An Interview with
Mordred's Scott Holderby (Frontman) and James J. Sanguinetti (Guitarist)
that took place at O2 Academy, Sheffield on Friday, August 29th 2014
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan
Glenn: So Scott what’s it like to be back in the UK for a start?
Scott: Really, really fun.
Scott: Yes. I’m having the best time. I don’t know if you noticed when we were playing but I can’t get the silly grin off my face because I’m having such a good time. No matter if there’s some technical thing or something happening – I just be Scotty. Just jump up and go for it.
Glenn: I was amazed because it’s such like a transformation from this little guy with glasses and that and then you get up on stage and it’s like ‘Boom!’. The other guy turns up you know?
Scott: The other guy.
Glenn: Yeah. You know what I mean? It’s like incredible. The guy who swings on the top and gets so into it.
Scott: Well it’s the same guy but the thing is, like you know, obviously when we’re just chatting and everything is, well you can have a normal conversation – I’m not completely out of my mind or am I? (he jokes)
Glenn: So what’s been the most standout gig so far on the UK Tour and why?
Scott: Well they’ve all been really, really good. I loved Glasgow, I loved Newcastle, Dublin, Belfast, London, Birmingham – oh that’s all of ‘em isn’t it. (We laugh) No they’re all really, really fun and I feel young again sort of. It might be catching up to me a little bit on the day – what is it day 7 but it’s so much fun – I’m lucky. Lucky that I have the opportunity to come over and do this and we were invited to come and play.
Glenn: How did it all come about then for this tour? Who invited you?
Scott: Well we got together. Our guitar player came to visit from New York and we just got together in the studio and just played just for sheer wanting to play together and it was so much fun we did it again and took some photos, put it on facebook and from there people were just like, “Hey”. The fella Matt Denny was like, “Hey, what would it take to get you guys to…” and we’re just talking about just having us rehearse over here to come over and play maybe a show or two and whatever. I guess plane tickets and lodging. We’re just thinking, ‘Okay, we’ll stay at someone’s house and just kinda do a little small thing. It turned out that Fury On who were unable to do the tour because Matt, their singer developed a haemorrhaging of the vocal chords and was unable to speak for like three weeks. It sounds really bad I know but he’s actually gonna recover from it. But they hooked us up with their Agent and they basically came and hooked us up with it. We did an Indiegogo funding which is a sort of crowd source funding thing and made what we needed to make. Basically if not for people and friends of ours chipping in and doing that we never would have been able to do this but because that was the case ‘here we are’.
Glenn: It’s good to see you sir as well.
Scott: Oh thank you.
Glenn: I remember you guys back in the early 90’s. I’d just left school and this band called ‘Mordred’ came out. It was like who are these guys with the DJ and all that sort of stuff going down. It was very much ‘What the hell? And thinking like, ‘This is amazing’ and I must say that when you guys disappeared off the radar I don’t think anyone really replaced you. They tried out the old nu-metal thing but there’s only one band like ‘Mordred’.
Scott: Yes. Well you know the funny thing for me, at least the way I feel inside when I perform this music when I sing these songs, I feel like… it still feels fresh to me. I guess I had a long enough vacation and a long enough break from it to come back and feel fresh again. I was feeling a little maybe nostalgic especially for the stuff off our very first record which even though, you know, back in the day we played a lot, a lot of those songs we dropped and we were always like making room for… We always try and create new things right?
Scott: So now that I have the chance in hindsight, now I have a ten year old boy and so does he (James) and they’re best friends and they wear the Mordred hats and they made us dig out the t-shirts from the attic and it was a lot of due…
Glenn: Like this one (that Scott was wearing)?
Scott: Yeah. It was a lot to do with them that really, really made us feel like we were ready to do it again. When your ten year old tells you you’re cool it’s pretty f*ck*ng cool!
Glenn: Yeah. I guess they were sat there on youtube one night and they were like, “What you were like this?”
Scott: Yeah and he jumps around and does it too. I just love it. It makes me happy and this is such a fun, nice experience and it’s just like hanging with my brothers.
Glenn: So you guys, how long did it take to gel after not playing together for so long? Did it take long?
Scott: We had like four months of rehearsals, one a week and then we stepped it up to like twice a week for the last month and half or two months. Danny was in New York so he’d come out every couple of months.
James: It was like every two months and I think we did more than four months honestly.
Scott: Although we have no concept of time necessarily.
James: Yes we came together really fast you know, but yeah it was a little shaky in the beginning but….
Scott: We were a little worried at the beginning but it’s only because there is a certain amount of precision to what we play and there’s a certain amount of need to sync together as a band and it takes a minute to really put that all together and have all four, five, six of us really coming in and linking together in that way. But man, after we practised a little while and even that was so much fun because back in the day we practised like six days a week – we were so into it. I don’t think any of us had done that much rehearsing with any band since and I really love hanging out with these guys – my Son calls him ‘Uncle Jim’.
