I first got introduced to Sabbath Assembly from their record Ye Are Gods. I was so blown away by this record that I emailed the PR people and begged them to me interview anyone from this band. Talk about a band that has a story to tell. Songs like Exit and The Love of the Gods are so haunting and their message can be perceived in so many different ways. Each time you listen to those tracks or anything on their albums, you get this depth and passion that is so missing in music. Jamie and the band have no idea what the trends in music are as their music shows a timeless beauty that each time you listen to a song you discover something new to the adventure. This interview took 4 years and a lot of begging, but I am so honored that Jamie had a brief break from the insanity of music to talk to us.
1. Jamie Myers, what a huge honor and thank you for the time to do this. What was the first song or musician that made you want to pursuit music?
Thanks! It’s hard to pick just one. My folks were always listening to music when I was a kid. Their taste was pretty diverse. I remember them rocking out to Queen, ZZ Top, King Crimson, and all sorts of other bands. So I believe I was influenced by music early on. My dad says he has an old home movie of me from when I was three, singing an entire Moody Blues song, word for word. Apparently I was a bit of a sponge, but I would say that Heart, Dreamboat Annie, made a pretty big impact on me. I remember staring at the cover and realizing how badass the Wilson sisters were. I was in awe, hell, I still am.
2. How did this band form? Also how did the name Sabbath Assembly come into being?
It started as a response to a book that was being put ou† by Timothy Wyllie, a member of the 60s apocalyptic cult, the Process Church of the Final Judgment. Dave was friends with the publisher of the book and he had met the author. As a result, he got a group together to perform interpretations of the actual hymns from the cult, as part of a several city book tour. The band and its recordings grew from there. The name of the band comes from the highest, most holiest mass of the Process Church. Sabbath Assembly is the gathering of people coming together for sacred purpose.
3. In 2015, the band put out a new record. You know what that means, them dreaded critics. Do you read all the press you get? Also, how do you take the negative?
I read some of it, at least for a small time after an album comes out. I take the good with bad and don’t spend time obsessing over it.
4. What do you feel is the biggest misconception that people have of Sabbath Assembly?
I’m not sure. I ‘ve never given the subject much thought. If I began every daydream or song writing session worried about people’s misconceptions, I’d never get anything done.
5. What was the mindset going into the studio for the self titled record? Let me just ask. Past releases seem to focus on the preaching of the Process Church of Final Judgement. This cd seems to be more harder edged and less about their teachings? Was there a falling out? Did you want to show people your band has more to offer?
There was no falling out, simply put, we were ready to explore our creative selves outside the context of the Process Hymns. Don’t get me wrong, our reworking of that specific material was vital to us, but there have also been original songs on each of the albums too . It was inevitable that we’d branch off from Process material at some point . It would be too redundant otherwise. Kevin, Dave and I had started to cultivate a musical relationship that couldn’t be confined to sheet music of the past. We owed it to each other to explore the more of the organic arrangements we were beginning to compose. When we started working with Johnny Deblase (bass) for our self titled album, it really sealed the deal. We became band and not just a project. When you’re privileged to play with musicians of this caliber, you have to take some risks. Evolve! Go big or go home, as they say.
6. So you are onstage playing live. You are giving your heart and soul into the performance. Does it bother you when you look out to the crowd and people are either snapping pictures nonstop or recording you on their device? Also, does seeing yourself playing on youtube help your band?
It depends, as long as people aren’t being obnoxious with the flash and aren’t too distracting to others around them, I guess it’s ok. People like to have a tangible memories of shows they’ve attended and technology has made video accessible to many. It can be cool when a fan posts a video of a show, then it becomes an accessible memory for us too. Sometimes it’s important to put the phone away and live in the moment though.
7. Do you think the press is fair to a band like Sabbath Assembly?
8. People want to know more about you. We are all in the dark and in the past you have been a mystery in other interviews. Do you have any hobbies? We also talk about horror films and other bands, what cds and movies are you into? Do you cook? Have an Ipod? Own embarrassing songs that are guilty pleasures?
My interests outside of music include other mediums of art. I started dabbling in oil painting and photography when I was a teenager and continued to work on those skills throughout my twenties, all the while being active in music too. Eventually the other interests took a backseat to learning an instrument. I realized that I could continued to dabble and get decent at five things, or just focus on one interest and work toward mastering it. So music won, but eventually I circled back to the other mediums. In Sabbath Assembly I get to incorporate the painting and photography into the music. Whether painting our stage banners, or creating videos for our songs, there is always a lot of room for exploration. I always have plenty of inspiration and am constantly working on the visual aspect.
I don’t have a lot of free time for watching movies these days, though I do enjoy them. I like to cook and I have an iPod, no guilty pleasure music though. Im sure there are plenty of tunes on it that a majority of people wouldn’t like, but If it made it onto my iPod then it’s there because I enjoy it. I make no excuses for it, popular vote be damned. I also like to ride mountain bikes, there’s something pretty freeing about being off-road and on a trail. No cops, no cars, no concrete!
9. I have interviewed so many women in music and the main complaint they give is that club owners are not the best to deal with. Have you ever had any problems dealing with promoters or establishment owners? What about other bands you have toured with?
Unfortunately I can’t say that I’ve never encountered a misogynist or two. Thankfully with a bit of experience you learn the circuit and avoid the bars and promoters with shitty vibes. Of course if it ever does happen, my band-mates would have my back in an instant. None of us are going to tolerate any of that bullshit. Thankfully the bands we have toured with share similar interests as us and many of them have women in their bands, so we haven’t experienced any negativity in that regard.
10. This is fill in the blank….
My biggest vice is _______ Black tea (iced)
Cannabis_______should be legalized in America
Fallen Angel by King Crimson____is the one song I would love to cover on a cd
Leonard Cohen_______is the one person I would love to meet
11. So what is on the plate for 2016?
For the most part, we are in a writing phase. We trade lots of demos back and forth. Beyond that, we have some shows coming up in March. We’re playing NYC, Milwaukee and Chicago and we’ll be hitting the road this July.
12. This is my chance to bow, I love you so much Jamie Myers. Ye Are Gods is such a classic record, the new record is such a crunchy amazing journey. Thank you so much for doing this. Any final words for your fans and people reading this?
Thanks for your interest and your kind words. If we are ever in your neck of the woods, we hope to see you at some shows.