After The Show: A Q&A With Sam Quinn

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Videos by American Songwriter

Sam Quinn and his band, The Japan 10 (who are neither Japanese, or ten, but that’s another matter) rolled into Nashville’s Loveless Cafe (famous for their delicious biscuits) late last month to play the Music City Roots radio show.

Quinn, who used to co-front the Everybodyfields, just released his haunting and melancholy solo debut, The Fake That Sunk 1,000 Ships, on Ramseur Records. It is awesome.

How’d the gig go?

I had a great time. I usually do unless somebody wakes up that morning hellbent on ruining my life. that doesn’t happen all that often.

Why’d you choose the opening song as your opener?

“Fanboy.” This little tune has a couple of made up chords in it right out of the gate, which I find amusing and novel. I also get to sing in falsetto which also meets both of the aforementioned requirements. I think that there is a lot of power in a squeaky, shrill, head voice.

Why’d you pick the closing song as the closer?

“Mardi Gras.” when done properly, this song can get a foot bouncing a bit. A set needs to follow a certain energy flow, like a movie sort of. It makes me think about the Beatles in like ’66. It doesn’t sound anything like the Beatles in ’66, but that is what I think about. Yep. Beatles in ’66.

Were there any rough moments? Any highlights?

From the get go of the set my guitar was a malfunction. it was one of those classic cases of in soundcheck everything was working, and then all of a sudden things are kitty cat. I like when things go wrong inside a show, it makes the crowd have to participate whether they wish to or not. If they are paying any attention at all, and something begins to get sour, they begin to beam a curious energy your way. People go to see shows because they want them to work. When something doesn’t, the world is your oyster. It was also cool that they gave us a bus as a green room where I fed my sick disease that is Golden Girls.

Were you excited to play at the Loveless Cafe? Had you played there before?

I had never really heard of it until I was over at my buddy’s house eating some peach preserves on a piece of toast. I remember thinking, “dang, these are some pretty great preserves.” It is always a pleasure to go to a place that has all their ducks in a row. Boom, boom, boom. All business, super quality, smiling faces, preserves worth writing about. Thumbs up.

What’s the one song of yours you want people to hear the most?

Probably this tune called “Oceans.” It’s about my best friend Ryan. As a writer, things are always changing with how you wish to do things. I have made some sadsack records before, but only now have I really delved into making some atmospheric doom, which is a good thing. Texturizing and feel are key. taking some time to fool around with recording Lewis and Clark style has no peer. If you screwed around with recording one tenth of the time that you do gigging around, I am sure that the benefits reaped would be vast.

You’ve got a great beard going. How does it feel on your face? Is it a lot of work to take care of? Does it get a lot of attention (besides in this interview)?

Man, I had to get rid of that thing for fear that it was ruining my life. I hashed that (beard) out to see what the old chin could do and found the muscle is strong with me. One of the drawbacks to doing anything to an extreme is that it garners attention. I dont want a random guy coming up to me in the QuickTrip at four a.m. hands first. No way. In a lot of ways it was a free ticket for anybody to have something to come up and talk to me about. I knew a girl one time that had the poster from the first Star Wars tattooed on her arm, then covered up for the same reasons. I was thinking that it would be a good way to hide out. Swimming with that beard was one of the joys of my life. the world may break me and life will surely kill me, but that memory of being a merman will last the whole while. I kept it in a freezer bag and now it rides around in my van.

How’s the tour been going? How’s life on the road?

For the better part of the last two years, my body was a shrine to idleness. I was in a black lodge of sorts hiding out with little more than the steady rapping of Satan’s hand at my door saying “hey man” to keep me company. Now that I am out, I feel like a bum who woke up in a sandwich truck. It’s been a little over a month out now and it’s been straight teddy bears in birthday hats. It’s so easy to forget about this stuff, but the spoils of this life are proletariat and regal. I haven’t really had a band so much as just these people that I love and feel for that play music with me from time to time, that have been around me long enough to where I know what they like. I usually end up paying them more than myself. Their camaraderie is a barometer of life. It has been a lot more about life for me these days, instead of about the end of the world and its moorings on my desires and hopes.

Set list:

1. Fanboy
2. So Strong
3. Gun
4. Mardi Gras

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