British four-piece outfit Sanguine released their second album Black Sheep at the start of the year.

Sanguine has been making waves in recent times having caught the attention of the likes of Slipknot’s Joey Jordison, Jesper Stromblad of InFlames and Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith who recruited lead vocalist, Tarin Kerrey, for his Primal Rock Rebellion project. National Rock Review recently sat down with Kerrey (vocals) and Nick Magee (guitar/vocals) whilst on tour with Mushroomhead in Newcastle to talk about their new album, touring and their new video for “Empty.”

NRR: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review, we really appreciate it. So you’ve been out on the road with Mushroomhead for about a week or so now, how’s the tour been going so far?
Tarin: Oh the gigs have been fantastic (laughing). The crowd obviously they’re hardcore Mushroomhead fans but we’re turning them.
Nick: I would say my favorite two shows have been Nottingham and Sheffield so far, they were just really up for it.
Tarin: I suppose the first gig you are getting into it. Then Glasgow, yeah they were really enthusiastic when we stepped off the stage, they were absorbing us whilst we were on. Do you know what I mean?
Nick: It was the first time we had played in Glasgow.
Tarin: We’ve never been that far north before (laughing).
NRR: So for those people who have yet to see you live, what can they expect from one of your shows?
Nick: A lot of energy, we are a very high energy people in general. Yeah, just lots and lots of energy really (laughing).
Tarin: We tailor our set according to, you know obviously at this stage we are playing underneath certain acts, so we do tailor it if we are playing with a heavier band like Mushroomhead, we play most of our heaviest stuff. You know we do acoustic gigs as well, so we can play a gig with soft rock acoustic bands as well. Tonight we will be doing our lively heavy stuff.
Nick: We’ve played with a real range of bands, to be honest. We’ve even played with black metal bands and stuff, we’ve played with sort of reggae rock bands as well. We just kind of select for each set. We think well that crowd would probably lean towards this side of us and that kind of helps them access the band, so they’ve got to get into those tunes and then maybe they will listen to the heavy stuff as well.
Tarin: It’s definitely about the two genres rock and metal, there’s definitely one foot in both camps (laughing).
NRR: Could you tell us a little bit about the band, how long you’ve been going and how you all met?
Tarin: I moved to Exeter University and I decided to put a project together. I put some leaflets up around the Student Union and all that lot and that’s how I recruited Matt and our first bassist. Then I gave Nick a call because I had met him ages ago back at college and he was already fronting his own bands as a singer in his own right, a singer/guitarist. I did have another guitarist at the time but I just wanted Nick basically, so yeah. So I stole him from his other band (laughing).
Nick: I wouldn’t generally take a second singer position but I think Tarin’s got the sort of signature voice that you only get once in a while, so for that sort of voice I’m quite happy to take a back seat. My voice I would say is more like sort of traditional, there’s kind of limits what you can do with that voice you know. I think having her voice it kind of opens up this whole new pallet which is more exciting to write with.
Tarin: We definitely wanted that female/male mix didn’t we because that’s what breaks up the album when you listen to it? I don’t know what it is, even myself I can’t listen to a whole album of female vocals for twelve tracks without some kind of break in it or something musically different about it. It’s just those high tones I suppose. I really like the mixing of the vocals and working with different people vocally anyway.
NRR: The band name is quite interesting, where does that come from?
Nick: I think it kind of sums us up, I mean the band are all quite positive people, but we’ve all got this sort of dark side to us as well, so we kind of fit and don’t fit in a way.
Tarin: We didn’t want a band name that was just like (makes growling noise), do you know what I mean, because that would eliminate our rock audience. We wanted something again that had double meanings because we’ve got double meanings in our music you know, we straddle the rock and metal but Sanguine obviously means to be optimistic, to be cheerful with nature and it also means the color of blood. I think the color of blood kind of represents the metal side of us and the optimistic and cheerful side is us as people. Life’s hard man (laughing), you’ve got to laugh along the way.
Nick: There’s also the four temperaments as well, which is kind of like an old psychology model and Sanguine was one of the four personality types. I think our music, each song is kind of like a different personality, we’ve got angry ones, we’ve got happy ones and more fun ones and it’s kind of encapsulated that in the same way.
NRR: Obviously, you’ve just released a new album Black Sheep earlier this year. I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the album and the inspiration behind it?
