For a fan of projects like Ildjarn, Darkthrone, Akitsa and other minimal lo-fi black metal projects, Sandworm scratches a pesky itch. There's never enough of the stuff if you ask me. When I think of lo-fi black metal, I think of bands that come from mostly punk backgrounds because there's usually a distinctly DIY feel to the music, which is often notable in the recording quality. That's not a bad thing, if you ask me: it adds a layer of rawness or edge to both guitar tones and vocals while replacing a crisp drum sound with more of a rhythmic ideal.
That's what could have been said about the sonic quality in Sandworm's Demo, but their new split with the Body brings out the band with a more full range of sound and songs. Three of the songs from the demo are repeat offenders on the split, albeit with a more produced effect. Let's call it as it is: Sandworm recorded the split with better equipment, though the excellent songwriting has been there since the beginning. On this split, though, they REALLY shine. Ben Eberle's guitar is sinister, varying between quick chord changes and icy languishing behind a voice that sounds like snarling, wounded though not defeated wolf after a fight with a bear. And Patrick Reilly's drums are relentless and martial: commanding as a drill sergeant. Yeah. It's fucking wonderful.
I unfortunately missed their show at Chicago's Emporium, though I have high hopes to see them on a future tour. In the following interview, Ben alludes to writing more songs and hopefully recording more music. Here's hoping.
Jordan Reyes: Sandworm is a sweet name for a band. I personally get kind of sick of seeing Black Metal bands pick names of demons out of some grimoire, though I love science fiction. Did you get the name from Dune?
Ben Eberle: Yes. It took us a long time to think of a band name. We agree that picking 'grim' names can get exhausting, plus we aren't really that kind of band. We started the band with very little concept. Sandworm is a band name that is kind of weird but also neutral in a way.
JR: The easy comparisons after listening to your demo for me are like Ildjarn, Bone Awl, early Darkthrone, Akitsa. Do you find yourselves at all inspired or influenced by the likes of those bands?
BE: Pat and I have very different tastes. I listen to metal more than any other genre and that is the kind of music that I identify with for the most part. I would say that Ildjarn is the biggest influence and I certainly listen to a lot of Darkthrone. I also like Bone Awl and Akitsa. Pat doesn't really listen to metal or associate with it or have any real interest in it. We have overlapping interests in other music genres.
JR: Your original demo came out in 2011. I guess I'm a little late to the party, but do you guys have any releases other than the demo and the new split with the Body? Was Sandworm on hiatus until now?
BE: Those are the only two releases. We were once on hiatus for a short time while Pat lived in Austin but it has been pretty consistent. At one point our good friend Mindy Stock was in the band. She plays on three songs on the split.
JR: How did you decide to do a split with The Body? I know you guys are both from Providence - did you guys know each other for a while?
BE: We had been meaning to record for a while. We have been friends with The Body for years and we always play with them when they come to town. Once the recording was in place, I asked Lee if he wanted to do a split and it went from there.
JR: Your songs on the split sound like mixing and producing took a bigger priority. I know that three of the songs from the split were on your demo, but how different was the process of getting the ten songs from the split down as they are on the split in comparison to the demoing process?
BE: The demo sounds so different because the sound was less developed and we used different equipment and such. The split sounds like our live sound. We wanted it to sound natural and organic.
JR: Was it weird working with Thrill Jockey? I personally love that label's outlook and output, so I'm curious.
BE: It wasn't weird at all. It was simple and straightforward. Bettina and the TJ crew are awesome. They are professional and very knowledgeable. Really nice group of people. Working with them is great.
JR: Somewhat an insipid question, but I was an English major so humor me. What do you guys talk about in your lyrics? I can't make out a lot of the lyrics.
BE: I don't have much to say about this really.
JR: Do you think you guys will do an LP at some time in the future?
BE: No plans yet but we certainly hope so. We already have a bunch of new stuff written. We have been playing it on tour.
JR: How has your tour gone so far? Anything particularly surprising for you guys?
BE: It's going great. Booking the shows to and back from the west coast was tough for me and some dates fell through. Neither of us have ever been to the west coast so there was a lot of new things to explore. The shows with The Body were especially awesome, of course.
JR: What else is in the future for Sandworm?
BE: Who knows? Maybe we will tour again in the future and make another record. For now, we'll probably just play shows in Providence and write more songs.
JR: Anything else you'd like to say?
BE: Thanks for the interest, it was nice talking to you.