Going Back to the “Inception”
By Dave Schwartz
Sanctuary is hitting on all cylinders.
After reforming in 2010 on the pretexts of doing a handful of shows,
four of the founding Sanctuary members: Warrel Dane (vocals),
Lenny Rutledge (guitar), Jim Sheppard (bass) and Dave Budbill (drums),
decided that the response and chemistry they were feeling was
undeniable. They decided to reunite permanently.
To catch you up on some quick history,
Sanctuary inked a deal with Century Media in 2013 and soon after
released “The Year the Sun Died” in 2014. Tours quickly
followed. In February 2015, guitarist Brad Hull departed for
personal reasons and remains friends with the band. He was
replaced by Nick Cordle on guitar. And in 2016 ex-Panic bassist
George Hernandez, who had filled in for Jim Sheppard on tour the
previous year, was announced as the band's new permanent bassist.
Rutledge, while digging around in the upper
loft area of his barn stumbled across the master tape of Sanctuary’s
original demo’s. First listen proved unimpressive but their
producer, Zeus (Chris "Zeuss" Harris - Queensryche, Hatebreed),
believed the tape could be resurrected.
On February 24th Sanctuary will release these
original demos as “Inception.”
DB: Let me start by saying
congratulations on the new record, “Inception.” There is a lot
of chatter around the Internet about this.
LR: Yeah, people are really responding
to this. It’s really cool. The dem’s, as they were
recorded back in 1986 are out there, you can hear them on the
Internet, but they were really poor quality and when you hear the
difference you’ll be amazed. In my opinion, and I love “Refuge
Denied,” but this has something different. There’s an edge, a
rawness, an aggression that wasn’t really there – I don’t want to say
wasn’t there on “Refuge Denied” but – it was just polished a little.
It was rounded off. The sharp edges are what you hear on
“Inception” so I think that people who are fans of “Refuge Denied” are
really going to enjoy this.
DB: I know that some of the songs are
subtly different – small variations in the intros and so on.
Were there any surprises for you listening to these tracks for the
first time in years?
LR: Yeah, there were some things that we
were tempted to fix but we didn’t. When I first heard those guitar
tones I was like, are you kidding me? It didn’t sound right and
Zeus was like listen, I’ll EQ this stuff and make it sound good and
listen, I’ll tell you what, he worked a miracle. After I found
the demo tape I had it transferred to digital.
And I brought it up in my home studio and was
like, ewww, God I don’t know. But when Zeus came over he dialed
it up a little bit and created a mix. And I was like, this
really could sound cool, I get it now. And we talked about going
in and maybe fixing this and re-recording that but in the end we
agreed that we wouldn’t do that. We wanted everything to be as
it was in 1986. We wanted the listener to hear who we were, what
we were doing and how much money we didn’t spend on that. We
wanted all that to be part of the experience.
There were a couple of solos I was listening
to and I was like, Zeus, I could do that so much better. And
then he said, yeah but we really want this to be 1986, and I agree
with him. I thought about it and realized that that’s what we
did back then and who we were. Now listening back to it, I get
it and it feels right and sounds cool. There are a couple little
blemishes that it would be cool to fix but now that I’ve heard it a
few times I just feel like… That could’ve been our first record
actually-- we could’ve skipped “Refuge Denied” I think. Not that
that whole experience wasn’t amazing as well because it really was.
But I mean money-wise, financial-wise we probably could’ve skipped
right through that. We could’ve pocketed all the money and
released that. (laughs)
This isn’t necessarily a secret but we
recorded “Refuge Denied” for $20k all in. We remixed the record
and re-recorded “White Rabbit” and some other things and the whole
bill came up to $50k. Back then, that was no big deal.
Bands spent that kind of money on records all the time. But as
far as “Inception”, we spent $1,200 recording it. We spent a
little more mixing and mastering it and stuff. But comparatively
it was just a fraction of what we spent on “Refuge Denied”.
“Refuge Denied” was fun and a great experience for us all but it’s
just amazing what you can do these days on a budget. I mean we
have the tracks from 1986 but the mixing and mastering I guess, that
was all kind of modern technology.
DB: It is amazing just how much things
LR: Yeah, for sure man. Everyone
has a recording studio on their laptop or in their bedroom. It
not how it used to be. I remember having to spend a fortune
buying half-ass music gear to record us and it was pretty good stuff
and all but I spent a small fortune on it. The songs sound
better now recording on these computers.
DB: You’ve mentioned the buzz that
“Inception” has created. I can’t think of any better way to
demonstrate the buzz the new record has created other than to say
you’re heading to Europe and playing all the big festivals.
LR: We’re doing 8 or 9 festivals.
One of them isn’t fully confirmed yet.
DB: Are you planning any dates aside
from the festivals?
LR: I don’t know. We were talking
about possibly doing that. It is a little difficult from what I
hear. I mean that depends who you are. If you’re one of
the bigger bands you can book some dates in between. Our booking
agent is telling us that they’re trying to book things before Wacken.
Our festival schedule will end with Wacken which is a great way to end
it. There’s a week there before Wacken where we don’t have much
to do and we’re not coming home. We just figured that we’ll stay
there. I mean we’re flying back and forth to Europe 3 times this
year and so we figured we would just stay for that one. To fly 5
guys back and forth to Europe is like $7500 or $8000. You
actually save money by staying there even if you’re not actually
playing any shows. So yeah, we are trying to book some shows in
between and right before Wacken is where we want them.
DB: I’m looking at your schedule right