Chicas of Corrosion: An Interview with Jeanne Sagan of All That Remains
Part tomboy, part femme fatale, Zeena Koda is a SiriusXM DJ, vocalist, journalist, and lover of all things hardcore. You can catch her radio show Monday through Saturday on SiriusXM Liquid Metal and watch her inquisitive feminist side via her video web series Boxx Talk and Ask A Bombshell. Rot and roll, baby!
The path to self-revelation is paved with many milestones. For Jeanne Sagan, the multi-talented bassist of All That Remains, the wild journey has led her to a new level of confidence. Reserved yet passionate, Jeanne stands out as a woman of musical depth who has also clocked in her time scholastically and professionally within the veterinary world. She possesses a humble optimism that many musicians at her level may not share, and within minutes of speaking with Jeanne, you realize how down to earth she truly is. Touring extensively throughout the summer and poised to infiltrate new sets of ears on ATR’s forthcoming U.S. tour with Volbeat, Sagan takes things one day at a time and savors those precious rare personal moments.
ZEENA KODA I read somewhere that you started off doing merch for Prosthetic Records. How did you transition into playing heavy music?
JEANNE SAGAN Originally I played trumpet and I was in drum corps, complete music nerd-dom. We actually traveled in a school bus, which is quite different than traveling in a tour bus, playing competitions. When I got to college, some friends from high school were staring a band and asked me to play with them. I started jamming and being in different bands. It’s just kind of been a whirlwind since then. Further down the line, I was working merch for Prosthetic and had a bunch of friends in bands when I heard that All That Remains needed a bass player. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it.’
You mentioned that you went to college. What did you study in school?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and I’ve worked a couple of “real jobs” in that realm. Actually, my last real job was in an animal hospital and I used to work in an aquarium. I’m still interested in vet tech work!
Side convo since you mentioned animals: Do you happen to know Rachel from Most Precious Blood? She’s a huge pit-bull lover and fellow animal enthusiast.
No, but she was one of my heroes when I first started playing hardcore shows because I was really into that whole scene, which is how I got into underground music period. I’d see Rachel with Indecision, I’d see Candace [from Walls of Jericho] up there kicking ass and it was just like, Wow. I never thought I had the guts like them, but I just kept fucking with it and gave it a whirl.
What do you think is one of the biggest challenges in being involved in such a male-dominated scene, especially with a band like All That Remains that has such a masculine fan base?
There is always the “hottest chicks” label that is thrown around and is inevitable, but if you aren’t someone who is considered “the hottest chick” because you don’t throw yourself out there like that, it’s kind of hard to be perceived and taken seriously. It’s almost as if “you’re just another girl in some band” and it makes it a little harder in a way. At the same time, you’re still looked upon for “not dressing in heels” and now “you’re not hot, now you’re ugly.” [Laughs] The whole concept is kind of stupid and it’s a double-edged sword either way.
Do you ever feel you’re viewed differently because you aren’t one of those kinds of girls?
I’m still kind of debating on that because, yeah, I’m a tomboy, but I definitely enjoy makeup and like being a rock chick. I’m becoming informed. I started wearing more fitting clothes in my 20s and it’s really just me becoming more confident through the band. Maybe I will want to wear more makeup or something that shows cleavage one day, it’s more about me being more confident in my body and with myself. Maybe that’s why many people enjoy looking at the “hottest chicks” lists because they are confident with their bodies. I’m trying to look at it positively. No one has really questioned my ability or reasons for being here.
Is there anything surprising about the music industry that hit you along the way?
People’s perception about how much money we make is funny and how much work really goes into it.
When you’re touring, are there any challenges for you as a woman?
I used to be shocked by things but now I am just so used to it, “Oh there’s girls backstage. Oh, there’s a drunk guy, whatever.” None of that is crazy to me anymore, but what is crazy to me is people still singing your songs. I’m still in shock by some of these shows we play and think to myself, Really? Where am I? We recently played a festival with Guns N’ Roses–if I told myself at 10 years old, when I was in love with GN’R, that I would be playing shows with them, I would have been like, “No way.”
Do you ever feel disconnected with the dating world since you are on the road so often?
To be honest, I haven’t had a real boyfriend in five or six years because I’m completely dedicated to my band and everything we do. I have so many other great things going on with my life that it can wait or when the time is right. I love my family and friends, so I’ll take that. [Laughs]
Is there any golden advice that you have for a woman coming up in this business?
If you want to live your dream, don’t worry about what other people think. Fuck it. Do it. It’s not going to matter what other people think, you need to have a stronger mentality when people want to pick you apart, it goes for anything in life.
What’s your one weird girly thing–because I know every woman has one?
I enjoy wearing dresses at home, but never do while we’re on tour. My bandmates always freak out when they see me in a dress. When I’m on tour, I just want a band T-shirt and jeans. I try to be as comfortable as possible. I don’t care if my hair isn’t done. They have seen me at my best and worst. Lately, I’ve been wearing more makeup though, and because they’re like my brothers, they poke fun at me a little.
You have a big U.S. tour coming up with Volbeat and HIM, but All That Remains come from hardcore roots. As a band, you’ve migrated to more mainstream audiences. How has that evolution been?
I try not to over think it much. Coming from the hardcore scene, you are used to the physical aspects of the show and people are into it. Playing big festivals to a more radio crowd, it’s a contrast because people are standing still just listening. It’s definitely weird coming from that scene to where we are now. The crowd has changed, but it’s a new opportunity because many of those people who are watching us have never heard of us before. It opens up a new world for us!
What’s a typical day like off of tour?
I like hanging out by myself, especially in the morning since I’m not used to that because there’s nine people constantly in my face on tour. I hang out with family and friends, watch movies, and go to my favorite restaurants. I try to do stuff that I don’t normally get to do while I’m on tour. Everything is hectic for the five to 10 weeks we are on the road and I’m constantly battling sickness, so I try to take any time I have at home to relax.
Like spending time being a real human?
Yeah, I guess, whatever that means. [Laughs]