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Sam Bean (The Senseless)

Interview with Sam Bean from The Senseless
by Yiannis Dafopoulos at 05 July 2007, 12:43 PM

I recently had the chance  to review Sam Bean's (THE BERZERKER's bassist) latest solo effort - which also was his debut one - and I can say that I was really impressed! You can also see this by reading my review on the album. Anyway, after that I decided to contact him for a small mail interview and he was more than willing to do it. So I just sent my questions and I saw that apart from a great musician, something he doesn't want to admit, he is also a great and warm person. Here's what he had to say about THE SENSELESS, THE BERZERKER and the weird way he managed to sign a contract.

Hey Sam! What’s up? Loved your solo effort In The Realm Of The Senseless. How’s the weather there? Rainy as always I suppose…

How did you guess? Yeah, summer just isn’t quite happening over here in the UK this week.

Even if I doubt that there are people who aren’t aware of you, I would like you to give us a short bio of THE SENSELESS.

I guess at this stage there’s no mentioning THE SENSELESS without mentioning THE BERZERKER. I played bass with THE BERZERKER since 1999 or so, did three albums and a whole lot of touring. I wrote quite a few tracks during that time including a lot of stuff that wasn’t suitable for THE BERZERKER, and ended up recording a demo of songs that I gave out to friends, bands, acquaintances, and random BERZERKER fans. I guess this was the birth of THE SENSELESS there, the time when I started doing music outside of THE BERZERKER.

How did you decide to release a solo album?

I got the offer from Anticulture when they heard the demo. I wasn’t particularly driven to release it before then. Some occasional dudes who had heard the demo forwarded it to labels fishing for a deal for me, which was nice of them, but I wasn’t too bothered either way.

How did you end up choosing Matt Wilcock and Ol Drake as guest musicians for the album?

When I was laying down the rhythm guitar tracks, Matt was manning the mixing desk. I was trying to play the tapping part on ’Crippled Trash’ and wasn’t quite doing it fast enough. My evident lack of musical skill infuriated Matt who snatched the guitar off me, and performed the part in one take. I would have had Matt throw in a solo or something but we were gearing up to move to the UK at the time, and we were both short of time.

As for Ol, we have been chatting on the same forum online for years now. He had posted clips of him playing guitar so I knew he could shred the bejesus out of his guitar. I needed a sweep solo for the track ’Promise’, and I can’t shred or sweep for shit, so I asked Ol to do it. Well, I actually hassled the crap out of him and finally managed to annoy him enough to extract a solo from him the day before I flew to Oz to do the proper recording. It’s funny, I thought at the time I was doing him a favour, getting a performance of his out to the general metal public. Since then, Ol and his band EVILE have signed to Earache Records and are recording with Fleming Rasmussen who did METALLICA’s Master Of Puppets and MORBID ANGEL’s Covenant. Holy shit was I lucky to get that solo off him!

Are you satisfied with In The Realm Of The Senseless? If you had the chance, would you add or remove something from the album?

Oh, of course I would change things! That’s not unusual for anyone recording an album though, you always come out of the end of it going damn, I just need to tweak this… and this… and this… and this…. No kidding if it wasn’t for budgets and release schedules I reckon most CDs out there would go unreleased. Most musicians just don’t know when to let go! If I had the chance, I would rerecord a lot of the vocals. I would put a lot more time into the lyrics. I am of the opinion vocals should only appear if they totally rock, and I feel there’s a few instances where I could have done something better. I think all songwriting, no matter how good it is, can always stand getting further examination. All things considered though, I am really happy with how the album turned out and how it sounds. I just needed to get this CD recorded and clear the slate to start work on a new level of music.

Are you thinking of recruiting some session musicians and therefore perform some live shows?

Not really. I have been asked this question a bit! I would only do THE SENSELESS live if I could work out how to do it for fun or money. Hey, I am honest! Doing THE BERZERKER was hard work, cost a lot of our own money, and has never made much in return. For years, the only holiday I would get from my day job would be going on tour, where I would work TWICE as hard as I did at my normal job! I am getting a bit old to be working myself into an early grave, so I am not going to go out training up musicians and going through the stresses of playing live unless there is a good reason for it. I am not going to go out touring just because it is something bands are supposed to do. CDs live forever; a show is an ephemeral, subjective experience. I would rather be using my time and resources to make CDs.

If you had to describe your music to someone, how would you do it? What name would you give to your music?

Extreme metal really covers it. I am not a big fan of bands that need to make up some big label for their kind of music. Where THE SENSELESS really differs from everyone else is that I am not afraid to sound happy or positive. I’ve seen some ads and reviews labeling my music as Super Extreme Happy Metal and that covers some tracks, but then I’ve got ugly fiendish songs like ’No Bomb Is Big Enough’ which don’t quite fit in with that. I am not afraid to sound hopeful, or to try to sound brave. This is music that takes chances. I won’t cop out and present the whole thing as some sort of joke just to cover my ass against anyone who thinks that metal shouldn’t be going into these other areas. I think that there are a lot of melodies, scales, and feelings in extreme metal which haven’t even been touched on because everyone writes diminished, minor, chromatic, discordant, angry stuff in the same voice as most other extreme bands.

Which bands/musicians have influenced you?

Listening to MORBID ANGEL made me want to learn how to play guitar, and that really changed my direction in life when they released ’Blessed Are The Sick’. ALICE IN CHAINS opened my eyes to what music could really do. Everything but the GIRL and MASSIVE ATTACK were the groups that finally clued me into what all the big fuss was about electronic music. BRUTAL TRUTH showed me what brutal really fast music was about. I am currently listening to a lot of LAMB, and getting blown away by some of the moods they create.

