Interview mit Samiam



Interview with Sergie - Gitarrist

What exactly happened to James (Guitar)? How is your relationship to him today and what is he doing?

Well, he quit maybe half a year before we broke up in 2000. At that point him and the other guys, they weren’t friends that much anymore except for me and James, we are totally close friends. We talk all the time and stuff. Now it’s really weird because I’m totally good friends with James and everytime I go to San Francisco to practice or sth… you know I call him and I hang out with him and I kind of have to do it secretly. When I’m with the guys, I don’t tell, I mean they know of course, but I don’t talk about it. And when I’m with James I obviously don’t talk about SAMIAM because I don’t want him to feel bumped or anything.

I don’t say things like “hey we are going to Germany in two weeks” because I don’t want him to be sad about it. But he basically quit because he wasn’t exactly coming along with the guys, especially Jason the singer and also, we have been a band for so many years. He wanted to be more with his girlfriend and stuff and work and make more stable money. And he is a little bit older than us, so… He was kind of over it.

Before SAMIAM he was in another band and he was touring Europe and America for like ten years before SAMIAM was started. So he had enough of it. Now he is kind of like a social worker. He works an organisation that helps families where the men of the households are in jail. If the kids wanna go to college, he helps them with the applications and if the family needs sth like financial aid, he helped them to get in touch with the right agencies. That’s really cool. That’s kind of the guy he is. He really is like a caring person. I really like him, he is one of my oldest friends.

What made you choose Jeremy as new bass player? And why did Sean swap instruments?

When we decided to make the new record last year, that’s one of the first things we talked about, that we wanted to have two guitar players because that’s what SAMIAM is about. One of the things that people like about us. Two guitar melodies going on at the same time. And Sean, he is a guitar player. He just joined the band to play bass because he is good enough to just pick up the bass and play. But he always wanted to play guitar. In fact we did a European tour in 2002 when Sean played the guitar. I don’t know if a lot of people remember because it’s so long ago.

You said before, that the songs you’ve written during the last years could have been used for SOLEA as well as for SAMIAM. I can’t believe that you don’t see any differences in the significance of SAMIAM and it’s value to your loyal fans. Is there really no difference for you?

The bands are really completely different. If the song is good, it could be played by any band. It could be played by BAD RELIGION or it could be played by a funk band or whatever…

But not every song would fit to every band…

Solea is more like a melodic band but it’s similar enough, so that a lot of songs could go for both. There is mellow songs at SAMIAM as well as faster songs. If you mean if I put more importance into the songs for SAMIAM, I would have to say no, because in the last five years I put my whole attitude, my whole heart into SOLEA. Despite the fact that other people might not care for it or like it as much doesn’t change how I feel about it. One of the things about me, I mean, I don’t want to sound cheesy or anything, but I take the Songwriting very seriously and stuff. But I don’t take the actually band or the career very seriously because in life there is a lot more than just bands and music and stuff. I’m really proud of what I’ve reached with SAMIAM and I take it really close and it is a fortunate circumstance that a lot of people like it. But compared to other things in life, like people, it’s not that important. When I started SOLEA it was just as important to me as SAMIAM, I wanted it to be just as good. I put just as much effort into the songs as if they were for SAMIAM. A lot of people thought Solea was just a side project to kill my time until SAMIAM is back, but it’s not. And now I have two records coming out around the same time and they are both equally important to me. Even though if we would play a show tomorrow in Berlin with Solea it would only be 150 people and if SAMIAM would play it would be like 800. But that doesn’t mean that it’s more important to me.

Let’s talk about the album. First I wanna ask, what about the artwork. Does it mean anything to you? Because I think it’s kind of weird, it’s not that pretty to be honest. Who did it and what is it about?

I did it.

Oh no, sorry then. [laughs]

It’s all right [laughs]

For me it’s like the whole concept of the album, like the title. It’s about excites and depression, its just like “Whatever´s Got You Down”. But I guess everyone gets something different out of it. And some people, just like you, might even think its not very pretty…

Again, I’m sorry about that, I didn’t know…

Don’t be sorry, you were just honest and that’s a good thing.

Ok than, change of topic… Did a lot of labels approach you to make this new record?

No, we just used the same label as before. We could have tried to find a different label and get more money, but that was never a topic of conversation. Roadrunner waited for us a long time and we were welcome to do another record, but we weren’t pushed during these six years.

How did you experience the change of the music scene during your hiatus?

Oh, I would say it’s different. And that’s one of the reasons why we didn’t want our record to sound so clean and pretty, because right now there is just so many bands that are kind of like boy bands. And they play something that is still vaguely called punk rock. And they are not so much different than Nsync or Backstreet Boys, but they have loud guitars and they have a guy that screams sometimes and sings sometimes, you know, and we sort of wanted to distance us from that. I don’t want to name bands, cause that would make me sound like an asshole but…

That was actually my next questions, your opinion on all these young bands, who wear fancy outfits, make-up and become really big with their first record?

