Phoenix metal veterans Sacred Reich are reissuing their first two albums — Ignorance and The American Way — plus the 1988 Surf Nicaragua EP through Metal Blade Records, three slabs of old school thrash that have dated remarkably well. Meanwhile, frontman Phil Rind remains a positive force online — never afraid to make his progressive politics public. We chatted with Rind about it all.
BRETT CALLWOOD: You’ve just reissued the first two albums and the first EP — why now?
PHIL RIND: We get a lot of requests for these things to be reissued, and we had the ability to do it. It’s something that we’ve been pursuing for a while, there’s some contractual bullshit that we had to deal with, that we’ve sorted. So that’s why now. As far as mastering, I think The Ignorance and Surf… are a little bit louder, and we pretty much left The American Way alone. We’ve talked about maybe doing some deluxe versions down the road, we’ll see. But for now, this is for the people that are interested in buying this stuff and not buying a ton of money because it was out of print.
It’s a funny story — that’s kinda how we got back together in 2007. Someone said, hey have you looked up your records on eBay, and I said what’s eBay? At the time I had no idea. We looked up Surf and it was going for $50 or $60. I was like, that’s such a rip-off. So I spoke with Brian Slagel and we talked about putting out the records. We did The Ignorance and Surf… packaged together, but it was just import because we had some legal issues. So the idea was being able to put out the record for people who want to hear it, at a reasonable price. That’s what had us starting getting together as a band again in 2007.
When you’re revisiting, how do you feel about the old material?
It’s cool. I haven’t gone back and listened to those records in quite a while. It’s always interesting when we post stuff and to see what people’s reactions are. There’s a group of people that really love The Ignorance because it’s probably our heaviest and thrashiest record. We wrote that record when we were 16 and 17 years old. So there are people that really love that record, and then there’s people that like Surf…, and then there’s people that like The American Way. It’s just fun to see what people react to.
It’s strange to think that what you did as a teen is still out there, being judged…
I think about writing those songs in high school, sitting in my class and writing lyrics. It’s funny that it still comes up.
What do you think of the state of thrash metal today?
I think it’s really great. There’s a lot of newer bands, and then there’s older bands still working and putting out records. I think it’s great. I think there’s so much music out there that no matter what you like, there’s probably something for you.
You’ve stuck with L.A. label Metal Blade — does it just feel like the perfect home for your band?
Yeah. I mean, we’ve had a relationship with them since 1986, and Brian’s always been a big champion of the band. Everybody that works there — metal is their life and we have a great relationship with them. That’s why we’re there. We just trust them and believe in them. That’s what I think it’s important to have relationships based on.
It was disheartening for many metal fans to see Jon Schaffer from Iced Earth invading the Capitol. Any thoughts on that?
I never listened to Iced Earth. I don’t know much about them. Our tour manager toured with them. People believe whatever they want, they do whatever they want, I think it’s nutty but it seems like probably a third of the population of the United States probably agrees with him. That’s the really nutty part if you ask me. That people really believe that stuff. I dunno — crazy times. Between that and a worldwide pandemic, people can’t even agree to wear a mask and that it’s real, I don’t really know where we go from here.
You’ve never hidden your progressive politics though, despite the inevitable mixed reaction. You posted about Black Lives Matter recently, and received a mix of support and abuse. Are you used to that?
I am now. We are a pre-internet band, and so when the last record came out and having been on social media for a while, it’s interesting getting to see everyone’s opinions. I frankly was surprised that there would be so many right-leaning people that like our band. I would have thought that we may have turned them off by now if they had paid attention. Years and years ago, 1988, when we put out “One Nation” [a song on the Surf Nicaragua EP], I remember getting an actual letter from a skinhead. He was upset about “One Nation” — he didn’t understand what the first record was about, apparently. He said that he broke our record and burned our shirt. I just thought, how can you really get it so wrong? Continually, I’m always surprised because I thought people knew where we were coming from and I thought if you liked our band, you probably agreed with our lyrics which obviously isn’t the case either. People like stuff for all kinds of reasons. And plenty of people probably couldn’t give two shits about what we write about, or read it or any of that stuff. I’m surprised still, and that’s just how it is. If people want to like us, I don’t really give a shit. I don’t necessarily turn off Ted Nugent when he comes on the radio, just because I don’t agree with him. I just don’t listen to what he has to say about that stuff, but I still like “Stranglehold.”
Nugent doesn’t sing about politics though — that seems to be the difference. He sings about girls. But if he was preaching his hate in his lyrics, it might be more difficult to overlook. Yet you get right-wingers listening to Rage Against the Machine…
Look how many people don’t believe facts. Look how many people have a hard time deciphering what the truth is. We live in a post-truth world, that people will believe whatever they want no matter how outrageous.
What does Sacred Reich have penciled in for 2021?
We have a bunch of tour dates and we’re hoping to play some of them. I don’t know what’s going to happen in Europe this summer. I don’t really think they’ll allow 50,000 people festivals to happen. But we’ll have to see. We have a tour next November in Europe with Sepultura that’s on the books. We’ll see what happens with that. We’re supposed to go to Australia in October, and Australia is fine with it. Whether they let us in is another thing. But they have it pretty well under control. If we get vaccinated by then and that works — I don’t know, I guess we’re all in this thing together. We’ll figure it out as it goes. We’re just looking forward to getting back out. I’m sure that everyone is looking forward to getting back to their regular lives and going to concerts. All the things that we’ve been missing. We have to hope for the best. Hopefully the one thing that comes out of all this we all just appreciate things a little more. It’s easy to take things for granted. Hopefully it’ll just be a big party when we can come together and enjoy each others’ company and live music. It’ll be wonderful. ❖
Sacred Reich’s The Ignorance, The American Way and Surf Nicaragua reissues are available now from Metal Blade.