Posted by: nick
Music Mule caught up with Ryan Sambol, vocalist and guitarist for Austin’s The Strange Boys who were in Dalston for the first UK date in support of their excellent debut album ‘…and Girls Club’. After Ryan is sick we have a good waffle about the booming San Francisco music scene, 1984 and brains as radios amongst other things.
Upon meeting Ryan his brother Phil, also The Strange Boys’ bassist, is berating him for throwing up in the street because he’s “probably on camera”. Ryan later explains that they’ve only been in the country for a few hours and he’s had to unload the van, sound check, do two interviews and eat since he’s got here. It’s taken its toll.
The band has been touring relentlessly across the U.S. and then Europe for the past couple of months so it’s no surprise that bodies are feeling a little fragile but Ryan recovers in admirable fashion for our interview.
What is your favourite song to play live?
Usually just a new one. We’ve been doing this Dead Moon cover (Walkin’ On A Grave) that I really enjoy playing.
What is the best gig you’ve played?
The recent show in Portugal was really fun (Lounge, Lisbon). The guys there are awesome. The booking agency we go through is based there and those guys are really cool guys and the city is amazing and the food is amazing. And also the festival we played in Sardinia (Here I Stay Festival) was cool.
Who was the last artist/band you shared a stage with that made you think – “damn this is good!”?
We played with the Hip Shakes (who open for The Strange Boys at their Dalston show the night of interviewing) in Austin. We were lucky enough to get on a show with them at this club Beerland.
Do you have any strange rituals you go through when playing?
Yes but they’re better left untold! You could say we have a ritual of not wanting to talk about rituals.
Have you any had any bizarre heckles, things thrown at you or the like?
Someone shouted out ‘Do Probation’ (their song Probation Blues) and Phil (Strange Boys bassist and Ryan’s brother) said “We did Probation”.
Fred Neil did that. When he was recording a show someone said “Do Memphis” and he said “I Did Memphis”.
That’s never actually happened to us but I hope some day it does!
You get to curate a festival stage. You’re playing on it and you get to pick five others, four living and one dead, who would they be?
Thee Oh Sees, I always like to see.
Anybody from the Dead Colt family is always fun to play with.
I saw a band in California called Flowers Forever who I really liked.
What have you been listening to lately?
There’s a lot of good American bands at the moment in general but especially a bunch of good San Francisco bands like Sic Alps, Thee Oh Sees, The Mayors, Nodzzz, Grass Widow, Fresh and Onlys. It’s probably the best scene in America right now.
In olden times people weren’t thought to be geniuses, they ‘had geniuses’, it was a spirit that attached itself to you like an animal or an elf or the like! What would your genius be?
Ryan: That’s a good question. Have you ever read Kurt Vonnegut Jr?
MM: Er.. no.
Ryan: He was a great American writer (1922-2007). He wrote this book called Bluebeard and in that book one of the friends of the main character has this idea that the brain is just like a radio and some people at certain times can tune into a different frequencies and catch what you’re calling genius. So I don’t think it’s one spirit or one form of energy, it’s a bunch of realities and frequencies from those realities that you can grasp.
When you die and your radio turns off, you become a frequency. A cemetery is just a place full of broken radios.
Ryan on 1984 in Dalston.
“You should tell everyone there are too many cameras in London. Way more than America even and there are so many there already. It’s scary. You should read 1984 again, a police state is a scary business.”
“You think if I’m not doing anything wrong then there’s no problem but that’s all dependent upon the laws. If the laws change then the average person may become the enemy and those cameras wouldn’t seem so hot anymore.”
“You could end up doing probation and you don’t want to do probation.”
“The funny thing is as we’re doing this interview now (sitting outside a pub in Dalston) we’re on two cameras!” “It’s interesting to see who will start speaking out against this stuff. Musicians too. You know Bono isn’t! Bono’s a rich guy so he probably gets heavily taxed so you know a lot of his money is going towards these cameras! What do you think about that Bono?”
A few hours later The Strange Boys play a fantastic set to a packed and sweaty Barden’s Boudoir and Music Mule manages to make their ‘Probation’ dream come true with some choice heckling! Read a review of the gig here.
live dates: The Green Man Festival – SOLD OUT.