Interview: Sentinels

Soon to release their label debut “Unsound Recollections” on Stay Sick Records, New Jersey’s Sentinels are aiming to take the scene by storm. Formed in 2013, the band has 2 EP’s, “Idylls” and “World Divided”, under their belt and have been touring nonstop to help promote each release. Sentinels sound can be best described as progressive metalcore, however as you’ll read in the interview, the band doesn’t really wish to conform to one sound and wants to play whatever sounds natural to them. The guys in the band were kind enough to answer my plethora of questions ranging from the origin of their name to their favorite touring memories, which you can read about below. Be sure to give them a like on Facebook and pick up their debut on February 8th on digital or physical format!

Sentinels is:
Joe Benducci – Vocals
Thomas Cardone – Guitar
Chris Dombrowski – Guitar
Danny Cruz – Bass/Vocals
Dave Rucki – Drums/Vocals

What have you all been up to since the release of your last EP? Howʼs it feel to finally be writing a full length? Were there any extra challenges in doing so?

ALL: We’ve just been playing a lot of shows trying to stay as active as possible. We actually were planning on releasing another EP, but when it all panned out, it basically was able to be considered a full length by the amount of material we had. On paper 7 songs doesn’t sound like much but 32 minutes of material is basically a full length nowadays. We’re happy with it!

Where did the name of the band originate from?

CHRIS & DANNY: We were brainstorming names one day, and a friend of ours pitched us the name. He was a big X-Men fan, and that’s one of the enemies/characters in that universe. We didn’t know too much about it, but it sounded cool to us. We were young.

What made you all decide on sticking with the progressive metalcore/deathcore genre? Did you ever experiment with other genres before deciding on the aforementioned?

CHRIS: We usually don’t like to stick to just one sound/genre. I (or Thomas) will write whatever comes to mind, and if it flows, it flows and we roll with it. I guess that is a good way to sum us up, but overall we don’t like to stick to just one sound or title. We never decided on what genre we wanted to be, we just wrote what we wanted to hear ourselves.

There are a lot of bands playing similar music, what do you feel separates you from your contemporaries?

DANNY: With the constant flow of what is coming out today, I guess we’ve always just strived to stray from the rest and differentiate ourselves. What we mainly hear from our listeners, is that we sound like a mixture of different bands within our genre. Some of which, are bands that aren’t around anymore today.

Conceptually, what are you trying to convey with the lyrics on this album? Are there any reoccurring themes or meanings?

DAVE: The lyrics on the album are dark, to say the least. They touch on the topics of death, loneliness, mental illness, just to name a few. For example, the song “Deja Vu” touches on the idea that us as humans are just doomed to repeat their failures and mistakes, like we’ve done throughout history and continue to today. We wanted to keep the lyrics true to what our music brings out of the writer, while still shaping them to be relatable and consumable.

About how long would you say you spent on writing the album?

CHRIS: About a year and a half, other than one riff that we wrote back when we started as a band.

What is the music scene like in New Jersey? Are there many metal bands?

DAVE: The New Jersey music scene is TOUGH, to say the least. There’s some seriously heavy bands that come from Jersey. CHRIS: Yeah, there’s a lot of metal in our scene. Not a lot similar to us, but close enough to where we could fit in a pretty eclectic lineup.

Who would you say your biggest influences are? Are all of you mainly into the metal genre or are your tastes in music more varied?

CHRIS: The Contortionist. Stray from the Path. But even though we do love metal, our music taste is pretty varied. DAVE: Aside from the obvious influences like Glass Cloud/Danza, Reflections, and Structures, I’m personally influenced heavily by Meshuggah & Deftones. I’m a metal head at heart and it consumes most of my listening, but I am open to other styles of music, it just depends on what catches my ear.

Who would you say the nicest band you have ever played a show with is?

ALL: Currents, Born A New, Degrader, and Phinehas. Just a couple off of the top of our heads, but all the bands we’ve toured with are sweet dudes.

Whatʼs the story behind the album artwork? Is there a specific theme behind it?

DAVE: We wanted the artwork to be a summary of the overall feel/theme of the record. Someone trapped in a dark state of mind, with their fears and troubles always there, like a dark cloud always hanging over you.

What albums were you listening to while writing/recording the album?

CHRIS: Nothing by Meshuggah, Cursed by Ion Dissonance, Clairvoyant by The Contortionist. DANNY: The Cold Sun by Loathe, and Blond by Frank Ocean. DAVE: Relentless Mutation by Archspire, The Lovers/The Devil by Sworn In, and The Great Collapse by Fit For An Autopsy.

Any major albums youʼre looking forward to that come out this upcoming year?

ALL: Varials, Deftones, Fit For An Autopsy.

Who did you work with as a producer? What kind of experience did you have?

DAVE: We worked with Randy LeBoeuf at Graphic Nature. It was an incredible experience, one we were not expecting. Going into it, we were nervous since it seemed like we weren’t exactly a band Randy normally would have worked with. But without his critiques and input, we don’t think we could’ve imagined our record sounding the way it does. He definitely brought a new element to our sound and production. It’s definitely the most proud we’ve ever been.

Whatʼs it been like working with Stay Sick to release your material? Has it been challenging for you all or have they played a vital part in helping promotion and everything?

ALL: They’ve been great! They promote us daily and help promote the new record a ton. And they along with our management, have helped us get on some pretty popular playlists on Spotify, which has been super helpful. Couldn’t be happier with our team right now.

Any big plans for tours to support the release? Hopefully something in Florida!

DAVE: Yes, actually! We just confirmed a tour for the Spring time, and yes we will be hitting Florida! Also, there is some talk about a possible tour in the summer, but that isn’t confirmed yet. We’re keeping our fingers crossed!

Speaking of touring, what are some of your favorite touring or show memories? Anything ever happen that resonates with you the most? Doesn’t necessarily need to be a positive experience.

ALL: Day off on the Vegas strip…but enough about that. Got to see I Am & Fit For An Autopsy on another day off which was tight! Shows in New Hampshire, Colorado, and Connecticut, were absolutely insane. Had some rough times on the road as well, but they were all learning experiences for sure.

If you had the opportunity to tour with 3 bands, past or present, who would you tour with?

CHRIS: Deftones DANNY: Structures DAVE: Meshuggah

Is there anything youʼd like to say your current or future fan base?

ALL: To the current fan base, we love you and are forever grateful for the support you’ve shown us over the years and to this day. To the future fan base, hopefully we’ll see you sooner than later!