Interview with Sanhedrin

Spread the metal:

Sanhedrin

Interview with Nathan Honor (Drums) & Jeremy Sosville (Guitar, Vocals)

Interview by Demitri Levantis

Having released their third album “Lights On” this month, we caught up with New York based old school metal band, Sanhedrin to discuss the album and what the band has been up to lately.

Hi and thanks for joining us, let’s begin with the new album “Lights On,” what inspired that title and what does it symbolise?

N: In our modern society much turmoil and many prominent social issues have been lurking in the dark, hiding behind social media and other manufactured distractions. Between the global pandemic and the civil unrest in America in the last few years, people are starting to ask broader questions of both themselves and the systems they have found themselves in. In a way the veil of darkness has been lifted and the lights are on, laying bare all of the ugliness and excess of the last few decades.

Is it clear the covid pandemic inspired the album, but are there other big events or personal problems that inspired it too?

My mother passed away in May of 2020, which was obviously a huge thing to go through. The pandemic made it so that the last time I saw her was on a video screen because we were not allowed to be with her due to pandemic restrictions. It was a hard time, and having this record to work on with this band was a major force of positivity during a very dark time.

You say in you make metal the “old school way”, as this can be a bit of a broad term to some, what are in your eyes the main elements to make a good old school metal album?

N: We just write music we like to hear. We all have very varied influences but the most prominent overlap would probably be in the proto and classic heavy metal genres. I think it’s important for a band to have good tone, good hooks and to play their parts with intention and conviction. We do our best to cover those grounds.

J: We’re old school in the sense that we play our instruments as best we can and use tried and true methods to get our sounds. We’re not looking to start or follow any trends. We’re just trying to be the band we want to see and hear as Nathan said.

Does this album follow on in any way from your other releases, “The Poisoner” and “A Funeral For The World?”

N:“Lights On” is a product of the journey we began with “Funeral” and continued with “The Poisoner.” We’ve all grown as people and musicians in the time we’ve been together. Knowing that this music was going to reach its widest audience thus far and being released by the mighty Metal Blade Records, we really wanted to put our best feet forward and present an unabashedly true and polished version of ourselves.

What’s the meaning behind the name, Sanhedrin, and why did you choose it?

J: The word is Hebrew and translates literally to “assembly” or “council”. We work very collaboratively and democratically, so we thought this name was a good reflection of our general methods of workflow.

Do you have a personal favourite song from the album that you enjoy playing live?

N: “Change Takes Forever,” is both challenging and rewarding. When we do it well, it’s mercilessly heavy.

J: I’m quite proud of the songs where we really explored some new sounds and vibes. “Hero’s End” was a lot of fun to create, as was the title track. This band affords us all a chance to explore our own instruments while still staying true to the mission of the band.

I saw that you’ve got a gig coming up with Lady Beast and Book of Wyrms, have you shared the stage with them before, and what was it like being part of Unto Others’ US tour?

J: We played with Book Of Wyrms a few years ago in Richmond, Virginia where they are based. We really enjoyed their sound and performance, but we also really enjoyed them as people. I played a show with Lady Beast in 2015 with my other band Black Anvil, and I was hooked by their live show. Since then, we’ve remained in touch and we are very excited that both bands agreed to travel to Brooklyn to help us celebrate our new album’s release. The Unto Others show at TV Eye was a great show to play. They are good dudes and we wish them all the best.

What was it like having the album mixed and produced by Colin Marston, have you worked with him before at all?

N: Colin has tracked, produced and mixed all of our records thus far. Over the years we’ve become friends and our workflow together is pretty dialed in. Colin is such a talented engineer and musician that working with him inspires massive amounts of confidence. He instantly knows what you’re going for and is able to help you get there quickly and efficiently.

J: Colin is very good at taking the high-stress environment of a recording studio and making you feel relaxed and at home. At this point, he becomes part of the band when we’re recording and we have a great time working together.

When you say an album should capture a band’s “essence and energy” what exactly does that entail and what sort of energies are you giving on the new record?

J: I think we try to just capture the intent of the songs and the sounds we make to get our point across accurately. There are a million things a band can do to enhance their sound in a recording studio, but we are very careful to ensure that what you hear on a record sounds similar to what you would hear live.

What’s it been like working with Metal Blade Records and how did it feel to get signed to such a big label, was it an interesting journey getting there?

J: We had some friends within the music industry who were very encouraging after ‘The Poisoner’ release and subsequent tour dates. We were pushed to try to find a bigger label in hopes of our music reaching more people. We sent demos of some newer material to Metal Blade, and they were kind enough to partner with us for this record. To date, they have done everything we have hoped they would to get the band’s music to a wider audience and they are a pleasure to work with.

