Sacred Reich - Phil Rind

Sacred Reich - Phil Rind

SACRED REICH broke the 23-year studio silence by releasing the amazing “Awakening” and getting back on the road delivering songs from that album. METAL KAOZ got the opportunity to sit and talk with the band’s singer / bassist Phil Rind who turned out to be as pleasant as he is on stage. Are you ready for your awakening? Read on!

Sacred Reich - Phil Rind

Hello Phil and welcome to METAL KAOZ! First of all, I wanna say that I like your smile, man! You have been keeping that same smile onstage for so many years!
Hi guys, thanks for having me!

How did you feel writing new material for SACRED REICH after two decades?
It was very exciting! It was a surprise.

When the idea of writing new music was born actually?
It’s been something that has always come up; “are you making a new record?” and the answer was always “no”. Because songs always used to just pop in our heads, like this music we just released. And it just hasn’t for all these years. And I tried even; I got a little digital recorder and I recorded things but I didn’t like any of these, so it was obvious that wasn’t happening. And then, I don’t know why but one day it just changed. And I was like “oh, these are songs!” so that’s the best sign.

Maybe in our mind at least you had something to say this time.
I dunno, there is always something; you know, people are like “it’s Trump or “the situation is bad”, but you know what? The situation is always like this – for the last 23 years the situation has been the same. It’s not like all of a sudden everything got so bad; it’s always been like this. So I don’t know why and I don’t worry about it too much – I’m just “good, ok, let’s just go with it”.

Based on what you just said, everything is new; you didn’t use any old material for “Awakening”.
No, we had no old material, there was no old material. We started writing like in the end of 2017, I think. The first song we wrote was “Divide & Conquer”.

So, the split EP came next? With “Don’t Do It Donnie”?
No. So, we were writing the record and I was talking with Tony who sings in IRON REAGAN and he was like “if you’re gonna make a record, save us a song for us for a split EP please!” So, we were writing the record and this song came up and we were like “oh it’s not really perfect for the record but it’s perfect for a 7’’ split with IRON REAGAN since it has a little Punk Rock tune, so it makes sense, so we did that.

I think this release connects the dots with SACRED REICH and what we used to call back in the day Crossover, although nowadays people don’t seem to actually see that connection but it’s true.
It’s less evident I think musically these days and for a while lyrically maybe still a little bit but certainly early on.

So, how do you feel the band has changed when entering the studio after all these years?
I don’t know. It just felt exciting since we haven’t done it in so long; it was so very thrilling but it felt very comfortable and it felt very familiar. You know, making records felt very natural to do everything and we didn’t rely a lot to technology - we just kind of did it like we always kind of done it. Having being able to record digitally makes editing much easier. You used to have to cut the tape, you know. Regarding the sound of the new record – I’ve seen some comments about the production where people are used to this modern sound which is very aggressive, very in-your-face, guitars sound in a certain way – we don’t do any of that, so I think even the sound on the record may have a little bit of an older sound, and that’s ok, we did that on purpose.

Is this the reason why it’s appealing to our generation? I’m way over my 40s…
Yeah, I mean, if it sounds good, it’s timeless – it doesn’t have to have a date on it.

Yeah, but you know that people want and even like to categorize music into genres.
People can do whatever they want. Like, I read stuff and people keep saying “Groove Metal” and it just makes me laugh; I don’t even know what they’re talking about. There are some people saying that there are elements in our new album that have that Groove Metal chords, like PANTERA, and I’m like those guys are our friends but they were never an influence to our band. If you hear like stuff that has a groove because I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder and EARTH WIND AND FIRE, has nothing to do with PANTERA. People are just lazy sometimes. I keep seeing over and over again in reviews “they stopped playing in 2000 and got together in 2006” which isn’t true; we stopped playing in ’97 and got together in 2007, but one person reads it in an interview in the previous one and while doing a research, they just keep repeating it, so I laugh because I know why they are doing it.

The band has two original members and then you have Joey who wasn’t even born when your previous album came out, as you like to say in live shows before introducing him. So what does Joey bring into the band?
He is an incredible guitar player, his musicianship is awesome, it’s so heavy and solid and he’s there for us. He just has a great attitude, everything is fun and new, so it’s great to see things from that perspective.

Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, we’re pretty excited too; we wouldn’t take a young kid to our band if he wasn’t excited too. We appreciate the opportunity we have and we know how fortunate we are and we don’t take it for granted. But having Joey kind of reinforces all that.

Talking about appreciation, you have some lyrics, but before going there, in “Killing Machine”, the first lyrics start about Jonny so is he the same Jonny?

No, he’s a different Jonny; Jonny from “Who’s To Blame” killed himself, so... But I saw some funny comments saying Jonny keeps getting killed in SACRED REICH songs, poor Jonny and that made me laugh. It’s just a generic name.

What about all the lyrics that are connected to Trump; I mean “Don’t Do It Donnie” or “Divide & Conquer”.
This song “Don’t Do It Donnie” just says “look, if you’re a president for 4 years, don’t destroy everything, don’t ruin it so we don’t put it back together after you’re gone”. Everything else is not about him and that’s why that song is not on the record because I didn’t want that this record to be about that. Because “Awakening” is mostly positive. You know, “Divide & Conquer” was the first song and it’s just commentary about the way things are and how way people with power have brought out issues to divide us instead of us realizing where the real problem is and put us against one another. This keeps us busy and keeps us distracted from figuring out what the real problem is. At the same time, there are many more of us than the people who has the control. So, it’s an important thing for them to do. So, that’s that song, and there is a song like “Revolution” which talks about how things kind of are if you look at the negative side, how things could be if you look at the positive side and then the encouragement comes to keep the PMA, the positive mental attitude, despite all of it; don’t give up and we’ll overcome it. And then, it says that there is more of us than them and start a revolution and ultimately us and them means the people who wanna live through love and compassion and togetherness versus the people who spread fear, hate and division. It’s not republicans and democrats and all that bullshit.

