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Samothrace Interview; Cruel Awake
Wednesday, April 15 2009 @ 01:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: Sage

Samothrace Interview

Heathen Harvest:  Alright, so you're moving to Seattle in April.  Can you give us some details on why you've made this decision other than the long contemplations you've noted on myspace?

Brian Spinks: Basically, we had to take on a new guitarist, Daniel Nokes, last year. He is a dear friend and old band mate of mine from Oroku(see below). He had been up in Seattle, WA from Lawrence, KS for several years now and had been talking to us long before he joined about the move. We were all ready to venture out of the Mid/Old West, so it seemed a natural time and place. I didn’t feel it fair to tell him he could play with us, but had to now move from his home to do so. We wanted to move, he was established in Seattle, and that is how it came to be.

HH:  The fact that you're coming out of Kansas has been something intriguing to some listeners.  How do you feel about the relation between the interest in your band and the geographical region from which you bore Samothrace?

BS: I suppose it has some merit in intriguing certain listeners.  It certainly did have its charm, so to speak. We get folks all the time that are blown away by the fact we hail, as a band, from Kansas. I like to think the music speaks for itself, but it probably has brought the curiosity level up in some people. Prairie thunder.

HH:  What led to members moving from Oklahoma to Kansas?

BS: There has long been an exodus from Oklahoma into Lawrence, Kansas. It started amongst us in the early 00’s, but it’s gone on longer than that. Lawrence is a genuinely unique city. At least as it’s surrounding cities and home state are concerned. The musical community there has been thriving for a long time now. Many, many different bands with different styles play in that town all nights of the week, all days of the year, literally. That being said, I initially moved to Lawrence to play in the now disbanded crust band Oroku. In fact, when that band first started, there were no Kansans in the band but the group was still based out of Lawrence, KS. We also aided in some good friends starting a long running, and now sadly defunct, DIY house show space called The Haunted Kitchen. The new sense of community and a new southern Midwest house space was the original beckoning. Alas, it wasn’t until 2006 that we all technically convened on Lawrence to find premenent residence. The two of us out-of-state members, at least. Starting Samothrace was the reason the semi-permanent move was actually made.

HH:  Tell us a bit about Oroku / Lethe / This Building is Cursed.  What does the future hold for these projects as you're moving to Seattle?

BS: Oroku was a dark and metallic crust punk band out of Lawrence, KS and eventually relocated to Seattle, WA. They/we were together from 2005-2008. Oroku did some extensive touring/partying across the U.S. and Europe. Lethe is our bass player Dylan’s other current side project. They play similarly heavy to Samothrace but on a far more psych rock plane sin vocals. Instru-metal. The other members are currently relocating up to Seattle as well. This Building is Cursed was Dylan and Joe from Samothrace’s former band. They also did a fair amount of DIY touring and played some of the Rebel Heart Fest’s CT (Rwake) and co. put on back in the late 90’s or early 00’s. I forget at this point. Also instru-metal and full of great riff work. Heavy.

HH:  'When we Emerged' was the one track on the '07 demo that didn't find its way to Life's Trade.  Why was the decision made to exclude this track?

BS: Well, we had a drummer change befall us shortly before our West Coast Tour of 2007. We brought on our current drummer Joe Noel, but had extremely limited time to teach him the songs and work on the set. We already had some new material so we decided to focus on ‘Cacophony’, ‘La Llorona’, and ‘Cruel Awake’. ‘When We Emerged’ is still a solid song, but it was never revisited by us and Joe. We began to write more material for ‘Life’s Trade’ and ‘When We Emerged’ was shelved. We had been playing it live since day one as well, so I think we all wanted to leave it be. At least for a while.

HH:  How close are you to fellow Kansas-doom-dwellers Stull?

BS: The guys in Stull are very dear friends of ours. They have all been extremely supportive of Samothrace since our beginning and we were more than happy to repay the respect when their project took flight. I, personally, have spent many nights drinking at their practice space killing time. They carry on the torch. Good luck to ‘em all!

HH:  Dylan, how long has it taken you to get those massive dreads?  It looks like those things are getting to the point of Brian Fair legend!

BS: Dylan has been growing his dreads for something close to 9 years now. Them shits is long, ain’t they!

HH:  Obviously the DIY lifestyle has been a large part of memory for you guys.  In a former interview with Bryan Spinks, you were quoted as saying "When I was into metal as a kid you really had to know the coolest mother-fucker on the block to even have a chance at trading tapes for some black metal albums.".  Were you really into the DIY Tape Trading lifestyle?

