South Africa Metal: SABRETOOTH

(80’s Inspired/Progressive/Hard Rock)
Photo by: Robin Bernstein
Playing alongside Seven Year Kismet (UK) and Horse the Band (USA) must be the biggest gig of your career, so far? 
Charles: Well actually, I think in terms of sharing the stage with international acts go it must be Ramfest’12 (Inflames and Infected Mushroom). Sharing the stage with great South African bands, the likes of Taxi Violence, The Great Apes, Fox Comet, Woodstock Mafia, Enmity, A Walk With The Wicked and Juggernaught is always a highlight too. I think for the band and most of those who follow our music the most notable highlight has got to be our debut album. 
The band has a solid grasp of technicalities in the music – how does the work so well? Is this due to prior experience or a professional understanding of music?

Charles: I studied music at UCT and so I guess the song writing really benefits from this, not to say great song writers have to have formal training. We’ve all been playing for many years and had lots of experience in other bands and other styles of music. There’s a lot to be said about how each member of the band adds their own influence on the song. I think the key to any band is understanding your fellow band mates and leaving space for all the instruments to shine.

Dean: Me personally, it’s because of my background of playing technical death metal when I was younger. Back then I enjoyed my hands being busy on the guitar because I felt I was constantly contributing to the music haha.
In Sabretooth I get a feeling of accomplishment in taking up the challenge of tackling the compositions and performing it as perfect as we can. I’m definitely fortunate to play with musicians that are like-minded and won’t settle for ‘good-enough’.

Most bands stick to the traditional 4 members – though Sabretooth has two guitarists and a keyboard player amongst the drummer, vocalist and bass player. Some might call this over compensation?

Photo by: Matt Davidson
Dean: Yeah, I can see why some would think so. It IS definitely harder to keep the sound cleaner and pleasing with more members. From personal experience I think the main reason behind that thought is sometimes failure to understand how and why an instrument or sound contributes to a song.

Every member in the band has their place and knows when to bring their sound forward or keep it back.

Charles: Yeah… haha. Organising would be a lot easier with only 4 members. It doesn’t help our sound checks or stage volume either. It’s the way Sabretooth is and it just wouldn’t be the same without the line-up the way it is. There are no token positions and every instrument is key to the Sabretooth sound. I think it’s overkill that Iron Maiden has 3 guitarist for live, but I guess it’s what they think is necessary (I’m sure they don’t have many financial obstacles) You do what you do to get the results.

Tell us which bands have shaped Sabretooth’s musical taste?

Charles: The typical interview answer here is to say that we don’t sound like anything else out there. The truth is that everyone is shaped by their tastes and experiences. I’d say that we all have great personality in the way we play which I think is down to our actual personalities. In terms of musical style, we’re a cross of 80s/power/neoclassical metal/rock. I think we sound something like the lovechild of: Symphony x, Whitesnake, Children of Bodom and DIO.

Are Sabretooth finding the type of music that you play is getting a lot of older fans, despite your youth?

Charles: We’re really surprised by the range of people that like what we do. There are a lot of the old school rock/metal heads that think we’re great and even older people that just appreciate what we do and young kids at the same time. There are also people that really dislike “clean” singing vocals, but to them we are an exception. There are a lot of people who don’t even like heavier music who like our music. Obviously every band has their share of those who aren’t really fans of their music. We aren’t an egotistical band and I’d say we’re all pretty down to earth. So it’s really awesome when people have good things to say about our music and likewise, we love supporting fellow bands.

Let’s talk about Sabretooth’s Self-titled release. I read the good review on LMG!

Charles: Yeah, really cool! Thanks again to those at LMG. We had a release listening party on Voice Of Rock Radio which was really great, it featured the whole album and track by track commentary. The album took us about a year to record and finish. We had band struggles during it and we really put a lot of heart and soul into the album. It’s definitely got something for everyone, but what we hear most is that the album appeals in its entirety, rather than having a couple good songs. We did all the tracking, engineering and mixing with Dean Bailey (who plays guitar in the band). Then it was sent off to TL (Tim Lengfeld) mastering . So everything was done in SA and on a very modest budget. We’ve had a really great response to the album and are currently getting it out there.

What was the concept behind that album?
Charles: There isn’t really a specific concept. Our lyrics are more positive in nature than anything else and I’d say they are more about personal struggles. It’s really a collection of songs spanning nearly five years rolled into a package saying “Here we are!”

Tell us about the opener; Night Warrior…

Dean: During our months of vocalist searching a couple years back, we were working on new songs which were of course instrumental at the time. Once we’ve recruited Mauri, compositions and vocals were rearranged on those new songs, but night warrior was an anomaly. We struggled to find the right sound vocally to fit that song that wasn’t going to be just another vocal layer or be like the rest. It was a fun song to play and we wanted it on the album so we re-arranged it to work instrumentally. It was a risk having an instrumental song first on an album for sure, but I feel it’s a good representation (metaphorically) of how the band started out. No vocalist, just music.

