5 Questions with Sam & J on their new release The Sam and J Years

Great to learn more about an upcoming band, Sam & J. Each song is like listening to a postcard – very visual and with it’s own mood and charm.

Please tell us about your music and how you got together.
Our music came from practicing guitar together. 4 years ago, J stopped by and we played the G major scale. It was a great time. A couple years passed and I didn’t see much of J. Fortunately, we caught up and he began playing along to songs I had written. From there, we didn’t quit. By now, we are in the thick of it, ourselves and our wives, we’re all involved in this music all the time. We are a duo trying to write and play well.

Your lyrics paint a picture so well that it becomes easy to see. Does your song writing process start with the lyrics or the tune?

Thank you! Lyrics and tunes come around separately. When I started learning music, I didn’t write words and I didn’t sing. My first songs, like Henry-Wide Eyed, were guitar pieces months before I wrote any words. I wrote words at work to entertain my coworkers. Later on, I put them to music. The words needed music and the music needed the words.

Now, if I write something, I have to write it because the words have an idea behind them. It’s important to me that the songs have an image or a story. If I don’t have one of those, I don’t write anything. I set them to guitar ideas as needed.

At this point, J carries most of the musical and orchestration circumstances for each song. I’ll have a melody and a poem and then we write the music together.

What is drumming swimming? I have a vision from the lyrics of the song of the same name but still want to ask. And where does the idea come from?

Drumming Swimming! I like these questions because I had to think about it as I walked up and down the stairs to remember the answer. Whatever your vision is, stick with it, but what I saw was a big, happy man, in the posture of drowning in the ocean, but instead of drowning, he’s tethered to a drum kit and he’s splashing an extended, joyful solo. Also, in that song for me is the walk up to the ocean on a dark sandy beach. The character is alone and celebratory. I was thinking of drummers and thinking of grainy-looking ocean night walks.

Your album was recorded over two days and includes 21 songs. That is some serious focus or maybe embedding into a project. What was the impact of such focus? Were you just submerged and going with the flow? Did you end up sleeping long and hard at night?

These songs have been around for a while now. At the time of recording, “The River is on the Stove” had only been around for a month, but “House Boat” was almost three years old. J and I have had the chance to play these songs out, they’ve changed ten times over–people have enjoyed them some nights, other nights everything we played fell flat. We even tried recording “The Sam and J Years” a couple months before this take–that time was ruined by setting-in high-fevers.

Point being, by the time this take rolled around, it was easy to get as much as we got. It was a relaxed couple of days. J was having Cola, and I was wearing my new hat and gloves. The songs are short, and we were more interested in recording a happy, relaxed feeling than recording something precise. That’s not to say everything we played stayed on the album. The performance of my favorite song, “Alright, Clyde” didn’t make the cut. It wasn’t right. We lost that one, and others, too. Next time.

I don’t think that will always be our approach, but for now, a couple years of preparation and nonspecific expectations made it just fine to get 21 songs across in 2 days.

I wish I had slept better, but I was having too much fun.

Tell us about any upcoming shows or where people can find your music.

I’m nearly certain we will be playing at Memory Lanes on April 10th. Almost certain enough that
you can count on it. After that, I’m sure hoping the calendar fills out a little bit. Our favorite way
to get our material across is in concert. Our whole hope for the record is that it helps us find
more chances to play.
Go anywhere or to our bandcamp: https://samandj.bandcamp.com/releases to hear “The Sam &
J Years”
We are @samandjplaymusic on instagram, that’s where we will tell you everything.
And if you’d still like to hear more visit this bandcamp: https://samwalkerardenhills.bandcamp.com/ to hear older recordings

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