Sam Roberts' Musical Vision
By now, Sam Roberts is used to life on the road. He has to be – he’s spent the last several years releasing album after album, touring the world in support of each. Nearly a decade after his breakthrough record, the recently retitled Sam Roberts Band has accumulated four Juno awards and has become one of few Canadian rock bands to achieve international success.
The band is currently in the midst of a cross-Canada tour, headed toward the GTA en route from the West Coast. The high-profile tour is the band’s second trip across Canada this year, supporting their critically acclaimed 2011 release, Collider. Amid the hectic touring schedule, Sam Roberts found the time to sit down and chat with ANDY about his successful career.
“We started off this year with a tour of the U.S. and then spent a couple nights in Toronto at Massey Hall. Then the summer kicked in a we just played festivals all over the place, bouncing around from coast to coast.” He was happy to be back to the straight-cut, linear autumn touring circuit.
Roberts was reminded of his band’s first major tour and decided to reflect for a moment on the band’s rise to fame. “When we were on our first tour with the Tragically Hip, our song ‘Brother Down’ was doing really well on the radio. To solidify ourselves in the Canadian musical landscape, we really needed this tour to be a success. Opening for the Hip is daunting,” he laughed.
The tour generated a tremendous amount of positive response from Canadian press. Roberts was keen to cite journalist Mike Bell, of the Calgary Herald, as integral to the success of the tour. “[Mike] talked about us as a new band that was worth the time to come and see,” Roberts said happily. “That kind of language really helped us out. It was never hyperbole.”
When asked about his recent work, Roberts was candid and sincere, eager to chat openly about Collider. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily a conscious decision that you make to shift direction,” Roberts suggested. The album has a markedly different sound than his previous albums, pushing the recognizable style of the band into fresh and experimental territory.
“It’s scary to think that I have no method,” he admitted. “But it’s also beautiful in that way. Every time I put pen to paper, I’m venturing into the unknown. I try to leave it completely open-ended and just let the song come out – almost as if you’re trying to interfere as little as possible.
“Defining yourself is where your creativity starts to dwindle. The more you open up your perception of yourself, the further you’re able to go and the more varied you can be,” Roberts said confidently.
Although Collider marks a turn for the band stylistically, Roberts was self-assured that the songs fit comfortably into the bands live shows. “Its always scary to see how the fans are going to react to a new record. Fortunately, these songs translate really well on to the stage; they’re rhythmic, they make people move. It keeps the audience engaged, whether or not they know the melody or words to a new song.”
Evident by virtue of another high-profile tour, the Sam Roberts Band remains as dedicated to quality music as it was a decade ago.
The Sam Roberts Band is playing Nov. 12 at Hamilton Place.