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Merchants of Air


exploring the edges of the musical universe

First a little history lesson: throughout the years the Belgian province of Limburg has been underappreciated by the rest of the country. Even anno 2014 some people, and especially people from Antwerp, still seem to think Limburg is full of farmers talking in a singing-like accent. They completely neglect the beautiful country side and the calm, friendly nature of the residents. There is however a lot of talent in Limburg. Bands like Vandal X, Evil Superstars, Zornik and Millionaire have had international success and more bands are coming your way. One of those bands is Sardonis, one of the heaviest duo’s this little province has ever seen. At Desertfest they rolled over the Canyon stage like a steamroller, crushing everything in sight.


Maybe a little apology is in place, I really didn’t know you were from Limburg.


Jelle: A lot of people seem to think we’re from Ghent, maybe it’s because of the popularity of the stoner-scene in Ghent and the surrounding area. But yes, we hail from Genk, a totally different city. Maybe it’s also because we intend to focus internationally instead of staying in Belgium. We’ve been on tour in Greece, Portugal and Japan amongst others. Don’t get me wrong, we love playing in Belgium but we also feel that this area is pretty restricted.


With that in mind, I have to say you remind me of a heavier version of Vandal X.


Jelle: Well, that’s a compliment. We really like Vandal X but I think we are indeed heavier and certainly fuzzier while Vandal X was more noise-rock related.


Tell me about Japan?


Jelle: That was an awesome experience. We recorded a split with Japanese band Eternal Elysium and they asked us to tour in Japan. The audience was very enthusiastic and it was fun to play there. The weirdest thing was, when we finished a song, they applauded and shouted for a short while and suddenly became completely quiet.


Sardonis seems to have found their niche in the rich stoner rock genre. Were you the heaviest stoner band or the fastest doom band on this festival?


Roel: We don’t think in terms of stoner rock or doom or any other genre. I like to think of Sardonis as a non-cliché band that just wants to play hard and loud. We have a background in punk and pre-nineties metal but we certainly don’t want to limit ourselves to those genres.


Jelle: I don’t think Sardonis is an easy band to start listening to. People who listen to our music should have a certain musical background, they should have some experience with heaviness. We’re often compared to thrash metal but I don’t think we’re a metal band.


Is there a difference between the metal-audience and, let’s say, the Roadburn scene?


Jelle: I think the ‘Roadburn’ scene consists of people who are a bit older and more open-minded than metal fans. I like both scenes but to play live we prefer the Roadburners.


The fact that Sardonis is a duo doesn’t seem to affect the bombastic sound.


Roel: We’ve been a duo since 2006 and there have never been any plans to expand the band with a bass player or a vocalist. People have advised us to use vocals but we just don’t want to and we think our music doesn’t need it. The guitar and the drums easily overcome the lack of bass and vocals. We feel that the way we are doing things now is just perfect for us.


Does the lack of other members have an influence on the songwriting?


Roel: The songwriting is extremely intense, more so than when working with a complete band. When I start a guitar riff things can go any possible way, mostly depending on what Jelle does with it. Then the interplay begins. After this creative process, which can take several hours, we’re completely exhausted.


The name Sardonis rings a bell, where does it come from?


Jelle: From Merlina, a Flemish television series from the eighties. Sardonis was the ultimate evil guy. When I was a kid my mother used to say ‘be good or Sardonis is coming to get you’. So Sardonis is some kind of bogeyman in Belgium, or at least he used to be. The current youth no longer knows him I think.


I watched you play an instore gig at Incubate but today at Desertfest you seemed a lot heavier. Is there a difference between instores and festivals like this?


Roel: Yes and no. The concert at Incubate was a bit strange because it was in the store in broad daylight and in front of seated people. Today we could go all the way. We like doing instores but it’s a bit weird sometimes.


You’ve recently recorded a split with Drums Are For Parades. What’s next?


Jelle: The split, named The Abyss Stares Back, will soon be released on Hypertension Records. We plan on playing several shows with the new material and start recording our third album, III, in the beginning of 2015. The new album should be mixed in spring 2015 and hopefully we can on tour again after that.


Thanks for the interview. Is there anything you would like to add?


Jelle: Yeah, when I was googling us, I found a video from an American philharmonic orchestra covering one of our songs, among Metallica and AC/DC. It’s really weird but well-done. You should check it out here.























Photo's: official website and facebook