manager years ago but unfortunately he wasn’t the right fit for us. Now we are cooperating with a couple of booking agencies but only for single gigs; we don’t have any long-term agreement. We hope to find soon the right one for us, so we’ll be ready when the world will be back to normality and we’ll start playing again in clubs and festivals. We are working on it.
Now and then
On your Facebook the band list Poison, Def Leppard, Europe, Metallica and In Flames as influences…that’s quite a wide range!
Mark: It is indeed a really wide range. That’s because we have very different musical tastes. Metyou is the one who listens to heaver stuff. We draw inspiration from all the bands we listen to and then we try to mix it and create something new. There’s a lot of amazing music out there despite of the genre, why shouldn’t we let it all inspire us?
How far have you come with the work on the new album, any song titles or so you can reveal?
Mark: At the moment we have 7 songs ready but it’s too early to reveal something, there’s still a lot of work to do. We think (and hope) to be able to go back to the studio in early 2021.
The band’s got 11,000 likes on Facebook at the moment, what would be the dream number? Do you think you’re going to increase the fanbase with the release of the EP?
Mark: We don’t really have a dream number but as they say, the more the merrier! We are happy to see how many people are now following us. We are just three boys from a small valley but with big dreams. It’s a REALLY long way to the top and maybe we will never even reach it, but 11,000 people…for us that’s already crazy. We hope our fanbase will get wider thanks to the release of this EP. Every release is a chance for people to get to know you, share your music with their friends, watch your videos and listen to your Spotify playlists.
Italy was struck pretty hard by the COVID-19 virus, were you and the rest of the members affected by the virus in any way?
Mark: Yes, we lived 2 hard months of lockdown here in Italy. Not being able to see your family and friends is not so easy but it’s for a greater good. I’m thankful for my internet connection, which allowed me to keep in touch with the people I care about. As a band, the quarantine gave us a lot of time to think and work on the new album. We also had to find a creative solution for the “Alive & Kickin'” video, as the single was going to be released in June. In the end we settled for a video that is mostly lyrics and we shot some scenes at home. No matter how hard the circumstances are, we’ll always find a solution. You can’t stop the music.
Do you think the Italian government has done enough to restrain the pandemic?
Mark: I think they did what they could with what they knew. Of course they made mistakes, but the situation was new for everybody, especially for governments, who literally have the destiny of a whole nation in their hands. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes right now.
Any plans on streaming a live show or performance now that you’re not able to tour and do live shows?
Mark: It would be cool to stream a live show (even if it’s sad to play without an audience), but at the moment we are more focused on the new album songwriting process. There’s a lot of work to do and if we want to go back to the studio in early 2021 we have to hurry up.
Earlier this year, in pre-COVID times, you did two live shows. Where were they and how was it to perform live?
Mark: We actually played 3 shows pre-COVID. The first one was with our friends Vain Vipers. The second one was with Lita Ford in Milan and it was just perfect. Sharing the stage with an artist that you love is indescribable. It was January 25th and COVID-19 was still just strange flu going around in China.
Some weeks later we had a gig in a disco club and in those days people were starting to talk about a COVID-19 outbreak in Italy. The very night of our gig all the events around us were canceled last-minute as the government was advising people to stay home and avoid crowded places. Our gear was already on the stage, so we agreed with the club owner to play anyway. There were like 10/15 people watching the show.
What’s your main focus at the moment for the band, to become bigger in Italy or to take on the rest of Europe and the world?
Mark: To be honest we don’t want to focus on a single country. There’s a lot of people all over the world who want to listen to new music and we want to reach as many as we can. As I said before, the more the merrier, hehe
What would you like to say to those who haven’t heard the music of Sandness before?
Mark: I would say that if they like melodic rock with catchy tunes, there are three boys out there that are singing and playing their souls out trying to give them a good time. Because that’s what music is for, giving people a good time.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy ENTER PLEASE?
Mark: This has to be the most difficult question of the interview! It’s catchy, it’s fun, and it’s only 8€ haha.
Well, that was all for me and Metal-Rules.com this time around. I wish you and the band all the best in the future, stay healthy and safe! Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the fans and readers?
Mark: First of all we want to thank you so much for giving us this space and the chance to talk about us and our music on metal-rules.com, and for asking very good questions. We wish you all the best! We want to thank all the people who support us day by day and give us the strength to go on. We also want to greet all the people who didn’t know us and scrolled this far to read the whole interview. We bid you welcome to our world. ENTER PLEASE.