Sam Russo vs. Throwing Stuff

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To celebrate Moving North’s 100th show on Saturday we’ve got a couple of band-on-band interviews to whet your appetitives. One will be Kamikaze Girls vs. Hot Mass but before that we’ve got old friends Throwing Stuff and Sam Russo grilling each other…

SR: Sam Russo

TS: Throwing Stuff (KK: Kieran, AM: Alun, JC: Jamie, BS: Ben)

Sam Russo: If you could drink anyone’s piss, whose would you drink, and in what receptacle?

TS (BS): I’d drink my own, keep the cycle going and I’d drink it out of my flatmates favourite mug.

TS: (AM): Ben’s wee in a Cornetto cone – a sweet and sour treat with chocolate at the bottom.

Throwing Stuff: “Storm” came out in 2013, “Greyhound Dreams” in 2015 – by that logic are we expecting a new album this year? How has life changed from album to album and what can we expect to hear next?

SR: I’m working on a new record. Right now I think I’m going to call it ‘GIVE UP’ and I have 5 or 6 songs I’m happy with. It’s tough because I docan’t write songs for the sake of it – I have to be really into it. I’m quite a slow writer too which doesn’t help. I’ve written around 12 songs for this record but ditched a bunch of them and started again whcihs is exactly what I did with Greyhound Dreams. I’d love to record this summer and tour like crazy next year because I’ve been a bit quiet in 2017 so far. I’d love to be able to churn out records but I think it’s probably a good thing that nobody ever hears the songs I drop. Sometimes they’re just stupid songs, or rants. I wrote a song last week called ‘Dude Diligence’ that will never see the light of day. Definitely for the best.

Life hasn’t changed a great deal since greyhound Dreams but I feel like my writing has. Something’s caused a shift in me that’s brought out some really raw, fast songs. Maybe more angry in a way. I think living through a lot more bullshit than usual might be a part of that. Working some office based jobs and being forced to act like somebody else for a chunk of your life has a way of trimming away the bullshit, even if it does slowly peel your soul like a dirty old carrot. I’m writing much more straight up, direct, literal songs right now which is really exciting for me. I think this record’s going to feel like a sigh of relief. It’s going to be a punk record I’m pretty sure of that.


Sam Russo: What’s it like to put on such an energetic, passionate and insane live show on tour, and then go to work the day job? It must be like living a double life when you’re being crowd surfed into a ceiling fan while people throw beer all over your face one minute, and a few hours later you’re at the photocopier trying to pretend you give a shit…

TS (KK): Apart from the occasional workmates who sometimes come to check us out, then there’s no hiding – it’s pretty easily done. I don’t have to lie about it like Ben does…

TS (AM): I’ve actually meticulously planned my life so that all my jobs are varied, loads of fun and minimal in boredom. If you need someone to play your wedding whilst laying some patio, walking your dog and delivering you food on a bicycle then give me a call.

 

Throwing Stuff: In the last few years you’ve become an Uncle, moved in with Clare in your own house and always stayed close to your family. Obviously family is a huge priority for you, does this ever influence your songwriting? 

SR:Yeah my family is a bit part of my life for sure and because I mostly write true stories and things from my experiences they all creep in there. I live where I live to be close to them too so that plays a big part in my lifestyle. It’s not exactly a thriving metropolis, but it’s definitely home because of the people. There’s a bunch of family stuff I want to write about but don’t feel brave enough yet. Some things burn a bit close to the backdoor still, but the way this new record’s going I feel much more able to write about shit that makes me uncomfortable. My brother Sonny always complains there’s no songs about him but I think he’ll be happy when he hears ‘GIVE UP’!. I’m lucky to have such a cool family and the more I’m away from home, the more I value the time I get to spend with them for sure.

 

Sam Russo: What are the first records you all bought with your own dough? How has that first purchase influenced you as a musician?

TS (KK): My first album was Stereophonics, my Mum wouldn’t let me buy the 50 Cent album, thanks mum.

TS (AM): Dookie by Green Day was pretty life-altering in the most positive way.


Throwing Stuff: Can you share the most baffling moment of your life that’s come through playing music?

SR: Playing at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, California and looking down in the middle of my first song and seeing Milo Aukerman on the front row just beaming up at me, nodding his head and tapping his foot. It was insane. Just Milo from the Descendents hanging out watching me play like that’s normal. Sometimes I’ll be driving along listening to the Descendents and I’ll remember that he bought my CD and we hung out and talked and I think that there’s a possibility he put it on in his car and drove along listening to it the exact same way I do all the time with his band, and I just freak out. That’s the beauty of doing what I’ve been lucky enough to do – I’ve met my heroes, and they’re all awesome. When I was 16 I wrote myself a letter that I had to open when I was 25 and in the letter I basically told myself to chase this stupid, wild dream that I’d had in my heart since as long as I can remember until the end. I never thought when I emailed Brendan Kelly on my Bush Internet TV to interview him for my imaginary fanzine when I was 15 that I’d run up to a mike onstage at a sold out show at the Troubadour in LA and scream Rambling Boys of Pleasure with him as friends when I was 30. There’s so many things like that man. It’s ridiculous the shit that I’ve got away with. I’m very lucky, and very baffled. I think what’s important though is that it’s never been my goal to sell a bunch of records or play huge shows, in that letter it just said that I should be true to myself – and the 32 year old me has a lot in common with the 15 year old me…

Sam Russo: I heard somewhere that your whole band was once immortalised as Top Trumps Cards – can you disclose any of the stats from the mythical deck?