Are you going to release any other stuff with THE SENSELESS or is this just your first and last album?

I will definitely be making another album. I have another 75 percent of another album written musically, now I am just trying to finish off tracks, and get the perfect lyrics, vocals, and sounds happening. I want the album to have a really strong distinctive flavour, and I don’t want it to get boring so getting the last 25 percent of it right is going to probably take as long as doing the rest of the album has taken! I would like to do four albums of THE SENSELESS at the least.

Apart from money, fame, women and free booze, what more do you expect from this album?

Ha, well apart from the fact that I probably won’t get any fame, booze, or money for this (and I am already sorted for women), I expect to totally love it whenever I put the CD on. I made the CD because there was music I wanted to hear which wasn’t out there. I don’t expect anything else from this album. I don’t expect it to sell huge numbers, although that would be nice. I don’t expect everyone to get it, or to like it.

In the promo note, it says, there will be at least two songs that will rock you harder than anything you’ve heard in ages, and there will be at least two songs you hate. Which two songs you love and which two songs you hate from this album?

There’s no two songs I hate but the two super-heavy tracks ’Evilicious’ and ’No Bomb Is Big Enough’ kind of stomp all over the harmony of the album. Most of the album is heavy, but those two tracks one after the other are just ridiculous. The two songs, which I love at this point, are ’Wreckage’ because of all the strong sounds, moods, and melodies in it - it has a very apocalyptic, patriotic sound to it - and ’Happy Ever After’. It’s a really powerful track with enough curious elements to make it interesting from start to finish… it has the crowd chanting, the looney-tunes blast riffs, solo drums, fading guitars, big beats, and it slides into the alternate universe of ’After Happy Ever’ quite nicely.

What are your plans with THE BERZERKER?

There’s the possibility of an interesting little diversion with BERZERKER shortly, but I’ve got to see how it pans out. I put a proposal to Luke and some other people last week, I am hoping to get the ball rolling soon. If it goes ahead, you’ll freak out. It is the most awesome concept in extreme metal for years.

Apart from that, my involvement with BERZERKER is decided largely by Luke. I am happy to do albums, not so much touring. I hope to do hit-and-run tours in some new territories over the next 12 months. I think the contract with Earache might be up - I am not 100% sure on that - and if that’s the case, we might have to work out whom we are signing with, or where the band is headed.

Are you working with any other bands/projects at this time?

Apart from the above-mentioned proposal, I have had another project proposed to me, which involves individuals from extreme metal bands much bigger than mine. But I don’t want to give any details until there’s been some work done, and tracks recorded. Until then it’s all just talk.

Imagine that you could organize your own festival anywhere you wanted and you could call any band you wanted. Where would it take place and which bands would you choose?

Oh, man. Those festivals already largely exist for me - Earthcore and the Rainbow Serpent Festival in Australia. They are big parties held over a few days out in the Australian bush, hours from anywhere. The music runs almost 24 hours a day, it’s just fucking fantastic. The only difference I would make would be to throw in the occasional extreme band because there’s mostly electronic, ambient, trance and chill groups performing. I would like PIG DESTROYER in there… MELT BANANA… MORBID ANGEL… BOLT THROWER from the IVth Crusade era… EMPEROR… ANAAL NATHRAKH… But I couldn’t have nonstop brutal bands; it would just get boring after a couple of hours.

If THE SENSELESS was a part of a woman’s body, which part would it be?

God, I can imagine what every metal band’s answer to this would be, entrails ripped from a virgin’s cunt or the vagina dur hur hur hur. What an absolute cliche.

THE SENSELESS would be the tits, of course.

How did you manage to sign with Anticulture Records?

Well, I was doing a BERZERKER tour at the start of 2006 and gave one of the bands HAPPY FACE my demo. Their manager Charles of HIM Media heard it, liked it, and immediately hooked me up with Anticulture Records. They decided to license the recording, but I wasn’t hot on releasing the demo, the drum sounds were rubbish, so I rerecorded it at the end of last year. And that kind of brings us to now!

How do you see the Metal scene nowadays?

I am not as into it as I once was. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m older and I’ve changed, or if it’s because there’s barely any bands out there offering what I want. I was lucky to get into metal around 1990, which was the golden age for Death Metal. Things just haven’t been the same since 1996 or so. I just don’t see many bands pushing the envelope, or following their own singular vision, I don’t hear the powerful evolution that happened at breathtaking speed during those golden years. I think the bands that came out in the late 80’s and early 90’s were so strong that most modern Metal bands today are compelled to make music in the same voice.

I have just deleted an entire paragraph that I typed about today’s metal industry, from bands to magazines to labels. It is probably a good idea I make a few more friends before I go losing them all!

How hard is it for a band to create a unique sound?

I really don’t think it’s that hard. If you have played an instrument long enough to get competent, say ten years or so, there are certain passages, rhythms, riffs and techniques you will always be attracted to which feel special to you. If you are always writing then there will be a lot of material, which rings true to you and is totally soaked in your flavour. Something like BERZERKER, we consciously worked out how to sound different to everyone else. With THE SENSELESS, it happened more organically. Sometimes I’ll go without listening to metal for months, or playing guitar for weeks, and when I return to the music and the instrument I hit it with fresh ears and hands and it’s easier to pluck music out of the air.

 Thanx a lot for your time Sam. I wish you the best! A message to all the readers of Metal Temple?

Cheers for interview! Hope summer heats up.

Check out the filmclip for ’Vacation’ at:

THE SENSELESS Myspace page



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