Quick Q and A with Sam Chase

I’ve got to say…. I don’t quite remember how I first heard about Sam Chase. He may have sent the CD to our coffeehouse or I may have seen him on the internet somewhere…  But I distinctly remember listening to his CD, Every Time I’m Home, and advocating for him to play at a One-Day NERFA (North East Regional Folk Alliance) conference that we had at UMass Boston a year or so ago.  Fortunately, others felt the same way and he played.  I’m still behind him and his music and hope you’ll take a listen.

To learn and hear more about Sam Chase, visit his website.

Love this song…the title track mentioned above.  Check out this video.

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Your bio states that your home was filled with music as you were growing up.  What are some of your earliest memories of listening to or playing music?

Growing up in the Chase house, there was always music playing. It’s weird when there isn’t music, and usually draws a response like “what, nobody likes music around here?” We had a big open living room in my parents’ house with the stereo set up that would play music all the time, from solo piano to folk music to dance parties. It’s where you’d sit by the fire, do homework, read a book, talk, laugh, all while music played in the background. That might not seem like a big deal, but it created an atmosphere that’s resonated for me.

As far as playing goes, all of my siblings took lessons (mostly piano, my twin sister Kelly played saxophone). So I remember everyone practicing piano, or my mom driving us to our lessons. We had a grand piano in the living room that seemed to always have someone playing it. For a while when we hosted Christmas, it would turn into a big sing-along of all sorts of Christmas-y songs. It was fun.

When did you learn that you had the ability to write your own songs?

While at Berklee I majored in Production & Engineering, and it wasn’t until I started those classes that I got into songwriting. When I was able to start recording at home, that’s when I started creating songs and chord riffs and progressions  and becoming more of a guitar player than a drummer. I would record them, starting laying in different parts. Then sing some gibberish words in a microphone until some lines came out. And that’s when I’d actually write the lyrics. The first song I wrote was for my sister Jen’s wedding when I was about twenty. I called it “JR” for their initials. I’m thinking of putting it on my next release…with their permission, of course.

What were your favorite classes at Berklee (College of Music)?  Do you feel that the school prepared you for life as a musician?

Favorite Berklee classes — All of my engineering/production classes (except for Acoustics – snoozefest), Private Lessons and Harmony. I’ve always been interested in how music works, and harmony really put it all together for me. It made everything make sense. I always had a good ear for things (thanks Mom), but those Harmony classes gave me a better understanding of how chords work with each other.

Overall, Berklee was a great experience. I went straight out of High School because I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Others transfer from colleges or go in their mid 20’s or even later. It’s a mix of ages and cultures and not your average college experience. It’s a very inspiring experience because you’re surrounded by so much talent. It can get intimidating in some ways, especially straight out of high school. But they really strive to make you a good MUSICIAN and to me all of the lessons I learned there  I carry through to my students. I know that I’m a better musician today because of the four years I spent at Berklee.

I understand that you sometimes teach students how to play various instruments.  Do you enjoy this?  Do your students tend to be youngsters or have you taught adults as well?

I’ve been teaching for about eight years, ever since I started commuting to Berklee in ’06. Overall, I really do enjoy the teaching. When you get a student that understands and can do what you’re asking of them, you have the ability as a teacher to expose them to music they’ve never heard and inspire them to want to be great, just like I had a few teachers that did that for me. With that said, I’ve taught A LOT of beginners over the years – some young, some old and it just requires a tremendous amount of patience. Fortunately, I have that. The older students are great (adults) because they often know what they want to learn and you just help guide them there.

I teach drums, guitar, and piano. Those were the instruments I played growing up and as a teacher, it allows me to stay busy because I can play all three.

 Do you have any musical aspirations that you’d like to achieve during your career?

Umm, become rich and famous?! No but seriously, one of my goals is to be a songwriter who can make a living having his songs recorded. I wouldn’t mind one bit if an artist wanted to record one of my songs (well, yeah). For me, that’s the perfect mix. You get to just create and work on songs, tour on your own schedule, while sort of hiding behind the scenes. That sounds pretty good to me. Obviously, that doesn’t just happen. So in the meantime, I just continue to play music as much as possible and whatever happens is out of my control. The only thing I can control is getting better every day and that to me is important.

Sam Chase | Every Time I'm Home

 When you’re not playing music, what do you like to do?

I’m a huge sports fan. I listen to sports radio religiously. So when I’m not talking music, I’m talking sports.

 Do you have any plans to record a new CD any time soon?  Are there some new songs in the wings waiting to be recorded?

I’ve been writing over the past few years, collecting new songs that are waiting to be recorded. It’s only a matter of getting the budget together and stuff like that. Most artists nowadays raise money through Kickstarter and other fundraising platforms like that, but I’m just not sure I’m ready to go that route. It seems like it’s a one and done kind of thing. I’d rather not play that card until I absolutely have to. So what does that mean? Hopefully a new record next year! I’ll be playing a new song or two at the show on 11/22.

 What else is happening in the life of Sam Chase?

 As a sidenote, I’m participating in Movember, which is a big fundraising campaign to bring awareness to mens health issues. I’m part of a team of other South Shore musicians and the first rule is you have to grow a mustache. So just beware — I won’t look like myself on 11/22! But hopefully our team will have raised a good amount of $$ and I can wear my mustache with confidence. People can donate here if they like.

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