Yeah, you now, it’s just not for me. The bands are so commercial minded and so concerned with image and selling records… I don’t know, it’s kind of a bummer for me to think that punk rock doesn’t exist so much in the same way that it used to. It’s much rarer to find a band that does it just for the music than to find one that does it to be on MTV or for the money.

So you are saying that the songs have a higher quality if the band doesn’t write it for the money?

Not necessarily, I’m not saying that these bands don’t have good songs, and stuff and that they don’t play well, because they actually do play very well. It’s just that their attitude is so foreign to me. It’s just weird. In the last eight or ten years there are so many more band who get to be rock stars and stuff. And that changes their attitude and how they sound and what they look like and for me that’s a little bit kind of a bummer, you know.

With BOYSETSFIRE and HOT WATER MUSIC breaking up, 2 really important bands (which started several years after you) leave the scene. What does it mean to you if such bands break up?

Well, HWM broke up but now there is The Draft. So, they sort of changed more than broke up, I guess. But, yeah, it’s just the natural curse of things. Things just never stay the same and stuff. Those where good bands and they did a lot and they’ve touched a lot of people so… Things just can’t last forever. There is always gonna be new bands that you can get into and stuff, and even if people are really sad that Boysetsfire or Snapcase or whatever broke up, these people will find other things to get into and they always have their cd’s to listen to.

You are also going to tour Europe with HWM successor THE DRAFT as well as play some bigger shows with BILLY TALENT, KAISER CHIEFS, THE SUBWAYS and THE SOUNDS. SAMIAM – THE DRAFT is a perfect match but how do you fit in the other group?

Yeah, you are right. Well, I’ve never really listened to Billy Talent but the other bands you mentioned, the sounds are really different. But the three or four shows that we are gonna play with Billy Talent, it’s gonna be big shows and we will probably play to an audience where people don’t know us… I mean there will be some who know us but it’s just different. You know, it will be a lot different, if we play Hamburg or Cologne or Berlin, you know, there a packed clubs where everyone knows our songs and here, there will be around two thousand and maybe a hundred know who we are. I’m sure it will be a little bit weird, but we are completely used to that. We struggled for years and years playing in front of audiences that didn’t care who we are, so it’s nothing new.

Did you make the decision to keep SAMIAM as a hobby, or did you simply never got the opportunity to make a living out of it?

In the mitt-nineties, ‘94 to like ’98 or something like that, everyone in the band, except for me lived of the band. For years, you know, and we made pretty much good money from this. But my work, I’m into design and that’s really important to me so I work the whole time. We go on tour for like six month, seven month and like tree days later I’d be working. Only because I wanted to, you know. So, I never made he decision because I never stopped working. The first time we toured was like three weeks after I graduated from college and when I got back from the four month tour I got a job right away and from that point I never really stopped working. You know, if I don’t work on a record or if I’m not on a tour, SAMIAM basically doesn’t exist. I’m just like a normal person. I’m then not even thinking about being in a band, so. The people I work with don’t know, they don’t know anything about it. I try to hide it as much as possible. And when they find out they don’t even care. They’re like ‘Ha? Oh, ok, well, I’ve never heard of it…’

The funny thing is, you know, I work at this magazine and a girl that sometimes freelances here is from Düsseldorf, she lives in LA but she was happened to be back in Düsseldorf when SAMIAM played in Cologne, so she came to our show. And there was about thousand people and everyone was singing along and was jumping around and stuff, like they do when we play. And I saw her before the show and she had that puzzled look on her face like: ‘What are all these people doing here? Are they here for the other bands or something, the German opener, well, they must be! Of course… They are definitely not here for Sergie’s band, they can’t be…’. And then we played and everyone freaked out and then I saw her after the show and she had the most confused look on her face. And she was like: ‘How do these people know about your silly little band? I don’t understand!’ SO that was kind of funny.

Are SAMIAM hungry for more or is “Whatever´s Got You Down” something like a goodbye present?

Oh no, it’s not a goodbye present. You now, with the band it’s like with everything. You know, I could ask you what you are gonna do next year and you could say, ‘I think I might be doing this’, but it could all change and stuff. You know, we’ll just work together and as long as its fun its fun and as long as people care about it, we’ll do this for years to come! The thing about us now is that there is no pressure to do anything and there is no pressure not to do anything.

Despite the fact that SAMIAM have inspired a lot of people and a lot of bands they were always considered being underground. Do you want to change this now?

No, I don’t want to change it. I’m not concerned with the success of the band. I wanna make sure that it stays that way. We don’t have a manager or anything and I don’t want one and as long as we can do it on ourselves than I’m glad that I can do it. And I don’t want to go back to touring for like six or seven month of the year. I want to have a normal life also, you know! I just want to keep this as fun as possible, and as long if it’s fun I could even be this old man with his crutches on stage, playing his stupid songs, you know [laughs].

OK Sergie, that’s it from here. Thank you so much for doing the interview with us. Enjoy your tour through Germany!

Oh, my pleasure! Thank you for wanting it.