Interview by Rachel Jablonski
March 12, 2003
I’m scheduled to interview Sam, the drummer of COLD, at the Ranch Bowl in Omaha, NE where the band is set to play an intimate, exclusive show previewing their upcoming release The Year of the Spider a few hours following. Accompanied by my sister, we explore the show room where the roadies are working hard to set up the stage while waiting for our interviewee.
I notice half of an uneaten sandwich sitting perfectly in a container on the edge of the right side of the stage. My glance is brief and my eyes quickly wander to the Oleander poster over on the wall.
“I saw you eyeing my sandwich,” a roadie says, “don’t even think about it.”
I laugh and reply, “You’re right I was, I guess I’m hungry.”
An intense discussion breaks out about the uneaten sandwich.
“Everyone’s freaking over a gas station sandwich!” a second roadie screams throwing his hands up in the air in anguish.
We all laugh though it’s difficult to tell whom is truly joking. Food seems to be taken most seriously in this room pre-show.
Sam enters. I introduce myself and greet him. The interview begins.
Food for thought: The Interview
Rachel: I’m really excited to have the opportunity to see this sneak peak performance from “Year of the Spider.” From what I can tell most of these intimate shows are solely midwest dates. Any particular reason for this?
Sam: Um, no I don’t think there is. I think this is just how the tour got laid out and we wanted to hit these areas because we do have a really strong fan base in them. We just wanted to, ya know, play small places just to give kind of a sneak preview of the new record. We were going to do a like a record listening party in LA, but it didn’t go through because we were getting feedback from our fans that “oh I wish they were coming to our town and doing that” so the tour is kind of like that. We’re playing the record every night we play so it’s a party with all of our fans. We come out and sign everything and some of the shows have been acoustic and some have been full metal.
Rachel: So will we get a mix of that tonight?
Sam: It could be a mix, yeah.
Rachel: Will you just be playing the new album or will there be some old material as well?
Sam: We play a couple of old songs, but it’s mainly the new stuff. In the acoustic set we’ve been playing “Ugly,” but other than that it’s mainly old stuff from 13 Ways to Bleed and then the new stuff.
Rachel: Any big tour plans coming up this summer?
Sam: Summer time they’re saying Lollapalooza, April 29th we go on tour with Staind. That’s when our record’s released so that’s kind of nice. And then the Lollapalooza, I don’t know if that’s set, but they’re saying we will headline on the second stage. And then we have Marilyn Manson and Godsmack in the fall.
Rachel: That’s awesome. Who else is on Lollapalooza that you know of?
Sam: I know that Queens of the Stoneage are and they’re fuckin awesome and also Jane’s Addiction, which will be rad.
Rachel: Sweet. I’ve had the chance to check out “Stupid Girl” on the web and it sounds great. What can we expect from this new album overall?
Sam: Um, the new record is just stronger song writing from all of us. We were on tour for 18 months just playing 13 Ways to Bleed on Stage and then when we got in the studio to start writing it was like within 6 months and we had written the whole record and it was almost magical. Every day we were thinking “Year of the Spider” so it turned out really well. When we went to record it with Howard Benson, he just made it sound like we thought the record would sound in our ear. All the instruments just sound so good. The drum sound is the best drum sound I have ever had on a record. He’s a great producer and Mike the engineer is awesome too. This is our best record yet. I think the fans are gonna really love this record more than the other two because Scooter really went to a different level with the songs. Everyone can feel this record I think.
Rachel: Any specific direction you took this album as opposed to the other ones?
Sam: From the drum angle, I just wanted to be really big and straight forward like a dump truck being dropped from the sky, something so huge and Howard totally captured that.
Rachel: Ok, so the new album is called Year of the Spider. 13 Ways to Bleed on Stage featured the spider as well. What’s the significance? What does “year of the spider” mean?
Sam: The spider became our logo, I came up with the idea. My wife and I had a spider and she took a picture of her doll that had our tarantula, Wednesday, crawling on her face and that was the album cover for our first record, a space odyssey EP COLD did. We didn’t really have a logo and we wanted something that everyone could remember our band by. So I thought of the spider and I kept messing around with the spider image and then I have a tattoo friend that just tightened it up perfect and that’s what came of the spider. It kind of just describes our music. Our music kind of creeps along like a spider.
Rachel: You guys have been around for awhile now, about to support your third record. What kinds of changes have you made as a band live? What have you stuck with?
Sam: Scooter and I have been in a band together since we were 14 and we just always try to write songs. We try to play for the song. We’re not like a band that tries to show off or anything, we just write good songs. We’ve been doing that for so long. The best thing is just to write music and record it. I mean playing out live is good too, but we just concentrate on the song writing. It’s just developed over the years. This record is totally just the best song writing record we’ve done. I think the next record will go to another level as well.
Rachel: Aaron Lewis did some guest vocals on the last record, any guests or surprise on this new release?
Sam: On the new one River [Cuomo of Weezer] sings [backup and was a co-writer] on “Stupid Girl” and Sierra Swan that sang on “No One” on the last record sings on a song called “Suffocate” and that’s it.
Rachel: What are you listening to these days?
Sam: I’m listening to Queens of the Stoneage, Misfits, Clutch, John Spencer and the Blues Explosion, and Kiss.
Rachel: Any unsigned or not as well known bands you’ve been into lately?
Sam: My wife and I have a band together called Jam Baby so I listen to that a lot.
Rachel: haha Oh yeah? What’s that like? What does she do?
Sam: She sings and bows a saw and violin, plays a lot of crazy instruments and percussion stuff. And it’s kind of bluesy and dark. It’s horror music.
Rachel: That’s cool. If you were no longer allowed to wear black or white for the rest of your life what would you wear?
Sam: [long pause] I have no clue. [long pause] Gray?
Rachel: Where’s your favorite place to perform?
Sam: I like Texas. Every time we’ve played in Texas it’s been really good.
Rachel: Do you have a particular band you like to play with?
Sam: I think the best tour we’ve had was with Marilyn Manson. It was cool to see them play every night.
Rachel: Have you made a video for “Stupid Girl” yet?
Sam: Yeah, we made one in Minneapolis and it turned out awesome. A lot of fans came out and they stayed out in the cold weather all day. It has tons of energy. It’s the best video we’ve done insofar as what a COLD show is really like.
Rachel: Any final thoughts? What would you like people to know in general or about the record or anything?
Sam: I hope you all like the record because we worked really hard on it. We made a record that doesn’t really have any B-sides so every song we think is good.
Rachel: Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
Sam: No problem.
Not having eaten all day, my sister and I head out for some dinner and shopping to waste time before the show.
An apple a day keeps COLD away?
Two newly bought shirts and a pair of jeans later we head back to the Ranch Bowl in anticipation. My sister notes that the tour bus is gone as we enter the venue. We soon discover from Ranch Bowl personnel that Scooter is ill and was not able to make it through sound check. The band was forced to cancel the show and has rescheduled to play May 6th. The sold out crowd seemed slightly disappointed, understandably so, but definitely handled the setback well. All will surely be in high anticipation COLD’s soon return.
“Year of the Spider” in stores April 29th, 2003