Right. My initial question was has the band ever received criticism trying to connect politics and music?
Oh yeah, all the time. People will go “shut up and play music”. We don’t care; people can have whatever opinion they want, people who join the band can make these decisions.

It’s good to see Metal music being opinionated because back in the day it was opinionated and we, as young kids, kind of related to the lyrics.
Of course.

You said something about being appreciative, so that ties with “Manifest Reality”, right? So, it’s almost like talking about mindfulness, right?
Oh yeah. That song is pretty much right out of my teacher’s mouth; there’s stuff that he would say more or less like 20 years in that song. And that song because it was the last song we wrote musically and then I didn’t have the lyrics for it. I had sung for every other song on the record and Arthur was “you know we’re doing the new song tomorrow – and there was no title yet because I didn’t have lyrics for it” and I was like “oh my god, I’ll write some lyrics” and then I went home and wrote the words. I went to the studio and just rearranged them but it came very fast. And it’s everything I could have hoped to say in a song.

I really like that one because nowadays this is what we have forgotten to do, be mindful and actually appreciate what we have.
Yes, and be the example, like [interrupting himself] you know, there is a line that I think is from Jalaluddin Rumi, the author, and he said “yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world, now I’m wise so I’m changing myself”. And that’s the thing; when I was young, I had to change the world, this is how I felt. I personally felt like I had to change everything. And now that I’m older I know I can barely control myself so if I just can just change myself, and focus on what I wanna see on myself and be an example. As a parent, it took me a lot time to realize if I’ve never told my kids anything and just being a good role model, it would have been enough, even if I had never said two words to them about what they should or not do. So, I think this is the thing and this is how we change things; one person, one heart at a time. It’s the only way.

And then you have a word in “Death Valley”, Bardo, right? So is it from the Tibetan tradition?
Yeah, I’ve been a Buddhist for 20 years. That’s where “Manifest Reality” comes from and the “Valley” is a very Buddhist song.

I wanted to ask that but they say it’s not politically correct to ask someone about his political or religious views.
Oh, it doesn’t matter. I don’t wanna make it the big focus because I’m the only one in the band but certainly those two songs are very Buddhist songs.

Yeah, and for me, I just like to know from where the artist got his inspiration.
And the last song “Something To Believe” talks about the first verse is kind of accepting things, taking life as it is, taking things as they are which is very Buddhist, and “Death Valley” talks about moving on into the Bardo, what happens after you die and then the third verse is actually Shantideva’s prayer and that’s the Buddhist alpha-gram. I think it’s a beautiful sentiment.

But you close the album with “Something To Believe” like you said; is that the most negative or dark should I say moment of the album?

No. This is a song for my friend Jeff and he’s my best friend in the whole world, he killed himself, almost 14 years ago. So I wrote that song for Jeff and how he was searching, he was looking – and it’s not just him, I mean, we all have this experience; sometimes we get frustrated and wanna know what it’s all about, why we’re doing this and sometimes it’s a lot - so that song is about going through really dark times and coming out the other end. So “Something To Believe” is like searching what is it about, what’s my purpose. And the last verse says “it’s plain to see compassion is the key / love is the only way, to live our life each day” so I thought it’s so beautiful to end the record like that, with that last verse.

Why did you choose to name the album “Awakening”? Do you feel in a way that the world today needs some kind of an awakening?
We like to choose titles that work on different levels; so “Awakening” the very obvious one is that we’re back after 23 years. “Awakening” also talks about the theme of the lyrics of the record. What kind of awakening? The one we all can use to wake up and pay attention. And then if you ask for what kind of an awakening do we need, then the answer would be awakening in our hearts. Awakening of how we look at the world, because are we seeing people as a threat or danger or do we look the world with compassion and love and inner connection? There’s positive things in the world and there’s also negative ones but all come at the same time; it’s not the one or the other, they’re always both, so it’s merely which way we choose to look. So if you change your heart, it’s just a small change, it’s not a big change but it’s a change we have to do over and over again which is the difficult part. And we can, we can train ourselves to do anything. It’s mind training. My teacher always says this is mind training because it’s a heart if we think what’s the heart say? The heart says love, the head tells you all kind of stuff, confuses you. So if we live through here [points at his heart], we’ll be ok.

Let’s talk about more practical stuff (laughs); you have this tour, then you go to Europe, you have Australia next year…
Australia, New Zealand, we’ll be in Japan first time ever and then South America with DRI. We’ll go Australia, New Zealand, Japan with THE VIOLENCE and then we’ll be back in the States in April / May hopefully. This is what I’m working on now, so we’ll see what happens. And then maybe June / July / August in Europe and then September / October in the US, then November / December go back in Europe and then the goal is to enter the studio in the beginning of 2021 and make another record.

That’s awesome news for us!
We’ll see, who knows?

And last question; do you have in mind making a new record?
Oh yeah. I’m hoping for 2021. We have stuff already, not solid formed songs but a bunch of ideas for three or four different songs. Our plan was ten songs for this record, worked out ok. Hopefully now we’re shooting for ten again for the next record, so we’ll see what happens.

Thank you very much for your time, Phil. It was a genuine pleasure talking to you.

Thank you, guys! See you inside in a few hours!