Saturday 9 February 2013

Interview with SANNHET

Known Flood cover art

Today I am interviewing brilliant Experimental Post-Metallers - SANNHET - who are currently making waves in the Sludge/Post-Metal scene with their stunning debut album - Known Flood. An album I recently reviewed and stated the following:

"This album is a startling and unsettling masterpiece of extreme metal. It will test your patience at times but what a brilliant ride it is. Sannhet are on the verge of greatness in the next few years. They will be classed as true innovators of the scene. This album is only the start of it."

Their album left a lasting impression on me so I had to find out more about this great band. And they have kindly agreed to do an interview with me. Which I am really excited about. So lets get started.

Q1 – Hi Guys, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you guys Today.

John - Thanks for having us. Things are great.

Q2 – For people not in the know can you give them a brief history of the band and how it came about.

Chris - Sannhet started as a recording project between John and myself. I was living in Brooklyn while John was living in Philly at the time. We wrote, recorded, performed & transformed what was once a "project" into what we are today.

John - As Chris said, the band started as a recording project between cities. When I moved to Brooklyn we decided to take things in a more "live" direction. A million pedals and practices later we were playing the recorded material live. Eventually we decided no matter how loud my amps were, we craved the extra dimension a bassist added to the band, which is when we found AJ. Adding him to the band changed things in a major way for the better and pretty much solidified us as the band you hear today.

Q3 – How would you describe your sound. As you have such a detailed sound that is very hard to describe. I call it Experimental Post-Metal. You probably call it something else

AJ - We like what Fred from BV/IO called us - "post everything". We all grew up listening to hardcore, punk and metal of all sorts and as we got older post punk post hardcore and the like. Its only suiting that the product of that is this spanning genre that is only definable as post.

John - heavy instrumental music

Chris - experimental "instra-metal"

Q4 – Which bands and artists influence you directly as musicians.

John - I have pretty disparate musical interests but my all time favorites and biggest influences include Aphex Twin, MBV, Today is the Day, Morbid Angel, Rorschach, Jeromes Dream, Joy Divison, Can...

Chris - Very diverse, Anything from Godspeed to Hecker to Altar of Plagues.

AJ - Shai Hulud, Converge, Joy Division, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Mogwai, Modest Mouse, Shellac, m83, Candiria, Botch

Q5 – Congrats on Known Flood. As it's a brutal and uncompromising work of genius. Was it an easy or hard album to record for. It must have been a challenging one to include all the noises and ambient vibes going on.

Chris - It was definitely challenging to some degree. It helped working with Colin because he totally "got" what we were going for and our overall sound

John - It was a lot of work, but I don't know that I'd say it was "hard". We went in with a really good idea of what we wanted and Colin was able to pretty easily get on the same page with us. Being the only guitar player in the band certainly gets tiring after a few days of recording, but I was dying to get all this stuff out of my head and out into the world, and that was a huge motivator.

Chris handles the vast majority of the textures and field recordings you hear on the record, and we spent a good deal of time editing and preparing that material before heading to the studio. Having a good plan before we started was also hugely helpful. Of course we left room to work on certain things in the studio, where we thought we could expand upon some of our rough ideas with the help of an experienced producer.

Q6 – What was your original intentions for the album. Was it always the plan to go that dark and bleak experimental nature.

John - We have always kind of just written music without trying to specifically "do" anything except to make something we feel deeply and can 100% stand behind. When we first started as a recording project we explored some of our other influences, and while that older material is quite different than what we are doing now, I think it was still obviously "us". So, I think this album reflects our personalities as musicians and vaguely references the things that influence us, as well as where we are at right now as people. My life isn't particularly dark or bleak but the band is an outlet to express that kind of thing, which I think we are all interested in exploring.

Chris - We are all pretty depressive individuals to some extent. However, we never force anything, whatever accumulates in our brains is normally what comes out.

Q7 – Are you all full time musicians or do you have regular jobs to pay the bills.

John - We are all dudes with regular jobs making music cause we love it. I don't have any real aspirations to make a living off Sannhet, simply to spread our vision to as many like minded people as possible. Plus, I don't see us cracking into the mainstream any time soon...

Q8 – Are your family and friends supportive of your music.

Chris - My friends are very supportive, people who have been there since the beginning.

