Sam Roberts Exclusive interview
with nightMair Creative
Anyone that has ever had the good fortune to speak with Sam Roberts knows how easy it is to converse with one of Canada’s best loved rock n roll artists – a definite muso, Roberts dishes on some deep thoughts about his newest album Terraform and the upcoming tour, as well as showing his more quirky, humorous side. Enjoy!
nightMair Creative: Hello Sam thanks for taking time to talk to us. Let’s just jump right into it… new album, new tour…
Sam Roberts: yes indeed (laughs)
nMC: You’ve said that this album (Terraform) is more personal than previous albums. We’re wondering if that was a conscious decision or did that evolve on its own?
SR: Yes (it’s more personal). I think it just came out that way to be honest. Sometimes its also a response to the music itself. I wrote all the music first on this album; I didn’t write the lyrics simultaneously, they came about after the fact. That’s what music does- evokes one type of emotional response or another and in this case it always seemed to come back to lyrics that were more closely aligned with my own life. Sometimes music can take you on a flight of imagination and sometimes its more a reflection on your own life, your world; not just hypothetical, but actually something you live every day. Its not that I’ve closed myself off to that in the past, its just that this is what that music brought out to me.
nMC: Because the album and songs are more personal, have you noticed a difference in how they are received in a live performance?
SR: No… sometimes the energy of a live performance allows the songs to take on a life beyond that of the record. There is a huge difference between listening to a song with headphones on in your bedroom or living room, and going and hearing it at 110 decibels in a venue (laughs) Regardless… the latter always seems to take on more of a bit of a freight train approach. I guess maybe some of the emotional subtly can be replaced by just sheer raw energy, raw emotion. And I embrace that change, I love that. I like being quiet when I’m making a record, being more introspective and reflecting on an idea or a feeling, and then on stage I like to just sort of channel it- not just through myself but through my band mates.
As a performer you become sort of a medium for it – you’re not just imposing your own emotional will on it necessarily. The songs have really really taken on another dimension and that’s what you hope for, when you play them live. You never know what its going to be like between the studio time and the first few times you play them live. You never know how you’re going to interpret them… what will resonate with people, what will connect with the band as musicians (or not), what will come easily to us, what we’re going to have to work hard for – those are all question marks that basically go unanswered until you get on stage, and start touring. Everything we thought was going to be easy has been hard and everything we thought was hard turned out easy (laughs), its unpredictable – that’s the nature of making albums and then playing the songs in an unbridled, raw, chaotic environment… we love it. That’s what we thrive off of.
nMC: Because this album is a little more personal, was it more nerve wracking than usual waiting to see how it was going to be received?
SR: No, not really. Part of this whole job is that stress of anticipation – how are people going to like it? I don’t just hang my hat on the lyrical content in terms of when something is personal. Every record I’ve made is incredibly personal to me in a musical level. And those musical ideas, and the feeling that is supposed to come through with the music itself, is just as important to me as what I’m saying in the lyrics. How people connect to that has always mattered to me. So I wouldn’t say just because there are songs that are maybe more autobiographical on this record, that I’ve been more .. nervous about how its accepted or not, whether or not it’s well received. That’s always part of it. You’re wearing your heart on your sleeve. And you have to not just accept that, you also have to embrace that; and that heart will be trampled on sometimes –its kind of part of the romance (laughs)
nMC: So they say that songs are kind of like children- hard to say which is your favorite – or not really supposed to say which one is your favorite haha. Do you have a personal favorite on this new album?
SR: Yes! I connected with the song ‘Fiend’ right away, kind of like ‘Bridge to Nowhere’. As a songwriter, it just came out really naturally; I didn’t have to force it to ‘be’ anything. As much as you love your problem children (laughs) – you know, the ones that are sort of the black sheep, the ones that have to be coerced and corralled, and hammered into shape basically – taught to behave. I do love it when there’s a song that just seems to come out ––I don’t want to say effortlessly because there’s always effort ––but with ‘less resistance,’ and that’s one of the songs that just sort of came about musically and I connected with it right away -and again that encouraged me to sing in an autobiographic way. And that relationship is a function of how I feel about the music when I’m hearing it. Again its hard to chose because there are other songs that I struggle with and wrestle with and I appreciate them because of that.
nMC: You’re known to be a Lord of the Rings nerd and a bit of a science fiction nerd too I heard. If space travel to Mars were possible for humans right now, would you go? Pardon the pun – would you Terraform and stay?
SR: (laughs). Yeah absolutely. I dearly love planet earth too – there is plenty of this place I haven’t seen and would love to see, but I’m a bit of an adventurer at heart and I would love to. Space travel is obviously something I find intriguing and compelling, however… I’m not one of those people who would volunteer for a one way trip to Mars that they’re proposing at the moment – I’m not that guy (laughs). As long as I can get back I’d go.
nMC: The song, ‘If You Want It’ has a lyric the about the ‘Cosmic Dancer’ and Marquis de Sade. James (bass player) at one time had a Facebook account under the name Marquis de Sade, so of course (guitarist) Dave Nugent (Nuge) has to be the ‘Cosmic Dancer’. That wasn’t intentional was it?
SR: (laughs heartily) …which maybe means that both of them are in Hell… which maybe is where we’re going anyway (laughs again)… you could be on to something! No that wasn’t intentional… but our lives are definitely populated by some colorful characters!
Be sure to catch Sam Roberts Band at a show near you – for all show dates, hit up the band’s website HERE. and check out the video for Terraform below.
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