Alex Haber of Heavy New York conducted an interview with bassist/vocalist Phil Rind of American thrash metal veterans SACRED REICH prior to the band's May 8 concert at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, New York. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the writing and recording process for "Awakening", SACRED REICH's first full-length album in 23 years:
Phil: "It was awesome. We had a great experience. The producer's name is Arthur Rizk, who's done POWER TRIP, CODE ORANGE and CAVALERA [CONSPIRACY]. In speaking to him, we really wanted to work with him because when you listen to the different things he's done, they all had their particular sound. He doesn't have a 'thing' he does, so that was important to us. When we talked to him about what we were shooting for, he goes, 'What are you looking for?' I go 'A [BLACK SABBATH] 'Mob Rules', 'Heaven And Hell' thing.' He goes, 'Martin Birch is one of my favorite producers.' 'Ah, killer!' He's an awesome guy. We recorded at a place called Platinum Underground in Mesa, and John Aquilino runs the place and engineered it. He's just an incredible guy with a wonderful facility and has a great ear and a lot of great technical knowledge. Working with those two really helped out a great deal. Arthur had some wonderful ideas and contributed a lot to the sound and even arrangements and stuff, which we laugh, because 23 years ago when we made our last record, no fucking way we would have listened to anybody. We're more open now. The other joke was the last time we made a record, there were no cell phones. It's been a while. Technology has changed quite a bit. We just recorded to tape. There was no Pro Tools. Maybe there was, but we didn't use it. So, it was interesting. We didn't rely on a lot of that stuff and Dave's [McClain, drums] approach to his drums was no sound replacement, no triggers, just all-natural drums. We just wanted a natural-sounding record. The process itself was really incredible and just felt really positive. It was a really incredible experience."
On what McClain and new guitarist Joey Radziwill brought to the new album:
Phil: "As far Dave goes, obviously, the last 23 years being in MACHINE HEAD, he has so many more experiences than we've had. I think what he really brought is he brought an openness and a willingness to try things. We had an idea of what we wanted from the drum sound, but when it comes to recording the songs, we'd record, then he'd go back and do some other passes and trying some different things in search of the thing that was the best. He was very open, which was an incredible thing to see. He and Arthur were talking, and if anyone had a suggestion, he would try stuff. He was wide open to it, which was amazing. Joey recorded the demos, helped us make the demos for the record, so he was already familiar with the songs. When things didn't work out with Jason [Rainey], Joey just stepped right in and he just destroyed things in the studio. He's just an amazing talent and he's very nonplussed about the whole thing, like, 'Yeah, cool.' He just has an incredible attitude. John, who was engineering the record, was saying, 'I do this every day and the studio can be very intimidating. Here's this 22-year-old kid who just walks in and kills it like a 25-year veteran.' It was so obvious. On the second day, we were, like, 'Man, he is the guitar player in SACRED REICH. He's not just the guy who is playing the guitar tracks. He's the guy.'"
On whether SACRED REICH maintained its core sound on "Awakening" or went for something "out of the box":
Phil: "When we play, it's just going to sound like us. I guess it kind of sounds simple and silly in a way, but when we get together and play, it's just going to sound like SACRED REICH. It doesn't have any choice, right? That's who we are and that's what we do. There was a little bit of, 'Yeah, we definitely need some fast and heavy songs to honor the people that got us here. The fans who have been with us since 'Ignorance'. It would almost be a slap in the face if we didn't have something kind of fast and heavy for them.' We also wanted everything to be natural; to come out naturally without being forced. Luckily when the songs were coming, there were a bunch of heavy, fast songs, so we were, like, 'Yes!' It just had to be natural. The whole process had to make sense. And it just kind of did. Every band says their new record is their best record, right? But, I mean, honestly, to me, it's not even close. It's easily the best thing we've ever done. It's the most focused. The best sounding. We're really happy. We're so happy with the way it came out and the process of making it — we've talked about this, like, obviously, we want everyone to like it and enjoy it, but if everyone thought it was a piece of crap, it wouldn't matter to us because the process of making it was so enjoyable and fulfilling and meant so much to us, and how we feel about the record is so special that it doesn't even matter if anybody likes it. That's how strongly we feel about it. We are certainly our own worst critics. We're going to be way more harsh to our own stuff than anybody else. It's not through ego or patting ourselves on the back that we feel that way. Just having been through all the steps and the process, it was just such an amazing experience. Like, we know what we did. We know how it happened. Even Arthur and John were, like, 'Man, we do sessions all the time. This is really unusual that everything was so smooth and so positive and so good.' It was really important for us. You cannot separate the outcome from the process of making it. The end result is a matter of the process of how you do it, right? So, if you do things for the right motivation in the right way for the right reasons and be open and positive and nurturing and caring and all that kind of stuff, you turn out with something you can be proud of."
"Awakening" will be released this summer via Metal Blade Records.
Rainey recently exited the band for "health reasons" and was replaced by Radziwill.