SANCTIONS Soul Brothers Continue on in THETAN…

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Written By: Josh Mosh
Jun 13 2011

SANCTIONS were a hardcore punk band from Nashville that played dark hardcore in the vein of FROM ASHES RISE.  SANCTIONS charged ahead at breakneck speed with short, to the point songs rarely exceeding more than a minute but filled with angst and despair as well as a plea to take accountability for your own actions.  Punk! 

I had the pleasure of seeing them destroy a room at 2010's Chicago Apocalyptic Crust Fest at which they were kind enough to loan us a backline.  But no more!!!!?  Sadly SANCTIONS has disbanded.  As impermanence is a universal law, all good things must come to an end.  But, from the ashes often rise great things.  With that I had a chance to catch up with Dan Emery (formerly of SANCTIONS) to tell me about the history of the band as well as introduce me to his new outfit, THETAN.

Thrashhead: When did SANCTIONS form?

Dan: Sanctions started in 2004.

Thrashhead: Who were the original members?  Any line up changes over the years?

Dan: Originally the line-up was Ryan on guitar, Roy on bass, and Josh on drums. After a couple months Roy left and I joined. There was a brief hiatus from early 2005 until 2007. For a brief period in 2009 Roy rejoined the band on 2nd guitar. Josh left, and Chad joined in on drums that same year.

Thrashhead: What were reasons and influences for starting a band?

Dan: When SANCTIONS first started it was a side project of Ryan's, who was playing drums in CEASE UPON THE CAPITOL, and Josh, who played with me in MORAL DECAY. SANCTIONS was going to just have short fast songs.

Eventually it developed into our primary focus. And the songs just started to have their own vibe. The earlier stuff had a very obvious influence from other Tennessee hardcore bands like FROM ASHES RISE, TRAGEDY, and ASSCHAPELl. I think the later stuff we did was pretty unique though. Especially the stuff on "No Land".

Thrashhead: As SANCTIONS was coming up who were the other regional bands that you played out with?

Dan: Over the years we played with a lot of different bands, but I think the one that we did the most was DAWN. Which is why it seemed natural for us to do a split together.

Thrashhead: How active was SANCTIONS with touring on the east coast or the midwest?
Dan: We actually weren't too active as far as touring goes. We did mostly short stints throughout our region.

Thrashhead: Was there a goal for SANCTIONS?  As a band did you accomplish what you had set out to do?

Dan: I would have to say that the only real goal we had, was just to have fun. I can honestly say that this band never felt like a job to me. Disagreements were usually quickly and easily resolved, especially with the last line-up. I had been in bands in the past, where you just want to rip your fucking hair out in frustration. SANCTIONS was nothing like that.

So, I would definitely have to say, having fun with friends was our only real goal, and we totally kicked it's ass.

Thrashhead: What was the most memorable show for you with SANCTIONS?

Dan: Probably the show where Josh quit the band as we were loading our gear. I'm pretty sure he was just trying to fuck with us and get attention. Instead we told him that it was cool, and that he could kiss our damn asses. Ryan played drums and Roy and I covered everything else. The show was fucking solid. Being spiteful should also be stated as one of our goals. .

Thrashhead: What bands were you in before SANCTIONS?
Dan: Before Sanctions I played in MORAL DECAY. We started that band while I was still in high school, and it was when I was about 23 that I joined SANCTIONS. Up until that point, I was only in MORAL DECAY. But since then I have played in a bunch of other bands, most of them not really doing much other than a couple shows, one of those bands was called FUCKING AND KILLING. We recorded a few times and played once, but that was the extent of that band.

I also played in KAROSHI for most of it's existence, spare the last tour and a couple months before any shows were even played.

Thrashhead: How did you get into hardcore and punk?

Dan: I got into hardcore and punk because I could relate to a lot of the stuff that was being said in the lyrics, and I was really drawn to the raw emotion that was conveyed through the style. I found a college radio station when I was in middle school that played a lot of death and black metal late at night. I started listening to that station every time they had those shows on, and was definitely interested, but there was just something forced in a lot of the music that didn't really appeal to me. I liked that it was fast and pissed off, but I could sense that it was more of a performance than much of the punk bands I started finding soon after.

Thrashhead: What the most memorable show you've seen and what was it's impact on you and why?

Dan: That is a really hard question. There are so many contenders. I would have to say the most awesome show I've seen recently was CAPLITAILIST CASUALTIES with VERBAL ABUSE and FANG. That show fucking annihilated. It was just really cool to see a bunch of the dudes that I have been listening to for nearly half my life get up and blow my ass away without even looking like they were trying.

Thrashhead: How have punk ideals had an impact on your life?

Dan: Punk ideals have given me a positive and mostly safe outlet to get shit off of my chest. I can honestly say that if I didn't have some form of creative balance to the reality of life I would be a VERY, VERY fucked up person.

I grew up around a lot of really negative shit, so being able to rebel against your authority figures, and know at the same time that you aren't the only one struggling with that type of situation, makes it a lot easier to keep on with the grind.

Thrashhead: What bands are your guilty pleasure and why?  Everyone has the lame main stream or pop band that they secretly listen to.  Reveal your secrets!

Dan: I try not to feel guilty about anything that I listen to, but most recently I would probably get some crazy looks from some of my friends for listening to Amy Winehouse. That girl can sing her fucking ass off, and she's pretty real with the lifestyle. She sticks to the true jazz form, in having complete disregard for her own well being, and turning into a raging drug addicted trainwreck. Love it.

