Sam Green is a Devon based singer songwriter who also plays with his band 'The Midnight Heist'. We heard that he was appearing at The Loft Live Sessions in September so thought it would be a great idea to find out a little more about him ahead of the show. We caught up and had a really good chat about cookery nightmares, surviving festivals and having a really cool dad who took him to loads of gigs when he was younger....
Q. Firstly, please would you introduce yourself, tell us a bit about you and your music and tell us something fascination about you that not many people know....
A. Hi, I'm Sam. I am a roots musician and songwriter based in North Devon. I live by the sea with my girlfriend and our daughter. I spend most of my time writing, recording, teaching and playing music. I tour a lot and I love playing live. When I'm at home I love to hang out with my family and my friends and when I've got a spare moment, I like to spend it in the water surfing. My music is acoustic based folk-blues. It is soulful, sensitive and conversational, and full of good-time grooves. When I play a show, I play a variety of acoustic and slide guitars, harmonica, foot percussion and sing. I like to write about things that are important to me and the people around me. I sing about love, travel, social injustice and dreams of political revolution. I try though to keep it chilled for people listening and not be too heavy, so all my songs have a positive twist and a sense of humour.
Something fascinating??? Hmmm?? I've had a lot of other jobs over the years. I used to work as a snooker table repair man/fitter for the pro snooker competitions.
Q. I see that you recently supported the legends that are Hayseed Dixie in Totnes recently, how did that come about and how was the show? have you ever considered a Bluegrass cover of a classic song yourself?
A. That was a great night! I actually recorded Dobro for a band in Brighton called 'Dr Bluegrass and the ill-billy 8' a few years ago. The guy who was recording mandolin on that session now plays with Hayseed Dixie. So when I saw they were playing in Totnes I made it my mission to lock down the support slot. I've played a lot of Bluegrass ever since I was a teenager, pretty much any song you can think of played in a bluegrass style is sure to put a smile on your face.
Q. I read about your cookery related nightmare the other night where your mum had to demonstrate how to make an omelette, on another note, how was the Blues Guitar Workshop that you ran at Saunton Road Studios? Was your mum on hand to explain about slide guitar techniques?
A. Ha, no she wasn't around but I'm happy to say that I managed to get through it without her help. That was a really nice workshop. I love teaching guitar to people. For me it's a really wholesome and fulfilling aspect of being a musician. I work as a guitar teacher in North Devon and I'm looking forward to helping with some really cool GCSE music performances this year.
Q. You've played/are playing a number of festivals with your band 'The Midnight Heist' this summer, which have you really enjoyed so far and which are you looking forward to playing?
A. This summer season has been great. It was a real honour to headline a stage at the Isle of Wight Festival, and my 4 month old daughter had her first big festival experience at Secret Garden Party. Fieldview Festival is a really cool event which is organised by the guys who play in my band and their families. One of best finales to any summer season though has to be Shambala, can't wait to play this year.
Q. What are your top 3 tips to surviving a larger scale festival?
1. Make sure you have good people with you at all times who will enjoy the festival on your wave-length.
2. Make sure you can always find your way back to your bed.
3. Bring toilet roll.
Q. Please can you describe a typical live show? (if there is such a thing!)
A. Solo shows and band shows are quite different things for me. My solo shows are a great opportunity for me to showcase my songwriting and lots of alternative, organic ways of performing by building up grooves and drops around the riffs and words. It's a more personal affair and it's cool to tell stories about where the songs come from. The band shows are higher energy, lots of sweat, lots of country finger picking, lots of punk rock attitude, lots of blues riffs. It's a case of neck a couple of red bulls and rock out like I'm 14 again in the mosh-pit of The Lemon Grove in Exeter.
Q. Which band or artist made you want to start playing music? Do you remember the first song that you ever learned? Can you still play it?
A. I think it was probably The Beatles or The Beach Boys that got me into music as a young kid. My Dad is a big fan and we used to listen to loads of music in the car from that era. I can remember learning some Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix and The Eagles really early on as well. Yeah I can still play em'.
Q. What was the very first (proper) gig that you went to? Who were you there with? What memories do you have from it?
A. I've been really lucky to have my Dad take me to a lot of concerts and festivals. I think I was probably going to gigs with him before I even realised what a gig was! When I was 13 or 14 I went to see my friends band at The Farmhouse in Exmouth which was an early introduction to crowd surfing and moshpit etiquette. My Dad though is the person who took me to see the most live bands when I was younger. Some of the most influential things I've ever seen have been with him, Brian Wilson playing Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson playing Smile and the Cream re-Union show to name just a few.
Q. Do you come from a musical family? If so, what instruments did you used to find lying around the house when you were a kid?
