Exeter, Devon UK • Dec 2, 2023 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Music In conversation with: Sinnery

In conversation with: Sinnery

Jake Avery, Music Editor, talks with Alon Karnieli (Vocalist and Guitarist) and Saar Tuvi (Bassist) from Israeli metal band Sinnery, discussing mythological influences, blending metal genres, and the challenges of touring. He also asks about the direction of the band’s latest EP, ‘Below the Summit’...
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Image: Jake Avery

Jake Avery: This is your first UK tour – how has it been playing for British crowds so far?

Alon Karnieli: All of the people we’ve met this week, and all of the places we’ve travelled, we were pretty excited to see, and we’ve met a lot of cool people and seen a lot of cool places. Just the chance to travel to the UK, that’s fine by itself, but to play for the UK crowd, that’s something else. We’ve been waiting to hit the UK for years now. So we’re glad we finally had the chance, we know for sure that we’ll come back as soon as possible.

Saar Tuvi: I’ve got to say, the crowd here really accepted us and really liked us. We talked to all of the people after the show, and it was a great, fun experience so far. We can’t wait for the crowd here in Exeter!

JA: It’s great to hear you’ve settled into playing here! Throughout your 2022 album, ‘Black Bile’, you utilised the medieval belief that black bile was the physical form of human negativity and that it was manifested by a toxic substance produced from the gut. It’s a bold choice to take a pessimistic concept and turn it into a hopeful, triumphant idea. What inspired you to take something negative and put a positive spin on it?

AK: The whole ‘Black Bile’ concept was more of a realisation than a thought of concept. We’ve been dealing with stuff like everybody else all these years that we’ve been doing this – if it’s depression, anger issues, or whatever. If you look at the songs that we play, it’s stuff that makes us happy. Sinnery makes us happy. The things that we write about are not nice, not good – they’re very intimate songs about the things that bother us in life. So that’s the most direct way of taking the bad things in us and making something good out of them because I feel a lot better pouring my heart out in a Sinnery song than just doing it myself.

ST: I can talk about it in terms of the music – I generally think that metal music is a good way to channel all of your aggression, all of your depression, all of the things that make you feel like sh*t. And just to try to channel them into an artistic way, something more productive, rather than just let them overcome you, so that’s the whole point around the ‘Black Bile’ and around Sinnery as a whole, we try and take all of the stuff that hurt us in the past, that affected us, that was bad, to try and channel them to do good, extract them out of ourselves and use them as the source of what we do.

I can do so much with what I feel, but if I use references from the outside world I can talk to people in ways that are closer to them. It’s a way to get closer to the people who listen.

JA: It’’s great to use it to process things! Similarly to your use of a reference to ancient beliefs, one of your latest singles ‘An Ode (Knife of Erato)’ references in the title one of the Muses from Greek mythology. You utilise mythological imagery in your lyrics often – what inspired you to include these symbols?

AK: I was getting out of a pretty bad breakup. This song was actually written quite long before but it was around that time, that I was looking for symbols of romance, and dead romance, and that’s how I found out about Erato and the Muses. But ‘Knife of Erato’ is just a Sinnery song about seeing the ship go down. You know it’s going down because of you. It’s a song about not being worthy, but I can tell you today that that’s wrong. That’s what I thought back then, but that’s not how I feel now. It’s a song about seeing the ship going down knowing it’s your fault, and accepting it because you can’t do everything in life. Not everything works simultaneously. But yeah, I didn’t use too much of the symbolism because I didn’t think it would benefit the song, but I did like that it had some kind of, something else to wink to. I love to read about stuff and then use it in our songs.

JA: I suppose it’s always good to have a reference point!

AK: It colours it. I can do so much with what I feel, but if I use references from the outside world I can talk to people in ways that are closer to them. It’s a way to get closer to the people who listen.

JA: One of your other recent singles, ‘Share This’ contains incredibly relevant lyrics – ‘The Plastic tide’s upon us’, ‘Only cables form connections’ – discussing contemporary issues about the environment and technology, in terms of the effects they have in society. What prompted the inclusion of these lyrical themes?

AK: During Covid, I started to take a course on social media management. And we came to the realisation that we need to up our game with social media. And you know, we do so much as a band, stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with music. When we realised we needed to create content, and put it all over social media, instead of just playing riffs, at first it was overwhelming and kind of disgusted me, when we were really stuck in Covid lockdowns and you can’t play with your friends but you need to post on Instagram, and that’s where it came from, I was just disgusted. All we had left was social media and we couldn’t see each other. So that came from there, it was an exaggeration of that.

