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4th April 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: So now you’ve made such a killer Hell album, has that inspired you at all to do any new Sabbat stuff?
(Andy Sneap on a random phonecall from Devin Townsend)
"...I don’t know what had been said but he just phoned me up and said – “I hear you’ve got a huge cock!”..."
Hell - promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2011 Nigel Crane
Official Hell MySpace:
Official Hell Website:
Human Remains (2011)
Thanks to Markus Wosgien at Nuclear Blast for arranging the interview.
MD: You must get fucking sick and tired of being asked that question!
AS: Well, the thing is, when we started doing the Sabbat stuff again at the end of 2006 I think it was…
MD: Yeah, for the Cradle of Filth shows in December that year.
AS: Yeah, it’s been good fun and it’s been nice that everyone’s got back together and we’ve been out there and done it. We went out and did shows in America, and out to places in Europe we’ve never been to before but we were never going to do new stuff with Sabbat. Martin’s too focussed on doing his own stuff and I think Martin’s actually coming from a different place with his music now to what he was back then. So I think for us to actually write a Sabbat album now would actually be very difficult. I think we’d end up trying to copy what we were doing back then as opposed to writing…I think we could write an album and it would sound like Sabbat as well, but it would be less the feel of where the band was going where we were when, say, we finished ‘Dreamweaver’.
MD: Yeah, you don’t want to do it for the sake of it.
AS: Yeah, and the way it was with Sabbat, I don’t mean to sound wrong, but it was me doing everything in that band as far as the organising, the recording and I don’t want to do that through a group of guys who aren’t really doing anything else. So with the Hell thing, it’s worked out good for me because I didn’t intend on being the guitar player when we started doing this. I got roped into this by the other guys but it’s great fun because it’s a group of guys that I get on with so well. Kev is actually more enthusiastic than me, dare I say it. He’s pushing me to get things done and he’s doing as much of it as I’m doing. So I kind of feel like I’ve joined the right team here.
MD: I guess you have your day job doing all the producing and mixing or whatever so it must be nice to have that hands-off approach and let somebody else do all the organising.
AS: Yeah, it is, absolutely.
MD: So you’ve got a couple of festivals booked in the summer and you’re doing a warm-up date in Nottingham in May?
AS: Yeah, it’s at a place called MFN which stands for “Middle of Fucking Nowhere”!
MD: Is that serious; is that what it’s called?!
AS: Yeah, it is actually! It’s in Shipley Park in Ilkeston and that’s May 20th we’re doing that. We’ve got a couple of weekends full of festivals that we can’t announce yet because it’s to do with the advertising for the album and we’re trying to tie the festivals in with that. But yeah, we’re going out that following weekend and we’ve got shows all over Europe, and the weekend after that we’ve got a show, I think a Swedish one, which is Rockstad, but that’s been announced. Then in July we’ve got one in Finland. So if the first time we’ve ever played together live was stepping onto a stage in front of god knows how many thousands of people, we thought a warm-up show is probably a good idea! [laughs]
MD: Probably wise, yeah!
AS: We’re actually quite nervous! [laughs]
MD: Are you really?
AS: Yeah, I’m shitting myself, to be honest! [laughs]
MD: You must be less nervous than the other guys though having done some big gigs in recent years.
AS: I think we’re all a bit nervous. The thing about the Hell thing, there’s a lot to do. It’s not just a case of getting up there and playing the songs. There’s a lot of the keyboard stuff that needs to be fired off sequencers. There are stage moves which are quite bizarre. There’s a lot going on with it so there’s the potential for it to go horribly wrong as well!
MD: So Tim will be playing to a click then the whole time?
AS: No, not the whole time. We’ve got sections in songs where he’s got clicks and Tim’s really good to a click, actually. The way we’ve done it, we actually fire the click to him from foot switches so it doesn’t kill the feel of the song. There are just sections where Kev’s playing keyboards so they’re linked together. So yeah, there’s all that going off. Obviously, there’s the makeup, there’s wearing contact lenses, there’s wearing the stage gear which isn’t that comfortable.
MD: In the summer particularly!