AJ - My girlfriend would probably like more attention, but fully supportive. My father (a garbage man) brought me home a bass that was left in a trash pile, when I was 13. It was a Paul McCartney style hollow body Japanese knockoff. The neck was bowed like a banana. I played that bass every day for years til I i out grew it. He was always trying help me and my brother play music and play in bands and very supportive. if he was around to hear this record, he would listen to the whole thing, look at me in the face and ask me; Whose going to dance to that?! He never got it, but he loved that I did it.

John - Definitely. Our friends got us where we are today by being the only ones who came to our shows way back when. They all know who they are and I love all of them. As far as my family, absolutely. In fact, my mom may have even been spotted head banging at one of our shows once...

Q9 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it a group collective or is just down to one individual.

John - The process varies. Some of the songs on the album that predate AJ came from me recording myself playing my guitar with my looper pedals for hours and then extracting, refining and relearning the successful experiments with Chris in a live setting. Though I am the first to admit that structure and melody have never been my strong point, so these days AJ and Chris tend to hammer out some kind of structure to which I can come in and apply layers of texture and tone over top. I actually prefer the way we work now and I think as we move forward the material keeps getting stronger due to everyone being right in their comfort zone musically.

Q10 – Your new album is being released Sacrament Music. How did that came about. And on Vinyl as well. Congrats on that. Ordering my copy very soon.

Chris - Thank you so much! We have a very tight knit scene here in Brooklyn. Our friends, who happen to own and operate Saint Vitus Bar have been supporting us for some time now. Arty and Dave (Primitive Weapons) approached us real casually while playing a show together out of state. Basically said they wanted to start a label and put our record out. The rest is history...

John - We've been hanging out at Saint Vitus Bar since they opened the doors, as Chris and I both live nearby. That eventually led to us playing there, which I think we've done more than any band at this point. As Chris mentioned, through all of that we became great friends with Dave Castillo (events director at SV and singer for Primitive Weapons) and Artie Shepherd (co-owner of SV and guitarist in Primitive Weapons). As if those guys hadn't been supportive enough, one night while watching us play a sloppy set to five people at some shit hole of a venue in CT, they somehow got the idea that they wanted to start a label and put out our record. When they asked us, It really was a no brainer. We love those guys, we love the bar and they have always supported us. They also had very similar ideas about format, aesthetic and what a DIY record label in 2013 should be doing. Needless to say we are all super stoked about how things came together.

Q11 - Is there a scene for bands like yourself to perform in your home town on a regular basis. Or do you have to travel further afield to perform on a regular basis.

Chris - Brooklyn has become very strong in the local metal scene. It continues to grow and it is just a blast to be a part of so many amazing bands.

John - The "dark" music scene in Brooklyn has been really evolving into an undeniable movement, at the epicenter of which is Saint Vitus bar. We love to get out of town, no question -- but we have a really strong home base to play to people who really support us.

AJ - Where I grew up it was only hardcore. Not even punk, just tough guy hardcore and some grind/math, there where other kinds of bands, but they wouldn’t play in Connecticut. It was a very jaded scene there.

In Brooklyn, if the show is good enough, you could play a slide whistle through a space echo and people will at least watch you. It’s a very forgiving scene, very open and supportive.

Q12 – Have you toured with anyone famous. If so, who were your fave bands to tour with.

John - Not yet. Though I'd rather tour with someone who we connect with musically and personally over someone "famous" per se.

Chris - 2013 will bring BIG things.

Q13 – What is the live SANNHET experience like. Does it match the brutal intensity of your album. I have seen a few videos on YouTube but I feel this doesn’t capture your band in full flow. Even though the videos are highly impressive.

AJ - It took a while but I convinced the guys to let me introduce projections. Cause I figured, we don’t have a singer, and nothing to look at. And people want a show.. when you see a band you’ve never heard before, for the first time, its often difficult to distinguish the definition of the sounds on stage and therefore, hard to hold onto the experience. You'll recall if they where tight, and maybe, you'll remember a riff or two…

When you take that and you curate an experience around that, you have fostered an impression. There’s something to remember, you can tie elements from the show to the feeling of the music… we are very loud… but very heavily rhythmic.. you can feel the sounds, the baselines and drums are rudimentary, the guitar is washy and high. Its very easy to distinguish which instrument you are hearing.

