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Interview: Sentinel Complex
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Jamie: I grew up in a family of musical people and have just always been around it, so I was sure to get into music at some point! It was when I watched a friend of mine play his guitar when I was about 8 that really got me wanting to do music myself though, and since then it has just been a big part of my life. When I started actually studying music though, I found myself deep in the rabbit hole of recording, mixing and learning to play other instruments. Without music though I would have no idea what I would be doing. Before I started doing music more seriously I wanted to be an engineer, so it’s probably something along those lines!
Josh: My earliest memory of music in my life would have to be sitting in my nan’s living room in oxford with my uncle. He had MTV2 on when Marilyn Manson’s video for Dope Show came on and I was transfixed by the sounds and imagery. I have always seen myself as an artistic type, always playing around with media. I looked up to people like Clown (from Slipknot) and Manson, and due to following artists like them for years, music became to me like painting time with sound.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Jamie: When I’m not doing music I’m either tending to/ playing with my animals or I’m doing something horror related. I’ve got a big collection of films that I’ve been adding to for years and I’m still not through them all! That will usually put me in the mood to write something musically though, so chances are I’ll end up back at my desk shortly after…
Josh: Listening to music, collecting music, the lot. I’m big into demo hunting, and I really enjoy archiving leaks and demos from artists I love. Like Jamie though I’m big into my games and films, but like I’ve talked about before to me it’s all one big thing so I don’t see a lot of separation from what I do outside of working on sentinel stuff.
How long has your band been around?
We’ve been making music together since 2014, but we weren’t really a band until we re-branded in 2016 to what we now know as Sentinel Complex. We started out doing music and sfx for random indie game and film projects and slowly got a grip for things, and then eventually just said “we could do this for a band you know” to each other and now we are here!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are based out of a small little seaside town called Bournemouth in the south of the UK. Honestly the music scene down here isn’t great and there aren’t too many bands or venues in the local area because everyone is playing in places like Southampton or Bristol! The thing that Bournemouth does have though is plenty of nature, and forest-y and rainy is the type of thing that really gets us into the writing mood. You can hear that influence in a bunch of our songs too!
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
Once we realized we couldn’t use our old name due to probably future legal trouble (Nova Prospect – Half Life reference), it took us a good few sessions of sitting down and thinking about the music we write and which words suit what we do best. We ended up with Sentinel Complex, which makes more sense if you add a “The” to beginning of it. If you know the story of our music, you’ll know what it means!
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
I played a good amount of shows growing up as I was always going from band to band, but I think my most memorable performance was when I was asked by one of my old schools if me and my band at the time could come in and play for some of the kids there (obviously we had to play some of the less heavy songs we had written!). I was skeptical at how it was going to go, when I say every single little soul there was jumping about the place and loving it, I mean it! It was so heartwarming to see, and I really hope at least one of those kids was inspired to learn an instrument because of it.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
Jamie: We haven’t played any shows as a band yet, however there are a number of places we would love to play as “end-game” shows. There is a great arena in Norway called Telenor Arena which is probably my favourite venue on earth, so that would probably be the one for me!
Josh: I think I can speak for both of us when I say that any show at the Royal Albert Hall would be a world altering event for us.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
Jamie: As long as I get to play on a lineup with either Periphery or Trivium at some stage in my life, I’m happy. However to play a show with Hans Zimmer’s band (or any orchestra for that matter) backing us up would just complete my life.
Josh: I’m biased because I was there, but I would kill to have had any hand in Sonisphere 2011. That entire line up was fantastic. Nothing’s topped it for me yet.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Jamie: Don’t take any shit! You are going to encounter people that are going to mess you and the band around, and you don’t need to waste time on those people. If you’re practicing but it’s clear that other people aren’t, find people that will. If music is a passion then it’ll become your priority, so find others that think the same way.
Josh: Something I learned from being in bands when I was younger was being picky on who to have involved. My first ever experience doing music was with loads of my friends and as fun as that was, it was clear that I was the only one who had a vision of what I wanted to do with the band - hence why to this day, Sentinel Complex is still just two guys. We’re very protective of what we have made. Essentially my one bit of advice is to align yourself with people with the same artistic goals.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Jamie: Probably just to say “record everything”. I know there have been a few great ideas I have lost to the void because I thought I would remember them but then never got them down exactly because I wasn’t recording or making some form of note. Every idea is worth keeping!
Josh: I would most likely just show up, imply something that’s going to happen and then say “spoilers” and vanish.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Jamie: For me it would have to be Ignite from The Azoth Chronicles album. I was going through a lot of things emotionally at the time and I pretty much funneled it into one track. I am determined to redo it one day though later down the line because looking back I feel that I could do it more justice. The other song would be Demise Of The Faithful because to me it is the first track we have really nailed as a band.
Josh: I would have to say Grievous Angel, purely because at the time it felt like such a step in the right direction for us. It was a massive improvement for us vocally compared to what we had done on the previous record, and Demise Of The Faithful wouldn’t have turned out the way it did if we didn’t have the confidence that I think Grievous gave us.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Josh: Well if we had any sort of shows planned I imagine it would be Demise of the Faithful right now since that is our leading single and it’s really doing well for us so far.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Jamie: When it comes to the process, we both do all of the writing and it usually goes the way of one of us will have an idea which will then be brought to the other, and then we’ll both sit down and see where we want the idea to go. At some point I’ll usually sit down with the end result and take it as far as I can go with it. Eventually we’ll end up with the final which we are both happy with, and we won’t release anything until we are both completely satisfied with it!
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
We referenced technology a lot in our EP Systematic Decadence and that world we built has always stuck with us. But right now we’re delving into more religious aspects and how that interlopes with the whole dark cyberpunk theme, taking a lot of inspiration from superstitions and old stories. What we would like people to take away from our music is a sense of timelessness. While being futuristic, we use a bunch of 1950s samples to get a good amount of story across in the songs. We’d love to hear from people that because of a sample we have used, they went back to look up the film and enjoyed it for themselves. But most importantly we’d like for people to go back and listen to the theme of our first EP and really think about what we are doing to this world and how she will take it back one day.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
We don’t really have disagreements in the band but when we do, it’s always solved by a “sit down and see which way works best” sort of session. Whatever works better as an outcome, we go with!
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
Right now we want to continue putting a spotlight on our newest single Demise Of The Faithful, but as the year goes on you can count on us to deliver more forward thinking music you won’t find anywhere else, so keep an eye out for that! Make sure to follow us on Instagram @SentinelComplex for updates.