1. Welcome aboard Sam! I’m really stoked to be able to introduce you to our audience! Before we get into the nitty-gritty, could you tell us a little bit about your musical journey? What has led you to where you are today?

Sure. I’ll give you the high-level overview: I started taking piano lessons when I was around 8 years old, but really started diving head-first into music when I joined my school’s jazz band at 12 years old. I loved the improvisational nature of jazz and realized that I loved the creativity and art of writing music. I formed my first bands in highschool, including a ska band and a klezmer band. In college, I went to University of Miami’s Frost School of Music and studied songwriting, bass, and audio engineering . There I had another ska band as well as a new-grass band and wrote a rock-opera for an 8 piece rock band called Strawman.  After college I moved to the Bay to work as an audio-quality engineer for consumer electronics and I formed my current band, The Monitors.  The Monitors started as an indie-rock band, but after a few line-up changes that left us without a drummer, we decided to start integrating more synths and sequenced drums into our performance, while still retaining the guitar and bass core from our time as an indie-rock band. The music I’m making now is heavily inspired by my bandmates and is intentionally written to be performed by them. 

  1. I am completely smitten with your latest single ‘Hamster Wheel’! It’s just such a rocking and almost psychedelic sonic journey from start to finish! What does the song mean to you and do you remember its “birth” so to speak?

Hamster Wheel was the first of its kind for me, and hopefully the first of many.  I come from a rock/folk oriented background and usually write music to be performed by a solo singer/instrumentalist. Hamster Wheel is very difficult to perform that way as it was written at the same time as it was recorded. Everything was written in layers with bass, guitar, drums, synths, and voice from the very beginning.  

The process started as I was getting frustrated with trying to balance my full-time job with making music with big bands and elaborate collaborative processes.  Chasing the Bull took about a year and a half to make that way, and while I’m very happy with how it came out, that process was not sustainable for a non-full-time musician. Hamster Wheel lyrically expresses the frustration of needing a full-time job, and musically seeks to find a way for me to have a fulfilling music career alongside that job. 

  1. I was deeply fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at your forthcoming single ‘Maslow’s Mountain’ and now the whole world has access to the tune! What an absolute banger! And that bass! I know it was inspired by the music of Eurovision, but what more can you tell us about the track?

Thank you! I’ve been the bassist for pretty much every band I’ve been in since I was 13 and the bassist of the school’s jazz band graduated, and bass was my primary instrument in college. It’s an instrument I really connect to, and  I try to always make the basslines of my own music special.

Maslow’s Mountain was very loosely inspired by the music of Eurovision, but more directly inspired by someone I know personally. My band the Monitors had a member move to Philadelphia last June. He wrote a lot of the early synth-pop tunes that helped define our band’s direction. His albums “Keep Dancing”, and “Don’t Stop Until You’re Done” contain some of the songs that gave us direction in a very uncertain time of our band’s history.  A song called “Let’s Dance Tonight” has an Eastern-European / Eurovision-esque flair that I’ve wanted to emulate for a long time. I think there will be songs with a more obvious Klezmer influence coming in the future, but Maslow’s Mountain tries to capture some of the energy from our live performances of “Let’s Dance Tonight”. 

  1. You’ve mentioned acts like Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, and The Eurythmics as being influential on your sound. Who else would you credit, or give a shout-out to, for helping shape your overall musical soundscape? 

Streetlight Manifesto was one of the first bands I fell in love with and Tomas Kalnoky (singer/guitarist of Streetlight Manifesto) will always be a huge influence on everything I do musically.  The way they craft these beautiful moments of musical chaos while creating a rowdy energy that fuels the moshpit while singing some of the most profound, heartbreaking, and politically charged lyrics I had heard left a lasting impact on me. 

  1. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” What would your life look like without music in it? And what fills your days when you’re not busy creating?

Music is an extremely central aspect of my life.  I met my fiancée at an open mic and my full-time job is centered around audio and speaker systems. I enjoy movies, tv, and musicals and get a lot of musical inspiration from other art. 

  1. What, to you, is music’s role in society?

People listen to music because they want to think and feel things that they might not otherwise allow themselves to think and feel. Lately, my music has been aiming to relate to the frustrations that people feel with the world today and let them express frustrations that I feel get suppressed for the sake of surviving. It’s hard to balance the  frustration of trying to afford food, rent and healthcare with buckling down and doing the work required to survive, so I intend to give my audience a safe outlet to express those frustrations

  1. What song do you love that you wish you had written?

Bukowski by Modest Mouse. It’s the perfect mixture of simple yet poignant and in-your-face lyrics with noisy music  that speaks to the part of me that wants to scream at something. 

  1. Sam, I can’t thank you enough for chatting with us! Before we let you leave though, what comes next for you musically?

Aside from some shows I have coming up in the bay area with The Monitors, I’m working on some videos to accompany my music and I’m working on a new song that should be out in early April.