Tarin: Yeah, I mean we write a lot, we write a lot of songs, like most of the stuff you never ever hear. Well basically after we finished the first album, obviously that was like a demo/collection of songs, self-recorded songs, we begged, stole and borrowed to make that album. Luckily we did because that’s how Jesper Stromblad and Daniel Flores got to hear it, it got passed on to the management.
Nick: It got surprisingly far for a set of demos.
Tarin: We managed to get Download that year and support Megadeth that year just off that first album. So we knew there was something in it (laughing), we should keep going and we got a call from the manager saying do you want to work with Jesper and Daniel and we were like yeah. They were like oh well we will set you up a session and see whether or not you get on.
So me and Nick flew out and we went over to do a writing session with them. It just went so well that we just ended up going actually can you record the rest of the album. So we did “Empty” and “Breathe Out” those were the co-written tracks and then we came back to the UK and we basically stashed all of our songs into demos. Then went back over and showed them again. Then we carefully selected the songs for this album you know that’s why we wanted it to be an album that you can listen to for the whole way through and take you on a bit of a journey really.
NRR: You released a new video for “Empty” quite recently. Could you tell us a bit about that song specifically and the concept behind the video?
Tarin: Well we released “Save Me” originally, our first single and the director who did that with us is Tyson Wade Johnston who does sci-fi/shorts. He actually said well I’ve got other stuff if you want to use it. When we looked through his back catalog there was a film called “Seed,” which is about a man who gets stranded on a planet and he’s all alone and actually he’s not all alone, he’s somehow been cloned or something, something weird is going on basically. We felt like that represented “Empty,” being alone, that emptiness, so we thought that was just a perfect marriage for us.
Nick: He’s got a really similar taste to us. It’s quite weird actually, I just kind of e-mailed this guy in Hollywood and then just by total sort of coincidence we then got booked to play Hollywood and we had no previous link to LA at all, just these things happened in about two weeks. Then sort of a few months later we were on a plane to LA and we met with this chap in a strip bar actually (laughing) where we bumped into Ron Jeremy that same night, this story just got weirder and weirder. We sort of had a brief chat and he was like yeah just do whatever you want man, I’m really pleased to be involved. We were like really, with us, we are from Devon (laughing) and that was it. He just kind of stays in contact, he’s been signed to Warner Brothers now on Ridley Scott’s production team, so he’s off doing some fantastic things.
Tarin: I mean that’s the thing about Sanguine, we want to work with artists and people who are really talented and he’s a fan of the music as well, so it’s always a two-way thing. If we work with artists or video producers anyone that we work with it’s an exchange of a love of art.
NRR: So you put something out into the universe and it came back.
Nick: Yeah, and it’s really strange we’ve been over there three or four times now and it started from absolutely nothing, you know I saw this guy’s work and I thought that’s really cool and I found his e-mail and I was like alright mate (laughing) and then from all that this thing just sparked didn’t it, it was really strange. Then we got signed as well when we did the Hollywood show because there were some record labels in the room, so we could pick up a record deal there as well (laughing), it just got weirder and weirder, it was a weird trip.
NRR: Where do you find the inspiration for your songwriting?
Tarin: All sorts really, I mean a lot of it can be personal stuff. You know you are writing lyrics you don’t even know what they mean and then like a week later you realize it’s about that issue that was bothering you, do you know what I mean it’s almost like it’s your subconscious writing it.
NRR: You are not the only person that’s ever said that to me.
Tarin: It’s like a stream of subconsciousness sometimes, and then you are like oh my god it was that issue that was bothering me and other times we have got a concept for it because you know when Nick writes he comes in with a whole world of ideas.
Nick: Normally a video.
Tarin: Like “Social Decay” he’s in there, I’ve got this idea it’s all about you know anti-society, politics and all this lot and so sometimes we are trying to say a message, other times it’s just a personal bit of us I think.
NRR: Who would you say are your musical influences?
Nick: Well there’s a common thread with both of us which is Faith No More, and we both grew up on a healthy diet of that. I think that opened up the ability to access other types of music because they are quite eclectic as well. Other than that there are the standard ones like Iron Maiden and Queen and stuff like that.
Tarin: Metallica, Korn.
Nick: But then I was really into punk as well, I was into things like Sick of it All and kind of all sorts of stuff really. I suppose we’ve all got a really expansive music taste.
Tarin: Ross will listen to every band you’ve never heard of.
Nick: Our iPod shuffles are really weird (laughing), I think once La Bamba came on the other day.
Tarin: In one session it went from Cancer Bats to Roy Orbison, because it is about the song.
