Interview by Stephen Pennell ©
Walking alone to work in the dead of night as I do, through the pitch black woods next door to the local cemetery, is probably not the ideal time and place for a first listen to Livin’ With The Zombies by The SRB. It’s a balls-out rock and roller, reminiscent of Weller at his Stanley Road-era best, with a hint of Dr John’s voodoo vibes and haunting lyrics. “I’m the only living soul” howls Sam Rogers, and by the end of the song I could feel spirits on the breeze and see Slender Man in the sinewy branches, my usually pleasant commute transformed into something from the Hammer House of Horrors. Tune off, torch on, get out - and I didn’t press play again til I was safe under streetlights. It put the wind up me, but it also got me looking forward to The SRB’s new album A Piece Of The Action, due for release next February. If the lead single is anything to go by, their army of fans is in for a groovy, bluesy treat. There’s also a cracking promo and even a short documentary, that both show you don’t have to throw five figures at it to make something fun, informative and entertaining. I spoke to main man Sam to find out more…
Before Covid, you were one of the busiest musicians in Brum. Have things got back to normal for you yet?
Things are well and truly back in full swing post-lockdown. I've had a few solo gigs at the Night Owl, helped organise the live music for a charity event for Mind and am back hosting my weekly open mic night at The Raven in Stetchford, which is always good fun as I get to jam along with some of my good musician friends. Also, during lockdown, my old band The SRB decided to make an album of some of the old songs we used to play back in the day but never got around to recording. Once restrictions were lifted, we were recording that over at Woodbine Studios in Leamington with John Rivers, so that kept me fairly busy.
You certainly helped me and others get through it with your YouTube duets with Big Papa Pete, so thanks for that!
No problem man, it helped us get through it too!
Having heard Livin' With The Zombies, I’m really excited about the album, and a bit scared! How are you feeling about it?
I’m very excited for people to hear this album. very proud that we managed to give these songs the light of day. They deserve it, as it looked as though they would never see it for a few years.
There's quite a touching story behind it…
Yes, during the first lockdown, a guy who used for follow us up and down the country and loved the band, Jack Baudet, sadly passed away. His son and daughter, Marcus and Natalie, got in touch with us because apparently one of his dying wishes was that he wanted the original SRB to play at his wake, so we all agreed to do it, and it was great to play together again for Jack despite the sad circumstances. Afterwards the original line-up (Sam, bassist Chris Moulton and drummer Harry O’Dowd) reminisced about the old days in the band and agreed to make this album for old time's sake and dedicate it to Jack. Bless him!
Ah, lovely stuff. You’ve got White Flag Dares, The SRB and the solo stuff on the go. How do the different bands and strands work alongside each other? Aren’t you tempted to just claim all the best songs and put them out under one banner?
Working with The SRB is more about me working from the roots of my musical taste I suppose. If I write an all-guns-blazing Rock&Roll tune or a smooth, funky soul song, it will most likely end up as an SRB tune. If I'm writing soft piano/acoustic ballads, I tend to save them for my solo stuff. White Flag Dares is more about me experimenting with music and exploring different avenues, which is always good fun. I don't think people were ready for WFD the first time around as they were perhaps wondering why I stepped away from my traditional way of writing music but I've always admired brave artists that aren't afraid to take the plunge and mix things up a bit, whether it's a success or a failure. Maybe next time we make music, they will be able to understand it a bit more and will hopefully dig it!
You’ve made a doc to introduce the album.
Yeah, the documentary idea came as I wanted to capture moments whilst making our album. I wanted people to be able to see what we're like as a band, as musicians and how easy going we are as people. Then as time went on I thought it would be great to expand on the idea for the documentary to be about the band's back story too, to give people that haven't really heard of us a bit of an insight to what we're all about. It was great fun made off our phones, just catching really good moments of the band making music and us just mucking about as mates. Pete Evans has helped put the pieces of the action together.
'Pieces Of The Action’ documentary:
Be there or be square!