Ever since their astonishing ‘Ye Are Gods’ Sabbath Assembly have set a higher level for occult music. ‘Quaterinty’ was recently released worldwide and I had the opportunity to chat with the Assembly’s frontwoman Jamie Myers about their take on religion, music and writing process…
First off Jamie, how are you doing? What’s keeping the Assembly busy nowadays?
Hello there, I’m doing well. We’re readying ourselves for our upcoming Euro tour and also working on material for the next album.
Let’s talk about ‘Quaternity’, what was the writing process like for the LP?
‘Quaternity’ was created in layers. Dave and Kevin (Dysrhythmia/ Gorguts) were living in New York at the time and I was in Texas, so it was crucial for us to find a way to creatively collaborate in an efficient way. Once we had established a concept, Dave, Kevin and I, spent a lot of time recording and trading demos. It was a wonderful to hear everyone’s ideas slowly unfold and build upon one another. The whole experience was quite rewarding.
Did it differ in any way to ‘Ye Are Gods’?
Absolutely! ‘Quaternity’ felt more cohesive to me in a lot of ways. It was coming from a personal place. The three of us had time to establish a bond and a musical kinship. Where as with ‘Ye Are Gods’, we were aware of each other’s musical history, but as individuals we barely knew each other.
I recently saw ya’ll are going on tour with Uzala and are headlining Heavy Days in Doom Town. Will this be your first festival headlining tour, how did it come about?
We are thrilled to be touring with Uzala. I have been a fan of their music for some time now and have booked a couple of Texas gigs for them in the past. Last October we played a few Texas dates with Uzala and Mike Schiedt and had a blast hanging out with them. It really solidified our friendship. The last night of their tour, we were hugging it out and saying our goodbyes and Darcy (Uzala) exclaimed “Lets do this again…in Europe!“. We all had a good chuckle and agreed. At the time, I thought it was just end of the night bar talk, but a couple months later Chad (Uzala) called me up and said they were playing the HDDT fest and asked if we’d like to tour Europe with them. Of course we said yes, it was a no brainer. Chad was really the one who spearheaded the whole thing. So we put our names in the hat for the festival and were invited.
Where did you first encounter the scripture of The Church of Final Judgment and what made you start a musically oriented project for the praise of the scripture?
I was a teenager the first time I saw anything Process Church related. I was listening to the Funkadelic ‘Maggot Brain’ album and happened to read the linear note, which is an excerpt from the ‘Process Number Five on Fear’. This was pre-internet and I had no idea who the Process Church were at the time, I just knew I was reading some heavy shit and was blown away by it. There were also similar moments of discovery in my youth, while listening to Psychic TV. All in all, when I think about it, there have been many circular moments in my life that have led up to my involvement with Sabbath Assembly. When Dave asked me to be a part of the project, it just felt right.
The emotions I received at your concert last year were exactly like the ones I had at evangelical church down south. Would you equate Sabbath Assembly with monotheistic sermons?
For the show you’re speaking of (Roadburn 2013), we had Genesis P’ Orridge performing the role of the Sacrifist. Gen is other worldly. I had goosebumps while s/he delivered the Process liturgies during that performance. Coupled with the music, I can see why you would feel that way. It’s an interesting and scary feeling. Especially for me, having grown up in the south, where religion is often crammed down your throat. I’ve spent the better part of my life rejecting the narrow views of the “Bible belt“, so perhaps it’s ironic that I’m in a band that on the surface may seem “religious“. For me this music is a blasphemous counterculture to Christianity. Christianity believes in a single all powerful god, as opposed to the Process Church belief that one should follow a path represented by one of four deities. Much of the older Sabbath Assembly material is based on Process hymns, so no, I don’t equate SA to anything monotheistic.
Have you ever received hate/censorship for any kind of organizations due to the church’s problematic (to society’s) philosophy?
Haha! Strangely, no. At least, not that I am aware of. Though it would be a dream of mine to perform this music in a cathedral one day. That might certainly raise a disapproving eyebrow or two.
What have been your most interesting lineups in a live setting?
Dave and I are very fortunate to have worked with some stellar musicians and last year’s tour with Kevin and Richard Hurley (a musician from my hometown) was awesome. However, this tour will be quite unique for us. ‘Quaternity’ is a very orchestral album, so on this hitch we will be bringing a string section with us. It’s been really interesting piecing the music together this go round. We all come from punk/metal backgrounds, so we’ve had to strike a balance between the parts of us that want to turn everything into a “rock” song and find a place for “shoegaze” lushness of the viola and standup bass. I feel like we’ve come up with something hauntingly beautiful and very ominous.
What are your religious beliefs in regards to Satanism and Christianity?
To be perfectly blunt, fuck Christianity. Sure there are some nice sentiments in the bible here and there, love thy neighbor, blah, blah, blah, but there is a lot of harmful, backwards bullshit in there too. Christianity and many other religions have not been kind to women. Though Christian views and attitudes about women vary considerably throughout the last two millennia, all the major world religions, including institutionalized Christianity, deprecate women to some degree. Organized Christianity has interpreted the Bible as prescribing a gender-base hierarchy and has placed woman under the man’s authority in the church, marriage and elsewhere. As a woman, I just can’t get down with that.
As for Satanism, there is still a need for Satanic extremism because its opposite still exists, but it’s not my bag either. I like to live more of a balanced lifestyle, which is why the Process story is appealing to me. I don’t mean to sound as if I’m not interested in the subject, obviously to some degree I am. It also doesn’t mean that I’m not a “spiritual” person. I just choose not to limit or define my feelings on the subject with those two particular labels.
In my opinion, all religion is bullshit including The Church of Final Judgement, yet when I was at your sermon/concert I felt so calm and at home. Could you explain how Sabbath Assembly creates such emotions even within many apathetic/agnostic fans?
Where we are in our personal life often plays a part in what a song means to us. Songs that are spiritual in nature tend to remind us of our own mortality and cause some to feel devotion and others to feel disdain. It’s a subject that for better or worse, evokes strong emotions and opinions in people.
I have many friends who don’t consider themselves “believers” but still enjoy listening to gospel, soul, or old country songs that are rooted in spirituality. Many a night I’ve listened to Hank Williams records and though I’m not religious, the pain and truth in his voice while he’s singing “The Lost Highway” or “Angel of Death” has left me crying in my beer.
Music doesn’t always have to be interpreted so literally. For some it becomes more about the emotion a voice or melody possess and in turn how it makes them feel. First and foremost the music of Sabbath Assembly is intended to inspire and uplift with a very heartfelt and sincere performance. In the end, that’s what’s most relatable.
Thanks for answering my questions and please use this space for any last words…
Daniel, thank you for your thoughtful questions. If you live anywhere near one of the many gigs we’re playing this May, come out and say hello. We look forward to playing and meeting new people along the way.
Interviewed by: Daniel Arom