Derrick Sherman, guitarist for one of Tooth & Nail’s newest signings Sainthood Reps, was kind enough to take the time to talk with us about their debut record Monoculture, working with Mike Sapone, and touring with Brand New.
MEB: This is your first release for Tooth & Nail, which typically caters to a different audience than your band. What went into signing with that particular label?
Derrick Sherman: Growing up, Tooth & Nail had a bunch of bands we all listened to. They were one of those labels that held a lot of nostalgia for us. T&N isn’t an obvious fit sonically for our band, but the people who run the label are a great fit for us personally. We all share many of the same ideas and values that we think are important within the music realm. When they offered us a deal, we were hesitant until we talked at length about the music itself. We really felt like they understood what we were going for and most importantly, they were excited by it and very supportive.
I think too many bands these days get hung up on landing a deal with a “cool” label. I’ve seen some great bands, and some not so great bands continue to “wait it out.” They have been offered contracts by labels like T&N, Equal Vision, Triple Crown and they want to hold out for a “better” label. Ya Dingus!! If someone is excited about the music YOU created, and the contract isn’t a total drag, then why wouldn’t you afford yourself the opportunity to make music on someone else’s dime? Being asked to make a record is a rare gift that isn’t handed to everyone, and these bands I am thinking of are too hung up on what the logo on the back of their record is going to say. If the songs you wrote are good, then it doesn’t matter what label you are on.
There is some obvious influence of early 90s indie-rock in the band’s music, but what were some of the influences in the writing stages?
I think the overall feeling of being stuck and wanting to change dominated the thought behind this record. When you are in your 20s there are a lot of choices for you to make. Sometimes the world is so open to you, that it can be overwhelming. I think there was an overall feeling that maybe we found ourselves “stuck” and that we better try to do what we really want to do, before life happens to us and we are trapped forever.
What was it like working with Mike Sapone, who has worked with some pretty big names, on your first full length?
Who? What did he do? I do recall hanging out at my friend Mike’s home with my band for a couple months. We ate really well, laughed a ton, and had massive NBA Jam tournaments. That’s the magic with Mike. You don’t realize you’re working half the time… It’s effortless with him. He is such an underrated producer. He is a massive part of the sound that defines the bands he works with. We are grateful that he wanted to work on this record with us; it truly would not have been half as good without him.
The song “Hunter” differs stylistically from nearly every other song on the album. What led to having the one slower-style song in the middle of the chaotic tracks?
We gave a lot of thought to the track listing for this record. I thought of this record in two halves. “Hunter” is one of my favorite songs Cesco (singer Francesco Montesanto) had written. To me, “Hunter” was a great closing song, but I wanted “Widow” to close the record. So with vinyl in mind, Side A closes with “Hunter” and Side B closes with “Widow.” For me, “Hunter” shines in the midst of the chaos and provides me with some sonic relief, while being a strong enough song to be placed in between those two brutal songs. A true diamond in the rough.
Can you describe the writing/recording process? Was it different from the work you might have done in the studio with other bands?
Cesco likes to write his songs at home. He usually sends them to me over the internet. I might make a few suggestions and add some leads or structure changes. A possible vocal melody change or addition here and there. He plays drums really well and slays at the bass. So for him, he doesn’t really need another “musician,” he just needs another “ear.” For me, I need a lot of help. I bring my very rough idea of a song into practice and try to sing the drumbeat to Bradley. Cesco will often re-write a lot of my lyrics and make the vocal melody stronger.
The recording process was great. Although Cesco wrote a lot of the drum parts and bass for his songs, and I wrote a lot of the guitar and bass for my songs, Brad and Jani were still able to put some of their own flavor into the record. Some of Cesco and I’s favorite bass lines, or drum fills on the record are the ones Brad, Jani, or Sapone came up with.
You guys will be opening for Brand New during their tour this September. What do you hope to show to the fans who came for the headliner?
Hopefully we will turn some heads and make some new fans. A lot of the Brand New fans are great people; it would be an honor if they enjoyed my band’s music too. Really looking forward to these dates.
Relating to the previous question, you will be handling double duty at those shows, with the responsibilities for Brand New as a guitarist. How do you expect to handle such hectic, high-energy shows with two bands in one night?
I am not sure how it’s going to play out. I am pretty exhausted after a Sainthood Reps show, so it will be interesting having to go out for another one with BN. It sounds kind of corny, but I love playing the BN songs and the fans have so much energy that it’s sort of easy in the moment. There is so much adrenaline rushing through your system when you are on stage. I’m sure I will be catching some serious Z’s post-show.
What is your favorite release of 2011 so far?
I’m not sure if I listened to anything this year other then RICK ROSS to be honest. Oh, the Balance & Composure record Separation is good. I will go with that one. B&C!
If you had to make a dream lineup of your band and any other four bands, what would it be?
Sunny Day Real Estate
For folks who may not have listened to Monoculture yet, can you pick a song by your band to recommend to them? And also what is one song by another band you recommend, that fans may not have heard of?
That’s hard. Today I might choose “Hotfoot” as the Sainthood Reps song of the day. If you have not heard “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks, then do so.
A big thanks goes out to Derrick Sherman for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure to pick up Monoculture on August 9th!