The Exeter (UK) rock and metal band SANGUINE — featuring Tarin Kerrey on vocals with Nick Magee on guitar + backing vocals, Ross Andrew on bass and Matt Feld on drums & keys — have released their awesome new studio album “Black Sheep” which we described here as “a phenomenal alt-rock album. Demonstrating contradictory styles… from mellow orchestrations to full blown metal crescendos…”
The album title “Black Sheep” is, perhaps, inspired by Tarin’s feelings of estrangement from her family (leading to homelessness and a period of sleeping in stairwells.)
Although the title song is brutal (like others on this disc) — it also seems clear that the band maintain a healthy, buoyant and positive frame of mind. This comes over in the way they work with each other and how they demonstrate their ambitions— and in every note played.
We caught up with the band last week, on their UK tour with MUSHROOMHEAD.
We chatted to lead singer Tarin and guitarist Nick:
Tell us about the tour, so far..
Nick: “The tour has been going mental. We broke a guitar neck in Newcastle… occupational hazard I suppose. When American Head Charge pulled out we assumed someone was gonna jump into their place. But no. They just bumped us up the bill. We thought “Woah!” We didn’t know if we were ready for it, or whatever. But it’s been fine. It’s been great.”
Tarin: “Yeah, really really good. Obviously the Mushroomhead fans have been er, shall we say dedicated… They haven’t seen their favourite band for over a decade! So they are very eager, as you can imagine. And it’s a generational thing too, so they are now bringing their kids along. And so, we are getting all the young ones introduced to us. So that cannot be a bad thing! It’s been really fantastic. The first gig (Manchester) there was a queue right around the block! When we saw the queue we thought “Wow! They have done a few tickets then, right?”
Nick: “Yeah. Every venue has been stacked, pretty much. Cardiff was hilarious. And the Welsh really love their metal. And they really let themselves go.”
Well, you are also getting some good press for the album, so tell us how that is going…
Nick: “I don’t think we ever thought that things would go as well as they did. We’re not really negative people but… but…”
Tarin: “It’s just that we don’t have high expectations”
Are you overwhelmed by all that’s happened then?
Tarin: “Er? Well, the album has just been really, really well received. And people have understood it. More than anything, that’s the thing that has kinda astounded us. People have been so responsive. I keep being told “I have listened to the whole thing…and I’ve now got it in my car...” They play it from start-to-finish. They don’t click through it, jumping over tracks… They take the whole thing. And everyone has favourites as well. Which is really great.”
Nick: “ Yeah, they say: felt “It was meaningful when we listened to it...”
Tarin: “Yes, it was definitely from the heart…”
How would you follow that up? Are you already writing new material?
Tarin: “We are always writing…”
Nick: “We’ve already started demo-ing. We’ve got sorta two projects on the go at the moment. We’ve got one which is a kinda acoustic album. And we are also doing a more straightforward, heavier follow-up to Black Sheep as well. We’ve also got a remix coming out of another song as well. So its, yeah, it’s been very busy. ”
Tarin: “Sanguine is still churning out a lot of stuff. So check in with us as much as you can to keep up! Watch this space! We released a video before we went on tour. And we have now got a lot more videos to stick onto our sites.”
“Ideally we wanted to do a video for each song. And I think we got to about eight! 8/10 ain’t bad, eh? So that’s nearly the whole album! ”
What do your longer term fans think about having to share you now with the whole wide world ?
Both: “They seem really pleased…”
Tarin: “It’s funny because, obviously, we played in Plymouth – the closest place to our home town – and our training ground and our “band camp” was Cornwall. So a lot of people came out from Cornwall to see us. People from the olden days (if you like) just came out to see us and to say “Oh Yes! You are still going. Yeah, you go for it…” They are really proud of us.”
Nick: “Yes, we got a real sense of pride off of them.”
Tarin: “We feel like we are representing a lot of other people’s dreams here.”
That’s an extra burden of responsibility you didn’t think you needed!
So after that experience, do you still feel like you are the Black Sheeps?
Tarin: “Yeah, well we are. Really. We still are. I think the reason that SANGUINE took a long time, or that it took a while for people to catch on with what was going on is because we weren’t trying to be anything ‘straightforward’ in terms of female fronted metal.”
“We are just ourselves. And we couldn’t explain to anyone what that was. For example, we are not trying to be like Nightwish or Delain. We are not trying to be Arch Enemy. We are just our own thing.”
