"When me and Fred formed Sinsaenum, we didn't know how far this would go," says Joey Jordison of joining forces with the DragonForce bassist Frédéric Leclercq. "It might have just been a one-off, but the chemistry was so strong when we got together, we knew it wasn't. It's not a side project, it's a full-on thing. It is a complete responsibility!"
Sinsaenum was formed in 2016, when Jordison reached out to Leclercq about the possibility of working together. Leclercq sent the former Slipknot/Scar the Martyr skinsman some death-metal songs he'd been working on with Loudblast guitarist Stéphane Buriez, and an international extreme metal supergroup was born — its membership soon expanding to include Seth guitarist Haimoth (who plays bass with Sinsaenum, freeing up Leclercq to concentrate on guitars), as well as Dååth vocalist Sean Zatorsky and Mayhem frontman Attila Csihar.
Scheduling conflicts may have kept Csihar from contributing more than some lyrics and backing vocals to Sinsaenum's most recent round of recordings ("Attila is a member of Sinsaenum, but he's kind of like a ghost," Jordison laughs, "He comes in and out when you least expect it"), but the band's second full-length, Repulsion for Humanity, (out August 10 via earMUSIC) — is still an impressive step forward from their excellent debut (2016's Echoes of the Tortured) and last year's formidable Ashes EP.
Relentless, punishingly precise, and dark as fuck, tracks like "Final Resolve," "My Swan Song" and "Forsaken" are the work of a band that truly means business — and means to stick around.
Revolver spoke with Jordison about the recording of Repulsion for Humanity, the band's upcoming, first-ever tour (just Europe, Japan and Australia for now, unfortunately), and his recovery from acute transverse myelitis, the neurological disorder that forced him to leave Slipknot in 2013.
A BAND LIKE THIS, WITH MEMBERS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC, COULD EASILY FALL APART DUE TO LOGISTICAL HASSLES ALONE. HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO OVERCOME THOSE AND RECORD A SECOND FULL-LENGTH THAT'S EVEN BETTER THAN YOUR FIRST?
JOEY JORDISON Yeah, it could fall apart, but that's the thing about Sinsaenum and the determination of these guys in the band — we don't allow that shit to happen, whatsoever. And I think this album, Repulsion for Humanity, really showcases exactly where we're at now, and exactly where we're headed. Honestly, I feel that this is our first record. Ashes and Echoes of the Tortured, they're absolutely fucking killer, because everyone went in there with balls on and delivered, no matter what.
But this one's different, because we've been together a long time, now. And I got to record in France, instead of doing my drum parts here in Des Moines, and everyone was there with me. When we created this record together, this was a complete band effort — not like we exchanged riffs and recorded this here and this there. This one was an actual family record. Now we've become more of a family and an organization, and not a project. And to see it all come to fruition like this, and just to have that determination and trust in each other, especially when we live in different countries, there's a lot to be said for that.
YOU GUYS RECORDED THE ALBUM IN NANTES, FRANCE. HOW LONG WERE YOU THERE FOR?
Honestly, I can't totally remember. [Laughs] I think I did all my drum tracks within a couple of weeks, but I stayed there a couple of weeks extra after I'd finished tracking. So I think I was there just a little bit over a month. I grinded my tracks out pretty damn quick, and it was great to have Fred and Stéphane there, coaching me along. It was a good time, man. It was a death-metal celebration!
GOING IN, DID YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC GAME PLAN FOR THE RECORD'S SOUND? OR DID THAT BECOME CLEARER ONCE YOU WERE ALL IN THE SAME ROOM?
Yeah, honestly, that's the way it went. Because when I was getting sent the stems, with Fred being the main songwriter and Sean doing his lyrics, I would come up with some riffs and some changes here and there. I would just start grinding, just getting completely ready for when I got over there, so there was no bullshit or screwing around. Being a drummer in a band like this, you want to be with your band all the time and play. But I'm not, because I'm way on the other side of the world; same with Sean …
But the initial tracking session was really educational and enjoyable, and it really kind of built from there. You don't get into a band with people who live in a different country and love extreme death metal and black metal if you can't connect with them on that level. It's not like, "Hey, let's party and try to play some things!" [Laughs] It's a responsibility, man. It's hardcore. So you can't go in there untrained, not knowing your parts or not doing your homework.
YEAH, IT'S ONE THING IF YOU'RE GETTING TOGETHER TO BASH OUT SOME THREE-CHORD JAMS, BUT WHEN YOU'RE RECORDING LONG AND INTRICATE PIECES LIKE "FORSAKEN" AND "MY SWAN SONG," YOU DO KIND OF NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING BEFORE YOU EVEN GO INTO THE STUDIO.
Well, that's cool that you mention those two songs. "My Swan Song," that song is so depressing but uplifting at the same time, you know what I mean? [Laughs] It's, like, so fucking cold; but at the same time, it's taking you to somewhere else outside of this world. That song is one of my favorite songs I've ever tracked on!
THAT'S SAYING SOMETHING!
I'm not joking! That song is so fucking cold, but it's heartwarming at the same time, because it speaks so loud. Fred did a really, really good job on the riffs on that stuff. The communication within Sinsaenum is really, really cool. As extreme as the music is, you might not realize how much we respect each other, and how much we coach each other, and how well we communicate. Being in a band like this — especially with extreme speeds like this — and you don't get to play every week, but you go in and nail it, it shows the respect you have for each other, and the fact that you've done your homework.
YOU GUYS OBVIOUSLY HAD TO PACK AS MUCH INTO YOUR ALLOTTED STUDIO TIME AS POSSIBLE. BUT WERE YOU ABLE TO GO OUT AND EXPLORE NANTES, AT ALL?
Not really, no. And that sucks, but I was there to do a job. Basically, I was in the studio 10 to 12 hours a day; and shit, man, after that, you really don't want to go out and do anything. [Laughs] I had to be on track for the next day, so I had to make sure I had my rest, because those tracks are no joke. I'd grab my sticks and go back to my hotel, and I would rehearse the next track for a few hours; and then I'd go to sleep, get up and be right back in the studio, ready to fucking slay again. I'd wake up, and my sticks would still be in my hands. [Laughs] But it was great. We had an amazing time making this record — and much more to come, you know?
YOU'VE GOT A EUROPEAN TOUR COMING UP THIS FALL. ANY CHANCE YOU'LL BE BRINGING SINSAENUM TO THE U.S., AS WELL?
It's still up in the air as of right now, but we really want to. Man, I really want to tour this in my home country, because it's too fucking good! We're trying to figure it out with all the guys and our management right now. No matter what, we will be here. It's something that people need to see — and especially for me and Sean, being the two American citizens that perform in the band, it's important for us that our fans here get to see it, because they deserve it. We will definitely make plans to get over here, and hopefully everyone will come out in droves, and we'll have a black-metal time!
HOW'S YOUR HEALTH THESE DAYS?
Good, man; really good. I'm happy, and just grinding constantly. I got over the transverse myelitis stuff; I'm walking great, and I'm playing faster; I mean, I'm just playing all the time. I have to, just as exercise. I was in the gym for a long time, man, just getting my stamina up and everything. And now all that transverse myelitis shit is gone — it's completely gone! I don't even have it anymore. I don't know how I overcame it, man, but it just speaks to how the spirit of the heart and the power of metal gets you through it. The power of music, and the power of your determination in life, especially when you're playing extreme metal like this … it just conquers. It conquers everything.