James: It used to be our job so but now it’s for fun. I mean…
Scott: And now it’s just love. We’re just havin’ the best time and we’re just really happy that people are turning up and that people have all these great stories about how we met because we were always one of those kinds of bands always that rather than kinda hide out in the dressing room, we always just mixed it up with people, meet people in the line, we’d have their mum cook us dinner after and shower at their house (laughs). So we made some really good friends that we stayed in touch with and also like the other bands we played with. You get really, really tight when you share a bus and you tour for two months at a time with these other bands. So I just feel blessed and I feel lucky that I was able to come out and just be able to do this again.
Glenn: Yeah. Which songs would you say were the hardest to nail down again after so long of being a band and why?
Scott: I think it’s going to be different for me because of being the singer but I’d say for me, ‘Falling Away’ is probably the most difficult because it’s just at the tippy, tippy top of my range and after many days of doing it, night after night, it gets me a little bit of a strain.
James: I think ‘Killing Time’ and ‘Spellbound’. ‘Spellbound’s’ got the speed which if you’re not continually…. I wasn’t doing a lot of metal since the whole thing ended so I’m a plumber (laughs) but yeah, and ‘Killing Time’ is pretty intricate. So I think for me that would be the hardest two.
Glenn: So what have you been doing outside of doing Mordred then? What have you been up to all these years?
Scott: The High Nobles to Harley’s, got all the wee solo albums, New Love Soul Revue, Blue Sun Heat, D-Man. I’ve been in just a ton of bands. I totally stopped when I went to go and work in the recording studio. I did that for a few years. Met my wife there. We’ve been together for like.. jeez almost 20 years now and we have a house and a kid and a dog and we’re very happy.
Glenn: You live in San Francisco?
Scott: We live in Oakland which is right across the bridge – 5 minutes away.
Glenn: How is the scene in Oakland compared to San Francisco?
Scott: It’s much better.
Scott: Yeah I think so. San Francisco’s sort of been taken over by yuppie scum and people from the tech boom and it’s not a conducive for art or music or anything.
James: It’s becoming so expensive. Any artist of any kind has to go somewhere else and Oakland’s pretty much, you know, it’s just the cheapest place and the bad thing even South of San Francisco and North it’s still expensive. I mean if you don’t live in Oakland then you go an hour out before you can afford it.
Scott: And you’re like in Vallego or way out there.
Glenn: I guess it’s a bit like living in the centre of Hollywood. It’s so expensive and the rent prices are incredible.
Scott: Which is funny because when Jim lived down there the rents were not expensive and it was sort of like the music place for young people coming up and they’ve had… I don’t know if it’s necessarily the tech boom but what I’ve seen in the last 30 years is a mass removing to the city and whereas the suburbs were very popular and that’s where people ran away. The city became sort of derelict and broken down in many ways. That’s where… you know like where you have these bad neighbourhoods that’s of course where we always had our rehearsal studios, recording studios and also where we lived. When these neighbourhoods started like being bought out and building new condos and companies are just going in chucking like businesses that have been out… like that have been in business for like 20 or 30 years and they’re just coming in and putting in some lame f*ck*ng tech company in there.
James: Well the thing is, there’s so many people that have money down there are young – late 20’s, early 30’s. They wanna be in the city. They don’t wanna be in the suburbs. So you’ve got all these young kids with more money than they know what to do with and that’s the killer.
Scott: We should introduced them to cocaine. Isn’t that what people with more money than they know what to do with should be doing? (We all laugh)
Glenn: So you’ve got one new song (The Baroness)?
Glenn: How long did that take to come together? Pretty quick or was it like…
Scott: Well we got together a few years back while Danny was still in New York and a friend of mine, Chris Powell aka Danny Black was playing with us and he and I got together and wrote that tune and a couple of other ones. We shared a studio over in Oakland also and spent a lot time hanging out together and during the time we were hanging out we just started writing tunes for Mordred. Out of all the ones we did, that’s my favourite one. So when we came over we were given like two different bits of advice. It was like, “Don’t play anything new, nobody wants to hear sh*t new, just play all your old stuff – that’s all anyone wants to hear”. Then we were given advice like, “No that’s bullsh*t. We wanna hear something new – at least one new song”.
So we’re like, “Okay, we’ll put in one in the set. That way it’s like people don’t wanna hear it, it’s only one song and then for those who do wanna hear something different because they’ve worn out the grooves in their Mordred records or whatever then there’s something different to listen to. But as far as the new stuff goes we’re gonna take a little break when we get home, decompress and get to work and do some more writing. We’re talking about doing an E.P. but we might just do a full length L.P. and we’ve had a couple of labels that have approached us and/or we’ve called them because now we have friends that 20, 30 years later have really high up positions in these record labels. It seems like it could very well come together, you know somewhat easily.
Glenn: I guess because you were like forerunners of the scene as well?
Glenn: So what stood out from the heyday of Mordred back in the day?