BS: I did a fair amount, but nothing to incredibly serious. I still have a box full of old punk and metal cassette’s, many of which are home-made compilations. I know that there are still folks out there trading. Hails and cheers to you all! It really did help to expand my outlook and knowledge on these said genres. To this day I have to have a tape player in my stereo set-up.

HH:  Everybody seems to have fallen in love with your concept of the Goddess of Victory in a position of defeat.  Have you ever considered the notion that perhaps through your music and through the weaving textures of your guitar layers that you have given some strength back to the fallen statue that you drew some of the beauty in this record from?  A torso that has been given life and limbs again through such deep and thick music?

BS: No, I hadn’t. I suppose one could look at it that way. The song ‘La Llorona’ is about turning the dust in your veins back into blood; learning to live again. This would very much suggest the scenario above. Bring positive thru negative. Many people have become (no)masters of this soirée.

HH:  Who's the artist you'll probably be hooking up with for a split on 20 Buck Spin, and what's leading to it?

BS: Mum’s the word, but we are in the planning stages for a split slated for an early Fall release. All I can say is that we are extremely honored and stoked for the few possibilities and the current choice will undoubtedly make for a killer split. More news to come in the upcoming months…

HH:  Is there room at all for politics in the music of Samothrace?  Are there any strong causes that you guys believe in or fight for on a general basis?

BS: Yes, there is, but we do not take the in-your-face stance that we all partook in during our formative years in the Diy and undergorund punk/hardcore/metal communities. Our lyrics are in a very roundabout way hinting at the same social and political strife we have been adamant about abolishing for most of our lives. However, I do tend to write in a less obvious manner than used to be. The less is more approach. I guess as we are getting older we have narrowed it down to the right and wrong fucking way to be. We all know. Enough said.

HH:  Your live shows are obviously important to you.  Can you tell us about the strangest live show you've put on in terms of the night just ending up being overall weird?

BS: Oh, man. So many. So, so many. Trouble is, we tend to over indulge all-of-the-sometimes which makes weird shit rampant and tours very hard to remember. It takes all kinds and we have certainly had ‘em. There was one show in Texas at the 2008 Dallas Doom Daze Fest. We showed up early in the afternoon and started ordering drinks. A full day of great tunes and good times insued. 11pm rolls around and it’s time for us to play. I, myself, had a double of vodka, neat, a double of whiskey, also neat, and a Jager shot on stage. The other members in similar suit. Long story shorter, one of us ended up half passing-out and falling off stage mid song, they were then thrown back up on stage by the crowd, to recover fairly well and finish the set. Shortly after that, a few of us got into a wrestling match which ended in a 7-10 mile drive down the highway in silence only to be flagged down and told our trailer door was open. We drove miles down the highway with the back door to tour trailer wide open,  all of our gear and merch quietly staring down at their imminent death. Somehow, nothing fell out and we went on. That made the rest of the night definitely weird. Alas, we got to where we were staying, had some fun, and went to sleep fine.

HH:  Have you ever had any huge issues occur at shows?  You obviously attract a good chunk of fans from both the metal world and the hardcore / punk world, a mix which sometimes doesn't work out too well (especially in the mosh scenario).

BS: Yeah, a few. Example; a brawl broke out once during our set in Philly ‘tween some punk/metal fans and the yuppie bros at the bar who were trying to poke fun at us. We couldn’t see shit thru the stage lights. Nothing. One of the yuppies got hit with a heavy-assed bar chair. Some fists, etc… Eventually, we sort of new what was going on, but we were in the zone. Can’t leave that.

HH:  Lastly, even though you've signed to 20 Buck Spin and will probably continue on with labels after (as you're steadily making a name for yourself), do you feel compelled to continue a DIY style of music?  As in, can we expect to see tapes, maybe CD-R runs in the future on a small scale from the band?

BS: Tough to say. The releases may not be as DIY as they used to be, but the tours and the work we put into Samothrace is. We’ve still not catered to any merch or promotional companies trying to set up websites and order pages. There are varying levels of DIY and we are very aware that our tours will no longer survive on hi-fives. That being said, we will always stay true to ourselves, our beliefs, and our music. We will support the underground and DIY communities always. These are where our roots and families lie.

HH:  Thanks for the interview guys.  Top knotch job on the debut, and everyone's pretty siked about hearing what you have on the backburner waiting to be shown.  This last part is for you to say anything important to you, be it politically, philosophically, or personally.  Thanks a ton for taking the time to answer my questions!

BS: Thanks for the kind words. Sorry for the delay of response!


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