2015 Artist Survey: Salad Boys

Joe Sampson on Spaceballs, Gun Control, and What "Indie Rock" Means in 2015

Jan 19, 2016 Photography by Jim Nothing Issue # 56 - Best of 2015 - Father John Misty and Wolf Alice
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For Under the Radar's 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Arcade Fire's Will Butler, Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, Mew, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.

Here are some answers from Joe Sampson of Salad Boys, whose debut album, Metalmania, is out now via Trouble in Mind.

Top 10 Albums of 2015

This is tough as most of the stuff I listen to is way older, but here goes:

1. Transistors: Cuppa Jarra Brossa
2. Anto Pascoe: To Escape
3. The Dance Asthmatics: Lifetime of Secretion
4. Salad Boys: Metalmania-:)
5. Tim Moore: Rough As Guts
6. Center Negative: Emotion Is Cringey
7. Opposite Sex: Hamlet
8. Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing: Scrying in Infirmary Architecture
9. Wet Nurses of Sodom: Epispasm      
10. Terror of the Deep: Space Epic

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Touring the United States was my/the band's greatest achievement of 2015, second to that was releasing our first album through Trouble In Mind on vinyl-a rare and lucky thing for a band from these parts.

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

Make another Salad Boys record, return to the United States for another tour, hopefully tour Australia again and do more stuff with my record label (Melted Ice Cream). I'd also like to release some recordings under my own name.

With the launch of TIDAL and Apple Music in 2015, there are more streaming music options, but the same issues of adequate artist compensation persist. What are your current thoughts on streaming and which service would you most like to have your music on?

I'm all for music streaming. I think it's a great way for music to heard that mightn't otherwise have the opportunity. I've recently started using Spotify and being able to listen to whatever I like when I like is a wonderful thing. The quality isn't the best but it's good enough for your car stereo and your cellphone speaker. I'm not precious about being compensated; I've always had zero expectations about that. It is frustrating that often you'll work your ass off for nothing at all but I've come to accept it.

What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?

I haven't heard anything about it so I can't really comment.

Mainstream pop music is increasingly embraced by indie rock musicians and listeners, as well as serious music critics. At this point, do you draw any distinctions between Top 40 pop and indie rock/pop? Are you comfortable with this shift?

There is some Top 40 stuff that is of quality but most of it is still garbage that is made to sell perfumes, shoes, and soft drinks. It has always been this way since pop music became a thing a hundred or so years ago. Anyone who has the ability to look beyond the surface of music will be able to recognize when something comes along that will last. "Indie" musicians attempting to be open-minded by embracing commercial pop isn't a new thing either-perhaps it's just trendy right now, but it's also worth noting that there is a lot of "indie-rock" music that is also made to sell rubbish. 

What are your thoughts on how the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is shaping up?

It doesn't matter who they have in control, they'll always piss someone off.

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift's 1989 (and then Father John Misty covered Adams covering Swift). If you were to cover another artist's album in its entirety, which would you pick and why?

Gee whiz Christ, that's tough. I'm leaning towards David Bowie for some reason-I think the rawness of the Ziggy/Aladdin era could be nicely applied to the 2000s stuff (not that I'm complaining about the 2000s stuff at all), but I reckon I'd just like to remix Lodger and maybe add some guitar overdubs and rearrange the track order. On that subject I would have swapped "Fill Your Heart" with "Bombers" on Hunky Dory, that was folly. [Note: This interview was conducted before David Bowie passed away.]

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?

No, not once. 

What's your earliest music-related childhood memory?

I formed a band with my sister and two cousins when I was seven. We were called Rock the World and had two songs. I made a cardboard drumset with metal trays for cymbals. Dad made me some drumsticks out of dowels with an angle grinder. 

What outrageous request would you most like to put in your tour rider as a joke?

I'm fairly serious when it comes to band stuff. I wouldn't bring humor into it, to be quite frank. 

What's the most disastrous date you've ever been on?

Ah, just the classic nothing-to-talk-about, painful silence followed by a 12-month relationship that takes nearly two years for me to get over.

Which Star Wars character are you most like?

I don't really like Star Wars, haven't seen it in years. I like Spaceballs, though. I'd be the character Bill Pullman plays-we wear a similar jacket, literally and metaphorically. 

Where do you see yourself in five beers?

I had two beers last night and I feel deathly hungover this morning-I don't drink a lot and when I do it's often smashed windscreens, slashed tires, broken hood ornaments, amateur pyrotechnics, visits from the police and the fire brigade, hiding in the bushes with a bottle of kerosene, that sort of stuff.

What's the lamest breakup excuse you've ever given or been given?

I'm a sensitive soul, questions like that can't be answered in a joking manner. 

Which recent anniversary for an album, film, TV show, or historical event has most made you feel old?

I'm still a young man, I refuse to feel old, time is constantly flowing and you'd better get used to it because it's not going to change. In saying that, I am horrified that The White Stripes' Elephant came out nearly 13 years ago, 13!

What song will most unite or amp up the tour bus or van (à la "Tiny Dancer" in Almost Famous)? Which song do you love that the rest of the band or crew refuse to let you put on?

Captain Beefheart's "Plastic Factory" and Can's "Moonshake" both did well on tour, as did "F**k the Golden Youth" by The Mint Chicks. As for the second question probably something from Pearl Jam or Machina-era Smashing Pumpkins, or god forbid Up-era R.E.M. 

Mass shootings continue to be a problem, and yet the U.S. government still has yet to take action on curbing gun violence. What are your thoughts on gun control?

I don't know anything about it. I've never had a gun waved in my face or known anyone that's been shot. Guns don't exist in N.Z. like they do in the U.S. 

If Mark Kozelek starts a fresh beef in a forest and nobody is around to write a 600-word thinkpiece about it, does he still make a sound?

I don't know what that is and if it's what I think it is then I refuse to subscribe to that sort of pettiness. 

Which part of America or which specific state do you find it most challenging to tour in and why?

The states where marijuana is legal. I got very tired of hearing about it from every weed smoker I had the misfortune of being stuck with.

In 2015, what do the words "indie rock" mean?

Middle of the road, flavorless, over-compressed, 1980's Underground-inspired, desperate, shameful cover-up of one's desire to be as big as R.E.M. when it just doesn't work like that anymore because there were four great songwriters in that band.

What was the most baffling cultural phenomenon in 2015?

People killing each other, again and again and again-I know this is nothing new but it has become sickly popular.

If you could drop a copy of one album in the inbox of every citizen of the world, what album would it be (besides one of your own)?

Fuck, I don't know. I've given up trying to pressure people into understanding what I think is sensational. Even if it was actually possible for me to go around giving people CDs it'd be a waste of time, three-quarters of the people won't even bother listening to it. There are four and a half million people in New Zealand-I don't think we've even sold four and half hundred copies of our album here, that's what we're talking about.

FFS (Franz Ferdinand + Sparks) proved that collaborations can work. What other two bands would you like to see unite as one new entity?

I haven't heard that. I do like Franz Ferdinand a lot, especially when I was younger. 

How prepared are you for the apocalypse, zombie or otherwise?

Again, I don't subscribe to that sort of silliness. If it's the end of the world, it's the end of the world. If it happens, and I happen to feel then like I do this morning, then I'd be putting on Carly Simon and joining in on the destruction.

If your house were on fire, what would you grab as you were running out?

My laptop. That's got all the stuff on it, my life's work.

What's the biggest goal for your life that you have yet to achieve?

If I believed there was an answer to that then I'd be a fool.

www.saladboys.bandcamp.com

 



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