Published Aug 07, 2019Sanction have long been carving out their place in the lineage of heavy music from their native Long Island, but their debut album, Broken in Refraction, has some of its roots in a place far from Suffolk County — Windsor, Ontario.
Speaking to Exclaim! in an interview from the green room at the sold-out Brooklyn Bazaar, guitarist and core songwriter Mike Marino describes their time in the Rose City as a "powerful experience," though it almost didn't happen. When the group were pitched the idea of doing pre-production with Stick to Your Guns/Walls of Jericho guitarist Chris Rawson in Windsor last year, Marino, hesitant, said no.
"Every song was written in my room on Long Island," Marino explains. "I didn't want to write with anyone else and change the way songs were written. I was very closed and apprehensive about it at first."
But when the band caved and travelled to Windsor for five days in the summer of 2018, they quickly grew a strong bond with Rawson. They returned in February this year to finish what they had started.
"And that's when it got crazy. The five of us lived in one hotel room for a week. The Marriot by the casino, in the dead of winter," Marino says. "We were all super stressed out and kept to ourselves, thinking in our own ways. It helped a lot, but it was one of the most intense weeks of my life."
The group returned to Long Island and entered Shellshock Audio within the week alongside Evan Perino (drummer Dillon Perino's older brother): "It was a matter of, 'These songs sound perfect, let's get it done now.'"
The end result was Broken in Refraction, an extensive, refined version of what Sanction do best: dismal and jagged metalcore with retro flair from throughout the last decade. Genre purists will speak at length about what Sanction is (or is not): A part of 2019's deathcore resurgence? Another face in the heavy hardcore wave? Marino settles it himself:
"It's so funny to be a talking point in that conversation. I love the question, but we just don't fucking care. It doesn't matter. If someone wants to call us deathcore, that's fine. We have those elements. If you want to call us a hardcore or metalcore band, sure," Marino says. "When bands start, it usually begins with a conversation of 'I want to be this genre.' That never happened here. We write what we like. If we want to tour with a deathcore band, we will. If we want to go out with hardcore bands, we most definitely will. That's the glory of being able to fit in the middle. We can do what we want."
And that they do: Marino detailed his writing process to Exclaim! in an interview last year, and it appears that the only thing that has changed for the songwriter is his sleeping patterns — or lack thereof.
"I don't usually like leaving my house to begin with," Marino explains. "I would say sleep deprivation plays pretty heavily into why Broken in Refraction sounds the way it does. I'll write everything sitting around all night until sunrise on my computer. I swear if I tried to write during the day, it just wouldn't work out. I'll drink every now and then and just write, and write, and write."
But Marino's self-neglect, he says, comes from a positive space.
"I'm an expect-the-worst type," Marino says. "You could fucking spill your heart into an album and have everyone hate it. That would never matter to me. The way I see it is it's my album, something I wanted to put into the world, and I get to be satisfied with that."
Sanction are currently supporting Counterparts and Stick to Your Guns throughout North America, one of several larger tours the group have done since signing to Pure Noise Records. The transition from the local Reconsider Records to Pure Noise came from a conversation with their booking agent, "a transition that was thrown into our laps just like that.
"None of us really saw it coming. At the drop of a dime the morale of our band became very serious," Marino says as he zones out in conversation, starring at a doodle of Snoopy on a green room table. "Since then, it's been non-stop touring that has caused me to say, 'Fuck it, grow numb and be professional.'"
Off stage, vocalist David Blom provides friendly nudges to friends standing side stage before their hometown(ish) set. He admits that he's nervous. On stage, Sanction command and decimate the Bazaar with violent chug breakdowns and piled up sing-alongs to the area code-referencing crowd favourite "Sixhundredthirtyone."
Tonight's show is the group's last date adjacent to Long Island, chock full of greetings and goodbyes from friends and family. They will be on the road until the end of August.
"It's weathered us as people. I've learned to not miss home so much," Marino admits.
"When you're playing and writing heavy music, it will consume your life."
Broken in Refraction is out now on Pure Noise Records.