Saturday, April 2, 2016

interview: Corners of Sanctuary

Corners of Sanctuary
Non-trendy metal music can be a difficult area to be in, but some bands are tough enough to stick to what they believe, regardless of fashions. Corners of Sanctuary (USA) is one such band. They play traditional heavy metal in the sense of classic-style and foundational heavy metal. People say that the music business is rough, but how hard is it when your band plays unfashionable heavy metal? To get some answers, Mick Michaels (guitar and keyboards) took time to explain it all. Thanks to Mick for such an informative and professional interview.
First of all, thanks for sending in your music. What can you tell us to introduce the band to the readers?
Thank you for offering us this opportunity to share Corners of Sanctuary with your readers. We greatly appreciate it.
We are Corners of Sanctuary, a New Wave of Traditional American Heavy Metal band from Philadelphia, PA. Corners of Sanctuary formed in early 2011. The band grew out of a short-term reunion project Sean, James and I were involved in back in 2010 for a band called Seeker. During that time, Sean and I began discussing starting a new project that focused on our metal roots. We wanted to write the kind of songs that we weren’t hearing anymore. We starting rehearsing and about six months later we brought James onboard and Corners of Sanctuary was born. In the beginning, Sean was acting as drummer and lead vocalist. However, we realized pretty early on that the band would require someone who would helm the front person position exclusively. In 2013 Frankie joined the band filling that spot.
Corners of Sanctuary includes:
Frankie Cross: vocals
Sean Nelligan: drums and backing vocals
James Pera: bass and backing vocals
Mick Michaels: guitar and keyboards
Are you from Philadelphia, as Metal Archives says. How’s your band doing in that city?
Yes, we hail from the City of Brotherly Love. Philly is a very diverse and rich music scene. There is a lot going on but metal is alive and well here. Our style of metal tends to lend itself towards the more classic or traditional sounds of the genre. Thrash and death Metal tend to be more of the popular styles in Philly, but this also seems to be true for most music scenes around the country today based on our experience. Regardless, Corners of Sanctuary is able to hold their own and we are proud to be part of scene with such a strong presence and a long and celebrated musical history.
You sent in your album "Metal Machine." What happened after the release of the album?
“Metal Machine” released last year in late October under Metalizer Records in Germany. We also had a limited run Special Edition US release of the album as well which included three bonus tracks. That pressing has since sold out, which was very exciting.
Overall, the album has received positive reviews and has helped take the COS awareness up another notch. We have also released two videos for tracks from the album, “Left Scarred” and “Wrecking Ball”. We plan to release a third for “Tomorrow Never Comes” in the coming months.
We started promoting the album’s upcoming release last summer and since then have been supporting the album non-stop with live shows throughout the Southern and Northeast regions. During that time we have been fortunate enough to work with Tantric, Butcher Babies and Grim Reaper. In May we are heading out to the Midwest for a string of shows as well as putting together a West Coast tour for October. In between we will be at the NEPA Metal Meltdown Fest and performing as part of this summer’s Metal Eternal Fest Tour.
How did you arrive at your style?
We have always considered ourselves just heavy metal. But we learned that what we consider heavy metal is not what heavy metal is considered today. We were being classified as many different things such as American power metal, or old school thrash and even just classic hard rock. We felt that our roots grew out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal era, but were also inspired by the early American metal that coincided. We decided to take the best of both worlds and came up with the New Wave of Traditional American Heavy Metal moniker.
Our style is definitely a traditional mix of many of our influences, but with our own personal twist. That twist is constantly evolving and maybe in time what we call this particular style of metal will change, but for now it is what it is and we are proud of it. People still tend to classify us as something different but that’s okay. We have learned that people will call it what it feels like to them, or based on their tastes or experiences. In the end it really does not matter. What matters is that the music resonates with them. Whatever they call the music is fine with us.
If there is no commercial success, does that matter to you? In what ways does the approval of an audience affect your desire to continue making music?
There is always a concern with regards to money and keeping to budget. This is true for anything not just being in a band. That concern can be beneficial, however, as it tends to foster more creativity and out of the box thinking.
