Musicscan: You are known to be a touring artist: how do you make sure to stay mentally and physically in balance to be able to continue? Touring can be pretty tough…
Sam Alone & The Gravediggers: Well, I believe it’s all a matter of "will" and love! As a kid, I used to dream about having a band, travelling and meeting new people and culture, not sure if I’m really balanced, ahahaha... although, I like to think so.
I’m just thankful to be alive and getting to live this kinda life, as long as there are people willing to listen to my songs and going to shows, I will give all I’ve got!
Musicscan: Sometimes I think you prefer to play the acoustic versions of your songs instead of having them with full instrumentation and volume. Is there any truth to this? How to you choose between both options when it comes to your shows and the recordings in the studio?
Sam Alone & The Gravediggers: I like them both ways, but I do have a special place for the solo performance, I get to explore them way more when there’s people listening to it, I also guess it depends on the vibe or format of the show, studiowise it goes like this: I always write songs with an acoustic guitar or piano/keyboard, then I do some ruff recordings so I can listen to it, from that point on I start to think about drums and arrangements, till we get to track it the proper way. But I have fun with both options.
Musicscan: From the outside perspective you keep on following your DIY roots and ethics while the circumstances have become professional and commercial: is it hard to stay true to what you come from and to find an arrangement with the industry? What lessons have you learned already?
Sam Alone & The Gravediggers: Dont really think about it, see, I just want to play and write about my experience "here", things have been growing and I will admit, it gets scary now and then, but I love to learn and to improve myself as a musician and human being, when it comes to D.I.Y, I will tell you this much; I grew up with rock, blues and country, later on I found punk and it changed my life forever; punk is definitely the best school to be in and belong to, punk culture has given me such good and valuable life lessons, also, it has always been there for me in so many ways, showed me that music can be use as a tool of expression and messenger channel, and of course… entertainment - who doesn’t like to have fun and shake their butts now and then?
I treasure punk culture and I do rock it up my sleeve, don’t even need to worry about keeping my feet on the ground!
Musicscan: How do you deal with expectations? Is it easier or harder to come up with new songs nowadays knowing that there are fans waiting for new tracks?
Sam Alone & The Gravediggers: I try not to force it, I’m constantly writing songs, I’m not the kind of musician that worries about having a "single" or a hook, I just go with whatever sounds good at the moment, although there's always a little concern when it comes to the final "product".. .but I hope not to disappoint those who like what I’m doing!
Musicscan: You are playing pretty emotional songs with personal lyrics: but is there the necessity to create a certain distance between you and the songs and lyrics in order to get a better understanding of its inherent quality when it comes to writing them?
Sam Alone & The Gravediggers: No,Im not afraid of exposing myself throughout music, don’t really know why I do it this way, but as I said before, most of the times I just let it flow, Sam Alone might be an alter-ego, but my songs are pure truth of my vision and reality, that doesn’t mean that others will share the same opinion, and that is what makes this worth it, the fact that one song could leave to a nice and respectful discussion about whatever topic that end up being, so... No distance there, brother!
Musicscan: Are there specific aspects on Tougher Than Leather that stand out in your mind, or aspects that have an inner meaning to you you would like to share with us? Is there an underlying idea behind the album that can stand for the record as a whole?
Sam Alone & The Gravediggers: There are a couple, but more of a soundwise perspective, this record was the first one we actually stood together as a band in the studio and went over the songs and heard them coming to life while playing them.
I think we can say that some songs can be more explored when it comes to the meaning behind it, because you can only put a certain amount of "information" in every song when it comes to the lyric aspect.
"Sacrifice" is one of the songs I love the most, to me it has everything that the record stands for, some blogger made a weird review about it, saying it was too much on the "self pity" point... way off, way off, it’s a raw and crystal clear song about everyone involved in my life, my family and friends, that in a way or another have helped me out or supported me along the way!
Life ain’t easy down here, a lot of effort has put in, and that been said, the record ended up being called "Tougher Than Leather"
Musicscan: Lyrically and musically your music seems to stand for a certain kind of “emotional intelligence” that sometimes gets missed in nowadays music. Do you as an artist ever think about your lyrics and music in this particular way?
Sam Alone & The Gravediggers: Hell yeah, not 'Cus I wanna be or try to be different, but once again... here it comes, the punk side of it; first of all thank you for noticing that, I do not consider myself a great writer but I really put a lot a work in it, plus I challenge (healthy) any American or English singer-songwriter to write a full record in Portuguese, back to it, I find myself writing a lot about social/political issues, but I do it in a real down to earth type, again, my vision of the world while standing in my shoes, and I do not think that my ideas are the best neither do I believe they stand for something one should take as granted, but I guess it’s been working, because people that really take time to read and listen to the lyrics and songs, approach me and we end up having a better understanding of the subject in question, even if one doesn’t cope with another, there’s always room for different views, and most of the times I end up learning more.. it’s a win-win situation.
Lyrics do matter!!
Musicscan: Do you sometimes feel the urge to write a gentle pop song but then dismiss this idea again, because you think it does not fit the singer/songwriter aesthetic? ,-)
Sam Alone & The Gravediggers: Damn... you good at this hey???
Yes, ahahahaha.....but if I really, really fall for one of those I will put it out!!
Not afraid of critics.
Musicscan: As you are having music related tattoos from what there is to see on your pictures yourself: what made you getting them and what do you (still) connect with them? What does it mean to you to see fans getting tattoos being inspired by your lyrics, if there already are some?
Sam Alone & The Gravediggers: First I’m a tattooer, and Nuno our drummer is also a tattooer, been tattooing for 15 years now - and always will!! I got my first tattoo when I was sixteen, then at seventeen I started learning the trade, so yeah, I’m totally connected to them, it’s who I am and what I do for a living besides music.
There are some "Sam Alone" tattoos across Europe and the feeling is overwhelming, that’s all I have to say, besides... YOU CRAZY??
Musicscan: Lastly, if you would have to say what your philosophy behind Sam Alone is all about – how would that description look like?
Sam Alone & The Gravediggers: Thats a hard one brother, see, I like to think that I pay respect to every band and musician that changed my life, the all ROCK N ROLL culture also!! I know sometimes people like to compare unknowingly musicians like me to big ones, that’s just fine, but in the end of the day everyone nowadays is a huge mix of whatever they grew up looking after and that’s just great from where I’m standing, people should just enjoy the ride and make the most out of it, instead of losing energy by throwing out they frustrations on someone else’s path!
Not here to be unique, I’m just here to keep the flame alive on my own terms!