Talk Thursday To Me – Samantha Crain

Today we talk to Samantha Crain about life at home, touring on your own terms and getting your heart broken by NPR correspondents.

PE: So what’re you up to these days? From what I can tell you’re taking a little bit of a break from the road and are in between albums.

SC: Mainly been writing. I’m no good at writing on the road and when you LIVE on the road the back catalog of songs starts to dwindle and you gotta write new stuff. So I’ve just been living in Oklahoma writing and painting and working a jobby job. The other reason we’re off the road right now is we need a new touring vehicle. The last tour we did with Murder by Death in the fall was the death (I guess pun intended) of my truck. So I’m working to save up money for a new vehicle.

PE: Was your truck murdered by whiskey? That seems to be how most victims of MBD tend to go.

SC: Nope. It fought a good fight but I’ve put nearly 200,000 miles on that thing in 2 years, so road weary is what it was. Not alcohol poisoning.

PE: Fair enough. So it seems like your last album “You, Understood” was quite a step up for you in terms of exposure. We heard you on NPR being all charming and stuff. How would you summarize last year for you professionally?

SC: Honestly I can’t ever tell with all that exposure stuff. The music world is so erratic in its loyalty. One month you’re the darling of Rolling Stone and SPIN mag, and the next month they’ve forgotten all about you and moved on to prettier things. I used to be really excited by all the press but now I’m realizing the critics don’t matter, cause they cheat on you, they are promiscuous. Fans are faithful, loyal and, ultimately, put food on your plate and blankets on your cold tootsies.

PE: Are you saying that Scott Simon broke your heart?


SC
: Wait…I don’t think Scott interviewed me.

PE: He did – I just fact checked that shit.

SC: Oooo yeah it was. Haha.  Its been a while. I have a terrible memory.

PE: Great, so I’ll just put that down as “Yes, Scott Simon broke my heart.”

SC: Haha okay.

PE: Moving forward – what about the pure side of it – the touring and playing for your fans. How was last year for you on that front? I know we discussed the MBD tour you did, but what else did you do that was a good experience?

SC: Well ever since the Midnight Shivers (Crain’s original backing band – ed) broke up, its been a real struggle for me to find the confidence in my live show again. You could say they broke my heart too I guess. I’ve gone through something like 12 band members since my last show with them, and this year i think i finally tapped into something really important in enjoying touring again. Actually treating touring like traveling instead of the monotonous way most bands travel. I’ve taken to staying off interstates, using blue highways, stopping at mom and pop places in small towns for meals,
going to swimming holes, hot springs, and seeing the sights of the USA!
Treating it like one big slower paced road trip. It makes me enjoy playing shows more because I realize the humanity of it again, that I’m playing for actual people, not for the institution that is music business.
Its tough and it takes planning but its worth it.

PE: That’s a great approach, even with the challenges it would obviously have. Seems very rewarding.  So what about the backing band now? Have you settled into something permanent in that department yet or is it still a rotating cast of players?

SC: Its still a rotating cast. That’s another thing that has been hard about regaining confidence in music again. Once upon a time i had a band that was committed to me and they believed in us as a band and I felt invincible. Although playing with different people is fun and interesting, it really wears on me when they leave for other things because I don’t experience that devotion like I have in the past.

PE: Hopefully this is just a transition period – like when Scott Weiland was between Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver. I’m sure it’s exactly like that.

SC: Or when Cher was between Sonny and Cher and Cher?

PE: Yes – that’s better, let’s go with that. So you’re currently writing, and I’m very curious as to where your songwriting is taking you this time. Because You (Understood) was a pretty radically different record than the ones that came before it. While it still had those elements of a dark americana sound to it, it also had angular noisy parts as well. What’s the new stuff like?

SC: Well…its hard to say because I can’t tell what’s going to go on to become the direction of the album and what will be cataloged for future inspiration, but it seems the majority of sounds and structure is following a little more of a southwestern feel. More linear in the story and spacious in all its desert-likeness

PE: Cool – can’t wait to hear it. So get on that.
So you said that you’re painting. Is this a new thing or something that you’ve been doing for a while?

SC: I’ve always dabbled in visual art, but being in a car all the time limits me to sketching. So now that I’m stationary for a few months I’m jumping at the chance to mess around with my acrylics and watercolors and I’m having a lot of fun with it. If I get enough work together I might have a few art shows in early summer.

PE: Cool – well you know, or as you probably don’t know, we have an irregularly recurring segment on the blog called “Sound As Vision” which are visual artistic representations of something musical. So if you have anything you would like to submit I will pass it along to the various committees and executive board members who decide who makes the cut. Which is another way of saying we’ll gladly post some of your art work and say nice things about it.

SC: Oh awesome!

PE: Ok – I’ll let you get back to painting and writing and shopping for a new tour vehicle. Just a couple of last questions – what’s the year looking like as far as that new album and more touring? When can we get more Sammy Crain in our lives?

SC: Well that all depends on how fund raising goes for the new touring vehicle. I can only save up so much money working as a waitress, so we’ve set up a Feed the Muse page to help raise money. We can only get back on the road as soon as we can get a new vehicle, simple as that. I hope its sooner than later because I’m a shitty waitress.

PE: Duly noted. Do you have a link for the Feed the Muse page we can share with our readers?

SC: http://www.feedthemuse.net/artist.php?id=1000001404
As you can see I have enough money to buy about three tires right now.

🙂
haha
PE: It’s a start. So final question – what piece of art/media have you been most excited about lately? Movie, album, song, tv show, book, etc… What’s totally rocking your world right now?
SC: Oh man, hands down, film soundtracks by Ennio Morricone.
The film scores that he did for the Leone spaghetti westerns;a fistful of dollars, the good the bad and the ugly, once upon a time in the west.
They are my go to inspiration right now

PE: Awesome, can’t wait to hear those influences in the new work. Thanks for talking with us.

SC: Oh my pleasure. Talk to you soon.

Samatha Crain is a singer-songwriter from Shawnee, OK.  Her latest is the most excellent “You (Understood)” available on Ramseur Records here.

Here’s the video for the single “Santa Fe”

And here’s a video of Crain and crew playing “Equinox” for a HearYa session.

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