Samantha is a Brooklyn-based punk rock/trash-pop trio with a penchant for loud guitars and harmony. The band relocated from Chicago about a year ago and has since shared the stage with bands like Dead Stars, White Mystery and Unlocking the Truth. Samantha’s sophomore album, Hourglass Noise, out later this month, promises to stay true to the band’s honesty and rawness, while striving to further walk that line between the darkest frustration and white-hot elation.
Recently I had the chance to talk with Mike while he transitions through gigs. With the music he makes you’d never expect him to work in finance. We talked about life, music, and other devices. These are our words.
The conversation started off talking about the bands recent relocation to New York from Chicago and the issues that it accrued. Somehow the conversation went to weather. He’s in New York and I’m in Texas. They’re playing SXSW and are expecting a break from the northern weather but we’ve had a funk.
I was actually worried about Austin every time we’ve gone in the past it’s always a nice break from wherever we’re at to go get some of the Texas weather. And the last couple of weeks it’s been like rainy and I think it was gonna snow one day. I’m like “No, Austin is supposed to be our break from this.” Luckily it’s getting back up there.
Yeah, I’ve been noticing that it might be terrible which sucks because I’ve been bragging to people that Texas weather is going to be awesome. You’re gonna have so much fun and then it’s gonna be terrible and then I feel I should be apologizing.
No, it looks like it should be good it might rain but at least the temperature will be alright.
Are you guys playing outside sets or inside?
I don’t think so, but I think we’re inside or inside adjacent. But I might pick up another acoustic set and that might be outside.
I saw your schedule is pretty packed.
Yeah, we’re pretty packed. There is always room to squeeze in a little more. The last week before we go out we usually get, “hey we have two more shows.” Even if we don’t it’s good.
Or are you going to troubadour it and serenade people in line?
Have you guys done SXSW before?
No, it’s actually our third. We went the first year that we put out our first album and we kinda didn’t know what we were doing. We were like “hey we got offered a slot on the Red Gorilla fest so we went down there and everyone plays like a show.”
So we went down there and played our one show and we have all these other friends from places around the country that played five shows or six shows. So we did a lot of networking while we were there which was good but we totally missed the agenda of “you’re totally supposed to play as much as possible while you’re there.”
The next year we went back and we did four or five shows. Then we moved to New York the drummer and I and we lost our bass player because he’s still in Chicago. The last year was a transition year, he’d fly in for shows and then exited the band but we negotiated to keep him until we got Alex. Who is a sole acquaintance of our former bass player. So that last year was a lot of regrouping as a band because when you’re a three-piece having one of the legs be a brand new leg kind of shakes things up a bit. So we took last year off to write all the music for the new album. Get our feet plugged into the local scene that’s why it made more sense to hold off.
Do you think the inclusion of Alex changed the sound, as in he brought his own flavor instead of just playing the music?
Definitely, Alex allows me as a guitarist to kinda do what I wanted to do. Our old base player was stompier it was a little more from our roots, the punk rock origins that we did. Now Alex creates more of a landscape as far as what he and Gabe do with the rhythm section and it lets me write the way I want to write because we sit and write stuff together. The best way I can describe it is that the first album is what I was trying to do but now with Hourglass Noise, I think I’ve succeeded.
Do you think you’ve found the sound you’re comfortable with?
Yea, it’s not too far off from what we did before. It’s not like we were a completely different sound before, but I don’t want to pigeon hole our sound yet I think we’ve reached our happy place and gelled and where we are now is where I want to continue down.
I was talking to Alex this weekend and he said something I found interesting. He said, ‘The most important thing for us musically is to try not to regurgitate stuff from our influences in the stuff we’re doing. It’s about writing music that we like that doesn’t quite exist yet because if it did exist you could just pop in someone else’s album.
How is the musical environment that surrounds you influential? Say Chicago vs New York City?
I’m torn being from Chicago and Chicago’s home and I love it. The scene there is great. It’s been good to me over the years in various band I’ve been in and I love New York, I’ve been here for a couple years now. I think I’m in a place where I’m kinda a New Yorker but I’m always going to be a Chicagoan but as far as music goes I think that because we have the power rock/ post punk trio thing is a very Midwestern thing, you don’t see much of that. Still we have a very Chicago, Midwest sound and I like that we’ve kept that.
The difference between Chicago and New York is that New York moves faster. There’s a lot going on in Chicago but in New York it’s to the nth degree. And Chicago because the winters are so horrible there are the three months of apathy and not wanting to go to a show while here while it’s cold it never really slows down the way it does in parts of the Midwest. To answer the question we’ve maintained our Midwest, Chicago sound but we’re playing in a place where people pay more attention.
That’s awesome to carry your roots wherever you are.
Check them out below and in Austin if you’re there for SXSW this week.
3/18 – 4pm – TapeLenders (solo acoustic performance) | 1114 W. 5th Street
3/19 – 10:15pm – Audiowall Studios Showase @ Rooftop | 403 E. 6th Street
3/20 – 9pm – Red Gorilla @ Thirsty Nickel | 325 E. 6th Street
3/21 – 11pm – Audiowall Studios Showase @ Rooftop | 403 E. 6th Street