Sanguisugabogg – Covered in GoreSunday, 14th March 2021
A real up-and-coming act within the extreme metal scene, Sanguisugabogg is an act that has more going on below the surface than what many will expect. For an act that sounds so extreme, there’s a number of grooves and hooks that rear their heads, and there’s a twisted sense of humor that emerges from the band. We spoke with vocalist Devin Swank to get his thoughts on their full-length debut, partnering up with Troma for their “Menstrual Envy” video, as well as movie influences and goals for the band.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you say about your debut in Tortured Whole?
Devin Swank: We spent a little over a year writing it. It’s kind of a different shift than our EP, Pornographic Seizures. In this last year, we as a band have really gotten to know each other – in terms of music we like. It pulled a lot of different influences. We listen to a lot more brutal and heavier bands than when we recorded the EP. The songs are a lot heavier – it doesn’t stray too far from our sound that we originally had. But instead of just making 1-2 minute songs, we wanted to make what we call ‘cornerstore bangers’ – something you could play on the way to the cornerstore and get a six pack or something. We wanted to write songs that were longer and more chaotic. Something that blends together really well.
Dead Rhetoric: In some ways, I don’t want to use the word ‘mature,’ but along those lines?
Swank: Yeah, definitely. That’s a great way to put it. We also wanted to write something that sounds great in the order that it is. It’s kind of like Rush albums. If you listen to songs out of order it doesn’t go together. We wanted something that was kind of organic and feels like everything flows together as an album.
Dead Rhetoric: So for someone who isn’t familiar with the band, how do you describe the sound of Sanguisugabogg?
Swank: I would say that our background being pretty much everywhere, we are the kind of band that anyone who listens to extreme music can get into. We have the grooves and weird time signatures that musician nerds can get into, the short/quick songs that grind and hardcore fans can get into – something that can appeal to anyone, whether you have been into this music for years and years or someone who is only just getting into it. It’s accessible and you can grab a hold onto it. We write the heaviest music possible, but we try to stay as catchy as we possibly can.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you pull lyrical inspiration from?
Swank: It’s pretty much everywhere. On the EP, I would say that it was more like your run of the mill, cookie-cutter death metal lyrics. There wasn’t much thought in it. For this full-length, we wanted to turn it on its head a bit and be weird. So instead of typical band lyrics about mutilating and chopping up women, we took it to a different degree. We are mutilating pedophiles, rapists, and men. Something that really interests me is mafia and organized crime, so there are bits and pieces of that thrown in there. I also like to write about movies – so in the EP, I wrote about this movie filmed in Istanbul called Baskin.
On this album, we have a song called “Gored in the Chest,” which I talk about John Carpenter’s Halloween. So there’s horror movies, killing pedophiles, and we also have some really weird and chaotic songs as well. There’s one called, “Urinary Ichor” which is about God having a urinary tract infection that causes the apocalypse. The lyrics are pretty much everywhere when you start to break them down and the reason for that is because I wanted to tell a story that no one has heard before.
Dead Rhetoric: How did you end up connecting with Troma?
Swank: Cameron [Boggs], the guitarist, and I, we have been huge Troma fans for years. We were pretty tight with this band called Escuela Grind and they had worked with this guy named Seby Martinez, who has done work with Troma. He worked on the film Shakespeare’s Shitstorm. He has also done work with Tim Heidecker and a bunch of other people we look up to. We contacted him once we found out we got a budget from Century Media to do these videos. We had been toying with the idea of what to do with music videos, and thought it would be cool if we could get Troma on board with it. So we just shot an email and they got back to us right away. They were as stoked as we were about it. Now we have a pretty cool partnership with them. We plan to create a lot more content with them in the future.
Dead Rhetoric: What was the shooting like for “Menstrual Envy?”
Swank: It was awesome. It was one of the coolest things we have gotten to experience. Not being out on the road for almost 6 months, and then going to a different city and driving all the way there – seeing people that we haven’t seen in a while. A lot of those extras in the video are personal friends of ours from New York. We reached out to as many people as we could and asked them to be in it. They all came so it was a really awesome hangout. It was really crazy behind the scenes – how things look while you are there versus when you watch the video. It was really weird.
In the music video, where we eat the mushrooms, we were actually on psychedelics during most of the shoot. During some of those scenes our drummer had to step out because he was seeing blood and it was messing with him. There were a few scenes that we had to shoot again and retake because we were laughing so hard or making jokes. Just acting the fool the whole time. Needless to say, it was an experience, it was really crazy. Aside from just going there and actually shooting, we also got to explore NYC. We were hanging out in a recording studio that Beyonce recorded in. We made the most of it. We only shot for a couple of days, but we made a whole trip out of it and spent 2 weeks there.
Dead Rhetoric: With doing videos like that one, do you get concerned that maybe it won’t get the reach that it should because you have to go directly onto YouTube to watch it [age restrictions]?
