California based Thrashers SADUS are back with an incredibly strong new album entitled “The Shadow Inside”, the band’s first sign of life since “Out For Blood”, its predecessor from 2006. Unfortunately, bass player Steve DiGiorgio isn’t part of it this time around, but “The Shadow Inside” still turned out to be one of their best releases since their classic debut full-length, “Illusions”. It’s got a killer heavy production, lots of incredible riffs, and perhaps most importantly, it marks a return to their highly aggressive, right into your face type of material. We wanted to find out a bit more, so we contacted the main songwriter, guitarist / vocalist Darren Travis for the following interview…

Greetings Darren, it’s great to see that SADUS is finally back again. It’s been 17 long years since your last album was released, so what have you been up to all those years? Was the band always active or did you also put SADUS on hold for a while?
“Everyone was just living. SADUS is not a profitable band, so everyone has jobs to pay for life. No one ever said the band was over or anything, everyone was just doing their own thing. And time goes fast I guess.”

It’s pretty obvious to me upon first listen that “The Shadow Inside” is a highly aggressive, back to the roots type SADUS album. Was that the intention when you started writing new music again?
“For sure! I don’t write with a direction in mind really. It just comes out. I really wanted the songs to be their own thing. Each one is different, in my mind. It may not sound like it but that is what I’m going for. I want the listener to feel the aggression and really how I am feeling singing it, so they get it.”

It seems to me that you were trying to experiment a bit too much with other influences on “Elements Of Anger” and “Out For Blood”, the two albums that you released via Mascot Records in 1997 and 2006 respectively. It resulted in slower, more complex material, which wasn’t exactly what fans expected from SADUS. Do you agree with that? How do you judge those two albums nowadays?
“We write how we feel at the time, and to experiment is fun. It was awesome to have three guys making all that sound. I love those songs. Put them up to anything. And really it was no different this time. The songs are a moment in time, and how you’re feeling at that time when you’re playing your guitar. “The Shadow Inside” album just came out a bit more angry maybe? Yeah!”

The current SADUS line-up only consists of yourself and Jon Allen, so did you personally record all guitars, bass and vocals, while Jon played the drums or were any additional guest musicians involved in the recording process as well? I already saw that Claudeous Creamer from POSSESSED played the second guitar solo in ‘No Peace’ and your co-producer Juan Urteaga contributed backing vocals to ‘Anarchy’. But have any other musicians been involved as well?
“Nope, that was it. Or we definitely would have credited them on the album. I was stupid busy, to the point where we were doing leads on a few songs and I had nothing prepared so lets have fun and bring someone in to rip one out. Claudeous is a big part of our history. And a fucking shreader. He will always be welcome in SADUS.”

By the way: what happened to Juan’s old band VILE? Are they still around?
“Juan has been too busy in his day job at Trident Studios. He does have a band though. I believe the name is SPITWORM.”

I was very surprised when I found out that Steve DiGiorgio isn’t part of the new album at all this time, since he has always been a big part of the SADUS trademark sound. Was he simply too busy with all the bands / projects he’s involved in, or did any other problems prevent him from being part of it?
“To write and practice a SADUS album, 10 songs… Is a huge amount of work… commitment… and he is just too busy to be that involved. And that is his job now, so no one wants to put that amount of time into something where no money will ever be seen. Me and Jon have day jobs and do not rely on SADUS as income. Just for the love of Metal.”

He is without a doubt an incredibly good bass player, who is often hired by other bands for a reason. So, I can imagine that having to follow his footsteps certainly wasn’t an easy task. How did you handle this kind of pressure? Did you approach the bass parts on the album differently because of that or were all bass parts originally still supposed to be recorded by Steve?
“Nah… I just had ideas of how it should go and did it myself. Steve’s reason for doing session work is because it is his job… gotta pay the bills.”

While Steve was still recording with you until the “Out For Blood” album from 2006, your second guitarist Rob Moore could be heard on 1992’s “A Vision Of Misery” for the last time… What actually lead to the split with him back then? I never really found out the reasons why SADUS became a three-piece after that…
“Rob just lost his mind… and you need to take care of yourself first. SADUS is just for fun, so we carry on and it worked out better, because there was more beer for the other three guys… lol.”

