Despite the fact that the band’s upcoming appearance in Greece was put on hold due to the Covid-related emergency measures taken by the government, I felt the need to have a chit-chat with Scarlett Monastyrski, the man behind the Canadian / Australian Acid Metal act Sabïre. Indulge! Cheers!
Hello Scarlett and welcome to Greece’s Metal Invader! Nice to have you with us! Are you alright? What have you been up to these days?
Hej hej, good to be here. Yeah, I suppose we’re doing alright. We have just been working on product. We put out a “Live in Hamburg” video out that we are quite proud of. We have at least three more live videos that are in the pipeline; Two from last year, Melbourne and Keep it True, and one from this year, “Live from St. Rok Studios.” Working to complete “Jätt” and all the videos to go along with it.
We’re facing a pandemic that has affected every aspect of our lives; in what way did you experience the whole Covid breakout and how has it affected you both individually and as a band?
Well for starters, we had to cancel the remainder of our European tour this year, including missing out on playing your country of Greece. Secondly, we will be grounded in Australia for the next foreseeable future, which will mean no touring on any of our upcoming albums. But the upside of that is that when we can come to Europe, we will have more songs to play and the audience will actually know them.
Individually it has affected some of the businesses the other guys are involved in, and has made work and jobs harder to find. We can travel only very limitedly in our own country, and we are not permitted to leave the country.
In Greece, artists, bands, backline crews and possibly anyone working in the field had no support from our government. Do you experience the same thing in Australia? Would you say that the measures taken were to your benefit?
No, we have not received support properly. We definitely have experienced the same thing as you have. Covid has really hit the music and arts community/industry very hard here in Australia.
Alright, let’s move to the music stuff! In order to be more acquainted with you, when did you decide to form such a band, why and to what end? What were your initial goals?
I formed the decision to create Sabïre on a winter evening at home in December of 2010. I remember exactly where I was standing and what I was doing. I was playing along to familiar song and realised that I could have just as easily come with this exact progression on my own. I decided then and there that I should start a secret project that used only music that I came up with organically and without forethought. Ten years later, I have fully developed a style and know instinctively what the Sabïre sound is when I hear it. The end-goal at the time of its inception was only to breathe life into the project. That grew to wanting to play shows like Venom at the Hammersmith Odeon, then aspiring to play arenas with full audiences. By the time half a year had passed, I had decided that I wanted to make Sabïre my career and eventual sole source of income. I further wanted to use a successful career with Sabïre to branch out into other fields and strive to create not only a lasting career, but a decided mark and legacy behind. As of the 20th of December 2018, I achieved the bare minimum by releasing “Gates Ajar.”
What’s up with the name Sabïre? Why did you choose it?
“Sabire” is a man’s name, short for “Sabirátòk.” I came up with it when I was young boy in school. In middle school I gave the is an intensely personal project. It began that way as I mentioned before. I thought, without question, that if I was going to work on a musical level that personally, then the name had to be just as personal. There was no doubt that “Sabire” had to be its name.
At some point you moved from Canada to Australia; how did that affect Sabïre?
Greatly. I broke up the band I had and left the country. I even stopped playing for a long time. I didn’t stop thinking about Sabïre though. On New Years Eve going into 2015, I picked myself up and got started again and I am still going now.
You’ve said that searching for bandmates in Australia was a difficult task, as most musicians weren’t interested in your style; did you feel for a moment that Heavy Metal is now outdated? Did this strengthen your perseverance in finding the right people for this project?
Outdated? Perhaps. But what I think was the real issue was not so much that Metal is outdated, but what I was asking of these potential members was unacceptable to them. You have to understand that the time we live in is a contributing factor to what people are willing to do. If we go back to the time of some of our musical heroes of 1980’s Heavy Metal, let’s say it’s 1983, consider what their musical landscape looked like, what the past 10 years played out as, and what they grew up with 20-30 years prior to their current year. If we look at that, and take the facts and norms into consideration, it is understandable to see how these bands looked and operated as being reasonable and normal. It was only a matter of taste to the prospective musicians as whether or not they would become involved. For instance, in the 1950’s and 60’s it was mandatory to dress up onstage to be taken even remotely seriously as an act. Suits and ties, gowns and dresses. This was the norm. This was expected. So, people forming bands in the 70’s are now not thinking twice about being asked to put on a costume of some kind (this could have been anything). Some bands in the 60’s started wearing less uniform attire onstage, and that brought out people simply wearing street clothes, but this was just another way of expressing; an antitheses to the ways of old. So, glam rock and general dressing up was normal and expected, with people becoming more and more adventurous with their themes. Acts in the 1980’s continued with the norm of dressing up. 1990’s come along with not just street clothes, but with backwards and deliberately “ugly” dressing up, along with extreme “grungy” street clothes; yet more antitheses to the ways of old. Meanwhile, Metal music is becoming more and more stripped down, and we get into the 2000’s and onwards. By 2010, everyone and his dog is in sweatpants and hoodies with sneakers and one-length hair. It has become that lazy. Anyone that does not adhere to this norm is now outcast and odd. See where I am going with this thought? This sort of attitude in the broad spectrum rock music is still not really moving anywhere, no where fast at least. I think it is disgusting to dismiss a band or individual artist as “retro” or “throwback” when they are decidedly trying to create a new experience. Do not mistake me, there ARE acts out there who are deliberately trying to copy past artists’ vision and proudly tote that they are “revival.” These are not the artists I am referring to.
So with all that said, imagine asking a young musician to get rid of their runners and put high heeled boots on, do their hair and put on a show; they simply don’t want to. They don’t want to because no one else is doing it, or “it’s too much work,” or they get the wrong idea in thinking it’s a retro band, then get confused when an idea does not meet the “retro” confines.
