COVINGTON, KY – May 10. Sam Bradley is a talented musician who writes, sings and performs honestly and passionately about the things that have left an imprint on his life. For the interview, we stood in the alley behind the historic Southgate House, where he and his band would perform later in the evening.
“Getting to perform with the whole band again, the energy is so much more and the company – They are some of my best friends,” Bradley said about The Sam Bradley Band that backs him up. “We are doing lots of new sounds, lots of new songs. We are going back to record after this tour. The thing is that we are trying to do is not have a specific sound I think, to cross as many genres as possible, without doing, say, a Rihanna song.”
November was Bradley’s last United States tour, where he performed songs from his latest EP, Zuni, along with his guitarist, John Notto. Bradley talked about his favorite selections from the EP, which gets its name from a town in New Mexico he felt connected to when he visited there last summer.
“My favorite song on Zuni is probably Details because I think it turned out the best,” he said. “Wide Open turned out pretty good too but Details is my answer because of the choir. I really like the choir. It’s big.”
Although Bradley toured in November, The Minor Tour has a much different feel. This go around, the whole band is back together, performing songs Bradley and members from the band have written since the last tour, playing in new cities and venues, along with old ones that are as comfortable to him as the flip-flops he is relaxing in.
“It’s a different (tour) with the material. It’s different with the cities. We are playing lots of places we haven’t played before. We get to meet new people and that makes it different. Last time it was November. This time it is heading up to summer. I started writing a song about how little people wear in the summer.”
The dynamic of the band, their camaraderie and the love of the music they share with the fans provided a very powerful show in the intimate Parlour Room of the Southgate House.
“It is Heaven, Heaven, Heaven (performing with the band again). I get to sing with proper music behind me,” Bradley said. “That’s something I really want to focus on. I do love playing by myself, too, and playing with John was great to have him on the first tour. Since he joined the band it was good to have him accompanying me but, in retrospect, if I do a solo tour it’ll be just solo and if I do band, it’ll be a band. That’s what I think I’ve decided.”
The alley provides a respite from the stifling heat and humidity inside the building and gives Bradley the opportunity to punk me before the interview. That is the kind of guy he is. He remembers everyone and makes all of his fans and acquaintances feel like life-long friends. I also get to remind him that he tweeted he would be doing the show in his underwear because of the heat.
I asked Bradley if where he is geographically affects how he writes. “More of the time it’s reflective, and I’m thinking about where I was a week ago,” Bradley said. “Although I wrote ‘Manila’ while in the Philippines and ‘No One and Me’ while in Atlanta.”
While the cities may not affect his writing, the sound is affected by his travels. “I spent a lot of time in Nashville so I guess the sound is influenced in that way.”
“My most productive place to write was probably Nashville, where I wrote some of my strongest songs,” Bradley said. “My favorite place to perform could well be tonight. I don’t know. I haven’t played it yet. Atlanta is great. I really like playing in Atlanta. I like playing in LA too. I like playing in New York. There is different energy in different places, absolutely. I think the South is more up for a good time, like a more crazy time, like hollerin’. Birmingham, Ala., is great. I love playing there. It’s a great town.”
While he spends much of his time writing and performing, he also squeezes in crucial downtime to relax and recharge his batteries.
“My favorite place to relax is in the Caribbean,” Bradley said, adding his plus one on his trips there “is my guitar.”
“My mum’s house in Vancouver is one of the most amazing places to relax,” Bradley said as he discussed “Little Sister,” the song he wrote with his folk singer mother, Lee Lindsey, over the Christmas holiday. The song offers big- brotherly advice, which led me to ask if his sisters (Bradley has two younger sisters) listen to his advice better when it is put to song.
“That’s a good question,” Bradley laughs. “No, they don’t. I wrote it with my mum in Vancouver, the night I was about to leave and go away for three months to London. I brought the song to my mum because we had one last night together, and we should have done something productive with it. It’s loosely about my sister. It’s kind of loosely based on my family members. Do they listen better? No. Why? Because I fuck up more than they do.”
As he takes the stage, the flip-flops come off and Sam channels Joss Stone and performs several new songs and a few from Zuni, barefoot. The new music is exciting and electric with hints of the Sam Bradley trademark raunchiness in his lyrics.
One of the songs he performs,“Whiskey,” he also recorded a video of for YouTube
“When I started making YouTube videos I was really playing with light and the room, and I really like black and white because it is more retro and it suited the song ‘Whiskey’ because it is more of a throwback song,” Bradley explained. “I need to make more YouTube videos. I recorded it in a little, mini sauna.”
As for when a new EP or LP will be available to fans, Bradley said they have to record it first.
“We are going to do that (record) after this tour,” Bradley said. “We’re working on new songs. I’ve been writing, writing with the band. Individuals are also writing and bringing it forward and they are great songs. A good song is a good song. We’re working on that.”
Bradley managed to get the air-conditioning turned on, therefore keeping his pants on, although he ended up giving the shirt off his back, which he autographed, along with an autographed set list from the night, to raise money for tornado relief efforts in Georgia and Alabama. Magnolia Disaster Relief will be auctioning the items off, along with a photo of him signing it, possibly framed by a donor, in the very near future.
Sam signging and donating the shirt off his back!!!
Sam signing the shirt off of his back to help raise money for Magnolia Distaste Relief
Bradley tells powerful stories through his music but he also listens to and is affected by the stories other people share with him. He asked what I had been up to, which led to the discussion about the tornado victims, and he was genuinely touched by their plight and suffering. He took the time to ask about the people I met and the areas I visited. Bradley clearly is a man of the world, a neighbor and friend to everyone.
Social media like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and MySpace have opened big doors for Indie artists like Bradley.
“The beauty of the internet right now is that it is in my hands,” Bradley said. “Being an independent artist is a gamble but so is being a signed artist in many ways. The thing about being an independent artist is it just takes longer.”
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