TS (KK): It was a brutal breakdown of each of our characteristics, quite the therapy. Alun then vomited on them and they had to be thrown away.

TS (AM): I can’t remember specifics but I know I have the largest penis because Jamie tells me every time we urinate next to each other.

Throwing Stuff: As a solo artist, you’ve toured extensively throughout the world alongside some of our musical heroes such as Lucero and The Lawrence Arms. Where do you see the “glass ceiling”? Can it get better than this, or are you even chasing something better than this?

SR: It’s not that I’m chasing something better, I just happen to love doing what I do. I love driving around in vans playing live and I love spending time with the people I play with and being around music. I have no ambitions besides writing the best songs I can and making the most of the chances I get. I just want to write the songs that are truest to me, and I want to play them the best I can. The glass ceiling is just writing better songs really – and I can’t possibly imagine ever hitting that. As long as I enjoy what I’m doing, I’ll keep doing it and I think if I toured 300 days a year with big bands I didn’t know or maybe even like, I probably wouldn’t be having as much fun. Right now I have to work some shitty jobs to pay the bills, but who doesn’t? I’m realistic about my music – I know it’ll never be my living, so I’m just hugely grateful that I get to do what I do while I’m still able to. Until I have to become an old man stripper.


Sam Russo: Playing in a hardcore band is fucking exhausting. My cousins used to zap eachother with a cattle prod to get psyched up – how do you get ready to play if you’re not necessarily feeling it?

TS (JC): I down eight pints of Carling and jump all over the place, spit in the face of an officer. See if that bothers ya.

TS: (AM): My usual routine is to get really nervous; visualise all the ways a gig ca go wrong and how I can be embarrassed in front of loads of people. My knees are weak, arms are heavy, vomit on my sweater. High-fiving Kieran after each performance tends to be a lovely celebration of us not being as terrible as we believed we would be. Once in a while I’ll drink 8% Orangeboom and forget which stick is ‘left’ and which is ‘right’.

Throwing Stuff: Would you be up for a split record with Throwing Stuff, we’ve got to cover a song of each other’s and an original…

SR: Fuck yes. That’s the glass ceiling! I’d find it so hard to pick one Throwing Stuff Song though…I tell you what, you pick the song for me and I’ll pick the one for you?

Sam Russo: What are you finding interesting in music at the moment?

TS (KK): Not much, it seems quite stagnant and boring to me personally at the moment, not much is grabbing my attention. Open to recommendations?

TS (AM): I’m liking Sheer Mag a lot, new The Smith Street Band is great. The Beatles are on Spotfiy now so that’s a cool 300 songs to chuck on shuffle.

Throwing Stuff: We’re a hardcore band so it’s easy to get raw anger and frustration out in our music – do you ever feel held back by the medium of acoustic? 

SR: No, I only ever feel held back by my lack of musicianship! I need to get better at guitar. I love playing acoustic, but I love playing in bands too. I think anyone that sees the show on Saturday will see just how much I love finally being able to give these songs a band and communicate the emotion in my songs with the dynamics of having drums, bass and electric guitars up there with me. We’re not a folk band, we’re a fucking loud, fun punk rock band. It’s not Sam Russo acoustic with a backing group, it’s not a country rock band with fiddles and upright bass – it’s a whole new bastard beast and it’s going to be so fun. Manchester is my favourite city in the UK to play music in, and I just can’t wait to show people how hard we’ve worked and what we’ve done with these songs. I can’t think of a better place to play our first show. It’s gonna be so greasy.

Sam Russo: How has playing in Throwing Stuff changed your life?

TS (KK): Way more than it had any right to. We’ve played in America, played with some ridiculous bands and mostly just got to hang out with the other 3 boys much more than we would normally which is lovely.

TS (AM): I’ve met so many ace people here and in America. It has probably cost me a cool couple of thousand pounds but the memories of being on tour with these babes is genuinely priceless and I wouldn’t change a thing.

You can watch Sam Russo play his first EVER full band performance at Manchfester 4.5 this Saturday at Gullivers, Manchester. Also playing are Throwing Stuff, Happy Accidents, Hot Mass, Kamikaze Girls, Crystal Piss, Aerial Salad and the mind-blowing, life-affirming, chord-hitting, feedback-producing Apologies, I Have None.

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