“We’re Full Of Hatred And That Drives Us To Do What We Do…”
Sinsaenum, the extreme metal supergroup led by Dragonforce’s Frederic Leclercq and former Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison are back with Repulsion To Humanity, one of the heaviest things you’ll hear in 2018. While their love of old school death metal continues to bleed from the speaker every moment, their second full-length is a bigger yet more cohesive affair, with a couple of songs breaking the eight-minute mark. With a title that requires little in the way of interpretation, this is not a record that cheerily embraces the current state of the world and the people in it, and they have definitely provided a soundtrack for those desperate to rail against the frustration and disgust generated in daily life. We caught up with Joey and Fred to talk anger, working your ass off, and too much sterility in metal right now.
You dropped your debut in 2016, the Ashes EP in 2017 and now you’re back with your second full-length — are you always writing for the band?
Fred: “Yeah, I guess we are! [laughs] I have ideas all the time and I know that this is the same for Joey, and when the first album came out I was already working on the stuff that would be on Ashes and the new record. If I’m honest, I haven’t started writing for the next album, but I’m sure that’ll come soon!”
Joey: “Yeah, it’s totally like that. Fred and I have had a connection from when we first met a long time ago, and we’ve been working together ever since. It’s been such a constructive adventure we’ve been on together.”
Did you have an idea of what you wanted this record to be, or do you just start writing and see how it comes out?
Fred: “I would say that for the first album I definitely had a very precise idea of the way it had to be, and a lot of the songs were written a long time before I even met Joey. So, I had a lot of time to write and plan them, and I wanted to tick all the boxes for death metal and fly the flag from where it left off in around ’95. This time, we were just angry and writing songs without thinking about it too much, which is a good thing. It was flowing out of us, and we’ve always said Sinsaenum is an outlet for us, a catharsis that lets us vent all the anger and frustration we might be feeling. We really let it all out on this record. There was no plan, just hatred.”
Joey: “Yeah, there wasn’t a structure or anything. We got in there, I sat behind my drums, the guys put their guitars on and we started creating. It was magic, man, it was killer.”
Sinsaenum, Nuit Noire
How would you describe the sound of the new album in comparison to the first one?
Fred: “It’s different because we went with a different mixer. I would say the first one was more polished, and we had a lot of interludes and it was telling a story, so I guess it had to be ‘clean’ in a way. For Ashes we really found our sound, and with this record we really didn’t want to have the production that every death metal band seems to have these days. It’s great for them, we just wanted something different. What’s great about our band is that we have a lot of people whose musical identity really shines through. When Joey plays drums you know it’s Joey, and everything we do is still going to sound like us, but we wanted something very aggressive sounding.”
Joey: “I don’t like the sound of the word ‘polished’, and while we have a more raw production sound on this record our performances are all lined up perfectly. When you listen to it, it makes you move, and whether you’re playing brutal death metal or crossing over into black metal you need to be completely on point. You can’t drift whatsoever, and what’s best about Sinsaenum is that it’s always a workout, and it’s always a test. Even though the record is titled Repulsion For Humanity it’s humans that made this record, playing at their tightest.”
Fred: “Yeah, it’s a very organic album too. It’s not clinical in either production or performance. I was listening to a band — who I’m not going to name — and found myself thinking, ‘For fuck’s sake, this is so sterile.’ There’s no balls to it, nothing, and we’re completely anti-that. It’s good to listen to bands like that because it makes us very much aware of what we don’t want to do.”
A couple of the songs break the eight-minute mark, which is new territory for Sinsaenum. What can you tell us about those tracks?
Joey: “They needed to be that long. There’s no getting away from it. When the heart is pumping like that, your feet are on the bass drums or your hands are on the guitar strings and you’re all together you know when it’s going to end. I don’t care if it’s 15 minutes, 8 minutes, 3 minutes, it doesn’t matter.”
Fred: “Exactly. Like we were saying before there was no plan or format to stick to, and a bunch of them just ended up long and slow, and that felt right. The last song on the record, Forsaken, which is nearly nine and a half minutes long, was actually longer in the studio. At the end we had the riff on repeat and I just let Joey play on the drums forever, and we felt we needed to shorten that one a little bit — or the album would be fucking 90 minutes or something! [laughs]”
The title doesn’t really need much in the way of qualification, but was there anything in particular that inspired it?
