Sam & Yuri: A Q&A

by Madi Daigle (Music Industry), published August 27th 2010

photos by Cindy Michaels (WVII ABC 7/Fox Bangor News)

As a native of the Bangor-area of Maine, I know the musical deprivation that my fellow more-North-than-Portland Mainers face. All throughout high school I saw a total of ZERO concerts that were closer than 2.5 hours away from my house. So when I heard KahBang was bringing in some national acts for the poor, deprived people of Downeast Maine I was pretty excited.

This festival not only gave pre-teens the chance to see B.o.B play ‘€œAirplanes’€ live, but also gave local bands a place to showcase their music alongside some of the greats (OK Go), some of the big up-and-comers (Bad Rabbits, Free Energy), and the worst band I’ve ever seen live (Shark Week). One such local band, Sam and Yuri, are about as Maine as you can get. They graduated from Bangor High School in ’07 and have been playing shows in the area ever since.

Sam Chase and Yuri Trusty, the founders, songwriters and vocalists of the 5-person band, released their first album Drip and Bleed to an enthusiastic Bangor audience in April of 2009 and quickly followed up with The Pushaw Lake EP later that year. When I spoke with Sam on the phone he had just finished work and had his bff and sidekick Yuri in the car to interject when necessary. Read below to hear about monkeys driving cars and what it’s like to be from Maine.

Tastemakers Magazine (TMM): So I guess to start off, can you tell us a little but about the history of your band and how you guys got started?

Sam Chase (SC): Yuri and I played music together all throughout high school and we didn’t really consider ourselves a band or anything. We were just doing it for fun and working on music together. That’s sort of how we developed our voices and our songwriting. Eventually we were given the opportunity to record an album and we decided that we weren’t going to be a ‘€œband’€ but just call ourselves ‘€œSam and Yuri’€. But after we recorded that album it was relatively successful for us all-in-all so we decided that we were going to make it a full band and we started playing with the other three guys (Jared, Cody and Mike). They all went to Bangor High School with us and they all graduated in the class of ’07 with us, so we knew them pretty well. It was a really easy match-up.

TMM: What do you think some of the benefits of starting out in a relatively small music community like Bangor, Maine?

SC: It probably helped us to’€¦ what the fuck?! [Laughs]

TMM: [Laughs] What’s up?

SC: I just saw a stuffed monkey driving a car.

TMM: Seriously!?!

SC: [Laughs] Yeah, I think someone was holding a puppet and then leaning back and making it look like he was driving’€¦ Oh they were shooting a commercial I guess.

TMM: Huh, well that’s weird! [Laughs]

SC: Anyways, so yeah, I think being in a small town has helped us develop our strengths more than we would have been able to elsewhere. Having less competition makes us stand out more, which has definitely helped us keep making music. It also kind of just gives us more of a humble background of a sort of simple, hum-drum life that I don’t think you get to experience in a busy city. The calm of Maine has definitely influenced us in all kinds of ways and it definitely shows through in our music. Just being able to get away into the woods, relax and do whatever we want to, and not have the pressure of society always around us is really nice.

TMM: I totally know what you mean. Coming from Maine to the city is kind of a big transition. And it’s always nice to go home. So, what was it like playing at KahBang? Whose set did you enjoy the most?

SC: It was really fun! I think we all had a great time. When we got to KahBang we actually thought we were playing on the local stage, which was a little further down the street and outside of the fenced in KahBang area, but when we got there they told us that they had switched us to the main stage, so that was an exciting surprise.

My favorite act’€¦ Well OK Go was really good, and I also really enjoyed Free Energy. I didn’t catch every act because we spent a lot of time in the back messing around. Yuri, what was your favorite act?

Yuri Trusty: Oh jeez’€¦ well we did miss most of it, but I’d have to say OK Go.

TMM: Yeah, I mean they were awesome. They played a really great show. When Damian [the lead-singer] came into the crowd I was like two inches away from him.

SC: [Talking to Yuri] Oh yeah the Les Mis scene!

TMM: Oh man! That was hilarious. Not what I was expecting at all.

SC: And the song with the bells was really fucking awesome. Can I say ‘€œfucking’€ on this’€¦

TMM: Sure, why not? [Laughs] This is a college music magazine. So, speaking of great shows, if you could pick one band to tour with who would you choose?

SC: [After consulting with Yuri] Probably Coldplay. Are you going to make that happen?

TMM: [Laughs] Umm maybe! If Coldplay ever comes to Tastemakers Magazine and says, ‘€œHey Tastemakers who should we bring on tour with us?’€ I’ll definitely throw your name in there.

SC: [Laughs] Good.

TMM: Looking towards the future, what are some of your goals as a band?

SC: Well I think we don’t really know for sure. We’re just gonna keep going and see how far this takes us. We’re going to keep making music, try to expand ourselves and get our name out there as much as we can. If we can keep the ‘ball rolling then that would be great, but it’s really hard to say what we’re trying to do. We’re just making music, we don’t really have any huge hopes or fantasies for what might come out of this. We’re trying to make the best of what’s at hand and to hopefully keep making good, real music.

If you’re up around the Maine anytime soon, catch Sam & Yuri play the 2010 American Folk Festival  at The Sea Dog Brewing Company  on the Bangor waterfront on August 28th!

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