Swank: I thought it would be something a bit more loose, because we were using puppets. But looking back on it, I can understand that it definitely limits us with it being age restricted. We don’t plan to keep going that route, but we also don’t want to be the standard band that just plays in our house while something is going on in a cut scene. We are trying to find the perfect balance. The second video we will release through Troma, there’s nothing really like that [like the “Menstrual Envy” video] so I don’t see that one being age restricted. But at the same token, being the type of band we are with the lyrical content, and our kind of humor and personality, I don’t see anyone under 18 really being excited about watching us anyways [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: Well, it is cool that you are putting your own spin on things. There are so many bands that do the same thing with videos. I understand it for budgetary reasons, but it is cool to see a nice, well-done one like yours. Especially for people who haven’t come across a band before.
Swank: That’s the great thing about Troma too. They try to stay as low budget and gritty/underground as they can. It’s really cool being partnered with them. You don’t have to worry about us going to extreme and having a complete CGI video or anything like that. We try to stay as brutal as we can on a budget.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve alluded to some of this already, but given the number of super-serious acts in death metal, what’s important about humor for you?
Swank: I just think that the amount of success the band got as the band was growing was because online we kind of let our personalities and things shine through. When we are onstage, we kind of enforce people to have a great time. They are partying, they are stage diving, crowdsurfing, and moshing like crazy. We want to showcase that kind of atmosphere in our music and in our videos just because we don’t know when we will play shows in the future.
We want that atmosphere to shine through – we want to show that we are having a good time. We aren’t the guys who are wearing black t-shirts, work boots, and just mean-mugging in every picture. We are the guys who are smiling onstage – we are happy. We are all best friends so we are having the time of our lives when we are doing anything that involves this band. That said, any time we have a video, we want to get a laugh or at least crack a smile from someone.
Dead Rhetoric: I’m sure that you have heard this one before, but what goes into designing a logo like yours?
Swank: That logo has been modified. The original sketch was from our ex-bassist’s fiancée. Her name is Bridget. Basically, it was Cameron’s idea. He wanted something that looked chaotic and non-symmetrical. It’s not something completely standard. It’s not completely passable – if you look at it, you have to look at it for a minute or it’s like ‘what the hell?’ When she initially did it, you could actually see the letters in the logo and Cameron thought that it wasn’t weird enough. So he photo-shopped the logo and did a bunch of squiggly lines over the letters and tried digitally manipulating and reshaping it. The whole premise of it is that when you see the logo, you think that maybe we are some laptop goregrind band and then you listen to it and it’s a little more serious than that.
Dead Rhetoric: What is your impression about death metal – what do you feel defines the genre?
Swank: I’m a fan of all kinds of death metal. I have been into the genre since I was a kid. I like all aspects of it, whether it’s melodic and pretty sounding, or it being completely pummeling. I’d say the root of it is heavily distorted guitars, harsh vocals – whether it’s growling, vocal fries, screams – and just some insane drums. Really crazy drum fills, double-bass, and blastbeats. Those are really the core elements to the genre.
As far as lyrically, it can go from murder and torture to inner struggles and pain. I would say that in its own just defines the genre. Whether you are listening to brutal death metal, death/doom, melodic death metal, thrash death – it all pretty much as those root, key elements in it.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some the horror movies that have impacted the band’s sound?
Swank: As far as lyrical content and things, I have pulled a lot of influences from movies that I hold onto. Like Baskin, about the cops being tortured. Then John Carpenter’s moves too. I’m a huge John Carpenter and Clive Barker fan. I think as we progress as a band and we release more music, I am going to start writing something in homage to that. We are actually working on a song right now where I’m working on lyrics from John Carpenter’s The Thing, which is one of my favorite movies. There’s a lot of ‘80s horror movies, and weird movies that you have to go above and beyond for in order to find them – like on a torrent or website. You can’t find them on a streaming service or store. Those are movies that really inspire us.
Dead Rhetoric: Being early in the band’s career, do you have any goals you’d like to achieve?
Swank: I feel like we are already going farther than we expected. We only expected this band to be a local Ohio band that might do a weekend tour here and there. Myself and our drummer, we are in a few different active bands and projects too. Originally, this was just to have fun and play some shows. We wanted to write music that we all liked and that people would hopefully mosh to and have a good time. We have already exceeded our expectations. I never thought I’d be on a major label, or I would meet some of the people I have met on the road. From here, I would say the only goal I have is playing overseas, playing a lengthy tour, and getting a support slot for a bigger band like Dying Fetus, Morbid Angel, or Cannibal Corpse – something like that.
We have already surprised ourselves. We broke a record on the label already. When “Menstrual Envy” first dropped, we sold out of all of our color variants on the store. We are the fastest band to ever do it in Century Media history. I got that news when I was about to fly out to San Antonio. When I got that news, I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it. I’m not surprised anymore with the news we get about this band.
Dead Rhetoric: Outside of the album release, what are your plans for 2021?
Swank: We plan on releasing more content. We have some ideas in the air. We want to do some videos with Troma. I think we are going to be leaving and heading back to New York to make another video. Also, we are looking at doing a live stream until shows are coming back again. We are also going to end up doing playthroughs, studio updates, and things like that just to get people excited about what we are doing.