Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sammy Siegler - The beat goes on

A very young Sammy Siegler doing the "Billy Idol"

When you think of which singular person has been the most involved with great straight edge hardcore records and bands, The Youth is obviously at the very top of the list. Side By Side, Youth Of Today, Judge, Project X, Gorilla Biscuits...simply seeing one of those bands is a story in and of itself, but to have toured all over the country and Europe with them BEFORE you were even 18? Forget about it.

Sammy has done a ton of interviews over the years, and it's tough to overturn many new stones with him, but hopefully this on-going interview will shed some new light on one of the ultimate beatmasters from hardcore - and music in general for that matter. Here's the first part.

-Gordo DCXX

What are you up to as of late? Sounds like Rival School is back in full swing, was this a welcomed thing for you? What do you like most about playing in Rival Schools? What's the chemistry like in the band right now?

As of real late? Currently sitting on the couch. In the world of Rock? Mainly Rival Schools and Head Autamatica, been working on the new Head Autamatica record and doing a few shows, it's been fun, should be a cool record. I've been producing a bit and doing some funny jingles here and there to generate some funds. But yea, school is back in session, we've been discussing it for a bit, I guess everyone needed some time to do other things over the past few years, and the timing was just right to start ripping again. We were in Europe for about a month in June, the shows were fun and mainly we just laughed a lot, a lot of inside jokes and what not. I think we sounded good too, which obviously is very important, we played some new songs, good times indeed.

I was playing in a band called Nightmare Of You for the past three years, that was a lot of fun, but those guys are a bit younger than me and sometimes had different expectations and desires, it's nice hanging with the RS guys again because I think we're all on the same page in regards to what we want from this, how much we can give, etc. When we started the band, I was in Glassjaw and ultimately left to do RS, again because we were long time friends, similar ages, pulled from similar references, etc. It's important when you basically end up living with someone for a few years.

We're writing a new album, that's the focus right now, playing a few shows, playing a festival in Austin, and a tour in Australia in February. I think towards the end of our last touring cycle before the "hiatus", and towards the end of CIV as well, we were all burnt, too many interviews about the same shit, too much time together, and no real room to evolve musically, so I think maybe the goal now is to really try and have fun, make good music, focus on the important things, and try and play in Iceland, ha!

Sammy, Cache, Wally and Ian of Rival Schools

Let's jump back to the come from a long line of drummers. When do you remember realizing this is what you wanted to do with your life? Were drums an instant love affair, or was it something that grew more as you grew up? Would you have ever guessed at 8 years old that you would still be doing this almost 30 years later?

I think drums at first for me were an instant way to bond with my Dad and Grandpa, they could teach me, I loved the challenge, it was a deeper level of communication. After I was hooked at about 8 years old it was on, my friend Chip and I were big into KISS so we would have little concerts where we of course were KISS. I met Matt Pincus who I later played in Judge with when I was 11, he had a mohawk and was totally punk, he and I would try and cover Clash tunes, it all really progressed naturally.

My first band was Noize Police, me and two older dudes who would get me stoned (Toby and Alex who later played in the Skadanks), we covered Power by AF. I met Lukie Luke around that time, shortly after I met the dudes in Gorilla Biscuits and started playing with them, then Side by Side, and it was on. Back then it was easy, do you want to play a show? YES! Go on tour? YES! Make records? YES! I think where it got tricky was later, as some of my friends started going to college, and getting "real" jobs, but I was really lucky, I kept getting new challenges and opportunities which kept it fun.

Things have to keep evolving and changing, if they didn't I probably would have gotten into something else. I had a chance to play drums for Patti Smith, that was fun, I played with Limp Biscuit, recorded their last record, that was really trippy, CIV opened for KISS at MSG, that was certainly a high point, all those things definitely keep it interesting.

As you began to gravitate towards punk and hardcore, which drummers from those spectrums inspired you most? Who early on blew your mind and became someone you wanted to emulate on a stylistic level? Which punk and hardcore drummers do you still thing are the cream of the crop?

Luke and myself always had a healthy competitive thing going on, Drew from Bold as well, I think every time either of us saw each other we would pick something up. It's interesting how certain records from that era are somewhat unlistenable and others are still great. I think "Don't Forget The Struggle", the Warzone record that Luke played on, still sounds great, supposedly that whole record was recorded live in one day, thats amazing.

When we would go out west it was always nice to see Chris Bratton play, he was solid. YOT opened for 7 Seconds in '87, Troy Mowat was a monster, he had a cowbell and a timbale, that was interesting. Macky was always in a different league, he had a lot of style, Stewart Copeland is one of my favorite drummers, I love the way he mixes rock, reggae, and jazz and still plays with a lot of power, Macky has that thing as well.

Luke and I would always crack up at sound checks at the Anthrax in CT because Bill the soundman would always come up and be like, "hey what are these? Mind if I try them?" He would sit down on our kits and shred, I think he played on that first Shelter record, he was awesome. There were certain dudes as well, that I didn't know, but I looked up to them and tried to pick things up from them, the drummer on the first Leeway record was sick, as well the drummer on the Underdog EP, and holy shit, almost forgot, the drummer on the Beyond demo was bizerk, Alan was also a great drummer.

Anyway, there were some not so great drummers as well, but let's focus on the positives.

Sammy with Side By Side at Club Pizazz, Philadelphia


Inti said...

the first time I met Sammy it was at a YOT show in Milan, Italy. I was always the youngest guy at shows, but I finally met somebody that was much younger than me ;-) I was amazed...

Years later, thru the many Roma Crew/NYC connections, we ended up being friends and having so many friends in common...

Ed Goodlife said...

I was at that show on the YOT '89
euro tour where we sang happy birthday and handed Sammy a cake
for his 16th birthday in club Netwerk, Flanders Region of Belgium.

How awesome is that as a memory ?

Anonymous said...


bham4ever said...

I have the Patti Smith live recorded "turn it up" "The Beat goes on" by Jiz Wenner says Cat and Dog records on it with a ink drawing on the a plain white album. and John Cale