Charles: It was originally intended to have vocals, but we decided against it in studio. We placed it first on the album just because it really had the best intro to set the pace for the rest of the album. There are some odd timings and quite a few key changes and I think it shows the different instrumental elements of the band. The verse is perfect for driving in your car… haha.

Cannot help but feel clinched by Tomorrow’s Gone – reminds me of Mötley Crüe’s Without You. I could be wrong or was that the ideal to create a good ballad?

Charles: Pretty much! I really love ballads and started writing it and it just came together. Even though it’s by far the easiest song for us to play, technically, it’s hard to get the intention/emotion just right. It is inspired by real life situations of a personal level. I think it really reflects our 80s inspirations, so you’re right there, but not specifically by Motley Crue.

Photo By: Robin Bernstein
Sabretooth has had Ramfest 2012 to add to their repertoire of live shows. What is the feedback on that? 

Charles: Extremely positive. We love playing festivals, because it really gets our music out there and I think that’s the purpose of playing music. It needs to be shared with people. There were some technical issues regarding sound checks running a bit late and it was hotter than hell, but it was a great show and we had a lot of support. We’re really grateful for being put on the line-up.

Dean: So far we’ve got nothing but great comments…from the people that count…haha.
There was a schedule problem that was out of our hands which ran the event an hour late and being the youngest and first band at the festival we unable to put on the show we intended. Regardless of all the problems, it was still a great experience for all of us and we’re grateful.

The Sabretooth claws have officially left its prints in many South African fans – as well as Funeral for a Friend (USA). What are people missing out on at a Sabretooth live show?

Charles: It’s just a high octane set. We always structure the set to keep the interest alive and don’t mess around when we’re up there. I think it’s the sense of community. When we’re playing we’ve got people with fists in the air, chanting and just having a good time. We really feel that the audience is part of the show. We’re all experiencing it together rather than just playing at people. There’s a lot for people to take in, so it doesn’t get boring. Each band member has their own thing going on and of course…. the fans on stage;)

What does the rest of the year hold for Sabretooth?

Charles: We’re looking at doing some touring to the rest of SA and gigs in Cape Town. We’re also getting into the video side of things. I think it’s time for a music video and some other live/studio videos. The main focus is getting the album out there and punting it overseas.

Can the band spill some thoughts about the South African metal scene, is the scene growing or falling into a loop of same band – different day?

Dean: Comparing to how it was a couple years back, bands are a lot more professional in all aspects. In my opinion, the problem in the past (and in some cases today), was that even though bands showed loads of enthusiasm, they had little respect for the music process and the effort required to take it to the next level. It became less of a “I’ll get drunk before I play and just have a good time with my friends, ag everyone makes mistakes” kind of scenario (which is perfectly fine…if that’s your goal) and more of a planned, thought-given performance, like any other favourite theatre performance you would pay a lot of money to see. Where you can see that time and effort was put into what you do and have people leave the venue feeling the music and show was worth the money.

Charles: Look, it’s a very difficult situation. We’re not really a part of any scene. We don’t exclusively play with metal bands or any other genre. We’re more interested in mixed line-ups. As a note on the metal scene though, I think it does suffer due to lack of market and irrelevant ideals. The attitude towards outsiders, general negative view, lack of support and the idea that bands think they’re in competition with one another are all very destructive. I think that the quality of the bands is getting better and everyone’s taking their music a little more seriously

Photo by: Michael Ellis Photography
Does the band have any last words? 

Charles: Thanks so much for the interview! Thanks again to our sponsors: Monster Energy, Paul Bothners and BFOC Guitars. Please head out to to listen to 3 tracks off our debut album and get in touch with us if you’d like to order one. Follow us on facebook and see you at the next gig!

Pleasure doing an interview with Sabretooth’s Charles and Dean! The claws are out go to NOW!


2 thoughts on “South Africa Metal: SABRETOOTH

  1. Premiere !!Swedens hardest Female fronted metal band new killer musicvideo “Bleeding Sanity”

    Frantic Amber – Bleeding Sanity watch it here and feel free to share the music video.

    Frantic Amber is a female-fronted metal band with members from four different countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Japan) Since the line-up was solified 2010 the band has made two tours to Russia, the latest one in September 2011, as well as a successful gig at Sweden Rock Festival 2011 which also was played in whole in the Swedish National Radio program P3 Rock Live. Frantic Amber performed at the P3 Gold 2012 Awards that was broadcast on swedish national television and radio.

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