Scott: Well we’re big Thin Lizzy fans so playing that Thin Lizzy song with Brian Robertson at the Dynamo Festival – that was pretty awesome. Painting my self blue at the other Dynamo Festival – that was pretty fun and messy. The Marquee shows in London and various other interactions and shows that we’ve had. All the people that we’ve met and stayed in touch with that sort of made it possible for us to even come back over and even do this at all. So I guess that’s what I’d be most thankful for. I don’t know - that’s an interesting question. Jim what’s your standout?
James: The Dynamo with Robertson was pretty cool. All the different people you get to tour with and really getting to see all the places you might not have seen. I mean it brings you to every corner of the earth which is kinda nice and you get to see…
Scott: Yeah waking up on a bus with the Alps as your backdrop and it’s all like fresh snow and just beautiful and crisp air and it’s clean.
James: That’s when we had roadies and we had a bus…
James: …and you could actually wake up and go somewhere. Like, “Hey let’s go check out the town, let’s go see this church, let’s go see whatever beautiful building there might be.” Now it’s like, “Okay, now we should be loading out to the van, take the load out, to the hotel and do the driving”. There’s not a lot… I think I’ve taken like five pictures since we started.
Scott: Everybody shares their photos or tags me or however you do it because I’ve been really, really bad about not taking photos.
Glenn: You must have been asked this a million times but where did the name Mordred come from and what does the name Mordred mean to you guys?
Scott: Well Mordred was.. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Arthurian King Arthur legends. So Mordred was the b*st*rd son born from Morgana the Witch and Arthur and she used Merlin magic to trick him and all that bit and in the early, early incarnation of Mordred it was very much more of a sort of medieval lyrically…#
James: Yeah I mean it was much more lyrically based on the Tolkien books and just in that vibe and our singer at the time…
Scott: Very Viking-Esque.
James: Not only on stage but as he walked down the street…
Scott: Yeah he’d even dress up like that. That was more about every day. It wasn’t bullsh*t. He would walk down the street with furs and swords and he was an interesting guy and I didn’t get to meet him until much later but what a great guy. I had no idea what to expect…
James: And as everything changed we kinda had a fanbase with the old demos and things. It was really at that point that it was too hard to just go, “Hey why don’t we call ourselves something new even though we are something new at this point. It’s kinda really what we were.
Glenn: Cool. What’s the key to looking after your voice?
Scott: Well Jamesons and honey and milk during the day. Guinness for sure, kinda cutting down on the cigarettes, cutting down on the other smoke and attempting to get at least three hours of sleep at night.
Glenn: I do about four or five so…
Scott: Yeah. I didn’t get it last night but you know, we try to get at least three ot four hours if we can.
Glenn: What would you say you are most proud of as being the Frontman of Mordred?
Scott: Honestly I’m most proud that my son who’s ten thinks I’m cool and a lot of ten year old kids would be embarrassed and I’m sure he is sometimes embarrassed of his old dad but it feel really good to have my little boy look at me that way and be just so supportive and into it. So for me, it’s definitely my family being supportive is the best for me. The past life before I met my Missis, in the past I had another girlfriend, a couple of other ones and they might not have always been as supportive and it might have made it a little more difficult in many ways. So I’m just thankful that I’m solid like that now.
Glenn: What would you like to say to the Readership of Metalliville?
Scott: I’d like to say thank you for taking the time to check out Mordred and if you get a chance and you want to see us not as old men but as we appeared in our early days there’s plenty of videos that you could look up and although you might not get a complete feel for what it was like at those shows back in the days but there is a film that we did at the Marquee and that pretty well captures what it was like back in those days. Just thank you very much.
Glenn: Right we wanna see you come back to the UK as well like you said.
Scott: And we hope we can and we just appreciate the opportunity to be even over here now.
Glenn: Oh we do. I just randomly looked to see what was happening at the O2 and it was ‘Mordred! – you’re f*ck*ng kiddin' me?!?!’
Scott: That’s what everyone’s saying. They’re like, “I can’t believe you guys.. What made you want to come back after 23 years?”. We were invited.
Glenn: Yeah. That’s a good enough reason as any isn’t it?
Scott: Yeah. We had no idea that really even people remembered who we were or knew about us and we were really, really surprised when people started communicating with us that they actually did know who we were and did show an interest in wanting us to come back over and play. It’s been like a big family reunion for us and for our friends that are stopping by. Usually this time of night we’re dragged off to the nearest pub…
Glenn: I must apologise Sir! (I say jokingly)
Scott: It’s not a problem. I probably should take a night off from that anyway.
Glenn: It’s a Friday night.
Scott: Make sure that we’re good for Liverpool and for Brighton and Bristol. We’ve got three dates left, right guys?
Glenn: Then it’s back to America yeah?
Scott: Yeah. We’re going back to Dublin first, hanging there for a day and then we’re going back.
Glenn: Got ya. It’s been a pleasure Sir.
Scott: It’s been a pleasure for me and I’m just really appreciative that you’d wanna do an Interview with us because really you’ve made six somewhat old men very f*ck*n’ happy.
Glenn: Not a problem. It was a pleasure and privilege for me as well to do it.
Scott: Thank you guys. Thank you very much.
Glenn: Not a problem.
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