Alex Haber of Heavy New York recently conducted an interview with guitarist Lenny Rutledge of Seattle metal legends SANCTUARY. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On writing the first SANCTUARY album without vocalist Warrel Dane, who passed away in 2017 and has since been replaced by WITHERFALL's Joseph Michael:
Lenny: "It's something to get used to. Warrel and I had kind of a certain way of working. Obviously, when somebody new comes in, that process changes a little bit. It's a little bit of getting used to on both sides, but so far it's been a pretty cool experience."
On whether SANCTUARY ever followed a "template" when songwriting:
Lenny: "Yeah, I mean, somewhat. A lot of times, for the most part, we get a good riff going and then it kind of works out with the band. Once we feel like it can get past at least three or four of us and we're feeling great about it, then we kind of pass it on. In the past, we would pass it on to Warrel. If Warrel liked it, then we would continue on with it. Not everything made it through. I can't tell you how many songs were written that just didn't, for some reason, make it through to the light of day. Sometimes later on they would, maybe we would present it a little bit differently, a couple of years later, then we'd add that song. It's kind of the same thing now. Every now and then, we'll try something a little bit more experimental just to see how it works, but we do have a general working vibe. Usually, I come down there with a few riffs, then the rest of the band puts their take on it, then we go from there."
On whether SANCTUARY tries to make their live shows different than their albums:
Lenny: "It's a little bit of both. It kind of depends on the song, especially on [2014's] 'The Year The Sun Died'. We tried to do everything really close. It's a little easier for us to do everything closer because it's quite a bit newer. It has a little more of a modern sound. Maybe that's just us now. That's what we've naturally evolved to. Going back to 'Refuge Denied'  and '[Into The] Mirror Black' , it was a little harder to touch on recreating that perfectly. At the same time, it's kind of nice to vary it a little bit. It's a little more interesting for us sometimes, and maybe even the listener as well."
On whether there was a metal scene in Seattle where SANCTUARY could cut their teeth in the 1980s:
Lenny: "There was a radio station up here called KCMU. It was a college station, and there was a guy on there. His name was Jeff Gilbert. He had an all-metal show on Sundays. He played some of the different styles of metal in Seattle, but there was a lot of really heavy stuff, too, similar to us. He spent a lot of time playing local bands, but he would play stuff like SLAYER and METALLICA, but a lot of the corporate radio stations around here weren't playing that. So, that kind of developed a bit of a scene. It started where we would all have parties and sit and listen to that radio show at that time because it was kind of the coolest thing back then where you could hear all of your favorite metal bands that nobody else would play. The people who were really interested in that would get together and just have parties. We'd sit there and drink beer and listen to that show. That sort of created kind of a fanbase as well. A lot of the people who listened to that show ended up being in SANCTUARY or other bands around the region, too, like BITTER END and FORCED ENTRY, and bands like that. So, we all hung out. There was a little bit, kind of almost a thrash metal, or more of a darker metal vibe around that time. A lot of that went away once grunge came along."
On what he learned being in a band with Warrel Dane:
Lenny: "I'm still amazed, especially now that I spent a lot of time working on 'Refuge Denied' because we're playing 'Refuge Denied' on this tour we're going out on. I'm amazed because I've had to really pay attention. There have been times I maybe heard a song or two in the past two years that I haven't really listened to in-depth in quite a while. I'm so blown away by his range, his storytelling. The guy, he had endless possibilities, just creativity and brilliance. Still to this day, I don't know… I'm in awe of him and always will be. There was no one like him. There's no doubt about that. There's definitely no replacing him as that, but I mean, man, that guy, still to this day he gives me chills when I hear a lot of his music. NEVERMORE and SANCTUARY both."
SANCTUARY will perform "Refuge Denied" on its upcoming American tour which kicks off July 11 in Atlanta. The tour wraps August 17 in Seattle. Support on the tour will come from GHOST SHIP OCTAVIUS, the band featuring former NEVERMORE drummer Van Williams.
Dane tragically passed away on December 13, 2017 due to a heart attack while recording his second solo album in São Paulo, Brazil.