A. Yeah I suppose I do. My sister is a very talented singer/songwriter. My parents are massive fans of music, so we had a huge vinyl collection while growing up. We also had guitars, a piano and a dulcimer in the house and I was very much encouraged to play and sing as much as possible.
Q. If you had to nominate just one album for the coveted title of 'Best album EVER', what would it be and why?
A. There are so many albums that I love from all eras and in all styles. But the album I have had in my life the longest and that I have known as a kid, a teenager and now an adult is Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. For me, it is an amazing piece of music for so many reasons. The sentiment of all the songs and lyrics is really adorable and easy to relate to. The instrumentation is really complex and interesting. All the different parts working together sound beautiful. I love how Brian Wilson and Tony Asher took the beach boys style of doo-wap, surf and R n' B, built on it, modernised it and used it as a vehicle to create something groundbreaking and familiar all at the same time. Genius!
Q. Lets say that you get a call from Michael Eavis asking you to provide 3 bands to headline Glastonbury Festival next year, who would you choose and why?
1. Xavier Rudd. He's one of my all time favourite artists, his albums are all great. I've seen him live several times with different bands/line ups and he's been awesome every time. I saw him headline the Avalon stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2013 on his own, it was one of the best gigs I've ever seen and it would be great to see him on the Pyramid stage reaching a larger audience in the U.K.
2. Pearl Jam. I have a friend from school, and whenever Pearl jam are on tour in the UK we are there, at the front all night long. I have always loved their music. They are such an epic live band and it would be really cool to see them tear up Glastonbury.
3. Led Zeppelin. Obviously John Bonham wouldn't be there. But if they could reform as they did for the O2 shows that would be great. Glasto is a British institution on a global scale and for me Led Zeppelin are the greatest international band from Britain of all time. It just makes perfect sense.
Q. If you had a chance to form your very own 'Supergroup' for one night only, you can choose anyone dead, alive or fictional, who would be in your lineup and why?
A. It would be great to see what Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis would have done had they have had the chance to work together. Perhaps Ray Lamontangne on vocals because I love his voice and phrasing. Bob Marley as rhythm guitarist and songwriter because his message was so powerful. Levon Helm on drums for some roots/soul back-bone. Joni Mitchell on keys bringing some feminine energy into the mix with her amazing voice and writing skills. Maybe The Staves could be in there as well to add in some vocal lushness. Jeff Ahmet on bass to add in some hard working, Seattle DIY ethos and I reckon you've got a pretty awesome band.
Q. You're from Exmouth, what do think the state of the live music scene is like around the Exeter area right now? Do you think we need more live music venues?
A. I have always really enjoyed the Exeter music scene. The Cavern, Lemon Grove and Great Hall Freakscene shows were amazing to have on the door step as a kid and are still great places to see music. The Firehouse is a brilliant music pub at the weekends, the Exeter Phoenix is a great arts centre and you'd be hard pushed to match the atmosphere of a show at the Bridge Inn at Topsham. Music fans in the Exeter area are real connoisseurs of music as well, probably because the bands and musicians on the local scene are of such a high standard. That often means that you have a really respectful audience. I don't feel like there isn't enough of a scene, but it would be nice to see a small intimate/theatre style venue in the city centre perhaps? The kind of place with a 250 capacity where up and coming touring artists could play some nice week night shows. I guess we have The Bike Shed Theatre though. So maybe all this good stuff is going on and I don't know about it.. So no need for more venues, but better promotions.. Or I just need to get my finger back on the pulse?
Q. Please would you nominate a few fellow bands or acts from around your area that we should be checking out....
Sam was doing a GREAT job of keeping up with our questions, we thought we'd turn on the spotlights and make him sweat with a round of quickfire questions, no pauses, just the first answer was accepted, here's how we got on....
Q. Whiskey or Wine?
Q. Burger or Kebab?
Q. Stanley Kubrick or Alfred Hitchcock?
Q. Electric or Acoustic?
Q. Camping or Camper Van?
Q. Summer or Winter?
Q. Rudyard Kipling or Mr Kipling?
A. Mr Kipling
Q. James Bond or Austin Powers?
A. James Bond
Q. Pub or Trendy wine bar?
Q. Xbox or Playstation?
Q. De Niro or Pacino?
A. De Niro
Saunton Road or Abbey Road?
A. Saunton Road
Q. God or Google?
A. Don't know enough about either!
We'd like to thank Sam for taking the time to chat to us, we wish him every success in the future and look forward to catching him play live at The Loft Live Sessions in Exeter at the end of September. Keep up to date with his whereabouts by clicking on the links below;
Interview by Steve Muscutt