Sir! No Sir!

An Interview with Sir! NoSir! band members Nate Onsrud and Anthony Leskinen
by Larry Bush
October 2013

Sir! NoSir! is a Madison trio with a message, and Nate Onsrud, Anthony Leskinen, and Jeramaya Wunderlin certainly know how to get their point across. In a time of immense social and political unrest in America, the band has raided local airwaves with a raucous and socially conscious crash course in rock and roll excellence. On their new 5 song teaser “Combating The Carnival”, the group has mixed a sonic brew that encapsulates both the rock and roll acumen of early 70’s British metal and the aggression of the hardcore punk rock of the past quarter century. Fresh off the release of the EP, guitarist Nate Onsrud and drummer Anthony Leskinen were kind enough to share some words with Max Ink on their music, their message, and what the future holds for Sir! NoSir!

Maximum Ink: You guys have all played in multiple bands around Madison over the years. How did SNS come together?
Nate Onsrud:
I worked with Joel Croyle, who was the original drummer. He and I talked about getting together and just jamming. I was kind of a beginning electric guitarist. Joel had played in previous bands with J and asked him to join us. We weren’t planning on being a band, but the more we played together, things began to form, and we just started writing songs. Picked up Tony, and you couldn’t ask for a better drummer.

MI: You’ve just wrapped up your debut EP with this lineup, ‘Combating the Carnival’. What are your early impressions?  Did you accomplish the sound you were searching for?  (where can the people get it, Johnny?)
Yeah, definitely. Early impressions are good. Getting really good feedback so far. I think it’s a beast of an EP. It’s everything we’ve written with Tony so far, nothing from the prior lineup, which we set out to do.
Anthony Leskinen: Well, I think it turned out very good, considering we recorded, mixed, mastered, and printed it in 3 and a half months. We didn’t spend a lot on the recording process, but we were ready to get these tunes out as clean as possible. I’d like it to be a little less conventional, recording-wise, but we really didn’t have the financial resources.

MI: How was the recording process for you guys?  How is the writing divided amongst the band?
We tracked and mixed at Detune Audio, which is Dustin Boyle’s outfit. We tracked everything in one day. We got there at 11am, and I finished tracking guitar at 2am. As far as writing, everybody has input. Usually I or J will bring an initial idea to the table, and we’ll just fill it out during rehearsals. We give each other creative leeway.
AL: The recording process was quick and painless and really a sunday afternoon project over the span of a couple months. Very quick. As far as writing, Nate brings songs closer to finished, where Jeramaya brings several riffs and he and I have worked out songs like, “Cobra Verde” and “Daughters of Dissension” prior to presenting it to Nate. We really then work and rework it as a band. We all write lyrics, Nate has a few, I have a few, and J wrote Daughters’ lyrics, which are really my favorite on the EP.

MI: Where do you guys draw inspiration from, in a creative sense?
From the gut.

MI: What’s the master plan for SNS?  Do you guys hope to attain reach, regionally and beyond?
As far as it will take us. We’re all working men with constraints. It’d be nice to play around, regionally.
AL: As far as regional exposure, that would be great, but I think we are in a larva or pupa stage with things just starting to blossom. We need to keep doing what we are doing for that to happen.

MI: You’ve described yourselves are ‘socially charged’ rock. Why have you chosen to lean in a more socially-conscious direction?  Do you hope to accomplish anything in particular with your lyrics?
I don’t think I have an agenda for my lyrics. I don’t like to write about chicks and hot rods. The sex, drugs and rock and roll thing doesn’t do it for me. I like to write about things that have meaning for me.

MI: The country seems to be boiling with political unrest, currently. Any words on current or past administrations?  What do you think America needs to do to get moving in a more positive direction?  Do you still have faith in the democratic process?
I don’t want to fucking comment on that…. I don’t have faith in the two party system…. You don’t want to print this, but I’m probably a Socialist!  (laughter)
AL: Nate’s pretty outspoken, politically, and ‘Intolerant of Intolerance’ (from “Combating The Carnival”) would be a good example of where we stand, politically. Jeremaya is also political in the sense [that] he has a strong sense of what’s right, and his support for Snowden was a topic of discussion for possible album titles. I do still have restrained faith in the political system, however I do not have faith in the Tea Party and the religious right and that’s as far as I am willing to go on that subject.

MI: Who’s your ideal candidate in 2016?
Hillary for 2016. I think it’s time for her, and I ‘d like to see Bill become the first lady. (laughter)

MI: What’s in the near future for SNS?  What’s next?
SIR! NO SIR!‘s future is up to us. If we just keep doing what we’re doing, people will notice the effort, thought, and heartfelt expression we use to get our point across.
NO: Sex, drugs, and rock and roll!  (laughter)

Sir! NoSir!’s EP “Combating The Carnival” can be found at B-Side Records, Mad City Music exchange, and is available for download online.

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