If you’ve never heard of Sacrifist, or listened to any of their music, I have one question for you: Where the hell have you been? This five piece band has been around since 1996, they have four full self released albums under their belt, have played across our fair country and are pretty much legends in the South African Metal Scene. Their last album Surrealist Plague, released in 2008, has been described as “incredibly metal” and for good reason. The album is still one of the top sellers on Subterania. Aside from the fact they’re currently recording a new album, they’re also incredibly busy with up coming tours, preparing for Ramfest 2014, and being family men.
Metal4Africa had the extreme pleasure of sitting down with the guys at Emalyth Art Expo VI.
M4A: You guys have been around since 1996. A lifetime in music! You’re legends in the scene and a lot of younger guys look up to you. What makes you keep doing it?
Mike: (Drums) Well, you know… It’s a little bit of stupidity, I think. There are times where you feel like “Man! What’s this all for, why do you keep doing this?” And then you get together as a band and jam again. You’re reminded that you’re doing it for the love of the music and just the passion.
Tommie: (Guitars) Absolutely, otherwise we would’ve stopped a long time ago. I see bands who hop on the social media train, get a few likes, but lack passion. They don’t last.
Mike: I think sometimes new bands think there’s this great glory involved in playing on stage and they really don’t realise how much hard work and often, sacrifice goes into it.
Shaun: (Bass) Yeah, I think a lot of bands think they’re just going to make it overnight, and so few do. It’s a handful of guys that make it to fame and glory.
Mike: You really do have to work incredibly hard, and be sure that this is what you want to do. If you don’t have that love for what you’re doing, it’s over.
M4A: How do you feel the music industry in South Africa has changed over the years?
Shaun: I think it’s become more acceptable. Not only that, the advantages of technology… internet! I remember going out at night and having to stick up flyers with tape and canvassing cars. I guess, that because we’re a more mature band, we’re more fortunate that people are calling us now. Which is so cool and incredibly flattering, but some of the older problems remain. You see a lot of politics.
Mike: Its really sad in a way, you see some bands trying to stand on each other to get up another rung in the ladder.
Shaun: It’s sad… But on the other hand, with the online media, and Facebook, it’s so much easier to stay in contact with fans and let people know what you’re doing. Also to keep up with what’s happening on the scene. For instance, we can now see exactly when things like Wacken are happening, keep track of what bands are showing, see when other international bands are showing. Which is great!
Tommie: You know, genres have come and gone, bands have come and gone, but I think the thing that remains is the fans and the way that they support and interact with bands is the constant.
M4A: Any thoughts on some of the newer bands that are currently making the rounds? Who do you think is worth keeping an eye on?
Shaun: So many! There are so many bands that are really good.
Tommie: We’ve made so many friends, especially in Cape Town. It’s the place to gig! I want to say hi to Mind Assault. But up here I want to point out Bleeding Spawn and Agro.
Shaun: We’re not touring yet… Yeah, it’s the album, but most of us have just have babies, started families. It boils down to the fact that we’re juggling family, work and the band.
Tommie: Sadly its not big enough yet to support being a full time musician, we’re all working and we’re all supporting our families.
Shaun: Family comes first.
Tommie: We still want to do this. We are finding the time. We’re picking up momentum and speed and yeah, life happens, but we’re going to get back out there.
M4A: Are you using Emalyth as a warm up for Ramfest Cape Town and how are you feeling about playing?
Shaun: No. Cape Town. It’s always awesome.
Shaun: They’re always amazing and we can’t wait to party with the guys. I mean we have some great friends down there, and we’re always treated really well when we’re in town. It’s just such an awesome vibe in Cape Town. We are so excited to play there.
Sammy: (Guitars) Jo’burg is awesome too.
Shaun: You know, I’m so privileged to play music that I love. And when I write and the rest of the guys like the riffs that I’m writing, that makes me incredibly happy.
Tommie: We’re fortunate that people love what we’re writing, and at the end of the day we get to share our music with other people who love it. That’s all the motivation we need.
M4A: Your last album was released in 2008, six year later, you’re now working on releasing a new album, Tyranny. What’s it been like being back in studio of that long a break?
Tommie: You know, getting the initial tracks down is always the hardest part. Getting the pre-recording done. At the end of the day, you have to grow and improve every time you go into the studio.
Mike: Absolutely! All the blood sweat and tears goes into it before you even walk into studio. There’s fighting about what goes onto the album, we have to put everything together. You have to get a game plan going.
Shaun: It’s basically just a case of getting everything down right now. Before we started recording, we committed to the fact that we want the new album to one over Surrealist and literally, bring out the best album that we can. And yeah, the next has to “upskill” this one.
Tommie: We’ve put a lot of thought into the track list for this album, you have to consider what the crowd enjoys, what goes down well live, what you’re trying to say with the album and fantastically that’s come together! We’re just drawing on our experience.
M4A: Where have you been Recording? Same studio as Surrealist Plague, or are you using someone new?
Shaun: Dream Labs Studio in Roodepoort and they’ve been superb!
M4A: You’re debuting “L.F.S.U.” (Let’s Fuck Shit Up) live tonight. … What’s the intent behind the song?
Dwayne: (Vocals) Its a song that Sacrifist wrote for their fans. We recognise how incredibly loyal they’ve been over the years, and this is our salute to them. Lets fuck shit up together. Lets get that energy going on stage and have a great time.
Tommie: It’s about taking power back. It’s about not caring that someone’s messed you around, or your boss giving you grief, it’s about being angry with certain aspects of our politics in South Africa. Let’s fuck shit up! Do it for yourself, get that release. Take the power back.
Shaun: Well look, the upcoming album absolutely has a bit of political commentary on it. You have to fuck up the right stuff, and build the right stuff up.
Shaun: It’s been good!
Tommie: Oh yeah! I mean, messages on Facebook – and I mean people inboxing compliments has been astounding. I think the old guys following us, we really value their opinion, especially when they’re saying we’re on the right track.
Mike: Look, we love what we do, but we want to make music for ourselves first, and the fans second. That’s what keeps us together, and the fans, I think they enjoy that.
M4A: Right, the big question: when can we expect the album, and are there touring plans to coincide with the launch?
Tommie: When it’s ready:
Shaun: Realistically, 2014. Later this year. We still have a lot of work to do. We’ll definitely do a tour when that is released.
Shaun: Oh man! Nelspruit!
M4A: Yeah? Why Nelspruit?
Shaun: Oh wow, those fans are crazy! We always have such a good time playing there.
Mike: Oh Cape Town. But yeah, I can’t say one place is better than another, all our fans are great and every single town brings a different energy and that’s the thing I love the most.
What an absolute pleasure it was to sit down with these guys. While they are giants, they are incredibly humble. Sacrifist, we can’t wait for the new album, and to hear how you’ve “upskilled”.
Listen to “L.F.S.U” by Sacrifist below: