Belgium’s SardoniS may be a new name to some people, but trust me on this, for a 2 piece of guitar and drums only, they deliver some of the most intense skull crushing heaviness to be found in the Doom wastelands. With their mammoth debut 4 track 7″ EP out now on Electric Earth Records, wanting to know more about the Brotherhood that is SardoniS, I caught up with skin beater Jelle for the lowdown.
Hi Jelle, how’s life treating you in the land of cheap cigarettes and beer brewed by monks? As usual at the start of my interviews, please give us a brief introduction to the band, your current members and what they do?
Hello Lee, life is treating me well at the moment, I just turned 30 and in May of this year the lady gave birth to our first child, we named him Thor.
SardoniS is a two man army; on the 666 strings there is Roel, 36 years, a very devoted and talented guy. And there’s me sitting behind the drumkit. We’ve play together for about 5 years now and we formed this two piece band in the summer of 2006. We play instrumental heavy songs and try to create a thick, dynamic bulldozer sound.
SardoniS, what does it mean and where did the name come from?
In the eighties there was a very popular weekly television show for kids on the Flemish national television named ‘Merlina’. It was the cliché story of the good hunting the bad. In this case a group of detectives were chasing down a group of villains who kidnapped children, terrorized the elder…
The bad guys were lead by this super villain named SardoniS. When we were young and we did something bad, our mama always told us to be nice, otherwise SardoniS would come and get us. He was the demon of our youth.
How would you describe your music using only 3 words?
Heavy thick storm.
Why are you just a 2 piece, was this always the intention of SardoniS to strip the music down to its barebones and would you ever consider expanding the line up?
There was and still is one main goal, playing the music we like, playing heavy shit. We began jamming and creating walls of sounds in the summer of 2006 and it felt good with just the two of us. So quite early we decided to go along the road as a two man band. There are indeed some vague plans to introduce a bass guitar and even vocals when we’re going to record, but not now and not on the first full length.
Your also an instrumental band, so even though there are no lyrics, is there a story or philosophy behind your songs and how do you go about giving them a title?
We don’t have a specific philosophy when we write and compose the songs, but the magic hits the rehearsal room when the right riff flows out of the cabinet and that special atmosphere pops up.
When a song is finished we baptize it with a name that suits the feeling of the song. Just listen to ‘Nero D’avola’ which is Italian for ‘black fog’ and you’ll know what I mean.
And with being a 2 piece how do you create such a heavyweight sound, do you rely on overdubs in the studio, or is this something you can create live?
Thanks for the compliment, it’s always nice to hear that people experience a heavyweight sound when listening to our EP, it was our initial intention and we’re pleased with the result.
There are some speculations that we’ve recorded a bass guitar, but we didn’t. We’ve doubled the guitars, but credits for that wide heavy sound go out to our brother behind the buttons Xavier Carion, the owner of Studio Jonathas and former guitar player for Belgium metal band Channel Zero. He’s very focused and understood immediately what our intentions were. Before starting the recordings we went together through some albums of 5ive, High on Fire,… He mixed and mastered the 4 songs very thick and raw and – being a guitar player himself – he knew how he could create a massive guitar sound. He will also be our partner in crime to record our first full length; we’re looking forward to that!
Creating it live really depends on the acoustics and size of the club, the atmosphere…we have the right tools but every gig is different.
Following on from this, can you give us a run down of the equipment you use which helps you achieve your colossal sound?
Roel is armed with a Gibson Les Paul custom (literally a heavy guitar) a Marshall head and 4 speaker cabinet + an additional ‘London City’ 4 speaker cabinet. As for me, I play a Gretsch kit with big Bonham sizes; 26″ bass drum, 14″ rack tom, 16″ and 18″ floor tom and a 14″ snare. Cymbals are all Zildjian, the smallest crash is a 19″.
Your debut 7″ has just gone on pre-sale and sold out its 50 limited white vinyl copies in about a week, firstly, you must be very happy with the response to this and for those that missed out, when is the ‘standard’ version going on sale and with it being limited to just 200 copies, will you consider doing a repress if it sells out as quickly?
Yes, we were very happy and also quite surprised with the anticipation on the pre-orders, not that many people knew us and in less than 5 days, 50 7″‘s were pre-ordered. The official release date is September 1st, so from that day on, people can buy the EP at the Electric Earth webshop and there are also quite a lot of distro’s worldwide that contacted the label to stock the EP, so people should get their hands quite easy on this. It’s very unlikely that there will be a repress.
And what can people expect from the 4 tracks on offer here?