I think success is important to everyone on some level. I guess commercial success can be measured in a lot of different ways. It’s all a matter of perception. By the old standard, many of us would most likely be falling short. I think that if someone is in it just for the money, that notion will quickly fade and new interests will be pursued once a little time is spent pounding the pavement. The music scene has a way of weeding out artists who are not dedicated to the process. You either love creating music or you don’t. That has nothing to do with style, genre, talent or money.
Crowd approval is a catch-22 situation. If you don’t offer something that the crowd likes you are considered a failure by the general public. If you give exactly what the crowds likes, you are considered a sellout by your peers and could be accused of following trends or doing cookie-cutter art. With anything there is a balance to be had. What that balance is becomes an individual thing. We have found that we write songs that we would want to hear as fans. That was one of the purposes of forming this band: to create music that we would want to hear. That idea has helped us remain focused and honest with what we do. If we find that something is not working, it is often because we are doing something that is not being true to ourselves and to the music. People can sense that and that is a big turn off. People can also sense honesty and often tend to gravitate towards that.
What is your opinion of social media for your band?
Social media is definitely an intricate part of a band’s marketing and public awareness. It is a great way to connect with people all over the world, making it much easier to promote and campaign. However, as it does provide a global canvas for artists to work upon, the scope is often too large to handle. I feel we are often misled by the seemingly powerful vast landscape it offers artists. We can become blinded by what, in reality, is a false sense of security. Social media should be taken as an important tool to build connections and used appropriately. However, the cornerstone for any band is to connect with people through the live shows. An invite to a “like” in Russia doesn’t necessarily help fill the venue at a show in Kansas City. Working locally, regionally, nationally and globally all have its benefits.
What type of lyrics seems to be prevalent in your songs?
One of our primary song topics is that of war and battle. “Metal Machine” is entirely about war and the soldier. The title itself is a metaphor for a tank, or fighter plane, or a battle ship or the soldier themselves. Though it was written in a way that the lyrics could be interpreted as other things, such as heavy metal music itself, the underlying concepts are of war and battle, which I imagine could also hold some political and social undertones.
Another one of our song subjects is self-empowerment, a sort of rising to the occasion against insurmountable odds idea. Music is a way to inspire others. Music has always inspired us. That’s why we are doing it, because we were inspired and hope to do the same for others. Music is also a positive creative outlet and the world needs more positive and less negative.
You have four albums. What have you learned about the music business after making four albums? Some people say that it is a dirty business with lots of backstabbing and lying. How has it been in your experience?
We actually have five albums if you count our Holiday album “Driven Snow”.
We have learned to make better records. We have gotten far more familiar with digital recording and the new way to market and promote the music. It really is a digital media world and that offers so many new avenues.
I think with any endeavor, music or otherwise, there always exists an element that lends itself to dishonesty and subterfuge. So to say that the music business is any more “dirty” than another form of business would be misleading in itself. We have found at times truth may be in short supply on occasion. We maintain a personal state of integrity that we use as a compass. Basically, honesty prevails. Not always reciprocated but always maintained on our end. We feel our word is golden. If we hold up our end and things still go wrong, no one can say that we tried to pull any punches.
Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
I would like to thank you again for giving us this time and for giving Corners of Sanctuary your support – we really are grateful.
The band is currently running an ongoing crowdfunding project to help raise funds for our upcoming May and October tours. We have a dedicated page on our website for those who would like to offer some additional support. The page outlines what we are looking to achieve as well as those we are partnering with to make this all happen. Support tiers are listed at various levels which include an array of COS merchandise. We are not asking for people to just give us money. We are offering something in return as well as a listing on our website naming them as a generous supporter.
We do have another video planned for release sometime in May for our next single “Tomorrow Never Comes,” so keep an eye out. And we will be releasing a “Best of” compilation in the very near future as a free MP3 download.

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