We then assign abstract visuals to this. The visuals are all black and white, all based on geometry. The shapes are less about the image and more about the way the patterns create a topographical map of what’s on stage. Like in the Absecon isle video, you see how the lines abstract to contour the figure.

Then the floods pour in, to grab your attention and remind you what is happening.

It can be disorienting or trance inducing and its all very intentional.

John - I think our live set is something better witnessed in person. I want you to feel our music and be immersed in an experience. There's some great footage taken by some amazing videographers out there, but you won't ever be fully immersed and feeling it in your guts sitting in front of your computer.

Chris - I personally think that our live performance is way more intense and more brutal then the album. We leave it all out there. I want to be carried off stage via stretcher.

Q14 – I have “borrowed” the next question from my colleague Aaron. But I think it's a cool one to ask your band. – I’m assuming all musician like to talk about the gear they use, so with that in mind what do you use in terms of guitars, amps and why? Also what tuning do you use?

AJ - You couldn’t have asked a better question, because we are more than happy to tell you, at length, all the most intimate details of such things.

I use a Fender Bassman 300 pro head (essentially the Sunn 300t) , Sunn 215b folded horn bass cabinent (given to me by Denis Dunnaway of Alice Cooper, but that’s another story), Gibson RD standard bass. Pedals: EH Holy Stain, Boss dd-5, Dr. Balls rat clone, Morely optical volume, EH bass big muff

John - I play a cheap Korean knockoff of a Vox Phantom tuned to drop D, with cheap single coil pickups, through various overdrives, distortion and delay. I use a modded Line 6 DL-4 for all the layering/looping, which is pretty extensive. I also make a lot of use of an EH Pog2. All this goes through a late 70's 135w Fender Twin hooked up to a closed back 4x12 extension cab loaded with 400 watts of Celestion speakers, for a good combination of open and airy and deep and crushing.

Chris - BIG Vista-Lites

Q15 – What are your views of blogs featuring and reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines?

AJ - Well that’s a funny question cause what is main stream music anymore, everyone has full access to anything, I work for a record label conglomerate, and they cant figure out how to monetize their product anymore. This is an amazing time. Music is free and accessible to anyone. We award the artists we like to hear by seeing them play. We archive the artists we love by buying their vinyl… that is incredible. Its honest. Web blogs are wildly opinionated, and real. And the amazing thing about being exposed to so many opinions is that people realzise they can form their own. So I think it’s a positive thing.

Read product reviews on Amazon, you will realize the world is an amazing place.

John - I prefer it. I don't really read magazines and feel like there's blogs dedicated to much more specific and topics and interests. I like the idea that anyone can put a blog up without having to cater to anyone.

Q16 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band.

The most rewarding aspect is just getting something out of the countless hours, days, months, years of doing something that makes you so happy and proud.

John - Most: when people have a strong reaction to our music. Connecting with someone through what we do is the best reward I could ever ask for. Especially being that we don't exactly follow a formula that many people can easily attach to. Least? Investing shit tons of time, money and effort and still feeling like you're struggling to get yourself out there. But things have been good for us lately, so I can't really complain.

Q17 – Do you have any future plans for the upcoming 12 months or so. Anything we should be excited.

Chris: We are definitely going to tour, play some fests, and keep writing

John: More music, more shows, more everything. You'll see.

Q18 – If you could provide any advice to people wanting to start a band, what would it be.

Chris - Never give up. Keep a strong regiment mentality. Do nothing half-assed.

John: Chris pretty much hit that on the head. Don't be lazy and never give up. Do something you are truly passionate about, and people will eventually connect with it.

Q19 - Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans

Chris - Thank you so much! It means the world.

John - Yeah, just thanks for supporting us and giving what we do a chance. Makes it worth it.

Well guys thanks for doing this. I hope to hear more great releases from yourselves over the next few years. Good luck with your amazing album.

John - Thanks again for the support.

You can buy this album from Sacrament Music on both Digital and Vinyl from 19th Feb 2013.

Check This Great Band Below


Thanks to Dave from Earsplit PR for setting the interview up for me. Much appreciated dude. Keep up the excellent work you guys do.