Saints Of Sin
One of the best live bands we've seen
Ernest caught up with the band
Saints of Sin are one of those awesome retro style bands that deserved the drive from Gloucestershire down to Dorset for an interview. Upon arrival, I was warmly greeted and happily offered coffee. As the band members arrived, they were everything you could expect from a rock band. Hangovers, bandanas, good hair and aviators.
This was going to be good.
You formed in 2012 and originally had a different guitarist, so how did you come across Sophie and when did she join?
"Josh is a teacher at Clive's Music Academy. This is where he first met Sophie. She was a student back then but eventually became a teacher. After being invited to the first ever Saints of Sin show, Sophie became an avid fan and attended many gigs before she joined. We all got to know her quite well and found ourselves at a party round at her house which is when we first became aware of her mad guitar skills. From then on, we kept an eye on her through her YouTube channel and Facebook profile and continued to be impressed by her developing skills. After things didn't work out with Matt, she was our first choice for a replacement. Guitar playing abilities aside, we considered her a friend and the prospect of having a girl in the band was exciting to us. The new dynamic her presence offered was a welcomed change."
You all have full-time jobs so when do you get to practice?
"We don't really! We squeeze rehearsals in wherever we can but, due to our busy gigging schedule and our 'real world jobs', it's hard to fit in. When we write new material, we find a small amount of time to rehearse the songs intensely, but the constant gigging is really what keeps our chops fresh. We've always been very lucky to have good enough chemistry to pull off what we do. We're all so in tune with each other that it doesn't take a lot of rehearsal to put together a tight show. We just get on stage and have fun!"
There is quite the story about the recording of your EP 7 Deadly Sins. Can you tell us about it?
"The Seven Deadly Sins was our first real recording effort, an early demo CD really. It was an entirely independent project, engineered, produced, mixed and mastered by our two guitarists, Sparxx and Matt. We had a lot of gigs coming up (as we always do) but didn't have any recorded material to sell or promote ourselves with. Matt and Sparxx were hanging out one day and figured out a way to thrash out an EP very quickly and with little cost. At the time they both worked for a sound engineering company and were able to hire a bunch of equipment at a low price. We set up a DIY studio in Matt's annexe, compete with custom sound booths consisting of sleeping bags draped over chairs and tables, and the rest is history. In all honesty, the project was a bit rushed, although a great experience and learning curve."
Your sound is very retro, so who are your influences?
"As a band, our music taste is actually quite eclectic. Rui, for example, used to sing a lot of Pop and RnB before he joined SOS. This softer, 'poppier' approach to his singing actually attracted us more to his vocals as we thought it would give us a unique edge to our music. Josh's early influences consisted of a lot of Nu Metal and contemporary Rock, but the majority of the Classic Rock vibe comes from the Jenkins brothers, Sparxx and Ash. They grew up listening to Queen, Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy... This progressed into a keen interest in a lot of 80s rock bands like Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Extreme, Van Helen etc. In the early days, we were really pushing for this 80s vibe, although we feel this has relaxed a bit as we've progressed. The band’s natural musical development plus the addition of Sophie, who’s interests have a firm foot in progressive metal genres, has led to a style of retro rock that we feel has more of a contemporary edge – most evident in songs such as; ‘After Dark’, ‘Welcome To The Circus’ and ‘Rocket’.
Originally called Wasted Nights, Welcome to the Circus is an amazing album. Did it take long to put together and what issues did you have with it?
"Thank you. The story behind this album is a long one! The whole process took about two years from conception to completion, and a lot of shit went down during this time. The original plan was to record a short album - something to showcase ourselves in the hope that a label might be interested and give us the opportunity to record a full album.”
“We used a crowdfunding platform to gather the funds for the project and started the long journey to what would eventually become 'Welcome To The Circus'. After sourcing a local studio, we proceeded to record ‘Wasted Nights’; a 9-track demo CD that we now refer to as ‘The album that never was’ – due to the fact that it never got released! During the tracking process, things, unfortunately, came to an end with Matt. This meant that Sparxx had to re-record his unfinished guitar parts, pushing the whole process back.”
When it came to the mixing and mastering stages of the record, we ran into a few issues and found ourselves really struggling to achieve the sound we were aiming for. As it so happened, we had just begun negotiations with 3Ms, a record label who were very keen to work with us and seemed very passionate about the idea of recording an album for us at their studio. We had a few reservations to begin with – the main one being that we already had an album recorded! Our entire fan base was eagerly awaiting the album we had promised them, not to mention the fact that they had already paid for it through the crowdfunding campaign! We were in a tricky situation and the pressure was mounting. Due to the mixing problems, ‘Wasted Nights’ was not ready for release, so we found ourselves pushing back the launch date again and again. On top of this, we had also written several new songs since the recording of ‘Wasted Nights’ that we were very excited about. Eventually, we agreed to come up to 3Ms’ studio in London to record 3 tracks. The intention was to put one of them on a compilation album that the label was putting together. After an extremely intense day of recording and filming an accompanying music video, we came away with exactly what we were trying to achieve with the ‘Wasted Nights’ album.”
