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Through hard graft Auckland death / thrash metallers SINATE have become have become a prevalent force on the New Zealand metal scene. In just three years the band has released two albums ‘Beyond Human’ (2005) and ‘Violent Ambitions’ (2006) and supported a ton of major international acts including MOTÖRHEAD, SLAYER, GOD FORBID AND SUFFOCATION. 2008 sees the band prepare to take a bold step – relocating to the UK to take their metal to the masses. NZRock editor Dave Borgioli-Jones caught up with drummer Sam Sheppard for the latest news in the world of SINATE.

MOTÖRHEAD’s gigs in New Plymouth last October were awesome, what was it like having the main support slot for the second show?

Fuck it was awesome man, when we got the news that was probably the best thing. After playing with SLAYER that was the peak and we it was like, what would be the next band we’d like to play for and it was like MOTÖRHEAD man. And then we got the news. It’s always more amazing when you find out that you’re going to do it. I mean it’s awesome doing the show and drinking with them and shit, you can’t even explain it, but when you find out its like when you find out that you’ve won Lotto as opposed to spending all the money kind of thing. That analogy kinda fits.

Did you get much opportunity to hang out with Lemmy and the rest of the band?

We could’ve but I’d met them last time I came down so I didn’t go out of my way to do it. The other guys did but I was just really drunk and just did what I do.

Apparently MOTÖRHEAD’s guitarist Phil Campbell was doing the Rock N’ Rock thing and smashing up lights in his dressing room, did you get to witness any of that?

Nah, but we were doing that in our dressing room too, it was sweet HAHA!

Like you said before you got the opening slot for SLAYER earlier in 2007, what was that experience like?

The best day of my life, easily! It was just fucking incredible. I mean just to go and see SLAYER is a huge thing for me. They’re my favourite band ever and my biggest influence so just to see them play is amazing. But to play with them and then drink with them afterwards… we were on the piss with fucking Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman for a few hours afterwards and they were just like awesome dudes who you’d just meet at a pub. It was just fucking awesome.

To the present, you guys did the ‘Beyond Human’ album in 2005 and ‘Violent Ambitions’ in 2006 but there wasn’t anything last year.

Last year was our biggest gigging year ever doing the Big Day Out 2007 and then supporting SUFFOCATION and GOD FORBID. We got the AGNOSTIC FRONT one but lost that because the venue got changed. We played with SLAYER and MOTÖRHEAD and then we got the MACHINE HEAD support but they cancelled so we couldn’t do that – fuck that would’ve been awesome! Then we played with BEHEMOTH at the end of the year as well as just touring on our own in between. It was just the biggest gigging year ever for SINATE and its going to be hard to beat.

You’ve mentioned before that you were looking at recording the next album in the US with someone involved with PANTERA. Is that still a possibility?

The guys is Sterling Winfield. Colonel (bass) has known him like an acquaintance for a few years because he went on tour, not with PANTERA but just saw them in heaps of towns. He Just followed them around and just got on the piss with them quite a few nights. Colonel played him some SINATE stuff last year and he was keen to produce us so we were like fuck yeah he’s the man we want and he’s keen to do it so we’re going to Texas in October to do it. And we’ve got some tour planned in America that isn’t set up yet but its happening. I’m not going to say anything until its confirmed but yeah it’s in the pipeline that we’ll be doing a tour in the states before the album hopefully if all goes to plan. But yeah we’re definitely going to be recording that album and then moving to England after that.

So SINATE is doing a permanent move to the UK then?

Yep, just for as long as we can do it pretty much. It might be fucken two years, it might be three months but we’re just going to see what happens.

What was the decision for the move? Are you over the big fish in a small pond thing here in New Zealand?

People have said that but we never thing about it like that. It’s just playing Metal to new people that havent heard it. Everyone in the New Zealand Metal scene has heard us. Fucken 90% of New Zealand Metallers know who SINATE is, if not more. We’ve done all the big gigs here. We could stay here and do another Big Day Out but after supporting SLAYER and MOTÖRHEAD how are you going to beat that? You might as well go and play with them over seas. That’s the only way you’re going to beat it.

Have you guys got some good contacts in the UK already?

We haven’t really contacted many bands in the UK or agencies and stuff because we’re not really going to England to play in England, we just need to be in Europe. We were going to move to Sweden but we cant get a job so England is the only English speaking place. And it’s so cheap to get to Europe from there and that’s our main goal.

Are any of you guys luck enough to have UK passports?

Sean (guitar) does. Me and Matt have a two year thing but still have to get that. We’ve still got to get the dates for the album first and then we can book it.

You recorded in Sweden before with Pelle Saether with 8 FOOT SATIVA and also for ‘Violent Ambitions’. Will you ever record with him again?

I’d fully be keen but we’re kind of on the buzz now of doing every album in a different country. So we did ‘Beyond Human’ in New Zealand, then ‘Violent Ambitions’ in Sweden and now the next one in the States. Its just a cool idea I reckon. It gives every album it’s own individual sound. I’d definitely love to work with Pelle again but in a different country, just to keep that theme going.

Have you guys got song names or a title for the next album yet?

Nah no lyrics. The title is the last thing that comes up apart from the artwork. But yeah we just do all the lyrics and songs. Both albums we’ve done we’ve never had a working title or anything. It’s just at the end we’re like what do we call it? And we’ll look through all the lyrics and try and find something cool then agree on it.

Do you guys share the lyric writing or does Matt do all of that?

Me and Matt do. Matt does about 80% of it and I do about 20% – on the last album anyway, it’s different every album.