When you write and record songs that are meant for two guitars it’s always a problem when you perform them live on stage, so has your writing changed in any way since you became a three piece? Have you ever considered to add a second guitar player to the line-up again?
“Yes, but I really want the album to rock. So on those parts where two guitars are doing different parts, I just pick one or the other and mix it up. We will have a second guitarist on some upcoming shows. To really have a fuller sound… So yeah.”

Are there also plans to play live again in support of “The Shadow Inside”? If so, have you already decided on who will complete the line-up for that?
“Yes and we are working on that… and will have some surprises.”

You still managed to pull off the vocals in a very convincing way and you still sound as aggressive and pissed off as in the band’s early days, which isn’t always the case when musicians get older. Did you personally never have any problems with that?
“It seems every time I go into the studio, my nerves are so tense… I get sick. And the time is booked so you do your best and live with it. Some are better than the others, different day and a different attitude that day maybe. But I think I really had something to prove on this one. And I was not going to have anything but brutality.”

When and how exactly did you get together with Nuclear Blast Records for the release of the new album? Did they hear any rough versions of what you were working on at the time or did they ask for a full demo of the songs that ended up on the album?
“We recorded six songs ourselves with Juan… and when they were done I asked around to some old friends if they knew anyone that would be interested in listing to them. One of them being Monte Connor. And he said “Yes, me!!” And I was happy! He liked them and asked for four more to complete the album… and we obliged.”

The whole new album was recorded between November 2021 and May 2023… That is quite a long period for a Thrash Metal band, but I suppose you didn’t record nonstop, did you? So, how did you approach that process? I mean, did you enter the studio to record whenever you had a song completed and as soon as that was done you continued to write the next one, or did you also work on little bits and pieces during the actual recording process?
“Yes, we first just recorded six songs and it took almost a year to strike a deal with Nuclear Blast. So after everything was worked out we jumped in the studio a year later to add the other four songs to complete a full album.”

Just like its predecessor “Out For Blood”, you once again recorded “The Shadow Inside” at Trident Studios with Juan Urteaga, but the production sounds so much better and heavier this time. Is it just because the songs are more aggressive again or did you also change something in the recording process in order to get this way better result? Different studio equipment maybe?
“Same guy, same studio. Just we got better and Juan is sooo much better also, each time we are in the studio, you just do your best you can do on that particular day. And that is it. Live with it.”

Prior to the actual release of the album you already released a couple of lyric videos… How important are lyrics to you in general and can you go a bit more in-depth about what inspired the songs on the new album and what they are about?
“We have a lyric video for every song on this album. We just haven’t released them yet. I love the lyric videos. They push the music into something else and they add art to the sound. Each song is what I was feeling at the time. When we finished the recordings, we noticed that the lyrics had a thread running through them. Each song had something to do with my inner feelings, hence “The Shadow Inside”.”

Is there a connection between the cover artwork and the album title? What actually is “the shadow inside” supposed to be? The darker side of each one of us?
“Definitely… that is “The Shadow Inside”… according to Travis Smith… with our art direction. He came up with something to represent the lyrics.”

There’s also another artwork piece on the flipside of the traycard inside the CD. Was that an alternative option for the front cover?
“That was from the Anarchy SADUS logo that Travis Smith did for us… without the logo… just cool looking art that has been part of something we have done. And Trav did it, so throw it in.”

Does ‘Ride The Knife’ have a similar meaning as “walking on the razor’s edge”?
“You got it! Living on the edge of life… Walking the fine line of life and death… Not being safe.”

Ok, Darren. This should be enough for now. If you would like to add anything else here, which we haven’t talked about, feel free to mention it now. All the best for you guys and of course good luck for the new album. Hope to see you on a big European tour again sometime soon.
“Thank you for your help spreading the goodnesses. And thanks for your interest in SADUS! See you soon!”,

Frank Stöver

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