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An Interview with Sergie Loobkoff of Samiam

"We're really taking this band for granted."


An Interview with Sergie Loobkoff of Samiam

Whatever's Got You Down

Cover art courtesy of Hopeless Records

RC: So, getting right to it, where have you guys been for six years?

SL: Basically we broke up in 2000, and since then we actually toured Europe three times and we toured South America in 2002. Basically, after 10 years, we'd sort of run our course and then broke up, but at that point we were sort of beyond worrying about having a career as a band. We sort of wound down around 2000, and took the career aspect of it a lot less seriously. So we broke up but didn't take it seriously enough to actually break up. We didn't announce we had broken up and we didn't stop practicing or booking shows, and in the next five years, we kept getting offers for these tours. So we said "why don't we just do them because they'd be a lot of fun?" So we just did them.

But we really didn't have plans to do another record or anything until about a year ago.

RC: So what finally pushed you guys back into the studio?

SL: Particularly in Europe, but also in other parts of the world, unlike America, out popularity has steadily grown. And on our last tour in Europe, over a year ago, every show was pretty much sold out or really crowded. After doing a tour where some nights there was over a thousand people that were really excited about the band, we were just like "we're really taking this band for granted." There's an audience out there.

We'd sort of milked it. We'd actually went to Europe four times since Astray came out, and felt kind of funny, milking it without a new record. We basically just said, "why wouldn't we do this? It's fun, and there's people that want to hear it, so let's do it."

RC: It seems like this album is a lot different. It still sounds like you guys, but it's a lot rawer and rougher.

SL: I think a common thought has been that we didn't take as much time, or we didn't have as much money, but in truth we actually did. We just had a different approach for this record. When we made our last three records, they were either for major labels, or the last one for Hopeless and Epitaph, we had big radio managers, so there was a constant thought that we needed to make something that sounds really clean, so we could get a lot of radio, and there was still the thought that this was a band with a career and we needed to think about our career. On this record we talked about it, and we don't want to do anything that we feel like we're doing to just make ourselves more popular, or anything remotely like a career.

We just want to do what feels right to us, and just try and have fun with it.

So when we made this record, we were sort of taking stock of what's going on in the world of music, and it seems like right now a lot of bands are pretty much boy bands. Young bands that play the same kind of style of music that we do, melodic punk rock or whatever, and a lot of it is really career-oriented and really super-polished. I think we just made a constant effort to be a little bit weirder with out recording and separate ourselves from that.

RC: And make an album that's actually punk rock, as opposed to one that calls itself that.

SL: Yeah. I mean if you ask me, "are you a punk rocker?" I would go, "well, not really, I have a mortgage, and I'm in my mid-thirties, so not really." But I consider my band to be more of a punk rock band and less of a pop band.

We did a lot more experimenting, using a lot more distortion on the guitars, and distorted the vocals a lot. We just went for something that was a little bit weirder and less predictable, more than just saying "hey, we're punk rockers, look at us."

RC: I think it turned out great.

SL: We've gotten a lot of criticism for it. A lot of people have written that it sounds terrible, or that Jason the singer sounds like he's trying to sing like Hot Water Music instead of his old, more melodic voice.

If you just said "I was really disappointed in it," I'm not the type of person who would argue with anybody if they don't like it. I'm be like, "Wow, that bums me out, but, you're definitely entitled to your opinion." But what does kind of bum me out is if people think we half-assed it, or even worse, we lost it. In truth, I guess I can't judge whether or not we lost it or not, but I can say we really tried. We spent 31 days recording. It's not like we just whipped out a couple mikes and made some cheap recording.

If you really listen to it, it's not a bad recording. It's a more aggressive, kind of raw recording.

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