August 26, 2016
All photos copyright 2016 Daniel Coston
August 29, 2016
Tangents Magazine: New album. Tell us about it.
Will Huntley: We laid down most of the tracks, at Echo Mountain, while I was living in Asheville a couple years ago. Killer studio, nice folks. Shortly thereafter, I think everyone in the band had life changing events. We all either changed jobs or took a promotion of some kind, I had kids, Joe [Huntley] married, C.R. [Rollyson] married, several of us moved, just a lot of change. We laid down a lot more tracks than are on this album, but the 8 that are, seemed to fit well, and we started to realize they needed their own album, and it told this story of change, so it felt right. Once we were able to illuminate a bit, I was back in Charlotte, we reconvened at Charles Holloman Producations (CHP), spent more time on vocals, everyone had their punch list, mixed it with Charles, and with tons of small sessions, got it all together. Sometimes just shooting the shit, probably more talking than working, but it's tough to have those conversations at a restaurant or home with distractions and all. It was also our first foray into doing it all on our own, for real indie style. Man, there are so many tools out there now for DIY musicians, it's great to have options, but again, it all takes time. Anyway, like our other two albums, this one too is different, and so it goes.
Tangents: Where have you guys been since the last record?
Huntley: I guess I kind of jumped the gun above, but busy no doubt. Swimming in the river of life. Enjoying ourselves a bit, spending weekends at home instead of traveling playing bars and clubs. It's like we kicked up so much dust, we had to stop and let it all settle before we could see where the hell to go.
Tangents: How was the recording process for this record different than the previous albums?
Huntley: Each album has been recorded somewhere different, and with different guys behind the board, not by design though. We were in the church side of Echo Mountain, and that was calming, I don’t think we ever did more than 3 takes. They had all of the awesome Moog products that most of us cannot afford (my wife would have a heart attack if I bought a 4K keyboard, but I will one day). Moog products (and company structure) should be put on pedestals, I really believe in them, and I support the Bob Moog Foundation when I can. So, you can hear the nice analog synth. In between the songs is primarily a microKorg though, recorded at C.R.’s house and properly blended at CHP. Process wise, we had our ducks in a row prior to setting foot inside Echo, so there was no songwriting happening on those recording dollars. Whereas the Stones had the liberty to take ideas to the studio, and work them there, which can be magical as well. Drum and bass record well together, but this time we did rhythm guitar and drums as a backbone. On some songs we added bass lines after the fact. Some we tracked all at once.
Tangents: How has your sound changed since the first album?
Huntley: Good Lord, we were all full of piss and vinegar back then. Young, dumb, reckless, like good boys. We were out to make money playing music, trying to be famous, and we had the work ethic, I just think we lost the vision at times. Times in a band have certain windows, too. But, you have to grow, and we have. It's funny, I was talking to Benji [Hughes] one night about the subject, debating if some songs had a place, all of that, and he said something along the lines of, “Man, it's a point in time you capture, and that's OK, that's where you were then, and you can be somewhere else now, but they all have a place, and it's OK for an album to stray." The Sammies have always been hard to pin down. People always ask, what do you sound like, who do you sound like, and that's a hard question for me to answer well.
Tangents: What’s your favorite songs on this new album?
Huntley: “Secretariat", "Harlem Dreams", A lot. Musicians are not the best judge though, because a lot of times you get the songs they enjoy playing on what instrument they hold down. Again, Stones reference, Brian Jones would play the Pink Panther or something like that when they played “Satisfaction". He hated that song, and most of us would call him crazy, most of us do/did.
Tangents: What are your touring plans for this new album?
Huntley: We'll show up anywhere we are wanted, and money is not the object. I'd love to hit the road so to speak, but we also know that is easier said than done. We will probably hit weekends real hard, do as much of the East Coast as we can. I'm also a fan of alternative venues. I don’t know why bands have to play in bars primarily? I understand the alcohol sales supplement it all, but, I'm not the only guy/girl who intends to go see a band, but they don't play until late, about 9-10pm rolls around, and plans change. Whereas earlier in the day, I was itching to go do something!
Tangents: Favorite shows in Sammies history. Discuss.
Huntley: The toga party first CD release show, I mean, a fair amount of folks wore togas! It was a good time in the band, we were on point, well-practiced, feeling like the sky was the limit.SXSW the first time, 2005 or 2006? The festival was not as corporate, Austin is a great town, we bounced around on fire. But every damn place we played was upstairs, so lugging that equipment each time got old quick, but all worth it. C.R. was playing in The Talk at the time, and we scooped him out of the bushes. Tyler was still with us and he hit the floor at some club way in advance of Brain Jonestown Massacre played, he proposed to a bartender, we stayed in a college apartment in exchange for playing their clubhouse one night, I met the guitarist from Talking Heads in the back of some Mexican restaurant, wild overall.
CMJ, can't recall exact year. It all happened in a NY minute, and it helped me understand that term. The show was awesome, there is a YouTube video somewhere, Josh threw his beer at the end of Trainwreck, into a light, it exploded, nobody cared, they wanted us to come back. It was fashion week too, so we got into some parties, some clubs, blazing at a Tommy Hilfiger warehouse somewhere, needed a cab to go to another party, a limo pulls up and says $5 a head, we pull up to the place, the cast of Entourage is coming out, we say, you can take our limo. We get in the elevator, some dude is like, who are they? My buddy said, man that's the damn Sammies, and up we went. Doors open to a penthouse, Chris Tucker is dancing to Michael Jackson, we are on top of this building, looking over the city, all they had left was straight vodka, so we poured that in a martini glass and took it all in.
Tangents: You play barefoot onstage. How did that come about?
Huntley: Not all of the time, but cords would get stuck on my shoes, I'd be kicking at them, trying to play, and eventually would just kick off my shoes. When I wised up, I just started taking them off prior. It also allows a nice feel if you get too close to the edge of the stage, you can land jumps better, kind of grounding I guess. I'm not a true hippie though, I prefer shoes most other times.
Tangents: What would you all say to the versions of yourself that recorded that first Sammies album?
Huntley: Dude, don’t be so nervous, you've got this, and you can sing, don't let others dictate how, you already know how. Don’t try more than 3 times at a song without moving on, you can come back.
Tangents: Finish this sentence. Things that go well with Rock & Roll are…..
Huntley: Cold beer, cigarettes, good times, good company, and that High Fidelity moment of remembering what song played when something else happened you deem important in your life.