The Great Sabatini Premiere New Album, Don’t Drown Despite What it Looks Like

Montreal’s kings of noise rock diversity and awesome promo photos, The Great Sabatini (who we have mentioned on this blog previously), have a new album in the starting gate. It’s called Dog Years and you can listen to the whole damn thing below while you read guitarist/vocalist Sean Sabatini discuss the record’s nuts ‘n’ bolts below that. You’re welcome.

So, what’s the story with the new album? Was it written or recorded any differently than past works? Did you have a “goal” or something in particular you wanted to achieve going into it?
Making records has always been a separate thing from performing live for us. We’ve always strived for a bit of that raw live vibe on records, but we haven’t shied away from adding touches that color our records in ways we can’t pull off in the live setting. This time around though, I think there was a more focused effort to make something that reflects us more as we sound live… that is, bigger, nastier sounding drums and guitars, less bells and whistles. We were very well prepared before entering the studio. Everything was tracked in three days.

As you were writing the material, were things going as predicted or did serendipity take the songs in any unforeseen directions? Basically, how did what you have in your heads beforehand compare to the final product?
It’s always a bit of both of those worlds. Our intentions from the start are always reflected in certain parts, but there is a lot of “going with the flow” when we write. We try to let things move naturally, especially if we feel stuck, but other times we are all guiding the whole process very carefully.

Generally speaking, the new album seems to be more up-tempo, cleaner and more refined. A fair estimation? How would you characterise it against your other recordings?
Certainly. A lot of old punk and hardcore records were being listened to during a stretch of writing, so that comes through a bit, I think. Also, Sean Pearson knows how to capture some really great sounds in that studio (Boxcar Sound). We wanted something raw and nasty captured in a hi-fi kinda way. It seemed like a razor’s edge kind of thing, but Sean worked it quite well.

When it comes to writing material that’s way outside your usual sound or comfort zone, how difficult is it to not only write, but feel confident enough a track like “Akela”?
For me, writing stuff like that is easy, I’ve been doing it for years. But putting it on a record or doing it in front of anyone is much harder for me. I’m used to hiding myself behind tons of volume and screaming. That track is a pretty naked kind of thing for me but everyone liked it and wanted it included on the record, and that gave me a bit of confidence about it. Originally, I wanted the guys to add stuff over it, but the consensus was that it was fine as is. It’s different, for us, but it’s kind of a weird song so it fit in with the vibe of the record, I think.

What do you think about the new album is going to be most surprising to fans of the band?
To hazard a guess, probably the more up-tempo, punky leanings of the first half of the album. The first bunch of songs kinda burn by pretty fast. We’ve been sliding stuff like that into our writing for a while, here and there, but this record has some faster moments, relatively speaking.

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What does the album’s title refer to and what the hell is going on on the cover?
It occurred to us that the life spans of most underground bands could be counted like dog years. We’re all reaching that age where slogging it out like we do loses it’s lustre and it gets tiring, but we all still love playing this music together, so we’re pushing through this… at our age, a lot of dudes just call it a day and get mortgages. The fuzzy dude on the cover is sort of like the manifestation of our collective rock fury. It’s furry, and relatively harmless, but it has teeth and horns and hunger and it gets all worked up when shit gets loud.

I myself am unfamiliar with Solar Flare Records. Who are they and at what point did they come into the picture?
Solar Flare is a great little label from France. We met Mathieu, one of the men behind Solar Flare, when his band Sofy Major played some shows in the U.S with Biipiigwan (for whom Steve also plays drums) and when Sabatini played with them in France last year. They’ve put out some really great records, notably an Unsane side project called Pigs, an American Heritage record, the Sofy Major stuff and piles of other quality noise and grind-oriented stuff. When they heard we had a new record in the can, they expressed interest in helping us get it out. We have a massive respect and admiration for those guys, so it only made sense.

What’s next for the band once the album is out and about?
We plan to do some touring in North America around the release of the record, and later in the year. Then, we’ll most likely hit Europe in the spring of 2015. We have a bunch of other material we’re working on that may see the light of day this year also, but that’s all pretty tentative. The main focus right now is getting Dog Years out there and playing these songs as much as we can in dive bars and basements near you.

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