“And I keep saying this to people I meet, “when you compare male-fronted rock and metal bands with each other you don’t say that Deftones and Slipknot are ‘the same’ just because they are both male-fronted metal bands!” [At this stage Tarin starts laughing her raucous dirty laugh]
Nick: “Yeah I agree. People need a point of reference like, um, they say “What are you like…er.. Within Temptation… because you have got a girl and you play rock?”
Tarin: “Cardiff got it right though. A lot of people came up to me and said “You held your own up there.” You know what I mean? They didn’t even think it was a female on stage. And that is what SANGUINE is about.”
Although, surely, you might as well use the cachet or distinction of being a ‘female fronted band’ to your advantage…
Tarin: “Yes. If I can! [Both start to giggle] I still have yet to see whether it will pay off or anything, though !”
What other exciting things are happening in the SANGUINE camp?
Nick: “Well it’s just been one thing after another, really. Literally since the album went live I think every day — every hour sometimes— something else exciting rolls in. The management phones or the label phones … with news. I think they are on about pushing it into America. It’s yet to be rolled out in Japan. That starts in a couple of months. And they are talking about us doing three shows in Tokyo at the end of the year. To introduce us to that audience.”
Tarin: “And there’s a tour in Europe as well. We’ve got a date in Germany. And what’s been amazing is that suddenly there is loads of choice. We are almost in shock. We keep saying, “Wow! We have actually got a choice?”
“One of the major things that has come up is that we have been offered a publishing deal. With a publisher that we wanted to be with. On a personal level. They were responsive to Black Sheep and stuff and came to a show. And then signed us. That was a good feeling. That was one of those bench-marks we wanted to achieve.”
Tarin: “And we wanted to get a publisher that represented our song-writing. Because Sanguine is all about writing songs. We are definitely a band that’s all about the sound in its entirety. We are not about just one song. Some of our songs are written for certain moods, and we think that is really important.”
Do you get the same kind of response from the public when you play live?
Nick: “Yes, live we sort of tailor our set a little bit. Like now, because we are with the Mushroomhead guys — they’re quite full on — we have picked our faster more full-on songs, we picked our heavier songs.”
Tarin: “For example we picked “Bangkok Nights” from the first album [Sanguine 2012] just as a bit of fun. That theatrical side. So there’s elements from our first album we have brought into the set. And then the heavy songs off of Black Sheep as well. And some new stuff…”
New stuff, like what?
Nick: “We’ve got a new song called “Raised by Wolves” and another one called “Pressure.” It has been really exciting playing the new stuff. Because we are still in “Black Sheep World” but we realise we have got to be in the next world as well… So we are testing those songs on the audience. “
Do you think the next album will be heavier , then?
Both: “Well, we don’t know. Maybe. Er. Maybe not…”
Tarin: “Don’t forget we are gonna do the acoustic one first. Then the full album next. Just to add that bit of variety.”
Nick: “We think that if you release two studio albums back-to-back then one of them could [potentially] get lost. It can almost be too much. So we think that if you do something different it’s like a new way of catching the attention of audiences or expanding the world a bit.”
Do you play acoustic gigs?
Tarin: “Oh yes, we do. And we write all these songs on acoustic guitar so they are easy to transpose back. And we like doing different arrangements of the same song. That makes it a lot more interesting.”
Nick: “We played Download acoustically actually. Back in 2012. [the same year they supported Megadeth in London.] We did a cover of “Under Pressure” by Queen. We were literally shitting ourselves. We were like “this is so high risk!” Why were we even doing it? Up until the actual day we were sure it was a great idea. But when we got on stage to do it we were like “What were we thinking?” It is the hardest thing — ever — to cover! Luckily it went down really well. But it was pretty hairy…”
What are your musical influences?
Nick: “Crazy. Crazy and broad. If you saw our play-list in the van you would be amazed. It’s like an insane person’s play list. It’s massively random. It’s like an out-of-control jukebox. At one point, La Bamba came on [Los Lobos/Ritchie Valens] and we were all “Hey? Who has this on their iTunes?”
Tarin: “I think that somebody is me! [at this stage she starts to sing “Para bailar la bamba… Tra-la-la-la…”]
Congratulations on a splendid album and a very successful tour. We wish you lots of success in the months ahead.
Many thanks, Sanguine