|Screams in the night: Sandrider's Jon Weisnewski. (All Cat Rose photos)|
Some things are tough to describe. When a band clicks its proverbial power button on and they suddenly unleash their arsenal of decibel weaponry on you, it's almost too late to think about what you're in the middle of. You just lean into the fray and let it claw you into its realm while the players are raging away as if it's their final night on stage. It's a fucking crucial time to be part of the music world.
That's Sandrider for you.
The Seattle pummel unit consists of Jon Weisnewski (guitar/vocals), Jesse Roberts (bass/vocals) and Nat Damm (drums) and they've been leveling venues for the last eight years or so. We've been welcome victims of their bombastic musical barrage. We're still standing and ready for more.
Here's an email interview with Weisnewski:
** How did you guys find each other? What do each one of you bring to the band that forms the cohesive unit?
Nat and I have been close friends and playing together since we were teenagers in high school just learning our instruments. We've kinda just been attached at the hip since then. We've both played in a number of other bands with different people but I can't really imagine not playing with him full time. He'll always be my first pick for a band mate for any project. We met Jesse way back when Akimbo and The Ruby Doe used to play together a lot around Seattle and that put him on my radar as a great player. Jesse is also a talented tattoo artist, and when Sandrider was looking for a bass player he was working on my sleeves. One day at a rippin' tat sesh, I just asked if he wanted to come play with us. He chose wisely.
Nat and I bring beer to the band. Jesse brings weed.
I'm actually having a hard time isolating the individual things we bring to the group. We're all very much on the same page about a bunch of important stuff... We want to play loud, we want to always be crushing, we want the band to always be fun for us and the audience, we don't take ourselves super seriously or force ourselves to "work hard" when it comes to the rigors of practice and playing shows, we hate loading gear yet refuse to play small amps, we all just want to make records and explode stages.
** What was the first practice like? Did you know then that something cool was in the making?
Nat and I had been playing for a while trying out different people, some went great but the people were too busy, some didn't go so well, and some were just him and I figuring out a sound. The first practice where Jesse played there was definitely some tangible magic in the air that wasn't there before. Again, Jesse is such a solid musician that he just picked up the songs right out the gate, and he's also such a positive, easy going, fun person to be around... Yeah it felt awesome. Definitely like the vibe clicked in and we all were pumped to keep playing.
** What about the first gig? What were people's reaction to the pummeling sound?
My memories of our first show weren't actually all that great. Nat and I were still doing Akimbo full time and I had just started playing guitar seriously again, so I was playing on pretty broken guitar gear for a long time as the band was starting. I had a lot of gear problems for most of our early shows. Our second show was at The Comet Tavern with Saviours, and that show was extremely sick but we still kinda sucked. I wasn't confident as a guitar player for a while. I think the first show that felt truly triumphant was one of our early shows at Black Lodge. Played with a ton of good bands and we just had a good night ourselves... people started seeming really excited about the band and we were seeing a lot of repeat faces from show to show. That felt nice. Still does.
|Nat Damm lets loose. (Cat Rose photo)|
** What keeps the Sandrider machine rolling? Are you just as stoked on the recent album as you were the first one?
Playing music with Nat and Jesse is just such a joy. I can't not do it. That's what keeps it rolling for me.
As far as the records, I'm a very harsh self critic. There are songs and/or elements of all of our records that I think could have been much stronger, so with that in mind, yes, I'm just as stoked but I'm also just as critical. I think on "Armada," Matt got the best drum tone he's ever gotten out of Nat. Like "The Corpse," I think "Creep" is one of the best songs we've ever written, and like "The Judge," "Lineage" is one of the best songs we've ever recorded (in my opinion when we play it live, it's not as strong as it is on the record).
** How would you describe your sound? Was it what you were looking for at the start or did it evolve into how we know Sandrider then and now?
I've always described the band as "loud rock". To me that's what it is, how I think about it, and what I'm shooting for when writing a song. I know it's extremely vague and doesn't help anyone, but that's been my consistent lens for how I see the band.
** You've played all over, from small clubs to Bumbershoot to being featured on Monday Night Football with your decibel levels shown in relation to a Seahawks crowd. What are you personal highlights? How did the football thing come about and what was your reaction to that?
I think one of my favorite shows was the "Godhead" release show at Neumos. The show sold out which was just a huge deal to me personally because I didn't think we'd ever do that. We also played really well that night and the vibes around "Godhead" were super positive, and I remember glowing for weeks after that show. Bumbershoot with Red Fang was also great. About a year ago, we played the Highline with Whores and I loved that show too. Linda's Fest last year with Helms Alee, Wild Powwers and Trash Fire was really great. Funny enough, I'm consistently surprised at shows that I assume will be "just another night in Seattle" that end being really really cool. The show last summer at Nectar with Gl0se was crazy good. I love Gl0se and was excited to play, but I didn't think it would be so great.
The football thing was actually just a happy accident. We found out via a forwarded email chain that they didn't necessarily want US, they just wanted any loud "grunge band" in Seattle for their bit. The weekend their camera crew was in the city just happened to be a night we were playing, and someone local said that our show would probably be the best bet for their TV spot. We got lucky!
|Jesse Roberts lays it down. (Cat Rose photo)|
** When you're in full rage mode on stage, the band is thrilling to watch. How does it feel to be a part of it all?
Haha, pretty awesome. At almost no point during a set do I feel in control. It's like catching a hurricane with a butterfly net and trying to hold on and not fuck up too badly along the ride. We have a rule where if the band fucks up, just play to the drummer. It's the best way to get back on track and not completely train wreck the song. Maybe some day I'll have more time to practice my instrument so I can actually play like I know what I'm doing... but on that note, philosophically I think we prioritize putting on a good show more than we do hitting every note just right. The studio is the right place to really focus on the playing. The stage is the right place to spit some gas on the fire and get wild.