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Salad Boys

Cultivating a Mystery

Feb 26, 2016 Photography by Jim Nothing Salad Boys
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New Zealand’s Salad Boyshelmed by singer/guitarist Joe Sampson and rounded out by drummer James Sullivan and bassist Ben Oderingare one of the more circumspect bands when it comes to being interviewed. They’re clearly passionate about music, but prefer to let the listener come to their own conclusions about the songs. The taciturn Sampson, when asked if the songwriting process on his band’s auspicious debut Metalmania is in the least bit egalitarian, says, “That’s not something I want to talk about now really. Maybe in 20 years.”

But perhaps it’s best left for these Kiwi popsters to be enveloped in enigma. They’re named after a misheard Feelies lyric in the song “Fa Ce La.” Their crisp jangle pop recalls the finest moments of countrymen The Chills and The Clean, and Salad Boys strongly identify with Parquet Courts, whom they’ve toured with in New Zealand. Sampson also feels a strong affinity for R.E.M.‘s career path, but doesn’t necessarily want to emulate it. “It’s one of those things I try not to think about,” he says of his own band’s trajectory. “I try not to plan things because it usually doesn’t work. But ideally it’ll go somewhere.”

The protracted gestation process for Metalmania (it was labored over for two years) is a source of obvious consternation for Sampson. “I have such a fucked-up perspective on it,” he concedes. “I try not to think about it. A lot of false starts. It was an all-consuming thing, and was hard work. It didn’t have a devastating effect on my life. But next time I hope to just let it go more. We worked on each song separately. Next time I’d like it to be more cohesive.”

At the time of our interview Sampson was having a great time on the band’s first U.S. tour, playing in offbeat towns in the south and west, but he was eager to begin the follow up to Metalmania in earnest. “I’m looking forward to going back to work, actually. Touring doesn’t feel like real work,” he admits. “It’s easy to record these days, so I can do that straight away. But writing the songs is a bit different.”

It is clear in talking to Sampson what a fan of other bands he is, eagerly recommending the New Zealand band Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing, and enthusing about Anthony Pascoe from Salad Boys’ DIY label in New Zealand, Melted Ice Cream, who have also released a cassette by Parquet Courts. He also concedes that he’s generally happy in the moment and with the reception of Metalmania. “People responded to it the way I thought they would, which is a good thing,” he says. “But I try not to think about where we’re going from here. I have no idea about it, actually. I feel like we’re doing pretty well now, and it’s amazing to be touring the states.”

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar’s November/December Issue. This is its debut online.]


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