Nick: And also the mood that you are in. We were driving up to Vegas to shoot a video for “Pretty Girl” the soundtrack for that moment is going to be different to when we were in Stockholm where it’s all like a Tolkien novel and it’s all kind of dark (laughing). I suppose it’s about the soundtrack to your life and I think that’s something that Sanguine has always wanted to do, to create songs that when people are in a moment in time they’ll be like that’s that song that they connect to that moment, that’s sort of the beautiful thing about music isn’t it.
NRR: You also worked with Adrian Smith on the Primal Rock Rebellion project. What was it like working with Adrian?
Tarin: Well as you can imagine just absolutely mind blowing really. To begin with I couldn’t even believe that they chose me because I was up against some major artists that got put forward, I won’t name them but I was blown away to be chosen in the first place. Then when I met him, we actually recorded in his house, it was a pretty personal touch, in his loft. He has this little personal studio and we were just like jamming stuff down and Mikee was there obviously with his mad vocal range, you know like it was crazy. Adrian can sing as well, so you know he was laying vocals down as well. It was really, really fun I mean the nice guy of rock, he is a bloody nice bloke and there is nothing else you can really say about that. There’s gold discs hanging on the walls and he’s just sitting there eating a sandwich you know like, he’s just a normal guy (laughing).
Nick: Johnny Cash’s guitar was standing in the corner, and I was like is that Johnny Cash’s guitar? He was like oh yeah I was in Memphis once and I was like nice guitar Johnny and he was like oh have it. I was like yeah we’ve got stories like that haven’t we (laughing). I remember the time Johnny Cash gave me a guitar too.
NRR: If you guys were marooned on a desert island and you could only take one album with you what would you choose?
Tarin: Oh my god, probably a Best of Queen (laughing).
NRR: Did you ever used to watch Alan Partridge?
Tarin: Yes, that’s what I’m saying (laughing). It’s classic Partridge, Best of The Beatles (laughing). We are massive Alan Partridge fans. That has come up before.
Nick: Seriously, I think we know it word for word (laughing). We are actually playing Norwich aren’t we? For some reason I think I would go back to Pink Floyd, I don’t know why “Dark Side of the Moon.” I can feel it emotionally changing me when I listen to it, it’s a real sort of, it gets inside of me and has a fiddle around like you know (laughing).
NRR: If you guys could choose anyone to cover one of your songs, which song and artist would you choose?
Nick: We could have some real fun with that couldn’t we, choose the most obscure ones the really effeminate ones and get Metallica to do it.
Tarin: James Hetfield singing “Pretty Girl” (laughing).
Nick: Oasis doing “Social Decay” (laughing). Probably Faith No More again they would probably be able to pull it off. I’d quite like to hear them do Bangkok Nights off our first album actually, that’s kind of scizzy isn’t it.
NRR: What else do you have in store for the rest of this year?
Nick: Oh we’ve got loads of stuff, we’ve just been working on a bit of a secret project with a really big producer who has been remixing one of our old songs, so that’s going to be coming out hopefully soon. We are off to Europe to do some touring as well and hopefully Japan at the end of the year as well.
Tarin: This tour will hopefully get us around the UK, well most of the towns and yeah we hope to hit most of the main cities in Europe.
Nick: I imagine we will probably smash the UK a few times as well, we will do the club circuit again as well. Yeah and just kind of see what happens, things just kind of come in they kind of just appear, just as something is running out, you are like what am I’m going to do next and the phone rings and someone is like such and such is happening and you just get involved and it takes you off. It’s kind of why we like it really, it just takes you anywhere it’s like a ship with no destination, floating off into the ether somewhere (laughing).
Tarin: It is a bit like that isn’t it, which is the next Sanguine adventure really.
Nick: Especially the last three years I think we’ve been all over the world really.
Tarin: I was just saying to the boys this morning, it’s getting a bit cold now, we should go somewhere hot soon (laughing). Let’s film a video somewhere hot.
Nick: We’ve got tons of videos actually, we’ve tried to do a video for every song, so every song gets the attention. It’s a massive amount of effort but we quite enjoy doing it. So there’s about another five videos I think coming out as well, just over the next year. We’ve got some acoustic stuff planned as well just like a mini-Ep or something, so we are just really playing at the moment.
Tarin: Obviously recording for the next album. We are always trying to get that demo run sorted you know and keep the train moving really.
Nick: I think we’ve already cut fifteen demos haven’t we, just sort of loose ones and we go back to them and change bits.
NRR: Brilliant, that all sounds really good. Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, we really appreciate it.

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About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.