AS: I know, yeah, we didn’t think about that either! That’s gonna be roasting! Yeah, it’s full-on so it’s good.
MD: On a complete side-note, and out of interest, I did an interview with Devin Townsend last month and he’s just got Jens Bogren to do a mix of ‘Deconstruction’, his album that’s out in June, and I asked him why he’s got Jens to do it rather than himself, and he said he’s always trying to achieve what you do and what Jens does in terms of mixing. I just wondered how you rate Devin as a producer and mixer seeing as he respects what you do so much?
AS: To be honest, I don’t really follow Devin. I know a lot of people rave about him and he’s a definite talent. He’s a nutter as well. I’ve spoken to him once on the phone and he’d been working with Stuck Mojo; he’d done the ‘Pigwalk’ album with them, and I don’t know what had been said but he just phoned me up and said – “I hear you’ve got a huge cock!”
MD: Ah, that’ll be Rich Ward putting him up to that maybe?!
AS: I think it was, yeah! Yeah, I don’t know what was going on there!
MD: What a random phonecall to get!
AS: It was! It was a very random phonecall, yeah! I’ve heard all sorts of stories about him and Rich finding some gay porn video by the side of the road in Atlanta and they used to put it on whenever anyone came to the studio to just try and freak ‘em out! But I don’t really follow what Devin does. He’s said some very complimentary things about me in the press before.
MD: The final thing I was going to ask – because you’ve done so much in your career as a musician and producer, do you have any unfulfilled ambitions left?
AS: The main stage at Donington was always an ambition. I’ve never done that.
MD: Sabbat played there a couple of years ago…
AS: Yeah, we did, but we were on the second stage…not even the second one, we were in the tent below Steel Panther. I mean, it doesn’t get worse than that!
AS: But they were very good, I’ll give ‘em credit for that. Yeah, main stage at Donington would be a good one. Production-wise…I’ve done an Accept album now otherwise that would’ve been top of the list. Priest…I’d like to do a Priest album, actually. Either that or Dickinson. I’d like to do a Bruce solo album, that would be good.
MD: Yeah, I’d like to hear another Bruce solo album in any form. I don’t know if we will ever get another one.
AS: No, I’ve been badgering him about it actually.
MD: Yeah?
AS: Yeah, but he’s obviously close with Roy so those two work well together.
MD: I got back into ‘The Chemical Wedding’ recently again actually…such an amazing album.
AS: Yeah, you can sort of see where Adrian is great with Bruce, can’t you, because Maiden went downhill after Adrian left. It wasn’t when Bruce left, it was when Adrian went. And obviously when he hooked up with him for his solo stuff, they jumped to a new level on those as well, didn’t they.
MD: Definitely. I have found his solo stuff a bit hit and miss though over the years, to be honest. But when it’s good, it’s really good.
AS: It is, isn’t it. When he tries to go a bit too rock sometimes, I just want to hear a metal album out of Dickinson, you know, just proper metal. And when he does it, no-one else can touch him.
MD: Yeah, ‘Balls To Picasso’ was a bit…
AS: Yeah, a bit balls, wasn’t it!
MD: Yeah, exactly, what it said on the tin!
AS: But ‘The Chemical Wedding’ and…what was the other one?
MD: Oh…‘Accident of Birth’.
AS: Yeah, that was a great album.
MD: Both Adrian Smith albums.
AS: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.
MD: You’re right in what you say. Carry on hassling Bruce then!
AS: I don’t think anything will come of it but I’d like to do that. And, like I say, Priest as well. I think if they had a full-on, proper metal production…I think they kind of need to go back to thinking about short songs and where they were coming from mid-eighties, really. That’s what I’d like to hear out of Priest. I couldn’t believe it when they played Donington and there was no ‘Hellion’ intro and no ‘Electric Eye’ to open it. It was like, this isn’t right! [laughs]
MD: Yeah, and their final ever world tour this year, I think, so not many more chances to catch Priest live. Anyway, cheers very much for your time.
AS: Alright, no problem.
MD: And good luck with all the shows and everything.
AS: Cool, and glad you like the album.