Two songs on each side that give a good impression of the stadium we’re in as a band at this moment. We consider ourselves as a doom orientated heavy band, not a 100 % doom band. Side A starts with “Nero D’avola” followed by “Skullcrusher A.D.” of which we think it’s the song that most people will like the most. Flip over the 7″ and you will get hammered in the face with “MOR”; eclectic, more up-tempo and quite short (2:30 min I think). Last song “Sick horses” is a combination of the former songs and represents the feeling and direction of the full length. The EP comes in a simple old school black and white sleeve. A sticker is included too.
Your also working on your debut album, so can you tell us a little bit more about this, what tracks it will feature, what formats it’s planned to be released in and when it’s likely to see the light of day?
When I’m writing this, the guitar player is on tour in the US with his other band “Solenoid” so we’re taking a little rehearsal break right now. In September we’ll do several gigs so we will restart writing new stuff in October. So far four songs are ready; 1 song we wrote in 2006 and 3 new ones titled “Thor”, “To the Barn!” and “The Wolf’s Lair”. We intend to record 9 or 10 songs somewhere in May next year to be released in September or October 2009. The first full length will be a continuation of the EP, this means some slower songs and other more up-tempo ones. But all heavy as fuck!
We’ll sent out the result to some labels. Electric Earth will probably do the vinyl version, but nothing is definitive yet, we leave all doors open…
How important is it for SardoniS to play live? How easy has it been to get gigs in Belgium and further a field?
We’ve sent out some promo’s to clubs and organizations and people started to contact us to play live. It was as surprising as it was with the pre-orders; we did not expect is, but it feels great.
Playing live from time to time is important for us to present our material to the people. We both toured a lot with previous bands and we don’t want to become a band that tours more then it rehearses. We have a great time every Thursday evening drinking some beer, smoking some pot and doing the heavy 😉 so it’s not necessary to play live every week.
You’ll also be playing the ‘Celebration of Independent Culture’ which is the ZXZW Festival in Tilburg, Holland later in the year, quite an amazing festival which lasts a whole week with over 200 artists playing in 29 different venues, so how did SardoniS get asked to play such an event and are you looking forward to it?
We sent a promo to the organization and two days later the chief emailed us that he liked us a lot and offered us an opportunity to play ZXZW. Tilburg is then packed with people who are open for some new experiences, so it’s a great opportunity to present SardoniS to a wide audience beyond the heavy music scene. There is dance, jazz, black metal, spoken word… very cool indeed! We play at ‘The Little Devil’ with a Macedonian, an Australian and an American band. The day after we share the stage with Pelican and Torche and two days before ZXZW we support Obiat in Ghent. A very interesting week indeed!
I should also mention that Jelle is the man behind the mighty Electric Earth Records who released the SardoniS 7″, along with Black Pyramid & Eternal Elysium, so can you tell us a little bit more about your involvement with Electric Earth and what else do you have planned to release?
I run the label basically alone, but I get great help from my lady and some friends from time to time. Electric Earth wants to release quality vinyl in limited quantities (250 to 500 copies maximum) Our initial goal is promoting undiscovered great heavy bands and some bigger names from time to time. We did the great anticipated debut 7″ EP by Black Pyramid and we will also most certainly do the vinyl version of their upcoming first full length. There is the 10″ ‘Mysterious Views in Stone Garden’ by Japan longtime running act (17 years already!!) Eternal Elysium. It features the songs off the split CD with Black Cobra and a new piece of doom recorded in February of this year + a poster of the band anno 2008.
There are 4 things that we have in the pipeline at this moment and once the details are set out we will certainly update you, but we can’t tell much more about these projects now.
For a few months now, we also do mailorder, it’s a user friendly webshop at www.electric-earth.com and we get some orders from time to time. We only have vinyl’s and some DVD’s and shirts from time to time. We’ve just bought a big box from Land O’ Smiles and other great labels and we’re always willing to trade good quality vinyl’s with labels and bands.
And finally, what does the future hold for SardoniS, do you think you’ll ever make it over to this grim island to play a few gigs?
The Brotherhood of SardoniS will stay on the path of heaviness, that’s for sure! We want to keep creating that special atmospheric sound exploring that world armed with 6 strings and 4 skins.
For now the first priority is trying to bring our EP live as good and hard as possible; every gig is as important as the other. There are the recordings and release of the full length and it would be great to cross the Channel and present the EP in the UK. Any suggestions or help is welcome…
Thanks for the interview Jelle and please use this space for any final words…
Thanks go out to you for the interview and Ollie for the great review he wrote on this website. The UK has a great and important scene with massive bands and superb zines and forums. Initiatives like “The Sleeping Shaman” are very important. Heavy music is winning new souls and the internet is the perfect place to share this same passion. Thanks for supporting the brotherhood of SardoniS and we hope we can make it to the UK somewhere in the near future. Cheers.
More info on SardoniS at: www.myspace.com/sardonis666
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards