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Sam Means (ex-The Format)

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. Melody Bot

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    Late last week, I had a chance to sit down for an extensive phone conversation with the wonderful Sam Means. Back in January, Sam released his debut full-length solo record Ten Songs, a record I have connected with a lot during these long, hot summer days in the Northeast. We discuss that record pretty thoroughly before delving into a number of other topics, including why Dog Problems has remained relevant even ten years later and why he feels a The Format reunion is “inevitable,” even if it’s not imminent.

    So back in the early part of the year, you released your debut solo record, Ten Songs, the first full-length record you’ve written or been a part of since the last The Format record in 2006. So I guess the natural first question on a lot of people’s minds is, what took so long?

    A lot of stuff. I started a business. I started a merch company called Hello Merch. I was running that pretty much by myself for the first year after The Format broke up. And then I also I had a soundtrack that I was working on with some friends just in my spare time. I didn’t really know what to do (after The Format broke up), but then that soundtrack came along and I decided to do that. And then by the time that was finished and the business got rolling, I had a daughter. Nothing can ever really prepare you for that, so the first couple of years of her life were pretty hectic. I had done a couple of little 7”s and an EP, just to stay in the game a little bit. But it just didn’t seem feasible.

    I knew if I was going to do a record, I wanted to do it for real. I wanted to get everyone together and have a producer. It wasn’t feasible with everything that was going on at the time. So it took about 5 years to really start plotting it out, writing it, and working on it. It took a lot longer than expected but I was happy that I was finally able to get around to it.

    So as you said before you did an EP a little while back, as well as the soundtrack. So why did you decide to come back with a full-length record this time around? What do you think lead you to circumstances changing and you feeling like you had something to say again? As you said the planning for a full-length seems a lot more significant.

    Yeah, I had always been planning on doing a full-length album from the get-go. I had a bunch of songs, and then something would come up. I had an opportunity before to put out a record on Photo Finish, a 7”. My friend approached me about that. He was The Format’s old booking agent, Matt Galle, he runs that label. And so I was working on a full-length then, just sort of piece by piece, and then that came up and took away about half of the idea. And then every time I started putting together the stuff that I had, it didn’t seem very cohesive to me. A lot of it was written so spread out over time, it didn’t feel right when I put together a batch. So I just kept writing, hoping I would get ten in a shorter amount of time. I knew I wanted it to be Ten Songs. I just kept getting distracted. For me it just took getting in the right headspace. I got a studio with the intent of, “I’m going to sit down every night for three months and try to write a song every night that I am here, and see what I come up with.” I ended up writing about 30 songs in three months, and out of those, I felt like I had a good batch that was ready to go. I felt for the first time, “this is it, this is what I’ve been trying to achieve for the last few years. I don’t want to waste any time putting this together.” Luckily, I was able to do it with all the people I dreamed would be involved, which is essentially the crew from the last Format record.

    You sort of went back to The Format circle of influence for the production on this record, right? Steven McDonald who produced Dog Problems, and then a bunch of the backing musicians as well. Was that a conscious decision to sort of try to get you back into a comfortable creative space?

    Yeah, it was pretty much all of The Format, except for Nate. And then Steve (produced) and Roger Manning Jr. who did all the arrangements on Dog Problems and some of what would’ve been the next Format album (which ended up being the first fun. album). We had planned to work with Steve again too, which is how Nate ended up doing (Aim and Ignite) with him and everyone. I was really looking forward to doing that next Format record with Steve at the time, because we had such a good time with him. So it was real important to me to get those people involved again.

    So out of curiosity, did any of those scrapped Format songs not end up on Aim and Ignite? Because I know people always love those unreleased tracks and demos and stuff.

    Yeah, there’s a couple floating around out there. One of them we were demoing for the next record ended up as an Eminem song that Nate did. The song, we were calling it “Jumping the Shark,” but it ended up being called “Headlights.” And then the lyrics got changed a little bit. But, yeah, there’s a couple floating out there, but just in really raw demo stage.

    But so to go back to where we were before, was the decision to go back sort of about finding the comfortable creative space to write what you wanted to write?

    That was definitely a lot of why I wanted those people involved. Because, this being a new experience for me, being the person to assembling things, is not normally in my comfort zone. So having those people around that I was comfortable with, people that I love and really respect, it ended up being really great.

    Additionally, I think it’s fitting we’re having this discussion about Ten Songs now as I feel it’s a natural fit for a summer record. And I was looking at some info on the record, and you said there were some really personal, emotional themes touched upon in the record, but I feel like for the most part the record definitely seems to be a record full of brightness and positivity. So did that come from being in a better place in life or as a conscious decision to sort of beat back those dark themes?

    Yeah, there’s definitely a bit of a theme to the record. I’m not a big fan of those, like, concept records. But it’s a pretty personal record, deep down, when you really dig into it. If you know me, you can probably piece together some of it. But some of it, I didn’t even really know. That’s one of things I loved so much about working with The Format and working with Nate is that I love pop music, I love a great catchy hook, but then a lot of times the lyrical content is dark in some of those Format songs. That’s just a natural thing then, writing songs with Nate for so long, I think that carried over into my writing over time. Just from listening to pop music my whole life, like in the 60s, The Beatles could be singing about a man going around killing someone with a hammer, but it could sound like the most uplifting song. That’s the stuff that I really love, is tricking people into thinking they’re listening to something really great, but under the surface it can be a really depressing song.

    Towards the end of Ten Songs, there are a couple more songs that are more down and dark, but the way I tried to piece it together was more chronologically tracking the last 5-8 years of my life. Where I had been and what I had gone through in that time. And that’s why I didn’t want to use too many songs that were old, because I really wanted to summarize where I was now, for myself. In a way, it was therapeutic for myself. I didn’t even realize, half the time, what I was writing about until I got it all together and started piecing together the different chapters.

    So I guess in my mind, why did you decide to call it Ten Songs? It to me has the connotation of like 10 separate singles that aren’t connected to one another.

    I called it Ten Songs to sort of actually bring it together. Like it was as if to say, “These are ten songs, but I want you to listen to all ten of them, not just one of them.” So I think it could maybe be misconstrued either way (laughs) but that was the thought there. I like simple names for stuff. The Format’s (debut EP) EP, or “The First Single,” that was my style. I have a company called Hello. Nice easy, simple, and easy to remember. I knew I wanted to do ten songs, and so I was just always calling it that. That was the name of the folder when I was demoing. So, eventually, I said, “I don’t know what else to call it so I’ll just call it that.”

    It would’ve messed the whole thing up if you had added another song in there.

    Yeah, exactly (laughs)

    So the next thing I wanted to discuss with you is one song on the record in particular. I think “Little Dude” especially seems like a deeply personal and familial song. It’s a really interesting closing track in that it doesn’t sound much like anything else on the record. Do you want to talk about what that song means to you for a minute and why you chose to close the album with it?

    Yeah, “Bigger Heart” (the song before “Little Dude”) was one of the only other older songs. They’re both very similar in the story, in the lyrical content. “Bigger Heart” is about something my sister went through, and then a couple of years later my wife and I went through the same thing. “Little Dude,” the idea behind that, the reason I decided to end them in kind of a strange way, where “Bigger Heart” just almost violently stops, and then it goes into this sort of peaceful, mellow, but sort of sad song deep down (in “Little Dude.”) And I just liked closing the chapter with it, because that was the last thing that happened before I started working on this. So that was the bookend on the story I was trying to tell with these songs.

    And the other reason I really liked it is that I always really liked how Abbey Road ended with “Her Majesty.” It’s like you have this beautiful medley of songs, which couldn’t be a more perfect ending for a band’s last studio record. And then Paul McCartney came in and threw a stupid 1 minute and 27 second song about nothing on there. It almost seems like that was a jab at somebody, just to get that song on the record at the end and just ruin this big thing. Honestly, there was probably a bit of snarkiness to it. But I always got a kick out of it, and this was a similar thing. You’re ending the record on a “what just happened? Is there more or?” And I thought it may entice people to go back and listen to it again. That’s what I got out of it, but I don’t know if anyone else would. It seems like such an awkward way to end it.

    But it was definitely intentional.

    Yeah, as I listen I’m not completely satisfied and I want to go back and see, “Did that make sense?” So I thought, maybe psychologically, it would make people want to listen to it.

    That’s really cool. I definitely have gotten that vibe as well as I dove back into the record this summer especially. So I’m glad we got to sit down to chat about this a little bit after the record. I think maybe people picked up the record in January/February and then put it down.

    I’m glad too. It’s tough when you do something, these days, especially since I’m not touring. There is so much leading up to it, and so much time, and then if you’re not on the road by the time January hit, then it’s like, “Well, I guess that’s it?” (laughs)

    I hate that sort of ADD from the listening public now, where they’ll listen to something for two to three weeks and then put it down and move on to the next album. It’s so frustrating sometimes to me.

    Yeah, I definitely agree. But all I’ve ever said about this record, my only intention, is that I just want people to hear it. I have faith that it’s one of those slow-burner things where it will make its way around, and hopefully it will live on for a while. That’s all I can really ask for. I know I have a lot to learn, especially as a person who is writing lyrics and singing, which I haven’t necessarily done too much in my music career.

    So I wanted to have you weigh in on this discussion my friends and I had a few days ago. I had this discussion recently with some friends about what pop single perfectly encapsulates the musical direction of every decade. It’s easier to start with the beginning of rock and roll and into the 1960s say. My initial pick was “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” but eventually my two responses were “God Only Knows” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

    Yeah, I’m not a big Beach Boys fan, I was kind of late to the game as a Beach Boys guy, even though I listened to them with my dad when I was a kid, I kind of glossed over and forgot about them for a while, until I got into Van Dyke Parks and digging into the weird albums a little bit. But I definitely have argued in the past that “God Only Knows” is the most perfect song that has ever been written. Just from a technical standpoint, it makes you feel so many different emotions. When I heard it, and I forget what movie it was it, but it was at the end of some Hugh Grant movie (ed. Note: I’m fairly certain he’s referring to Love, Actually), some cheesy movie, Christmas time deal. The movie was so bad and so cheesy, and I was watching it late at night, but then that song came on during an emotional scene, and it was like, “Dude this song is so great.” You can put that song in any situation and it would just make you so happy, it’ll make you cry. If you’re a musician, it would make you jealous of its beauty.

    And then the recording techniques alone are, you know, legendary on that album.

    Yeah, it’s incredible. And that’s saying a lot for me because I love Harry Nillson, I love The Kinks, I love The Zombies, I love The Beatles, and there are just hundreds and hundreds of timeless, amazing songs. And to try and pick one out of that batch is so hard. But that is such a good song.
    “Strawberry Fields” now that you mention it, I was just talking to my friend about this. We were going through every Beatles record, and trying to pick our favorite song on each one. And his was “Strawberry Fields” on Magical Mystery Tour.

    So what would be your favorite Beatles songs? I know you mentioned The Beatles twice so far on this interview so you must have some opinions for me.

    My favorite Beatles songs are kind of weird. The White Album is my favorite record (from them).

    Are you one of those people that likes Rain more than anything on an album?

    Yeah, I like “Rain.” One of my favorite Beatles songs, on The White Album, is a song called “Long, Long, Long” which is kind of a weird one to be into and say is your favorite. But that’s just another one of those songs that when you just listen to it, it makes you feel like that dude is going through something. George Harrison, you can barely hear what he is singing, but the emotion is being relayed.

    There’s a lot of songs I love. “Hey, Bulldog” I think is one of the best rock songs, which is like a random B-side from Yellow Submarine.

    But yeah, you can pull a random B-side from that band and still get one of the best songs of the 60s, it’s crazy. So I guess let’s jump ahead a bit since I don’t want to take up too much time, best pop song of the 2000s, which song are you going with? We came up with Mr. Brightside.

    “Mr. Brightside” is a good one, for sure. You know the one that comes to mind immediately, and this is another kind of weird one, but it’s a song called “Oh! Gravity” by Switchfoot. That song is good, man.

    I was a huge Switchfoot fan around that era of the band, so I can’t tell you how crazy it is to hear you say that.

    Yeah, we toured with them back in the day, and I didn’t really know what to expect. But they are just such nice people. And they were so wild live. That’s a band that I would probably never really be into, but touring with them, it was killer.

    Yeah, that piano thing they do in that song is crazy.

    Yeah, it’s so great. And, you know, I love every song on the first three Third Eye Blind records. I can sing every word of them. Anything on Blue, I don’t know if Blue was technically in the 2000s, I guess it was (ed. note: Blue came out 5 weeks before Y2K on November 23, 1999, though all but one of the singles was released to radio in 2000, so we’ll count it.)

    First record was 1997, so it was probably 2000 and 2002 (ed. note: Blue was 1999 and Out of the Vein was 2003).

    Yeah, I know we heard a demo of one of the songs, we got signed to Elektra in 2002. And I remember we went into Sylvia Rhone’s office, she was running Elektra at the time, and she played us a song off of Blue (one more ed. note: it was probably a song off of Out of the Vein) and we said, “Oh, this is the best thing ever.”

    They probably have five singles off that first record that can count for 1990 as well.

    Yeah, I mean they had so many. It’s crazy. We met, we played a weird kind of label showcase shows with them. I definitely would not call Stephan Jenkins one of my idols, but at the time, he was someone that we were super into, and it was hilarious. It’s hard to tell the story without seeing me in person, but there were a lot of crazy hand gestures. He left and we said, “what was that?” But man, they’re good.

    So for those that don’t know, you started the band merch company HelloMerch. What made you want to get involved in the band merchandising and retail markets?

    I had been doing it pretty heavily with The Format, a mini-version of Hello Merch. We had a little warehouse and we would pack orders when we were off tour. A friend that I went to high school with was helping me. He learned to screen-print T-shirts for The Format. So we had this operation going. You’d go on tour with people and they’d be in a bad situation. They would look at us and say, “who’s doing your stuff?” and we’d say back, “We are.” So it was thrown around that we could help out a few bands, but it was just too overwhelming. It was hard enough managing our own stuff, so I didn’t want to really take on anything else, and end up screwing them over.

    So it had sort of been put on the back burner. When I suddenly found myself with some spare time, it was just a natural fit for me. I already had the plan in place but I just hadn’t executed it yet. Within a couple of weeks, I called a few friends and I was doing the Steel Train stuff, and we were doing the fun. merch for a while, before they got signed. And then at some point I started working with a label called Sargent House, and that kind of kickstarted everything. I started working with a dozen bands in one shot. Since then it’s all been about word of mouth. We didn’t go after bands really, they came to us. And the staff is all friends. I have a real cool guy doing sales and reaching out to bands now, but I went to high school with him, and the other guy that works here was The Format’s merch guy for the whole time. My sister-in-law works in the office right next door doing wholesale. So it’s all family oriented.

    I know La Dispute recently has done something really cool on your merch site, where they have fans sign up for a monthly subscription and they send them different secret items every month. Is that something you’d like to see other bands on your platform consider?

    Yeah, there’s a lot of that going on in the world now, not really in the band world, but with companies like the Fancy Box and all these subscription companies. It’s been something that I’ve wanted to try with our clothing company, Hello Apparel. I’ve wanted to try it with that, and I was going to use us as the guinea pig, but then La Dispute hit us up. That’s a good example of our transparency, too, in that we said, “We’d love to do this but we’ve never really done it before and I can’t guarantee it’s not going to fall apart in the first day.” And there was a lot of planning that went into it. It’s actually a really confusing thing, when you’re preselling these recurring payments, and then you’re trying to keep track of people and they’re cancelling. It’s been a total pain in the ass but it’s awesome. We love doing it because it’s a new thing.

    So it’ll probably be something that is harder to scale for every band?

    Yeah, definitely. But that’s what makes it so great. You take a band like La Dispute who has a built-in devoted fan base, and we’re trying it and nailing it down, and it’ll make it that much easier the next time because we’ll figure it out.

    So we’re just a few weeks away now from Dog Problems’ 10 year anniversary, what are some memories or takeaways you have from that era of your music career that still stick with you 10 years later?

    It was just an exciting time for us. We had been on a major label that collapsed, about four months after our first album came out. And we just picked ourselves up and toured like crazy because we didn’t think there was anything else to do. We just knew instinctually that we were on our own. And that pushed us into another label with people we didn’t really know, and didn’t believe in what we were doing and it was a total nightmare. So when we got dropped, it was like the best thing that could ever happen. And that whole period was so great. We wanted to make a bit of an out-there record that perhaps people wouldn’t get although I think it makes more sense now.

    I think with context it definitely does, but you may have been a bit ahead of your time in that genre.

    It was a little goofy at the time. People would say, “What are you a ska band? You have horns? What are you crazy?” and we would say, “No there’s horns in pop music everywhere. Turn on a radio.” But at the time, it was one of the reasons we got dropped. It was like, “What is this circus crap? This isn’t what we’re going for.” When we got dropped it was great, we just went into action. The album has lived on in a way I couldn’t have imagined. We just did a new wave of this vinyl we did for the Intervention ten year, and the reaction blows my mind every time that people are still so passionate about that band and makes you feel like you were a part of something special. And it makes me think back to the bands that I had gotten into shortly after they had broken up. And they just became this myth that I loved for the sheer mystery behind them. Like, “Oh, you saw Neutral Milk Hotel? That so amazing, I wish I got to see them.” And with us, I think that’s sort of what made it so powerful. We have all these newer fans that hit me up on Twitter and say, “I was seven when Dog Problems came out,” and I think I’m so old.

    So it’s kind of mysterious in that way that they never got to see it.

    Yeah, but it’s fun for me to, because I know what they’re going through because I’ve been through the same thing. I loved Operation Ivy, like, “I wish I could have seen them. Where’s Jesse (Michaels)? What’s he doing now?” Before I had the internet even. But it’s cool, I think we were exceedingly lucky, and self-releasing Dog Problems and being really passionate about and believing in it went a long way, and I think that built a solid foundation on that record that made it have a longer life than it could have.

    So unfortunately I have to ask, and you probably already know the next question, with the success of recent repressing of The Format discography, and the 10 year anniversary of Dog Problems right around the corner, have you and Nate had any discussion about the possibility of a The Format reunion?

    You know it’s weird, because we talk so often. You know, I talked to Nate today. We talk often and get along really well. It just hasn’t come up that much in the past eight years, because he’s been so busy, I’ve been so busy. I wouldn’t say it’s anything that we haven’t thought about on our own, but it hasn’t been anything that we’ve really talked about. We have talked about it in interviews, separately (laughs). And he said something last year when his album was coming out that people were sending me saying, “What’s this? What’s he saying? It sounds like you’re getting back together.” And I just said, “I don’t know. I guess he just said that. I talked to him yesterday and he didn’t say anything to me.” So, I don’t know, and it seems like a totally stock answer, but it’s true. To us, I think it’s really important that if we ever got back together, it would be something that is completely natural. I work with this guy, he was in here yesterday. He’s a promoter. He was talking to me, saying, “We should do this Format show.” It’s just, like, I don’t really want to do that. If it’s going to happen, I would like it to be, “Oh, Nate’s in town, let’s just go down to the park and put it out on Twitter that we’re going to play.” I would love to do that someday.

    But to make a whole big deal out of it… I’m not saying that we won’t someday, since it’s inevitable that it will probably happen at some point, I would guess. But it just hasn’t been discussed, and I think it’s because it’s just like everything else, like how long it took me to do my record, you just want to go with the flow. If it’s something that comes up and it just makes sense, it’s totally natural and everyone’s on board, then we would do it in a second. If there was anything that was getting in the way, I don’t think anyone would bend over backwards to make it happen. And certainly not for money or pressure from anybody. We would want it to just be something that we were totally happy with doing. That’s the overall mentality of The Format since day one, since we found out we were on our own. We’re not doing anything we don’t want to do. We’re just going to be happy.

