The Sames
The Cat’s Cradle
Friday, May 19
Also appearing: The Rosebuds, Schooner, Pleasant, North Elementary, Audubon Park, Torch Marauder, Pox Family Singers

When Sames’ guitarists Zeno Gill and Marc Faris are asked for some back-of-baseball-card-style tidbits about each other and their bandmates, this is what we learn. Lead vocalist Gill is the man behind the curtain for Durham’s Pox World Empire label and Pox Studio. Faris has a Ph.D. in music composition. Drummer Tim Salemy was the mastermind behind the electronica project Timotheus Groove in the late ’90s. And bassist Mas Sato is one of the best-looking people in the Triangle. (Apparently, people, that last one is well documented enough to become fact.)

Another interesting morsel involves how Gill and Faris started creating music together. Sons of the South both–the former from Southern Pines, the latter from Charlottesville, Va.–they found themselves in Upstate New York in bands that would occasionally share bills in Ithaca and Rochester. However, they didn’t really know each other well and never played together until, in Gill’s words, “some freak coincidence” found them both relocated to Durham. The rest is musical history, or at least two well-received releases that had reviewers leaning too heavily on shoe-gazer namedrops and geographically driven comparisons in an effort to pin down their multidimensional, multi-dynamic sound.

After almost five years, The Sames are calling it a day, but not without planning a hell of a night first. A farewell show at Cat’s Cradle will feature cameos from kindred spirits the Rosebuds, Schooner, North Elementary, Audubon Park, Pleasant and the Torch Marauder–all bands with which The Sames have toured and shared local stages.

On a thunderstormy night, the Independent Weekly got Gill and Faris on the phone to field some questions, not all of which were as goofy as the bandmate tidbits one.

Independent Weekly: Your EP came out in 2002, and then there was quite a gap between that and You Are the Sames.

Zeno Gill: Part of the gap was because we’d almost finished the record and then lost the whole thing and had to start over again. Hard drive crash.

Marc Faris: It was pretty sad. I remember Zeno calling–or I don’t know if you called, or we were just practicing and you said something about it–but there was this terrible, terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.

ZG: I lost that and a bunch of other records that weren’t quite finished. It wasn’t good. Luckily, everyone around here was very understanding because there were a whole lot of musicians who lost stuff.

IW: Marc, as I confessed to Zeno in one of our e-mail exchanges, I have the EP, but I have not heard You Are the Sames. So what have I missed by not hearing that record?

MF: Hmmmm, well. I’m trying to avoid smart-ass answers to that… There were two things that popped up in a lot of the reviews [for the EP]. The first thing was that we were sort of continuing the legacy of some sort of idealized Chapel Hill sound or something like that. The other thing was that we were sort of a post-shoe-gazer band. Neither of those things is necessarily wrong, it’s just that we weren’t particularly aware of either thing. Somebody would play something by Ride or some moment from Polvo, and it’d be like, ‘OK, there’s kind of something, I guess.’ I think the new record captures a lot of different things that can’t really be captured in five songs. There are a few more sides to The Sames that are on the new record.

IW: Here’s one out of pure curiosity. When you listen to music, do you tend to listen to bands that are similar to The Sames or absolutely different or somewhere in between?

ZG: I tend to listen to bands that are absolutely, completely different.

MF: I’d have to say the same. I hate kind of pinning down what I listen to, but what I’ve been listening to recently has been a lot of contemporary art music and a lot of improvised stuff–sort of pure noise stuff. That’s where I come from. And Zeno’s more the classic rock guy in the band. We were just listening to Spirit before you called.

ZG: I don’t know much about Spirit. [laughs] But lately I’ve been on a late-’60s folk kick. I really like Simon and Garfunkel, and I really like Sandy Denny right now. I would say that, generally, our drummer might be the only one who ever really invested a lot of time into listening to the music that we get associated with.

IW: It’s been presented to me that the show at Cat’s Cradle will be the band’s last. I’ll leave this wide open: Any parting words for your fans?

ZG: Yeah, thanks for nothing. It’s because of you that we’re throwing in the towel. [much laughing all around]

MF: No, not really. We’ve had a lot of fun doing this. We’ve all learned a lot about just being in a band. And one of the best things about playing around here has been really getting involved in a community of people that have been incredibly supportive of one another. Whenever we play now, it’s pretty much populated with the few suckers that we can drag in who don’t know much about us, but mostly by friends in other bands.

IW: Let’s play dueling review quotes. I’m going to read something from two Sames reviews, and you can tell me which you like better. “‘In Liberty Lights‘ sports the melody and lyrics of a dippy hippie romp, but has acid dripping from its sleeves and a heart that keeps skipping beats.” OK, here’s the other one. “The best moments happen at the nexus of noise and anthem rock, when the song’s catchy sharpness goes stratospheric in overloaded, feedback-rich guitar bursts.”

ZG: I kind of like that second one because it doesn’t have all the psychedelic references.

MF: We’re not really a psychedelic band, actually. We’re pretty much just a bunch of, like, middle-aged losers. [laughs]

ZG: I’m trying to make pop music. It doesn’t always come out that way, but that’s always what I’m setting out to do. I’m never trying to be weird or esoteric or anything. I want to make music that kids and parents can listen to together, but it doesn’t seem to work out that way. [laughs]

–Rick Cornell

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