Sarah Sutter is the bombastic and mighty pummeler of the Swiss atmospheric funeral “witch-doom” quartet shEver. Since 2007, she has been the band’s rhythmic anchor, injecting variety and bringing creative choices to long-form parts, without overplaying. At the high-profile Roadburn festival in 2010, shEver really impressed the crowds, and they have just released another full-length, “Rituals,” on the Jerusalem-based Total Rust label. This naturally means, of course, that Sarah and her bandmates – now with Chris Perez on bass – are back in the recording studio again.
Full Name: Sarah Sutter
Currently Lives In: Basel, Switzerland
Current Projects: shEver
Favorite Foods: Thai curry, potatoes in all variations, and chili
Tom Tom Magazine: You have just been in the studio for a few days recording your split LP, “Path of Death.” Do you have any tips for recording?
Sarah Sutter: Look for appropriate drumheads that are not too old. It is important to tune the drums, as I saw in the studio some days ago. It was the first time I used a drum dial tuner, the “Tension Watch TW 100” from Tama. Our sound engineer, Serge, came up with the suggestion. It was new to me, ‘cause before I used to tune the drums “handmade” (by ear). For recordings, I normally use a click and during the rehearsals I use the click as well so that I’m fit for the recording. Furthermore, I have to make sure that I’m alert, fit, and concentrated. Good energy for harmony and good food are also important for me. My arms and legs, I rub with Tiger Balm before our sessions. This gives you “perfect-play” feelings and supports your drumming.
Playing the blackened, doomy, trance-like metal that you do, how do you work on your speed & control?
I search my centre, concentrate, get in the flow, and use the click.
You seem to draw from a lot of different music to help you create the dark, huge, and heavy overall feeling of shEver. What kind of stuff do you listen to?
My influences are Black Sabbath and King Crimson. Actually, I listen to Genesis, the Beatles, Swans, Black Rainbows, Lord of the Grave, OM, and High On Fire. The music that moves me must be authentic, emotional, heavy, dirty, and psychedelic.
When did you start playing drums? Do you play other instruments as well?
I started when I was eight years old and had about three years of lessons. When I was 12 years old, my first band formed in school. We were called “Santos“ and covered “La Bamba,” “Twist Again,” and “Wind of Change.” I am trying to learn to play didgeridoo. Sometimes I play the guitar and soon I will play a hang [drum].
You said that you work as a nurse. How do you balance work and metal? Do the people you care for have any idea about the kind of heavy music you play?
I will reduce my work schedule to find a balance between work and music/metal soon. Eh no, the people I care for don’t have any idea of the music I play or listen to. But if they ask me by chance in a chat, sure, I tell them about it. Also, some of my working-team knows.
Was joining a band of all women (until recently) a choice?
It was irrelevant for me whether shEver were all-female or not. But sure, it was very attractive for me. I heard and saw shEver with their first drummer, Melanie, and was impressed by this band. Then, many months later, I gave a look on the shEver website to see where they were playing next and I noticed that they were looking for a new drummer. “Et voilà,” here I am.
Do you find that there is a difference playing with or being in a band with women vs. with men (especially a metal band)? Now that Chris has joined the band, is anything different?
I think there exist differences in the way how all-female, all-male, and mixed groups work together. You can recognize an individual approach with the strength and the weakness of each gender. But this process happens subconsciously. I, for one, prefer mixed groups but a pure female circle has its charm and it’s worth it to experience that. Finally, it depends on each person. The interpersonal relationship and the musical goals have to fit, no matter if it is a man or woman. I’m really glad that Chris joined the band full-time and not just to help out for the recording of the split-LP. He’s just a good guy for our band and I hope that we’ll spend a very long time together. (US TOO.)
By Caryn Havlik for Tom Tom Magazine
Photos by Thomas Lang