An interview with SAND lead singer, Michael Alexander
by Mike Huberty
December 2012

Michael Alexander of Sand

Michael Alexander of Sand

Originally founded by vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Michael Alexander, and drummer, Paul Zander, Madison’s SAND has been kicking around in various forms since 2003. With a regular regional touring schedule and a consistent sound that’s a solid mix of the theatrics of arena rock, driving modern guitars, and the earnestness of the best of country music, they’ve solidified their lineup with bassist Wade Radtke and new guitarist Dain Di Mattia, and have become a fixture of the scene over the past decade. Their latest EP was released this year on Halloween. Entitled “Load Your Guns”, it’s three songs recorded and engineered by Jeff Tomei, whose resume includes everyone from MATCHBOX TWENTY to SMASHING PUMPKINS to JERRY CANTRELL.

Alexander plays the part of the rocker to perfection, from the sunglasses on stage to his open shirts, beard and long hair, he is exactly the character you envision when you hear the music. Even visually you can see their biggest influences. “As big of shitheads as Guns n’ Roses are”, Alexander says, “Guns n’ Roses and Kid Rock. A little bit of country, a little bit of blues. Kings of Leon is a huge influence. We have a newer Southern Rock sound. But then when we bring the thunder it’s like Metallica, but it’s never that heavy. If it was up to Wade, we’d do Pantera and Metallica all day long. I’m more Southern Rock and Country, Wade’s more heavy and together, it comes up with a good rock that’s melodic, yet danceable and driven.” He’s clear about the kind of music he envisions for SAND as well, “The model I was once told was that if you can take the songwriting of Bob Dylan and the rock n’ roll feel of The Rolling Stones, then you can create one of the most powerful products in the world. That’s essentially what I want to do, to create great rock n’ roll but great songs.I want to be able to move you. When you go home and had too much to drink, that you can pop in that CD and really delve into it. That there’s substance and not just bubble gum and soda pop.”

Local radio station program director, Randy Hawke, had been a SAND fan for several years and decided to forward some of their tracks to one of his friends, JACKYL’s own chainsaw-wielding lumberjack Southern wildman, Jesse James Dupree. Dupree heard promise in the songs and offered them access to his private Georgia studio to record their EP. And it was the location of that studio that inspired the EP’s name. “Kennesaw, Georgia is one of the only places in the Union where you are actually by law as head of household required to carry a firearm.”, Alexander says. “And the first track, ‘Jesse James’, the opening line is ‘Load your guns.’ And for us, we feel like, even though this is our third release, this is our first actual attempt to really up our profile in music… We have a great product, Dain Di Mattia is the guitar player I’ve been looking for my whole career.”

For new listeners, Alexander says that the first track on the EP can give people a great taste of what SAND is all about. “‘Green Eyes’ is the single. It’s been getting some radio attention. It’s a song about when you’re in love and in a relationship, it can be the most horrible life-changing thing when you break up, but at the end of the day there’s a lyric that says ‘She was just another girl that I knew, she was everything to me and I don’t know what I’ll do.’ She was just another scar, another mark, another personal moment that makes and creates who you are.” “But,” he continues, “anything on the new EP, I stand behind… I feel like the biggest asset is Dane’s amazing melodic lines with my lyrics and my voice. You get so much more substance than when you just come to a show and you hear all the noise. But SAND is a band that can stand on their own two legs with just acoustic guitar and vocals, and that’s the thing that I’m most proud of.”

Southern Wisconsin area music fans will be able to hear SAND at Legends on December 14th and Marley’s in the Dells on the 21st. As Alexander describes the show, “It’s high-energy, but it’s contained like a freight train that’s just about to come off the rails.”

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CD: Load Your Guns Record Label: Self-released