Sam Zurick - 02.03.07
Would you introduce yourself, for the uninitiated, and what bands you've been/are a part of?
Hi Iím Sam Zurick, 31/m, Scorpio - currently guitar player of Make Believe, bass player of Joan of Arc, and CEO of People Dick (solo junk) ----- in the past I played bass in Cap'n Jazz, Owls, Friend/Enemy. Also in the past I played guitar in Ghosts and Vodka, Joan of Arc and Troll Patrol.
So Make Believe and Owen just got back from Japan. How was the turnout and the overall response over there?
The turnout and response was very healthy. We seem to do a bit better over there than here which is common for certain USA bands -- the people there have deep cravings and deep oceans...
So what's next for you guys after the upcoming European tour? A new Joan of Arc release in the works, possibly?
There's no talk of a new JoA, but if I know us there will be a new JoA by years end.
We are currently writing the next Make Believe record. We just got ourselves a new practice space that we are happy about. Bob added a rug to make it less warehousey. I just finished
a month long residency at Zorthian Ranch in California during which I made "Cock Uh Doodle DooĒ, my second solo thing which Iím gonna release myself on CD and my friend Sam who operates Total Heaviocity Records will release on vinyl. Also, Tim K is working on his first feature film called "Orchard Vale". Iím pretty sure he's in the editing phase of it....
In terms of your own writing and playing style, did you have any significant jazz or classical influences? If not, who did you emulate, or who were you influenced by?
I know that Iím indirectly classically influenced because my old pal Victor Villareal was taught
classical growing up, so when I first met him he had tons of cool tricks that wore off on me. Besides his technical skills, he had an endless imagination that always surprised me. Nowadays Iím influenced by what might be considered "occult" or "esoteric" writings. Occult is a Latin word for "hidden" or "secret". Some people immediately associate "occult" with PURE EVIL because of Hollywood....speaking of Hollywood, ancient Druid magicians used wands made from Hollywood when casting their spells.
From my standpoint, your proficiency on guitar has always revolved around some pretty abstract melodies, commonly referred to in various reviews as "noodling". From Ghosts and Vodka, especially, your periodic guitar work with Joan of Arc, and more recently Make Believe are all fine examples. Even playing bass for caP'n Jazz and Owls, you had a pretty special take on these instruments. How did this unique style develop for you?
I think it happened because I never aspired to play music. I was totally happy just listening to Run-Dmc, Beasties Boys, the Fat Boys, Twisted Sister, Van-Halen,, etc etc. Besides close friends, I never had a teacher so everything developed in a group setting with people I liked who also happened to have unique abilities that wore off on me. There were about 9 people (Victor [Villareal], Kinsella Bros., Erik Bocek, Jimmy Respass, Scott Shellhammer, Kevin Frank, Andrei Cabanban, Ryan Rapsys) when I was first starting that had strange takes on what music was or could be, and being more of a baseball card nerd I didnít know any better but to fall into the rhythms of my friends. Once I figured out where to put my fingers and where to hide the bong, it became a fun game of "whatís gonna happen today" with myself.
Speaking of, you're quickly escalating to becoming quite a widely revered guitarist, getting some pretty great compliments from publications such as GuitarPlayer Magazine and Alternative Press. How do you respond to this seemingly sudden, and long overdue in some minds, coverage on your talents and the music that comes with it?
Itís a really nice feeling for me to be acknowledged, makes me want to work harder at it which
isnít always good because I forget to eat and eating is important.
For those who have never had the pleasure of seeing Make Believe live, how would you describe it for them?
I know what I gotta do and thatís stay on top of the music cause if I fall off then people with tomatoes will start chucking them, so Iím pretty busy and I have to remain as still as possible even though Iíd like to be jumping off amps and making out with my pick-ups. So if I picture myself as a statue with authentic-human-hair and animated fingers I tend to stay focused no matter how many beers I've had.. Plus with Tim's singing n' dancing its sort of got a Dave Lynch puppet-show-with-live-people vibe, and Nateís cracked out drumming and keyboarding at one time gives it the freak show element. Then thereís Bobby whoís a straight up grunge bassist, so that keeps it down to earth maybe...
Out of all the bands/albums/etc you've been a part of, which can you say you are most proud of?
Well shoot, I gotta go with Make Believe for reasons that are personal. The short version of the story is Make Believe became my only way out of a very bad situation, kinda like after a shipwreck I was floating on debris and the ALMIGHTY WHATEVER threw me a guitar to paddle towards the island with a surplus of sun-block and canned coconuts. The long version of the story is WAYYY longer...
According to your profile on joanfrc.com, you're a fan of Modest Mouse. We share this in common. Are you looking forward to their upcoming album?
