The Sam Chase is a juggernaut in the SF indie/folk/americana music scene. If you don’t believe me, do yourself a favor and attend one of their shows. You will witness a high energy performance that inspires foot stomping dance parties and sweaty, smiling crowd sing-alongs. They truly transcend genres, fusing classic americana arrangements with the fiery spirit of punk rock. I spoke with the founding member of “The Sam Chase” (aptly named Sam Chase) in the first installment of San Franpsycho’s “Bands You Need To Know.”
Explain the genesis of The Sam Chase.
The Sam Chase started off with just me in my room, often it was late, certain melancholy feelings, perhaps alcohol was involved, and my guitar. I wrote songs that I never expected to show to anyone. They were more therapeutic than entertaining in my mind. The title, “The Sam Chase,” was my own inside joke. I played all of the instruments on my shitty homemade recordings so it sounded like I had a band. That, and the unfortunate realization that when I googled Sam Chase I found a number of other singer songwriters.
Once those songs eventually seeped out to my closer friends and they convinced me to play the songs live, I played solo for a couple of years as The Sam Chase. I never expected it to go anywhere other than to entertain my friends around campfires and at house parties.
On October 8th, 2011 The Sam Chase with the band played our first show at The Riptide in San Francisco, and the feeling that the music had graduated to a higher echelon was palpable within the small bar full of friends. That was when the momentum started.
Who are some of your most important influences?
As a small kid I was obsessed with Elvis, Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Tom Waits. I think that those four people accurately resemble my feelings towards the styles that I like to perform the most.
Since then my musical influences have gone through so many changes ranging from Punk Rock and Nordic Death Metal, to Disco, Gregorian Chanting, and Folk Music.
I still listen to Bruce and Tom on a regular basis though.
Describe your latest release, “The Sam Chase Will Never Die” and what it says about the growth of the band.
It is the mature, older brother to the first album. It took the brunt of the parental immaturity and was able to get away with a lot that its younger brother wasn’t able to take advantage of. It would sneak out at night to fool around with girls and drink under highway overpasses. It sold weed in high school to its teachers, and had a great collection of punk rock albums on vinyl. It also always knew what to say (still does) and had the uncanny ability to talk its way out of a fight. It wasn’t the biggest, strongest, or the meanest album, but people respected it. It learned from those early life experiences more than it ever learned in school and grew up to become a perfectly well rounded and thoughtful album. More than anything it is about how we shape our own destiny and what legacy we choose to leave behind.
Musically it shows that this band is made up of people who all really enjoy each other and respect each others talents and personalities. Everyone’s character really shines on this one and that is something that I really enjoy hearing.
How was your experience at Burning Man? How many times have you been?
I have been 10 years in a row. It’s been a part of my whole adult life. It used to mean to me a week long party on the face of the moon. Sometimes it still does… but mostly it has turned into a grown up summer camp for me and my friends. I have a large friend community at Burning Man and I cherish the time I get to spend with them out there.
It’s also really hot. That part sucks.
What is your favorite venue in SF?
A full one.
What’s on the docket for The Sam Chase from now until the end of the year?
At the moment the plan is to start branching out from our comfortable and super supportive fanbase in San Francisco and head up North and down South to try and broaden our base. We love playing SF, and that will always be home base, but the time has come to leave the nest (at least for a few months).
We are working on new songs for a new album that we might try to put out late 2014. I am also working on a concept album about a banjo playing murderer named Dallas Pistol and his adventures while on tour through the US. Don’t expect that one anytime soon.