Interview by Dylan Gonzalez
Chicago is a town that is comfortable with its own brand. The city boasts impressive takes on the norms that every major city has. Architecture, food, night life, and, of course, music. Chicago is home to several big names from the metal scene, including major players like Disturbed and Ministry and more recent stalwarts like Russian Circles and Pelican. Amidst all of these, Sin MG (originally formed under the banner of Sin the Moon God) formed in 1998 and performed heavily into the early 2000s before taking a breather until 2017.
I chatted with frontman Scott Sinclaire a bit to discuss how the band got back together, choosing the right song to cover, and how Chicago-style pizza really ranks up against New York-style.
Sin MG just recently got back together after a bit of a hiatus. What brought you guys back together and what is different from when you started out the band?
What got us back together really was that we were sitting on a pile of songs that we felt pretty good about. We went through the time, but to understand what brought us back, you have to understand what brought us apart. Back in the early 2000s, life started happening. A couple of us got married, jobs. One of the guys I wrote most of the songs with, Keith, took a trip over to Japan to reconnect with his family and there you have it, hiatus.
After a while of writing music in our home studios and collaborating over the internet, the day came when I was having a cigar and a bourbon with a friend of mine who was a bass player and I said to him, “I’d really love to get the band back together. I think I got more in me and I would love to play some shows. I miss it.” And he just simply said, “Let’s do it!”
With that, we started looking for guitar players and drummers. The lineup that is Sin MG today is different than the lineup from the early 2000s.
Did anyone in the original lineup step forward or did you try to reach out to them?
Nobody did. One of my [original] guys is in San Francisco. Tragically, our drummer was in a bad accident and he is a parapalegic. The guitar player is in some other project somewhere else, so I am not really sure.
With the background on how you came back together, what started you guys off and furthermore, what is the origin of the original band name?
The origin is that it came from Sin the Moon God. That’s what the MG originally stood for. Today it stands for whatever we feel at the time. When somebody asks what MG stands for, we usually make something up.
But my last name is Sinclaire and I’m the original founder of the band. So I was looking in an encyclopedia one time, that’s how long ago the name came up. I was looking for stuff around my last name and I saw Sin the Moon Good, and I thought that was kind of cool. This was back when band names were a little long and that’s where that came from.
As the vocalist and writer, where do you draw your influences from in terms of singing and lyrics?
I took lessons from a couple local, awesome vocal teachers back in the late 90s. I was always really focused on finding myself as a musician, as a vocalist. Thankfully, I was always steered away from trying to be like someone else. I obviously have musical influences. I have bands that I like, then and now, but I am really focused on being the best me and not necessarily sounding like somebody else.
I know that really wasn’t what your question was. When I was younger, I liked some 80s metal. In and through the 90s, I liked a lot of the heavier alternative bands.
Soundgarden, Alice in Chains.
Love Alice in Chains. In the 2000s… there’s a lot of negativity towards music [then]. If you talk to people, it’s almost like they wish the 80s or the 90s would come back. But I found that in the last couple decades, we have more amazing music than ever before, in that hard rock/alternative metal/metal genre. There’s so much versatility and so much amazing music. I love the band, Red. I like Breaking Benjamin, Korn. I and the guys in the band get a lot of musical influences from all over the last 40 years. (laughs)
Musically, I even heard some early 2000s-era Iron Maiden riffage going on, where it sounds very classic but also modernized and polished up a little. Is there a certain sound the rest of the band is aiming for?
Yeah, formula-wise, big, heavy groove guitar. Bass and kick drum up in the mix. Music that moves you. The groove oriented music is huge. On the other side, lyrics that mean something. That all keeps us pretty happy.
In addition to your original material, you’ve done a lot of covers. And one that really grabbed me was your cover of “Zombie” by The Cranberries. That’s an original pick for a cover, especially for a metal band. Can you talk about where the idea to cover that song came from? Were you fans of The Cranberries?
Fans of that song for sure. Always have been. Our band, from the early days, we had a little goth twist on it and one of our first songs that [helped] define the band was called “Vampire.” I wouldn’t say we are goth now. We aren’t writing anything goth. But there is a darkness to what we do.