Thrashhead: When did SANCTIONS break-up and what were the events that led to that break-up?

Dan: We played our last show on the 10th of Dec last year. Our guitarist, Ryan, got a job offer in Seattle. I think he would have been a damn fool not to take it. He's my friend above and beyond all things, and I truly want what's best for him. Even if that thing disrupts the band. We recorded an LP before he got the offer, which we still plan on releasing once finances are in order. We had a couple labels interested in co-releasing it with us, but I'm not too sure they are still interested in putting money into a record that won't be toured on. Hopefully that record will come out before the THETAN 7" does. I think it may seem weird if they were released out of order. Like we were trying to do both bands at the same time or something.

Thrashhead: So your new band is called THETAN.  Where does the name come from?

Dan: THETAN is the Scientologist version of the soul. It's sort of a tongue in cheek name. We definitely do not follow Scientology.

Thrashhead: How did the band come together?  Who is in the band?

Dan: When SANCTIONS split up Chad and I still wanted to play music together. Rather than going on the hunt for a guitarist we decided to go on as a two piece. It makes decision making a lot easier. If one of us doesn't like something, we change it.

There are only two schedules to work around. Plus it gives me the opportunity to be a total gear nerd and have a roided out setup. I can definitely appreciate that aspect.

Thrashhead: So THETAN is two piece?  Drums and Bass?

Dan: Yeah THETAN is just drums and bass. I try and make my tone sound as if it were a bass and a guitar though. I think I pull it off pretty well. People tell us that we are pretty fucking loud too, so I guess that's a good thing. Essentially we are SANCTIONS minus one. At least that's how we promoted the first couple shows. I don't really want that notion to stick for too long though, because the style is totally different.

Thrashhead: You said it's easier to write and work around schedules.  Do think it could be limiting in any way?

Dan: Yeah, there are some limitations. You just have to look at it from a different angle. There are also things that we really wouldn't be able to pull off with extra members. I suppose the biggest limitation, or at least obstacle, is overcoming the novelty aspect of it all. I don't want us to be lumped into some gimmick category because of our line-up. I had a guy I work with try and compare us to the WHITE STRIPES because we are a two piece. It made me throw up in my mouth a little.

Thrashhead: What do you want to accomplish with THETAN?

Dan: Pretty much the only real goals we have with this band are to have fun playing music that we like, and making songs that mean something. Hopefully when all is said and done we won't feel like it was a complete waste of time.

Thrashhead: Is Nashville home?

Dan: Nashville is definitely home. I don't want to live anywhere else right now.

Thrashhead: What is the scene like there?  What are the positives of the scene?

Dan: The scene here has gotten considerably better over the past few years. People are working together a lot more than in the past. We have a DIY warehouse space that we have been doing shows in for the past few years called Little Hamilton. Touring bands are being taken care of, so more are making it a point to stop here on their route.

Thrashhead: What are some of the better bands coming up in the Nashville scene?

Dan: Nashville has always been a host to some really awesome bands. Unfortunately a lot of those bands slip under the radar because of where we are. It's really easy for people to write off bands from around here because being from Nashville isn't like being from LA or Portland or something like that. Most recently bands like NO CHRISTMAS, SKY BURIAL, FENRIS, and NUT COLLECTOR have been doing a lot around here.

There are really a whole lot of bands doing shit right now, so I hope I'm not forgetting anything crucial. ENDAMORI, YAUTJA, GNARWHALE, and NAMELSS CULTS. There that's eight.

Thrashhead: Do you run a label?  What is it called?

Dan: I do a label with the help of a couple other people. For the most part it is Ivan from DAWN and myself though. It's called Anti-Corp which is short for Anti-Corporate Music inc. The name is obviously an oxymoron, but you would be surprised how many people don't seem to get that. It's actually kind of funny when people try and inform me that it is a contradiction. I usually just act like I had no idea.

Thrashhead: How many releases do you have on the label?  What are some of the bands/titles?

Dan: I think right now we are around release number 24 or so. Some of the bands we have released stuff by are SANCTIONS, DAWN, SKY BURIAL, ARGENTINUM ASTRUM, RESISTANT CULTURE and KAROSHI. We are in the process of working something out with this badass band from Atlanta called IN RUINS, and have a few other possible things coming up that I don't want to jinx by speaking too soon.

Oh, and of course we'll be doing the THETAN 7". But that goes without saying. We also do some free downloadable releases, usually that will happen when there is a band that is really bad ass, but broke up before they got to release anything. So instead of putting a bunch of money into pressing something, and sitting on copies of it for a while, we will post the album on the labels website for free.

Thrashhead: How do you decide what or who you are going to put out?

Dan: I like to think that we run the label less like a label and more like a collective with people helping each other out in releasing their bands releases. So a lot of the time when a decision is made to do a record it's more along the lines of a group of us deciding that we want to see a certain project happen, and putting together the funds and resources to do so which explains why some of our releases are from this region and contain some of the same people.

Ultimately, what we do is meant to be more of a bond amongst people with similar ideas and interests. When the label first started in 2000, the goal was just to be a bunch of friends cross promoting each other's projects by sticking a familiar name or logo on it.

Thrashhead: Cool!  Any closing statements?  Any thing you want to say that I didn't ask?

Dan: Yeah, I'll end on this note. Think globally, but act locally. One person can't change the world, but everybody can change the things that are tangible to them. If a bunch of people changed some of the things in their lives that need it, the entire world would work it's way into being a better place. Oh, and stay trill!

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