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Samothrace

Hoe moeilijk het soms is voor een metal band in de undeground van de Verenigde Staten wordt wel duidelijk uit het verhaal van Samothrace. De band leefde zelf een tijd lang van voedselbonnen terwijl het onduidelijk was of hun muziek ooit van de grond zou komen. Gelukkig deed het dat wel degelijk en tweede plaat 'Reverence To Stone' is er deste indrukwekkender door geworden. Wij spraken met een zeer geïnspireerde gitarist Bryan Spinks.

Door: Jasper | Archiveer onder doom metal

Hi Bryan, how is Samothrace doing these days?
We're doing good, man. We've got our second album 'Reverence to Stone' finally out and we're looking forward to getting back on the road and touring the record. We've just been thru some more tough times tending to some health matters in the family, so we are glad to have each other, have the new album and to get things going again.

Since your debut 'Lifes Trade' a lot has happened. Can you explain what happened, for instance why did you move to Seattle?
A lot has happened. We moved out to Seattle from Lawrence, KS. We had been talking about doing so for some time and were finally able to do so in 2009. We had already had many friends move out there from Lawrence, so it made it an easy choice. We also went through two member changes in the space between the first and second album. That made for some transitional periods that added to the time between the two albums. We all had to settle into Seattle life and get ourselves situated. I took some time, to say the very least.

From an interview with dB magazine I understood that you lived below the poverty line for a while, and even on foodstamps? That sounds insane to a Western European “rich kid” like me. Could you explain that situation?
Haha. Man, well, that's tricky answer in some aspects because while we have all lived below the U.S. poverty line for some or most of our adult lives, it is definitely relative to one's situation. For instance, none of us had a family to support at the time, so while we were all struggling to get by it wasn't as big of a challenge as if one of us had a family to support, i.e. more mouths to feed, higher cost for rent and utilities, clothing, etc… That question could open up a huge discussion and point of contention for the poverty rate in America. Thing was, we had all been planning on moving to Seattle after a nine week tour we had booked in support of the release of 'Life's Trade', so we all moved out of any respective living situations or arrangements and chose to “couch surf” and squat in Lawrence until such time that we could group up and head to Seattle. With the food stamps, we had already acquired them separately for our personal situations and they made it easier to live with little to no money on a daily basis. Again, this answer could be the length of a paper report, so to speak, to adequately answer it. That's why I laughed at the beginning, man, I'm all smiles on this one.

Then 'Reverence To Stone'; it's a beast! What can you tell me about the writing/recording process?
Our writing process has always been a lengthy one. We try to get all we can out of each riff within each section of our songs. We don't like to rush anything, which I think is apparent in our music. We have three guitars constantly working together to try and complement each other and strengthen each part, so there is a lot of ground to cover when writing a part for a Samothrace song. Well, technically it's two guitars and a six-string bass guitar, so I don't know how much working together is really involved. Ha, bass joke. We do spend a lot of time on each song, though. Make sure it turns out the exact way we feel it ought to.

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'When We Emerged' is a track re-recorded for the album from our 2007 demo. We had been planning on doing so all along, so it seemed the time was right. It was already written, but our new drummer had to learn the track and we also had to get the feel of it right with him. It didn't take much time there. The recording process was killer. We had our friend and great sound engineer Brandon Fitzsimmons at the helm and that made it an easy process. When we decided that we would need to record the album in Seattle and set a time-frame to get it done, we knew right away who to ask. Brandon was great to work with and we couldn't be happier with how the album turned out. We're really very thankful to him for his help in getting it done. We were way past ready and way past due to get the album out.

Was it always supposed to be just these two songs, or did you perhaps write more?
It just kind of worked out that way, I suppose. Really, it was the material we had been playing live for some time and we definitely planned on recording these two tracks, but they weren't necessarily supposed to be released together. When it came up that we could get Brandon and studio time booked and Dave at 20 Buck Spin was into releasing a new album for us, we made the decision to record these two tracks, as they were yet unreleased, and get our 2nd album out. I think they fit together greatly. Again, these two songs were basically our live set, give or take a song depending on the show. They were polished and ready to go. 'A Horse of Our Own' evolved over time into it's recorded state. We played several differing arrangements of it live over the course of a year and a half or so. Ever growing and solidifying the song as it went on. We're really happy with how it came out recorded. Both songs were captured as they are truly played, if that makes sense.

The record as it turned out is kind of short, is that intentional?
It's completely in relation to the music, man. It also fits onto a single vinyl format, which kept cost down for everyone involved. We literally took the time allowed on a 12” vinyl record in which the sound quality stays the best into account. Dave at 20 Buck Spin is a bit of an audiophile and values sound quality highly. 'A Horse of Our Own' pushes that limit just a little bit. It's almost in the proposed “cut-off” zone. If 'When We Emerged' had called for more parts or a longer section, I think it would have had it. It is much shorter in comparison, but the album is still just two songs that total 35 minutes. That's a fair trade, I think… I think we got the value in there for ya.

Could you describe to our readers what you mean by “guitarmonies”?
Harmonizing guitars. We are talking about the duel guitar technique in which riffs and leads are layered to create that sweet-ass double lead sound we know from Thin Lizzy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Iron Maiden and many other amazing bands that influenced me growing up. That sound just exemplifies what I think a band with two guitars outta be doing. I figure if you got 'em, use 'em. When writing music in Samothrace, we spend a lot of time layering all the guitar harmonies and riff combinations we've come up with to find what we deem the best fit for each section. Try every one we like to see if and when it might find a place in the song. Guitarmonies. They're crucial for us. It gives us our harmony in melody, or something like that.

Are there any touring plans? You didn't tour all that much for 'Life's Trade', right? Is that going to change?
Absolutely, we are working on a February/March U.S. tour now that will cover the west coast, the southern half of the states, and the east coast of the United Sates. As for the Midwest and other areas we'll get to them later in the year. We're gonna focus on the States for now as we have been lying dormant for so long. We need to get back out there and re-establish ourselves as an active band and get some folks re-interested in what we're doing.

And Europe? Has Roadburn called yet?
Haha. Yeah, man. We've been wanting to tour Europe for several years now, we just weren't in any position at during that time to make it happen. Now that we've got the new album out and are focused on the band and the music again, we hope to make it over as soon as possible. As for Roadburn, we would be honored to be invited to play the fest some year. Every year the line-up just slays.

Finally, could you put into words what this band means to you?
Musically, Samothrace means everything to me. I have put years of time and work into it. I was lost for a while in the gap between albums, but I never lost my musicianship. I never stopped playing guitar. I just stopped living healthily for a while. Samothrace is what has come from my musical evolution, my riff evolution and my riff revolution. When I wrote the first riffs, I was freeing myself from my less ethereal and bluesy writings of the past. It all sounds real poetic, but it's true. Samothrace is the heaviest blues I know to write, Man. It means that to me. I could go on forever. Thank you for the interview!

Thanks a lot for your time!
Thank you for yours…

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