We couldn’t help but be impressed with the results from 3Ms’ studio which led to some controversial conversations amongst the band. We came to the conclusion that the fans would be willing to wait if we promised them an even better product than what they were originally expecting. In the end, we took the hit, scrapping ‘Wasted Nights’ and starting again at 3Ms’ studio. Here we recorded ‘Welcome To The Circus’ as you know it.”
Are you currently writing for a second release and when could we expect that?
“We are in the middle of writing some new material that we’re very excited about! It’s really quite different from anything we've done before. It still has the 'SOS stamp' but it's far more modern and features some interesting genre-blending. We've been playing with some Pop and RnB elements within our Hard Rock/ Metal exterior to create a contemporary fusion that we're really excited about - a similar vibe to our covers of Uptown Funk, Bang Bang and Umbrella. As for a second album… you’ll have to wait and see! It’s early days at the moment and the creative juices are still flowing. A second album is most certainly on the cards, but we couldn’t say when. You’ll have to keep an eye out on our social media pages for updates!”
The band is extremely tight. Did it take long to attain that level?
“As mentioned earlier, we are extremely lucky to have such good chemistry. We work hard but we’re all best friends, family even. It’s been that way from the start and I think that this is the main reason we gel so well as musicians. In the early days, before we’d even played our first gig, we would spend every weekend together. We would rehearse for hours, writing songs, practicing our stage show… we would drink… A LOT! This was all crucial bonding time and is a big reason as to why these days we can go for months without practicing and still pull off a really tight show.”
You have been very busy this year with quite a few more gigs to go until the end of the year. 2019 you are already booked for HRH Sleaze and AOR. Any other festivals on your Radar?
“We absolutely love the HRH festivals – some of the best gigs we’ve done! There’s the usual suspects such as HRH, Teddy Rocks, Great Dorset Steam Fair etc but next year we’re really hoping to step up a level to the bigger rock festivals such as Steelhouse, Rambling Man Fair, Camden Rocks and of course Download.”
What do you feel Wildspiritz rising can do for you?
“Any magazine that’s willing to feature us is most definitely a friend of ours! As the Tesco motto goes – every little helps! We’re serious about making a long-term career for ourselves and spreading the word is a great help. The more people we can corrupt into Sinners the better!”
How did you find getting played on Johnny Walkers rock show?
“It was so surreal! But amazing of course! We’ve had our music played on a few different radio stations around the world, but this was our first mainstream radio accomplishment. It’s a humbling experience when a DJ spins our stuff and it’s exciting to know that there are people out there enjoying and discovering us. It’s an even bigger deal when that DJ is Johnnie Walker on BBC Radio 2! The whole thing was so out of the blue too – Josh’s mum Tweeted Johnnie Walker with a link to one of our music videos on the off chance that he might see it… as it so happened he did! Not only did he play our music, but he also gave us a great shout out and took the time to read out a few tweets from our fans. It felt like the rock show was centred around us that day, it was an honour!”
Being within the huge DIY community do you find it difficult getting your music out there?
“It is tough to be fair. The music industry has always been notoriously hard to break into - you can’t open doors unless you’re already on the inside… and thus lies the paradox. I think this applies now more so than ever. The internet and social media makes everyone so connected which is both a blessing and a curse. Thanks to the internet, anyone and everyone has the potential to reach the masses. On the one hand, it’s easier than ever to publish something but on the other hand, this makes it hard to be heard above all the noise. The world is constantly changing at a rate that’s only getting faster. What may have worked for bands a few years ago, may not work now. It’s hard to keep up with the ever-changing environment and find a way to break through… especially as we’re going it alone and none of us are particularly business-minded! What we really need is some professional management.”
What does the future hold for Saints of Sin?
“World domination! Who knows what the future holds? All we can say is that we work damn hard and if we keep at it we believe we could really make something of ourselves. We’ll follow this rabbit hole as far as it goes! The ideal, of course, is international stardom but the main goal in the short term is to reach a point where we can make this our full-time career. We’re all shooting for the stars, but we agree that if we can make a living out what we love then that’s a success.”
The final question which is our standard ask. What do you have to say to your fans?
“Our fans are the best. We’re so lucky to have such a dedicated fan base. They’re so involved and supportive of everything we do. Whether it’s coming to see us live or showing their support online, they always give 100%. It’s an honour to have such a positive impact on other people’s lives. Music is such a unifying experience - our fans are like a family and we’ve been fortunate enough to witness strangers become friends and even romances blossom, all because of our music. Sinners – keep doing what you’re doing! You are everything to us, we’d be nowhere without you. Keep loving, keep living and keep supporting live music!