Bay Area thrashers Sadus formed in the mid-’80s and released their debut Illusions in 1988. There was a nine year gap between Elements Of Anger and 2006’s Out For Blood, then they were dormant for several years. They are back, but as a duo of Darren Travis (guitar/vocals) and Jon Allen (drums). The Shadow Inside is their sixth album. Travis gives us the lowdown on the return of Sadus, their new album and other topics.
Chad Bowar: What led to the reactivation of the band a few years ago?
Darren Travis: I had a new app on my phone that really helped me get going on writing new riffs and playing guitar again on my phone. It got me reinspired to bust out some really good goodnessess. No one in the house had to listen to me riffing out on an amp, it’s all digital; awesome.
Why did you decide to do it as a duo?
It is a huge undertaking to write a whole Sadus album, and with me, I have been playing guitar on and off with my schedule. I believe that it is frustrating for Steve (DiGiorgio) because of my on and off schedule of practicing. And he is extremely busy with all of his endeavors. We just couldn’t get it together time wise. Jon on the other hand, moved into my house for a year or so, so we had plenty of time together to write music, which was a total blessing looking back. When it came time to record, Steve said he was not available, so we pushed on without him. We did not bring anyone into the mix out of respect for Steve. We couldn’t have used the name of Sadus if we have new people, so just two Mohicans left as of now.
How did the songwriting process for The Shadow Inside compare to your earlier albums?
Basically the same; someone has the framework of a song and we pound it out.
How did you decide to work with Juan Urteaga again on an album after all these years, and how was the experience?
Juan is our local hero, a wonderful engineer and close to home. It was a no brainer. He was the one pushing me to keep writing and going forward! He was a huge part in getting this album done. We could not have done it without him, or well we could have; but it definitely would not be the same.
What is your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
One of my strongest memories of recording this album was all the food we consumed during the recording. We recorded around eating great meals. I can barely remember driving home a couple of times, I definitely shouldn’t have been driving. So let’s remember not to do that again. (laughs)
What was the biggest challenge in recording it?
My biggest challenge during recording was that I was finishing up writing the songs as we went and barely had time to work on leads for the songs. Unfortunately some of my leads suffered because of that, but I can live with it.
How has your sound evolved from 2006’s Out For Blood?
I have a new amp, and that is about it. And no Steve, so we suffered there. But basically we did everything the same.
What lyrical topics do you cover this time around?
Mostly all of the ideas this time are about my inner thoughts and feelings that have been pushing my writing, hence the title The Shadow Inside.
How did you come to sign with Nuclear Blast?
I asked an old friend Monte Conner if he knew anyone who would be interested in hearing some of our songs. He said, “Yes, of course, me!” And fortunately for us he loved them.
What was the collaboration process like with Travis Smith in developing the cover art?
We gave him ideas from the lyrics and the album title and we worked together on different ideas and textures to create a great cover.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
I don’t have any goals or expectations, I just wanted to make something that I am proud of. I did my best at the time of recording and I can live with that.
It will be released on both vinyl and cassette. Are you a collector of either?
I have a small album collection from my whole life, so it will be nice to have another album to the collection.
The promotion process has changed a lot since you started. Do you like the current social media driven model with a lot of transparency and interaction, or do you prefer when there was more mystique around a release?
I like the interaction of talking with people interested in the band in real time. But I don’t like the long wait for production. It definitely seemed a lot faster for the album to come out after we were done in the studio in the past.
Do you have any plans to play shows in support of the new album?
For sure! Keep your eyes peeled for news soon.
Scott Burns has written a book about the albums he worked on, one of course was 1997’s Element Of Anger. How did you convince him to come out of retirement for is, and what do you remember about those sessions and how the album turned out?
I don’t remember how we convinced him to participate in the making of the record, but he lived with me throughout the process and we had a lot of fun during that time. I really like how the album turned out, we always try and do our very best at the time.
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I like to snow ski, water ski, snow board, wake board, motorcycle riding, dirt bikes, and work on projects around the house, build stuff, that kinda thing.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Thank you very much for your interest in the band, I hope that you will enjoy the new album, I am currently working on new music for the next one. I hope to see everyone at one of our shows soon! Thank you…for your support of Sadus!
(interview published November 17, 2023)
Listen To Sadus – “Ride The Knife”