Q&A – Erica Stoltz of Sanhedrin

Hey, remember a couple of months ago when I did a rundown of the output by the band Lost Goat? Well since then I’ve had some online back and forth with the band’s singer Erica Stoltz, who plays bass and sings in Sanhedrin. The band has released its second album, The Poisoner, and just finished a tour through Europe. Erica took some time to answer a few questions about the band and the Lost Goat adventures in the bay area for me via email (there has been some light editing for punctuation).

Tell me about Sanhedrin – what drew you to Sanhedrin as a musical project to follow up Dirty Excuse? Was it an opportunity to join where the other members were like “Erica will round this out,” or was it anything like “it’s time to do something power-metal-ish?”

I have always left a big place in my life for music, I guess you call that a lifestyle? I was contemplating a career transition after 12 years of being a full-time stagehand and audio tech I was ready to play in a working band again. I remember saying to myself, “I need to play with people who are hungry to rock.” Nate was on the same crew and we knew each others musical interests. He invited me to play with him and Jeremy (they had a band together prior to this). I didn’t feel the need to make it traditional metal but with my voice and Their songwriting that is what we ended up basing our sound around.

What’s been your favorite part of being a musician? Writing? Recording? Touring?

I like writing best, its like creating a non verbal language. Recording can be tedious work. I do love to travel, but touring can be work.

(It looks like you moved into a career in music production – how did that turn into a teaching gig?)

Yeah, I am currently an adjunct professor at City University of NY City Tech Campus teaching entertainment technology, stage craft with an emphasis on live sound. I also teach High School, sound and light design and tech for their productions.I had been an audio tech for many years. i got tired of the sexism I encountered on the job. I decided to teach in hopes of having more diversity in the workforce.

The self-description of the band on the bandcamp page is “familiar but not derivative” – what about being a New Yorker mixes up the classic metal tone in the band’s music?

Pizza and bagels??? thrash metal?

The few tracks available so far on The Poisoner, has galloping Iron Maiden-ish rocker beats with hints of black metal moments. It has the elements of all this classic metal but then there’s that moody feel I’m familiar with from your previous bands, especially in the title track. What goes into the writing of something that is “familiar” where you realize you can open up the song to experimentation outside of the musical themes you started working with? (The violin part is amazing, btw)

Sometimes you get lightning in bottle, you get lucky. Jeremy presented chord progressions that unfolded into the arrangement. It was stark with lots of room for melody. The vocals practically wrote themselves and Kris’s participation on violin was an idea I got stuck on early in the writing process.

Is that the most loaded run on question you’ve gotten? 

Pretty loaded but I was ready;)

I’m a fan of the Lost Goat so some Lost Goat questions, starting with: what was it about The Mission scene that Lost Goat was able to come about and thrive?

It was rooted in mutual aid. Bands helped each other, people helped each other. The music was diverse but it was all part of the same network of mutual aid.

I obviously have my favorites, since I wrote a whole blog post about the music, but what was your favorite part of LG musically, and from the band?

I loved the camaraderie. We were kids feeling everything out together. Our first iteration had a clarinet in the line up for crying out load!!!! I was a moody pain in the ass, They still loved me through it all.

Is there a diversity in NYC that allows you to pick and choose projects, or find like minded musicians, for the bands you’ve been in (Dirty Excuse, Sanhedrin – they’re pretty different!)?

I still don’t feel like I understand the scene out here. When I moved back in 2003 I went right into stagework, and theater, not rock and roll (big difference in work culture) I didn’t meet a lot of musicians besides the ones I worked with and my homies in DX who I met through Lost Goat. I’ve met more music people in the last 2 years than I did in the decade before.

What’s true about making music today that was the same when you were in Lost Goat? What’s easier, what’s harder?

The internet is here. It makes everything easier. Sanhedrin has benefitted greatly from the power of the internet. I want to put a bandcamp up for Lost Goat. I gotta talk to E and T about it.

I could  keep you here all day talking about how much I love Lost Goat, but that’s also why I try to keep up with former LG members’ current projects. Let the past die, as Kylo Ren says. Anything you wanna add to the blog readers about Sanhedrin or anything else?

Frisco is Eric’s new band and they rock. Ironically the band name is Tina Gordon’s least favorite way to refer to San Francisco. Luckily she doesn’t have to be in the band.

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