You’ve organised the Mammoth Metal Fest at Auckland’s Powerstation venue on 26 April 2008 and the line-up is looking great. How’d you select the bands for that one?

I just went through my phone and picked all the bands whose numbers I had and then asked them and they all said yes so I was like sweet! There are heaps of bands that I’d like to have on there who aren’t on there but I didn’t have their phone number so I couldn’t. And I was in Australia to see IRON MAIDEN just as I was organising it so I talked to STATE OF INTEGRITY and they were keen. Then BERZERKER was playing in New Zealand on that night anyway and Gareth the Promoter of RW Entertainment asked me if I wanted to put it on that gig and I was like fuck yeah! It just makes it even better. Two Aussie bands, a whole lot of New Zealand bands and it’s on ANZAC weekend so it’s like a fucking ANZAC Metal Fest. Metal for the soldiers of metal!

Aucklanders SUBTRACT were originally on the line-up, why’d they end up cancelling?

Well the event was originally going to be on a Sunday and that was fucking awesome. When we found out it was going to be on a Saturday I was stoked because there are going to be way more people but then SUBTRACT couldn’t do it and it sucks. I fucken love those guys and we’ve wanted to play with them for ages. I don’t think we’ve ever actually played with them. I have with 8 FOOT SATIVA.

For the Kiwis who don’t know, what are STATE OF INTERGRITY and THE BERZERKER like?

I’d never even heard THE BERZERKER until last Monday when I went to the Hard, Fast And Heavy Show (on Auckland’s Bfm) for an interview and they were fucking awesome! It’s like hard out Thrashy Death Metal. I was really drunk so it might be shit but it sounded wicked at the time HAHA! And STATE OF INTEGRITY I don’t know how to explain them. They’re influenced by SLAYER and early METALLICA, MEGADETH, SEPULTURA, PANTERA, all the good shit you know. But I don’t really know if it’s right to say they sound like any of those bands, but they’re influenced by all of them. But they’re just fucken cool – awesome live band man!

Do you still keep in touch with our Aussie cousins FRANKENBOK? Their singer Adam left the band.

Yeah I don’t know what happened there. I’ve talked to them but I don’t really talk about that because when you haven’t talked to someone for ages you want to talk about good shit. But every time we talk we’re pissed and we say we should do some gigs together. We’re both fucken keen but it’s hard to organise when we’re so far away from eachother. But we’re going to Aussie to do the Brutal Fest in Brisbane in June and then a couple of gigs in Sydney so we’re going to try and get those guys to come up from Melbourne to Sydney. It’s going to be awesome to see those guys again. They’re fucken wicked drinkers.

In 2006 there was The Beast 06/06/06 Metal Day Out at the Supertop in Auckland and that didnt go well attendance wise. What do you think the Mammoth Metal Fest will have over that gig?

It’s all ages. It’s on a Saturday not a Tuesday, and they sell piss. They’re three damn good reasons right there HAHA!

You recorded WARD 10’s album last year at your own studio. What sort of studio setup have you got there?

I’ve got a 24 Track Elitist Hard Drive but only a 16 channel desk so I can record all those channels but I’ve got to mix it somewhere else. WARD 10 did that, they came to my house and recorded then mixed it elsewhere.

Have you got any other bands booked in to record there?

VATIKAN might be but I havent heard from them for a few months about that. They told me in January they might be keen to come up but I’ve seen them a couple of times and they haven’t mentioned it so yeah, no idea. I’m selling most of that shit anyway to go overseas. I’m selling pretty much everything except my record collection.

How did SINATE come to be sponsored by Randall Amps?

Colonel was the rep for Randall. He brought Randall into the country through the people he knows in the States. So if it wasnt for Colonel there wouldn’t be any Randalls in New Zealand. He sorted the deal out for all the shops here so it’s just a given really when your bass player is the fucken sales rep. As long as you’ve got exposure to thousands of people then you’ll get a deal.

So any regrets about leaving 8 FOOT SATIVA back in 2005?

No regrets at all. I can’t believe how awesome its been. Yeah fuck I don’t know, it’s just unexplainable, I never thought it’d happen like this. I thought we’d be the fucken underdogs and they’d take off but they just didn’t. And then we got the Big Day Out and all the supports and everything and we’re going strong with the same line-up. It’s been three years almost.

Yeah you guys have stayed strong while the 8 FOOT SATIVA line-up has changed so many times.

Yeah you cant get any fucken brotherhood when you’re swapping members. I mean that was the main thing about this band – it was getting mates. Because Colonel wasn’t even a bass player, he was a guitarist. And we’d never even heard Sean play lead guitar but we just wanted to be in a band with those guys because they were cool. We know we’re going to love each other and hate each other like brothers do you know. But you know that this is it, we stay together for this, the big picture and that’s what it’s all about. We have fights and all that but fuck, everyone does. We’ve just got to keep our heads in and know that the next day when we wake up it’s like sweet as, everything’s back to normal – just like family does. You have to be able to take a lot of shit and give a lot back too haha!

The Mammoth Metal Fest will be held at The Powerstation, Mt Eden Rd, Auckland on Saturday 26 April 2008. The event is all ages and the venue is fully licensed. Tickets available from Ticketek – 0800 842 538. Line-up: STATE OF INTEGRITY (AUS), THE BERZERKER (AUS), SINATE, DAWN OF AZAZEL, MALEVOLENCE, CRIPPLE MR ONION, WORLD WORLD FOUR, TAINTED, HUMAN, JUST ONE FIX, VATIKAN, WRATH.