So it always intrigued me, that song “Zombie” and what you could do with it. I liked the idea of covering a female vocalist. That was one where I felt my voice could make that happen, not lose any of the power of the song, but we could amp it with some more guitars and make it more driving.
You guys have done a few other covers over the years, like “Head Like A Hole” by Nine Inch Nails and “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Stones. Is that something you like to bring into your acts and just throw your own takes on this classic songs?
We’re always looking for that awesome song that hasn’t been remade before. This is something relatively new for us. Back when we first put the band together, I was absolutely against doing [any] covers at all. We were playing the circuit in Chicago when Disturbed was playing, Soil, a lot of these bigger bands that had covers in their repertoire. And we refused to do it.
I think that was a mistake based on the Chicago market. This time around, we’ll add some covers in, but we’ll do them our own way. We’re not going to be an MP3 player for other bands. We want to put our own spin on it and have some fun with it.
Do you have future plans to record more albums?
Yeah, we have all the material for our third album right now. We met with a studio a couple weeks ago. We are just kind of putting everything together on the financial and management side of things to get in the studio and start recording tracks.
We’re in the studio right now, it’s in my house. We might do it here too. We’re just trying to figure out what makes the most sense between the financial aspect of it and getting the best quality we can get.
That’s pretty cool that you have a home studio. Is this where you go when you need your alone time and focus on what you love?
Oh hell yeah. I’ve got it set up so that I can come down here and within minutes, I can get an idea recorded. It’s kind of nice when you write to be able to capture something as close to the idea in your head.
Do you have any shows planned up?
October 19th at Brauerhouse in Lombard. We’ve got a show for Porktober Rockfest. There are five bands and we are the fourth. We are opening for Psychostick. We are looking forward to that.
That’s great. I’ve been out to Chicago a few times and seems like a great town for live music. There’s an appreciation for heavy metal between all the record shops and places like Kuma’s.
I ate there today! (laughs)
Kuma’s is awesome. But what makes the Chicago area stand out for you?
It’s a very dynamic music scene. You have some real light, almost folky music going on in a lot of places downtown. And then across the street, super heavy, growling metal. What’s funny about Sin MG is that we find ourselves closer to the heavier metal type stuff, but we’re not ultra metal. We are more of a hard rock, alternative type of metal. So we find ourselves in an interesting spot because there’s not a lot of bands out there doing what we do anymore. I’d say there is a good six to eight that we are pretty friendly with and do some shows with.
Unfortunately, there is a huge scene for cover bands. You got some guys doing those tribute bands like Guns N’ Roses tribute band and they might make three or four grand a night and draw a few hundred people.
But that doesn’t mean the original scene is dead by any stretch. We just have to do a lot more work. I think people appreciate the original scene more, but they need reasons to go see you. If you’re just standing up there, inanimate, singing songs that they’ve never heard before, that’s not a reason to pay ten bucks to go see a band. You have to have something, some kind of schtick without being cheesy.
Since you’re from Chicago, what’s your opinion on pizza from the rest of the country?
I think it is ridiculously unfair to compare New York pizza to Chicago deep dish because deep dish is completely different from New York [-style], number one. And number two it is not, I repeat, it is not what Chicagoans eat every week. We eat thin crust.
Yeah. The reason it’s called tavern-style is that it got its name years ago. The bars used to make a thin crust pizza, cut them into squares, and serve them at the bar like peanuts. When we order a pizza, it’s a sausage pizza, super thin crust, got a nice cheese on it, and the only difference between that and a New York-style, other than it tastes a million times better, it’s cut into squares, not triangles.
I’m an East Coast guy, but I like both. They both have their equal merits.
I do agree. They’re not the same. When I go to New York, I enjoy eating New York pizza. And don’t tell anyone, but once in a while, I even enjoy some Sbarro.
I’m not above dipping into Sbarro every now and again.
If you’re in Chicago, contact me and we’ll get you some good pizza that you can’t have anywhere else. The other thing about Chicago is if you go to the big name pizza joints, that’s not where it’s at. You gotta go to the local town pizza joint where the oven and pans are a bit dirty. (laughs)
My perspective is unfortunately based on just the big names. But I am a fan of the Chicago hot dog.
Oh yeah, and you have to eat it right. No ketchup.