Fred: “Humanity. I wake up, I check my phone, I check my social media, I watch TV and I shake my head. Whatever is around me repulses me, and I guess that’s no different for Joey.”
Joey: “Absolutely. What’s great about the song by that name is the fact that it’s very true. It’s not just a title.”
Fred: “And it’s definitely not a gimmick.”
Joey: “No, it’s not that at all. It’s us saying what in the fuck is wrong with people? It’s not like we have to be all peaceful and everything, because we’re full of hatred and that drives us to do what we do, so we’re not peaceful people. But, at the same time there needs to be a measure of respect for people, but that gets disregarded all the time, and that really inspired that song.”
Fred: “And the good thing about Repulsion For Humanity and all the hatred we have is that we’ve turned it into something positive, in the end. Instead of going outside and shooting people we’re channelling all that hatred into a positive outlet, and I hope people catch on to that.”
Sinsaenum, Sacred Martyr
When you recorded the album did you all use one studio or did any of the members have to track their parts elsewhere and send them to you?
Fred: “That was the case for Sean [Zatorksy, vocals] and Attila [Csihar, vocals], but what was important was having Joey in France with me. We knew it would be way better to have the foundation of the music there, and we wanted to spend time together. We didn’t go out, we were not partying every night, it really was music, music, music all the time, with ideas going back and forth.”
Joey: “It was killer, man. The difference between being in your comfort zone and then travelling to somewhere else where you have a challenge that you have to rise up to meet makes for something special. I’d get on my drum throne and have Fred and Stéphane [Buriez, guitar] right there with me, and it was a case of nail it or go home. Because I didn’t get to rehearse with everybody I would do four or five different passes coming up with different fills and seeing what the guys liked.”
Co-vocalist Attila has been much less involved with Sinsaenum this time around. Why’s that?
Fred: “When we started the sessions for the Ashes EP — and due to the fact that when we worked on the first album we wanted to go on tour but we couldn’t because of schedules and everything, and everything that could go wrong went wrong — we decided to plan a couple of years ahead. When Attila came in for Ashes we were going to discuss Repulsion For Humanity and the touring we were going to do for it he said, ‘Hey bro, I don’t think I can make the album, I’ll be too busy.’ He’s very busy with Mayhem, Sunn o))), Tormentor, and when he said he couldn’t do it I asked if that meant he was leaving the band. He said, ‘No, absolutely not, I just can’t commit to everything you’re planning out, but I still want to be a part of Sinsaenum.’ I know that fans get really attached to the lineup of bands, because I do too, but we said from the beginning that Sinsaenum has to come last and work around all of the band schedules everyone has. But, because we were building some momentum Attila said don’t wait for me, something special is happening with this band and you need to go with that. At first we said, ‘Fuck, how are we going to tell people Attila’s not as involved and won’t be doing the tour?’ We decided to just tell the truth — Attila is busy — but, he did write some lyrics and did some backing vocals on there. He’s not in the videos or the photoshoots we did, and we were not going to Photoshop him in there because that would basically be lying. But, he is still in the band, and we have his blessings for the record. Everything is fine for us, everything is fine for him, and I hope that people understand that.”
Presumably you’re excited to get some proper touring done this time around?
Joey: “When you put this much effort and this much heart into a project like Sinsaenum you create magic. If you were to not go out and promote it that would just be wrong. The people in this band came together for a reason, and maybe we’ll never know what that reason is, but we’re here and I want people to know that no matter what Sinsaenum is not going away. We’re here to stay, and these shows are gonna make that very fucking clear.”
Fred: “Exactly. People might have thought with the first record we were just some kind of ‘supergroup’ who would do one record and fuck off, like so many do. That’s not the case, we’re making music, we’re going on tour, and we’re here for the long run.”
Sinsaenum, Final Resolve
Words: Dan Slessor
Photos: Anthony Dubois
Sinsaenum’s new album Repulsion For Humanity is released on August 10 through earMUSIC. The band return to the UK to play The Dome in London on October 19. More info here.
He aims to complete it following Sinsaenum’s current tour.
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