    And that’s ultimately what made it stop at some point in the first place, is that we needed a break. We needed to chill out for a second. You know, we’re friends and we can’t risk those friendships and not being happy. Life is too short, everything is too short. So we’ve been lucky enough to be in a band that just broke up and everybody is still the best the best of friends, and so I certainly think it’s a possibility, but there’s nothing really planned yet. It just seems like… maybe.

    It’s so funny that you say it seems like it is inevitable, because it does sort of feel that way any time a band breaks up now. It feels like with how many reunions there have been of late and with the internet sort of keeping bands alive past their natural end point, it does sort of seem like any band reunion is sort of inevitable now.

    Yeah, it’s kind of like the new “thing,” isn’t it? These bands are just getting back together, and it’s just like, “what ten bands are going to get back together for this festival? That’s not really my thing. I don’t have much interest in being a part of that. And maybe subconsciously, that’s keeping us from doing it. The trend of these bands getting back together for festival money. I can’t speak for them, I don’t know what they’re doing but…

    Yeah, it’s disheartening when you hear bands like At The Drive In say, “Oh, we did this specifically for the money from Coachella.”

    Yeah, you know that’s the last thing I’d be thinking about doing. Not that I’m some super rich dude that can just blow off money. Money’s great, you know, but it would just come down to, I wouldn’t want to be forced into anything. And I think that’s why we’ve never really even brought it up, just because there hasn’t been a good time. We’ve been too busy. But, like, I say it’s inevitable, just because there’s really no reason why we wouldn’t. Because we are friends, and it really just comes down to timing. Whenever it makes sense, we’ll probably do it.

    That’s really interesting to hear someone say that pretty openly, and just say, “It’s just not the right situation, but it’s almost certainly going to happen.”

    And, you know, it’s almost happened a couple of times. It almost happened in April.


    Yeah, you know, Nate came down here to do a show, he was doing a radio festival. And he said, “Hey, do you want to come up and play four Format songs at the end?” And I said, “Yeah, that would be great except I’m going to be at my grandma’s 96th birthday in Oklahoma so I can’t make it, otherwise I would have.” So its things like that, sometimes it comes down to that kind of stuff. There’s been a few things like that in the past where we said, “Oh no, I can’t do that cause I have to be here. I wish I would’ve know.” So it will happen, it will happen at some point. Just everything’s got to align.

    So it sounds like, if you did do a reunion, you wouldn’t want to do the standard, you know ten year tour for Dog Problems, say?

    Nah, you know, that kind of stuff was discussed by a couple of managerial things. When we did the first Dog Problems repress, there were a couple of emails passed around like, “Hey, would you guys want to do Boston and New York. Like, no big deal just a week of shows, two weeks of shows?” I was like, “Maybe? I don’t know? Does that sound fun?” but then it just didn’t work out.

    And then I thought I heard you say in another interview, maybe with Vinyl Collective, that you would want to do music as well if you reunited.

    Yeah, that’s really how I feel. Like, walking on stage and playing a couple songs in an encore would be fun, but if we were going to do a tour, I don’t think… and no one mark my words because who knows what’s going to happen, but personally I wouldn’t really love to go on tour without a record. Because I feel like that is kind of cheating a little bit. I feel like, if we’re going to tour, we should have new music. We shouldn’t just go out and play the hits, although maybe people would want to hear that. But maybe we should make a record too.

    I think Blink 182 said the same thing when they first reunited, and then they didn’t end up getting the album done in time, but they went on the tour anyway (laughs).

    Yeah, and you know, it would be fun, but it’s only going half way. It’s like, usually you tour because you have a record. That’s why you do it. You want to get it out there, you want to spread the word and get people psyched on it. I mean unless you’re some old band or something, just playing casinos and traveling around the circuit, that’s a whole different world that I don’t want to be a part of.

    I mean it definitely seems like it would all have to fall in place in terms of doing a full tour then for you, since touring definitely seems like a more complicated problem. Do you have any touring plans for this album, Ten Songs?