On top of that, if you explain in detail a long-term plan for what album’s are going to sound like, future performances be like and music videos shot like, some people wonder where they fit into it all, or simply cannot understand an abstract idea. It all becomes too much, and people walk away.
This did not strengthen my perseverance to find suitable members, it did the opposite. I decided to switch my tactics, go in Bathory-style and do it myself. I picked up a book, learned to engineer and record, put together a studio and did the bloody record.
Was this one of the reasons you ran late releasing your debut?
You mean, take eight years to officially release a recording? Among other reasons, yes. But my goodness, am I ever glad it came out exactly when it did and no earlier.
“Gates Ajar” was almost instantly welcomed by fans worldwide! How did that made you feel? Did you anticipate such warm embrace?
It was a serious crash-course in all things music industry. I learned a lot in a very short period of time. I really didn’t have time to stop and feel anything, if I am honest. I did imagine people would like it, but I could not have thought it would have caught on in a matter of days like it did. It gives me doubt that the full length album will be given any notice at all.
This immediate recognition landed you in Keep It True Festival; must have been an electrifying experience!
Playing that show was a good and natural experience. Meeting the people we did was wonderful. I am forever grateful for the opportunity we were given. It would be great to one day be invited back to play Keep it True, but this time we will play better.
What does “Gates Ajar” represent both conceptually and in real life?
Conceptually, “Gates Ajar” is a showcase to demonstrate the range that Sabïre has. You are given an atmospheric track, a “get the party started” track that has a far deeper meaning when inspected, an anthem of sorts about determination to overcome, a raunchy number, a social commentary track, a thematic opus, and a song about personal romantic relationships, in that order. This variance can and should be expected from all future Sabïre recordings, in greater or lesser numbers. In real life, Gates Ajar is a location in northern Ontario.
What’s your favourite track and what’s the track that best describes Sabïre?
I’m not a good person to ask for this, honestly. I have found I have an inability to accurately choose all-encompassing songs to represent a band as a whole. I would rather other experts do that. But, my own favourite track would have to be “Slave to the Whip.” I remember immediately finding that the main riff was quintessentially Sabïre. I love how the guitar and bass switch roles for busyness throughout the song. The bridge and solo sections are my favourite. Fun fact, I recorded the guitar progression of the bridge incorrectly. You can hear the slight difference in the 2017 demo recording and in subsequent live performances. I would strongly consider going back and fixing this for future pressings of “Gates Ajar.”
Why Acid Metal? Peculiar but highly interesting term!
Because that is exactly what we play. Our sound is acid. It’s corrosive and burns. The guitars are acidic, the production is utterly wet and bitey. The lyrics are never what they seem if you make assumptions based on what you think to expect from previous experiences; they will sting you like a like a drop of acid on your skin. To take the metaphor even further, concentrated acid burns through even the strongest of materials only to emerge white hot on the other side. This is how Sabïre functions in the wider world of heavy music; we will burn through the brick that we have been dropped on to.
You used to be involved in Punk bands and projects; how and why did you turn to Heavy Metal?
I just sort of fell into it, I suppose. A friend gave me a heap of burned black metal CD’s at one point. These were bands like Darkthrone, Marduk, Bathory, Dimmu Borgir, Mayhem, and Satyricon. I spent time giving each on a listen and I was pleasantly surprised by how much of an effect the sounds had on me. I began to listen to them as I drifted off to sleep each night and enjoyed the journey that my semi-conscious mind took me as I traversed into the eather. I would just go through the albums in a cycle, over and over again. It brought me a sense of secrecy about music. Wanting to hide away to construct and create. To branch out and push my imagination both musically and with visual arts. My love of black metal inspired me to slowly have a listen to more heavy music. After a while I had to kind of admit to myself that I had become kind of a metalhead, which is a term I do not like. I was more comfortable with “banger” haha. But these past few years I just say I’m a “rock ‘n’ roller,” if I must. The point being, I wasn’t aware of what I was, I just liked and was passionate about what I was listening to.
Any new ideas or new material? Could we hope for a new full length album soon? Is the single “Mistress Mistress a harbinger for a new album?
Haha I see what you did there. No, “Mistress Mistress” is not a harbinger of a new album. It is its own standalone product. That being said, there are a lot of new ideas and material. We in fact have the next 4 albums planned, and I continue to chip away and add to their plans. We are in the last stretch of getting our debut album, “Jätt” finished, which has been hell for me. We are at least a whole year behind schedule, if not more.
Taking about ideas, where do you draw inspiration from?
Lyrically I draw inspiration from the world around me. My life, observations, some themes, but mostly personal experiences and observations. Musically I can get inspired by other music, or simply from what I want to make into a reality.
Do you consider Heavy Metal timeless, given that Heavy Metal bands have always been present in the music industry? Groups and projects are frequently popping up!
I think you have just answered your own question there! I suppose it’s what you consider “timeless” to mean. I think that in general, a good recording of any kind will stand the test of time. The social aspect of a genre however is a different story.
What’s the next step for Sabïre? Have you got any plans or ideas concerning the band’s future?
Finishing this bloody record! We have more than plenty of plans and ideas concerning the long-term future of Sabïre. You shall see them unveil themselves as time progresses.
That’s all from me; thanks for taking the time to answer every question. Would you like to send a message to our readers and your fans?
Not a problem, thank you for having me. All I would like to say to the readers and to our Wild Ones is thank you for being patient. It’s not easy waiting for another release. We do hope you all enjoy it greatly. It’s a big one.