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Sanhedrin's Erica Stoltz: "We are consuming wantonly the very things that give us life without replenishing. We are lulled into submission by the comforts we are afforded"

Interview with Erica Stoltz from Sanhedrin
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 05 April 2022, 11:13 AM

It appears that oblivion is right here, and not a farfetched future that might happen one day, just look outside your window and you will see that it is right there, gathering shape. However, there is still time to wake up and do something about it, it is not too late to change, or at least start with something that might deliver us into a better tomorrow. That is quite a saying, and there is truth to it, and it has to be recognize. The American Heavy Metal band, Sanhedrin understand that deeds have to be done in order to save our world, but it would take a lot of door banging and the changing of the guard. Coming with their new "Lights On" album, after signing with Metal Blade Records, there is a lesson to be learned. Steinmetal explored it further with singer / bass player, Erica Stoltz.

Hello Erica, it is a pleasure to have you for this conversation with Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing?

Hi there, I’m doing better than many people on the planet right now

After the craziness of the last two years, and I sure hope that we are on our way to better days pandemic wise, we have a war on our hands in the East. As if there aren’t too many things that need fixing, and not this. Since we will be discussing the human condition further down the road, and in light of your thoughts about the matter, how do you view this war going on?

I have a feeling the ramifications of this is going to last a while and will shift power in the human world. We will all continue to suffer as long as we are dependent on fossil fuels and the geopolitical infrastructure that dictates in their distribution.

Recently, you guys delivered your third album, “Lights On”, and also a newly signed band to the juggernaut Metal Blade Records. This is quite a step forward, and a potential to indulge upon further. How do you find this signing? What are your expectations from this relationship with Metal Blade?

This is, for me personally, the biggest label I have worked with thus far. They are doing everything I would expect a label of this size and stature to do for Sanhedrin. The results are notable. The team we have worked with so far is top notch. I recently moved and with my LP collection which I have been dragging around through my life. When I unpacked I realized that when I began collecting, many of the records I bought were on Metal Blade or Death records! I have loved this label for a long time.

“Lights On” takes on a swing at us, the people, and not just us, as a society, or individuals, but also ticks us, goes through our minds. I wonder, in regards to the album’s chief narrative, and state of mind, are we bound to experience what has been happening to us, whether the pandemic, and now the war?

We are animals, just like chimpanzees. The intricate life that we have created (in the developed world) I liken to the ourobourus. We are consuming wantonly the very things that give us life without replenishing. We are lulled into submission by the comforts we are afforded.

People have been consumed by negativity rather than positivity in the last two years, with fear playing a major part in our daily lives.

How does “Lights On” view what concerns us, what makes us feel worried and insecure?

There is NO benefit to simply worrying, we cannot afford to wallow in fear. We have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We have ought to be compelled to be less destructive and more educated about the planet.

We talked about other people, and the social order, however, it would be good to know, and since it probably found its way into “Lights On," what do you fear from? What is the nature of your system of beliefs?

Ooh good question. I am afraid of myself mostly! My belief system comes from growing up with access to a wild forest. My folks built a log cabin in a remote area of New York State when I was a small child. I grew up between there and Brooklyn NY.  A very privileged experience. Watching and interacting with the natural world lead to falling in love with the land. When you love nature as you love people it changes your priorities. I have also been aware over the years of a deep intuition guided by my ancestors. I have good spirit guides.

The album’s artwork had me intrigued, I tried to understand if I was looking at two different realities, or perhaps a present, to the right, and a possible future, to the left. When it comes to the vision behind the artwork, and hopefully the mind of its creator, is this a state where danger looms? Are we leading ourselves into this? 

We are already there! Lights On album art is a reflection of the world as it is. It is a call to pay attention.

There is a really old saying, which has been around for many years, saying that mankind has an evil nature from birth. First, do you agree with this phrase? Second, if you do, is there a mention of “Lights On," in particular, since it is human condition related?

No, I don’t believe we are evil at birth. I think we have the evil placed in our brains in our upbringing. I am not mad at babies, LOL! I am concerned with “grown-ups”.