    I had thought about it, it’s just tough. The thing about touring for Ten Songs is that I really would just want to do it with the guys that I made the record with. The same reason that I didn’t want to record it until I could get them all together. It was really important to me to be in the room with these guys. And luckily they all agreed to do it. But that’s kind of how I felt about touring too. Not only am I busy with the business, and trying to squeeze all this in, but, you know, we’re all in our thirties. People have kids, people have jobs and their own responsibilities. To get a bunch of people together to do, if I went on tour it wouldn’t be huge. To say, “Hey, do you guys want to come out and do a few club shows?” It’s tough. It was tough to get Don (Raymond Jr.) into play bass for a few days, he’s a busy dude.

    You know what’d be fun? Just spitballing here. You have The Format guys on the record anyway. You have a Format tour, with Nate solo and you solo opening up? (laughs)

    Yeah (laughs) That’d… that’d be a fun bill.

    But yeah that doesn’t seem too feasible in all seriousness considering the guys would have to play like 30 some-odd songs.

    (laughs) Yeah, that would be pretty rough. It would be pretty cool though. I feel like somebody did that. I think the Rentals opened up for Weezer on a tour.

    Or Green Day with Foxboro Hot Tubs or something.

    It’d be really cool to do a whole solo thing, where you just mix in a bunch of songs. We used to do stuff like that with a few bands. Our first EP came out on a label called Western Tread that Jim Adkins owned with this other guy Charlie that booked shows around town. And we did these shows, like 2 or 3 of them, where the set would be a couple of hours, and we’d be one huge band that played Jimmy Eat World Songs, and Reubens Accomplice songs, and Limbeck songs, and Format songs, and we would just all learn each other’s stuff. It’d be fun to do something like that, just mix in all the little side projects… and the big side projects (laughs), or the big new projects.

    So let’s do something fun to close things out: If you had to chose four musicians, alive or dead, to create a fantasy band: a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, and a singer, who would you chose?

    Paul for bass, for sure. I mean, I think I may just actually be assembling The Beatles. I would say Ringo on drums, my favorite drummer. Colin Blunstone from The Zombies on vocals, and I would do Dave Davies (the Kinks) on guitar, if it was a rock band. Is that four? (laughs)

    Can I throw in a keyboard player? Maybe Tony Kaye from Yes. Billy Preston, throw him back in there as well. We’ll form a little supergroup. Maybe get Harry Nilsson in there as well on backing vocals. And then Van Dyke Parks can put together the arrangements.

    Awesome. Thank you so much for taking so much time to speak with us.

    Thank you!

  2. DearCory


    Sam is such a gem, and incredibly genuine. I love supporting him in his music and through Hello Merch.

    Great interview!
    wakaflockajamez likes this.
  3. irthesteve

    formerly irthesteve Prestigious

    Great interview, of course all the Format stuff has my brain running
    wakaflockajamez likes this.
  4. Great read! I somehow never got around to listening to 10 Songs. Going to rectify that posthaste.
    wakaflockajamez likes this.
  5. paythetab

    Chorus.FM Album Reviewer (Adam Grundy) Supporter

    Great read! He sounds like such a chill guy to hang out with. I talked with him briefly before a show in Towson, MD right after Dog Problems was released. Glad to hear he is doing well, and everyone should def check out his solo record Ten Songs!
    wakaflockajamez likes this.
  6. wakaflockajamez

    die die die, cry cry cry

    I didn't even know he had released an album. Will be listening after work today. If the Format does ever play again, I will be there. No matter how far away or how expensive it may be.
  7. nsgob22

    Newbie Supporter

    Did he get credit and paid for the songs on aim and ignite?
  8. irthesteve

    formerly irthesteve Prestigious

    depends if he actually wrote anything or if it was just a Nate song that he was going to use. I don't recall seeing him credited anywhere though
  9. Zilla

    Trusted Supporter

    Great interview! What a personable fella.
  10. zigbigwig

    I Miss Jake W Prestigious

    Sam is life.
  11. Olyphantastic

    "See you in the car! Best wishes" -Milhouse Supporter

    I really like 10 Songs, and have a sneaking suspicion it's going to do well on my personal rankings at the end of the year - better than I would have initially thought at the start of the year at least.

    Great interview. Seemed like you guys had a good rapport going on that came through.
  12. DearCory


    He's credited for the writing of songs on Aim and Ignite in the liner notes
  13. Really good interview