Very much so. Iíve heard that first single and think its funny how it sounds exactly like if Johnny Marr joined Modest Mouse -- which is kinda really frigging neato if you ask me because Johnnyís elongated riffs stretch out the songs in a way that gives Isaac the chance to percolate in a new way that Iím psyched to hear more of....GOD DAMN!
I keep hearing various rumors that Victor Villareal is heading back into the studio, or at least
prepping some new material. But then again, these rumors are always floating around, it seems. Could you validate any of these claims?
Donít know anything first hand. I hear the same things you do and all I can say is I hope he's
in a situation where its comfortable for him to just sit and work on stuff without illusion distractions.
Hi Vic if you read this...MySpace me dude.
Prior to this interview, I asked some AP readers if they'd like to ask you any particular questions. And while some were very good, I kept getting comments like, "Oh I love caP'n Jazz!!1". Does it still or has it ever bothered you that despite your other musical endeavors, you'll be more prominently known for your work in Cap'n Jazz?
Haha, I think itís cute/awesome that people still talk about Cap'n Jazz with admiration. If I ever become the guy whoís like "get over it people, Iím in a new band now!!!" please take me out back and shoot me. That's Ian Mackaye's department
Speaking of AP readers and their questions, here's one for ya: "How do you stay inspired to produce such a plethora of work. Please put out another Ghosts and Volka record if you can."
I stay inspired by waking up - music has become like food and water and whatís the other thing.....shelter for me. Once again, the day I say, "Hmm, Iím feeling inspired, perhaps I shall sit down and compose a piece of music" is the day you can also take me out back and shoot me. Wal-Mart has guns.
And another one from a fan: "why is everything you touch gold? but seriously, ask him how he feels that Cap'n Jazz was like one of the most defining bands in the 'emo' scene and ask him what he thinks of the scene these days."
The 4 of us were all very lucky to have one another in the same basement in the same suburb at the same time with the same plate of pasta + banana bread in front of us (courtesy of Mrs. Kinsella). As far as is it being influential thatís great that people look to it as a source. Itís become a reference book which is cool cause thereís nothing quite like a good dictionary. Regarding the scene, Iím the wrong guy to ask. When we tour, I witness an endless variety of scenes so its hard to pinpoint the status - the scene here in Chicago I hear is pretty wicked and alive and flourishing, but I wouldnít know cause I go into hermit mode when Iím home.
If anyone lives on an island or near the ocean and sun and would like a 31 yr. old male with a guitar living in your yard, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through the dozen or so Joan of Arc releases you guys have put out, it seems to me that each particular release has a certain theme to it. Whether it be in Tim's lyrics or maybe just
the tone of then instrumentation throughout the album. Is this something that is intentional,
or is it more attributed to you guys collectively being in a different place in your lives and therefore bring something newer to the table each time you start writing for a new album?
I think Tim has a good idea of what a JoA record will sound like before its done.
Even with all the different instrumentation heís great at pinpointing what fits and what doesnít -- as we grow older our tastes change which makes for different tasting
records. I have a feeling the next JoA will resemble an Indian food buffet...
Are there any bands you're interested in right now that readers should be aware of? Any particular albums you're digging?
Ecstatic Sunshine, Shudder to Think, Modest Mouse (heard of them?), Neko Case, Owen, Fu-Schnickens (pre-Shaquille O'Neal), Love of Everything, Eminem, Birthmark (Nate Kinsella solo) Hella, A Good Waltz, annnnnnnd Billie holiday.
Any advice for the up-in-coming guitarists out there? Any advice you've picked along the way that you'd like to share?
Try to stay physically active and mildly healthy. Batting cages are great for maintaining the
hand - eye - body coordination, plus if the pitching machine is erratic you can refine your improv
skills. Try practicing in an area with absolute ZERO distractions to get that tunnel vision
goin, or if that doesnít work try practicing with every thing ON.. TV, phone, video game, YouTube, AIM etc. I used to do that more as a youngster with the thought being I had to build a musical force-field around me to deflect all the bullshit that was attacking me.......good times.
Well, that's all I got for you Sam. Thank you very much for your time. Any closing comments?
I'd like to say thanks to everyone for even caring a little about what I do...the secrets hidden in plain view. Thank you Scott Irvine!
Thanks to those members who sent there questions in, by the way.
"try practicing with every thing ON.. TV, phone, video game, YouTube, AIM etc. I used to do that more as a youngster with the thought being I had to build a musical force-field around me to deflect all the bullshit that was attacking me"
haha i used to do that too, but i could never get that into it.
Who is Nate Kinsella?
just another musical genius who happens to be the cousin of tim and mike kinsella.
Are there anymore notable Kinsellas?
just the brothers Mike and Tim and cousin Nate i believe. I heard Mrs Kinsella makes some awesome cookies...
I thought this one was funny as well.
someone please track down Victor.
sounds like a really cool, mellow guy.