ST: What some of the people who listened to the EP didn’t hear is, there is, on top of that song, another skit just before it that ties everything together in an ironic, sarcastic bit of a joke because we love skits. But it does tie the song with what we feel about a lot of what’s been going on lately. One day we’ll come on stage and you’ll hear the skit before it, it’s called ‘We just want you to -’

ST and AK in unison: ‘Share This!’

ST: It all ties up together and then you’ll get the full picture of what we’re trying to say there. Which is kind of funny in a way, but it’s also very relevant to what’s going on. Some people thought it was actually an advertisement, saying it should have been at the end. But I’m just saying, that it’s not an advertisement, it’s just part of the song, in a way. You’ll hear it when it comes out next week.

We want people who listen to our music to always feels safe with us, and feel a part of our family. We’re welcoming you into our tribe, we’re welcoming you to be a part of us.

JA: It’s great that you guys experiment and are self-aware!  In terms of community, Sinnery fans are known to be part of the ‘Anti-Tribe’. In terms of fostering the community you create, how important is it to you both to foster the community you’ve created?

AK: You know that feeling when you find a band that you like, or a song that you like, or an album that you like, and you get really attached to it emotionally? That’s what we try to build around us with the people who help us, work with us and listen to us. We want to be as big of a community as possible, that feels this way about music, about life in general wanting to be better. We know that we are not the best that we can be, and we take the bad things in us, the bad things that we did, all the regrets etcetera – all that stuff and we pour it into something. It could be your day job, it could be art, picking up sports, anything you want, but just use those things to help you be the best version of yourself. Use them. We want people to relate to our music because it comes from the bottom of our hearts because it’s very real and we don’t fake it. Nothing in those lyrics, like from the ‘Black Bile’ album and the new EP, it’s all real stories. It’s all stuff people can relate to because it didn’t just happen to us, and we want people to have just one more safe place to go to when they feel like sh*t.

ST: Metal is a family. We’re more than just fans of heavy music. It’s something that we all come under, an umbrella that we all come underneath. That’s what we strive for – we want people who listen to our music to always feel safe with us, and feel a part of our family. We’re welcoming you into our tribe, we’re welcoming you to be a part of us.

JA: With regards to the acoustic openings of some of your tracks, such as ‘Here Below’, ‘Ten Holes’, and ‘Symphony of Sorrow’ – they’re brilliantly eerie. How do these sections differ in your writing process compared to the electric passages?

AK: I think that the last couple of years we’ve tried to be less acoustic, but we just like it so we still use it. It’s basically that if we hear a song, it sparks the desire to pick up a guitar and play the music, and that song might have an acoustic part and spark the idea in us that we want to do it. We just like it!

ST: Just say that you love ‘Battery’ already and that it all came from that (Chuckles). I can tell you that on this album, I really really love orchestral stuff, it’s amazing, it’s large, atmospheric, and when we talked to our producer, he said he wanted this album to feel more raw, like you four are playing in a room, just doing your thing. So that didn’t feel right with what we were trying to accomplish in ‘Black Bile’. We just love acoustics, we love big beautiful entrances or mid parts or outros, and we love to experiment. On the new stuff, we experimented a little bit more. Everything that we like will be on the record, just like that.

JA: You guys encompass a wide range of different metal subgenres – thrash, sludge, doom, groove, and more. What was the most enjoyable genre that you experimented with for your new EP, ‘Below the Summit’?

ST: I think that to look at the history of Sinnery, with ‘A Feast of Fools’, I wasn’t a part of writing it, but it was when Alon and (Idan) Kringel (Guitarist) were about sixteen years old, which to me is amazing because that album is a masterpiece. But you know, when you’re sixteen you listen to this and this and you play that, and over the course of time, Alon started listening to new music. I came along in the band and I brought in my influences and started listening to other music. Kringel listens to other music, and Liam Fine (Drummer) who we brought in has his input on the EP. So things change, and I think all of us came from thrash in a way, but now Alon and Kringel listen more to hardcore and deathcore and modern music, and I love Pantera, and we all also listen to death metal and black metal. I think everyone, everyone as a whole, not just the band, has the case of, right now I’m kind of into this band, so for two months you’re kind of into this band, and all of your songs are kind in reference to this band, and then you write another song when you’re into another band. You take out all these influences altogether into your own mixture.

