We chat to Sonic Syndicate frontman Nathan J. Biggs about the band's new album, how it was made, why he was shocked on stage and his love of horror films.
Were there any memorable or funny moments while recording ‘Sonic Syndicate’?
The whole experience was pretty intense to be honest. We’d met up for some photoshoots, song writing, the odd social visit like birthdays and what-not, but this was the most amount of time we’ve spent together in over two years. It was hard to resist the temptation to party every night, when Rob and I get together we have a funny habit of finishing bottles of tequila. I remember one night we felt the strange obligation to record a cover of My Heart Will Go On a la Titanic which we vowed will never see the light of day. But all in all, considering the circumstances, I think we were very well behaved. One stupid night in Gothenburg where we ended up sleeping in the bus terminal, but probably the less said about that the better. We had a job to do and it was all about the music. The most memorable moment being when there is that ‘snap’ and it stops being a bunch of separate guitar, drum, bass and vocal tracks, and it hits you that you’ve made a fucking awesome album.
Which song are you most proud of on the new album?
Its hard to say. There are a few where once again we are trying things that are outside what one might expect from Sonic Syndicate. See What I See has got this great old-school death metal feel, where as Unbreakable is probably the first time i’ve really been honest with myself lyrically, in the way that i’ve admitted I don’t think I’ll know how to live when a certain person dies. But overall, I’d probably have to say Diabolical Work Of Art which ironically is only available on the digi-pack edition as a bonus track. Its a real incentive to buy it, because most bands end up putting their fodder there that wasn’t good enough to make it onto the standard release. Its probably the darkest and most “Fuck you” kind of song we’ve ever written; really giving the middle finger to any haters, media and anyone else thats wants a piece.
Where did the idea for the cover art come from?
That would be, Gustavo Savez. We’ve worked with him many times before and he always delivers what we want. He works really closely with you, your lyrics, and he’s a huge metal fan and really connects with music. He’s done stuff for Arch Enemy, Sepultura, Manowar and plenty more. This cover kinda reflects as a metaphor for the band, depicting a world completely desolated, the only survivors being four figures. The meaning I tag to it is that they would not have survived this harsh environment if it wasn’t for each other. But I try not to be too deep with these things, it just looks fucking cool.
Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid features on your song Before You Finally Break, and Soilwork recently had the mishap of their stage collapsing mid set at Hellfest. What’s the most dangerous thing you have had happen on stage?
Once in Germany the stage was soaking wet from the bad rain, I stepped backward and onto a cable and got a massive shock. Everything just went white, I couldn’t see shit. Apparently there was about five seconds where I just stood there before I kicked back into auto-pilot and carried on singing. But yeah, its very hard to know when to say “We can’t play”. To my memory there has never been a moment when we’ve made that decision. Maybe we’re just too stupid for our own good. But when your at a festival especially, and you know some people have paid like a hundred euros or more just to see you play, you feel a definite responsibility to get up there. I remember once, I think it was in Holland somewhere, there was a storm, and we had to delay our set three times already waiting to see if the weather would clear. But it didn’t. The stage kept shaking, the rain kept coming, our side-drops blew off. But we were like “Fuck it, Lets do it!” and just as we were about to go onstage the headline act, Killing Joke made the decision not to play, and for one reason or another that meant we couldn’t play. I’m not saying they made the wrong call, because there is a good chance we would have died if we got up there.
We’ve heard you’re big fans of horror flicks including Hellraiser. Who is your favourite coenobite?
Yup. We like horror. In fact we held our album pre-listening party in Helsinki, Finland on Friday 13th, June just because. But, I’ve matured a little bit these days. Meaning I watch Game Of Thrones and Sons Of Anarchy. Usually unless its got monsters, evil things or dinosaurs in it i’m quick to lose interest. Hellraiser is definitely one of my favourites. The original trilogy obviously being the best, but I’m this obsessive kind of idiot that has seen them all. But it all comes back to Lead Cenobite, later known as Pinhead. I could sit and watch him play with his box all night.
Which horror film would Sonic Syndicate want to do a soundtrack for?
I’d love to see a remake of Event Horizon. But I’d only agree to do the soundtrack if they got some ‘real’ director on-board, like maybe Divid Fincher. But with that said i’ve always thought it would be sick if Steven Spielberg did a really nasty horror movie and broke away from the Disney-fold. The closest viewers got to that was Poltergeist.
When will Sonic Syndicate return to the UK?
We’re playing a bunch of festival slots in Europe over the next few months, but head out on our headline tour, The Diabolical Tour Of Art this October. As we speak we are finalising the UK dates for November and plan to hit Glasgow, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, London. So to our beloved friends at Metal Hammer, our fans and quite frankly anyone that wants to see an energetic metal band hit the stage, get over to our Facebook for the dates announcements!
Sonic Syndicate’s new album Sonic Syndicate is released today via Nuclear Blast.
Order your copy here (opens in new tab).