What were the hardest parts of the covid-19 pandemic for you, not just in inspiring the new album but on a personal level?

N: The uncertainty of it all, specifically not knowing when you were going to be able to play music in front of people again.

J: A big reason why we do all this is for the live show experience. Having that taken away for so long was a major blow. We were rolling with quite a bit of momentum before the pandemic, and we have had to work extra hard since then to keep this band relevant. Luckily for our fans and our music industry partners, we are not afraid of hard work.

How would you describe Sanhedrin’s music, did you take any influence from the bands you grew up with?

J: We are the culmination of our favorite music combined with fresh ideas and open minds. We are obviously influenced by classic hard rock and heavy metal, but we are also very willing to explore ideas outside those boundaries.

Other than music and current events, what are the other big influences on the band like art, literature, film, etc?

J: Being in such a chaotic and interesting environment as New York exposes you to a vast array of human experiences. I think we pull inspiration from all things beautiful and ugly about the world we live in. Our music reflects our personal experiences trying to navigate life on Earth.

What hobbies do you guys like to get up to outside of the band?

N: I like to cook and ride motorcycles.

J: I like spending a lot of time outside and in nature, particularly on or near water. I like kayaking, jet-skiing, swimming, hiking. I’m also really into following American football and ice hockey.

Coming from New York City, which is classically deemed an artistic hub of America, do you feel your city is still making good music and art or has it changed a lot in your time?

N: I do think there is great music coming out of the city, but it’s getting harder to scrape by as an artist or creative. The cost of living is so prohibitively expensive here that people have less time to relax and create. Maybe it’s that desperation that contributes to the New York “Edge?”

J: I actually left the city a couple years ago, as it became financially unsustainable for my wife and I to justify staying. There is a lot of great art and music there and I think there always will be. It’s the place people go to find out what they’re made of. Moving there many years ago turned out to be the best decision of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s a wild and amazing place.

What do you make of metal in general today, do you like the way it has gone in your lifetime or would you rather it be the same as in a previous decade?

J: I’m not sure any of us consider ourselves on top of the current metal scene outside of how it relates to our band and our immediate circle of friends. I will say that metal fans in general are extremely loyal and appreciative of the history of the genre more so than other forms of music. Our fans seem to be very into what we are doing, and we take a lot of inspiration from them.

When you guys aren’t making music, what are your biggest pastimes, do you have any major hobbies or other jobs that keep you occupied?

N: I run the audio department at the fourth largest theater in New York City, am an active member of my union and am a partner in a small local sound company. All of these things are big commitments and take up a lot of my time. When I’m not working I like to cook, eat, ride my motorcycle upstate or spend time with friends.

J: I’m mostly obsessed with playing guitar and writing music. Everything I do is with that in mind. I’ve become interested in fitness, yoga and nutrition because of how they positively affect my ability to maximize my experience as a musician. I’m also a history buff and a bit of a craft beer nerd.

If you could share the stage with any band past or present who would it be and why?

N: Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath or Judas Priest because, duh.

What advice would you give to your fans who want to start their own bands based on your experiences?

N: Just do it! Buy the best gear you can afford, play with your friends, be passionate, bloody some noses, test boundaries. The best music comes from conflict, now that doesn’t mean be an asshole, just don’t be afraid to test the waters and step out of your comfort zone.

J: If you’re motivated by money, go become a banker. But if you can’t imagine your life without music being the centre of it all, playing music will give you meaning and purpose beyond anything the material world and all its trappings will ever provide. If you believe in what you are doing, you should have no hesitation in betting on yourself.

What do you personally enjoy most about being a musician, and is there anything you’d like to change about it?

N: I love the physicality of it. That you need to commit yourself 100% in the moment. The reward of creating something with people you love, those feelings are both euphoric and magical. I wish that music education was more prominent here in the states and that there were more community programs available to help engage people of all walks of life at an early age. I also wish that our financial systems valued and protected artists and the labels willing to take chances to make them over middlemen and bottom feeders.

J: I love the process of an idea coming into my brain randomly turning into a moment in front of an audience where we are sharing a connection that cannot be defined by words alone. I dislike most of the business aspects of the music industry but recognize that they can be bent to our will to help us reach our goals.

Finally, do you have anything you’d like to say to our readers?

N: Thank you for giving us a chance, we hope to see you out there soon!

Thank you so much again for dropping by and I wish you all the best of luck for the future.


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