AK: It’s not just about a specific genre, it’s about mixing what Saar likes with what I like, and finding the pinpoints to shift. If you think the song will go that way, and then see, ah, we didn’t put your input in, what do you want to do? Like Saar said, it creates a cool mixture of all of us. When we make music, the only people who are important for us to satisfy, are the four of us. We could make bad music or good music, but it will always be the four of us and what we like to do, and not what people expect us to do.

ST: I do think that in the past several years our music tastes as a whole got more and more extreme. And then also in a way, I wouldn’t say we’re against modern metal, but we listened to a lot of classic metal, old school metal, but we do listen to a lot of modern metal as well, but not as much as we used to, so that comes into the new stuff as well. You can hear some breakdowns, but you can still hear our twist on it. It’s still us, but with a bit more of this and that. Which is fun, it’s cool.

JA: You were recently endorsed by Darkglass Electronics Saar – with so many different genres that you’re all tapping into, did it take you a long time to find the right gear to suit the sounds you strive for?

ST: In terms of guitars, I know that they (Karnieli and Kringel) recently both bought new guitars that they’re very happy with. I think it’s a matter of comfort, sound, and knowing that you will get a quality product that you know will suit you and serve you well. From my end, I’ve been using the same bass for almost twenty years now, my Warwick, I’m in love with it, and it’s hard for me to think about changing into something else. I don’t know, I love those basses. But in terms of the Darkglass, I used to play fingerstyle, no distortion or anything, and I knew I needed that extra kick, I needed something more than that. So I had been browsing around searching for what was the right tone for me, and I just fell in love with the Darkglass B7K, I think it’s an amazing pedal, I love the tone, and ever since we recorded ‘Black Bile’ I switched to picks because that was the right sound for us with the B7K. I’d been using Darkglass before the endorsement, and I got it because I used Darkglass. I’m not using Darkglass just because I got the endorsement. And I’m really happy with it, so a big shout out to Darkglass, they’re amazing, great company, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I might just upgrade up to the big B7K Ultra. But in terms of guitar, we do have some signature sounds that we like that we use, but we’re a lot more flexible on that end because we don’t want to sound generic.

Being from Israel where you can’t tour, and can’t just take a van and drive, we had to stick out, we had to work extra hard to compete on the same level from bands from Europe or America, because they can just take a van and book some shows – we can’t.

JA: Sinnery has faced many obstacles to overcome with the separation created by Covid, and also the challenge of getting to play gigs outside of Israel. What would you say the most difficult yet rewarding challenge has been, and why?

AK: Well, being a band from Israel, what kills most bands in Israel is the mandatory army service, because that’s three years of your life where you don’t necessarily know when you’ll be home again. I forfeited my service just to keep Sinnery going non-stop, and that was the most rewarding thing because now it’s a part of my life. Kringel and I have been doing this since we were sixteen, and we’ve grown into this thing that is our life, it’s the most permanent and stable thing in our lives, it always has. But in terms of what was the most difficult, look, being from Israel where you can’t tour, and can’t just take a van and drive, we had to stick out, we had to work extra hard to compete on the same level from bands from Europe or America, because they can just take a van and book some shows – we can’t. And so, whilst most Israeli bands are very very good, and Sinnery is very very good, we don’t know how to book ourselves out here. We’ve been working for so long, we’ve been doing all of this stuff for so long, and finally, we were noticed a couple of years ago, we got a manager and a team of people who work, who recognise what we do and then want to see us play. Times like this, this tour, are the most rewarding for all the hard work, all the hours in the studio, for all the recording time and money that we spent, everything, just to go and play and meet people, that’s the most rewarding.

JA: Given that you write lyrics that are resistant and rebellious in nature, what makes metal a great genre to embody the idea of challenging authority?

AK: I think music genres are languages, we talk in a certain language so people can understand us in a certain way, and I think that metal was, and is, the best language for us to speak what we want to get through. So it’s not necessarily what we’ll do for the rest of our lives, but it is how we know to get the ideas through, and we know that we as people, when we encounter our problems, we look for metal, you know, we found our comfort zone.

JA: It’s clearly a genre that has had a profound impact on your life, especially given that you’ve been writing since you were sixteen. Even if you move out of the metal genre, do you think your defiant streak will always stay with you?

AK: We already established that Sinnery does what Sinnery wants, so it’s just a matter of speaking the truth, being honest, and being authentic to yourself. For us to be able to write a song about things that are real for us. We won’t talk about things that we don’t understand, like politics or stuff like that, because it’s not us, you won’t hear it.

Listen to Sinnery’s latest EP release, ‘Below the Summit’ via Exitus Stratagem Records.

Watch the music video for Sinnery’s searing single ‘An Ode (Knife of Erato)’ here.

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