The musical lineup for Oakland Music Festival was eclectic, to say the least. But amid the stacked list of talented musicians from across the country, The Sam Chase, a local San Francisco-based acoustic Rock ‘n’ Roll-folk-punk band, stole the show.
According to their bio, lead singer and guitarist, Sam Chase, has “The voice of a nun on the lam with a mouth full of cigarettes and curse words, drunkenly dancing next to a broken jukebox.“ We were not disappointed.
After their energy-fueled set, we caught up with the band and asked them a few questions.
Q: We’re relatively new to your music, but we are really excited about your sound. Can you give us some background about who you guys are, where you guys started?
A: I’ve been playing punk rock music for 15 years – playing distorted guitars, heavy drums. After playing dirty punk clubs for so long, you realize you don’t always get the crowds you want. I also found when you strip down the distortion in the guitar, it’s really just a folk song, and people really respond well to a folk song with good lyrics. It kind of morphed from that. And as you get older, the guitars get quieter. I started as a solo artist and after a while I realized that performing by yourself is lonely and I wanted all my friends to be with me. I have some of the most talented friends in the world, so I’m very lucky in that regard.
Q: How did you end up playing together?
A: I was at a club one night and they told me that singer-songwriters were getting eaten up out there. So when they asked me if I had a band, I lied and said yes. Then I made a bunch of cold calls. I asked them if they wanted to play a show in two weeks and we threw a 2-hour set together in that short amount of time. We rocked the shit out of the Riptide, an old venue in SF that is now closed, RIP. If that show hadn’t gone well, we probably wouldn’t still be playing together today.
Q: You guys have a really unique and interesting sound, so we imagine you listen to a lot of different kinds of music. Who are some of your biggest influences?
A: I’m a metal-head, but I like everything – Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Sly and Family Stone, Motown, Motzart. Tower of Power, St. Vincent, Aesop Rock, Funkadelic, Miles Davis, Ani DiFranco, Bright Eyes, Art Blakey. Early on I liked Elvis, The Beatles, Paul Simon, Springsteen, Nirvana, Iron Maiden. As I got older and angstier, I got more into punk – the louder, the faster, the better. In college I got really into Hip-Hop. At one point I got really into Nordic Fantasy Metal. I still love that shit. The more epic, the better. I also liked performers with huge egos and big stage presences. I think that it shows, at least a little, when we play live.
Q: You guys are based in San Francisco. What does the concept of home mean to you?
A: I was born and raised in San Francisco. It’s been my home pretty much my entire life. I feel like it’s my responsibility to make sure it’s still a city for future generations – for people to enjoy, and not for robots to enjoy. It’s harder and harder to live there when you make a musician’s salary. It’s also our job to keep it weird and San Francisco right now is full of sightseers. I want to keep it as a crazy art community and the beacon on the hill – the way it used to be. I think we’re on the precipice of a renaissance in the Bay Area, as far as the arts go. There’s enough angst and enough local pride, there’s so much amazing music, from Hip-Hop, to Folk, there is great stuff happening. Even though there is a lot of attention being paid to the tech industry and gentrification, if you dig a little below the surface there is also a simmering undercurrent of creativity. There is amazing art being made in this area, as there always has been, and it’s just waiting for people to dig it up and discover it.
Big thank you to The Same Chase and The Untraditional for the interview. For more info on The Sam Chase, check out their website, thesamchase.com.