 “Lights On," particularly, and Sanhedrin, in overall, found me at a kind of “expect the unexpected” sort of way, musically. Your form of Heavy Metal is old school by nature, however, there is something interesting going on here as there are shrapnels of influences that are rather modern based, yet well integrated with the band as a keeper of an old flame. How do you find this progress going on the record?

The “modern” or not Traditional Metal influences you speak of are all parts of our varied musical tastes. I love metal so do my bandmates but that is NOT all we listen to.

We mentioned influences, other than being driven by the early days of the genre, what can you tell about the elements of the contemporary kind, or perhaps crossing beyond Metal, that drove you into different paths this time around with “Lights On”?

Well, I think you can hear some “The Cult” worship on Lost at Sea. We all love The Cure so I think you can find that sound in places. We write songs we want to hear that are fun for us to play in the 3-piece format.

The diversity of the written music, crossed well into the arrangement of the songs, which clearly shows that you came forth in order to create a distinctive note, in contrast to many others that tend to tightly stick to their guns. What can you tell about the songwriting process surrounding “Lights On”?

We tried some new things. I brought the Scythian Women bones to the table, no pun intended. Code Blue and Death is a Door was written from vocal lines. This varied from the formula of Jeremy bringing the riffs and me bringing the lyrics.

You mentioned in the dossier that being a three piece makes it complicated to come up with being unified around dynamics. In regards to “Lights On” wasn’t it rather an advantage to have less people putting in their musical desires, and to which direction to push forward? How were you able to find that fine line between you three in order to make the record acceptable for all parties?

We are lucky to have a good rapport between us. The communication is decent and we share a work ethic which is rare. We have always said less people less problems.

Since you were writing the album, and probably recording it, while the pandemic was still hard on everybody’s case, how were you able to dodge the lockdown bullets, and of course the restrictions? Was the process of creating, and recording, the album a smooth sailing or rather a path filled with obstacles?

We all got better at Logic to record our demo. We did a lot of file sharing and we got together on zoom every week just as if we were practicing. Any challenges were met because even in the darkest moments the prospect of making this record was a bright light in the future.

You have been around, as Sanhedrin, for nearly eight years, and I believe that every album is an experience, a learning curve you might say. Therefore, in your perspective, what did “Lights On” teach you as a band, as writing comrades and of course, as musicians?

I think this process demonstrated what is possible when you are “on a roll”. The whole world shut down and the three of us still felt this compulsion to move forward with the demo and then the record. In that sense we were lucky to have that goal. Lights On and the process of making it deepened our commitment to each other and the band.

Listening to “Change Takes Over”, I found a fine mixture of a track that is not of the regular formula that is Pop in nature, but nevertheless, a hooking track. It shares that step beyond traditional and onto new horizons. What can you tell about the creative process of this particular track? What can you share in regards to what it is all about?

I can tell you that I invoked Tina Turner and Pat Benatar for the singing. Jeremy brought the song and it had this super open chorus that was begging for a vocal hook. The melody and the lyrics came to me simultaneously and fit perfectly. It brought the song into new territory by giving it almost a motown feel. Another genre that seeps in due to our mutual love of all music.

With hopes that the current war won’t travel across Ukraine, because then there will be nothing, as we will probably in total war, what are your plans to support “Lights On”?

We are touring Germany in May. It will be great to be on Tour with our friends in Stallion! Then A tour around our Legions Of Metal appearance in Chicago also in May and a tour out to Metal Immortal Fest in Pittsburgh Pa. We want to get out there as much as possible.

01.05.22 Osnabrück – Bastard Club
02.05.22 Kassel – Goldgrube
03.05.22 Villingen-Schwenningen – Kulturzentrum Klosterhof
04.05.22 Mannheim – 7er Club
05.05.22 Erfurt – From Hell
06.05.22 Hamburg – Bambi Galore
07.05.22 Dortmund – Junkyard
08.05.22 Regensburg – Eventhall Airport

Erica, I can’t thank you enough for the time you made for this interview. “Lights On” had me enjoying not traditional Metal but also an open mind. All the best

Thank you for thoughtful questions. Be safe out there! Erica



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