Former Bigfoot guitarist Sam Millar is set to release his latest EP; ‘Radio Gouda’, in early June, which means that he has plenty to talk about, but there is only one place to start; THAT video of him, on his loo, strumming his guitar. Not familiar with it? Then check out ‘To Quarantine With You’ here.
DGM: Normally I would start by asking how you are handling lockdown, but I don’t really need to ask that as you’ve posted a video of yourself on the toilet!
Sam: (Laughs) Yeah, I just thought that I’d share that with everyone!
DGM: It’s good fun, but you’ve also raised a few hundred pounds for the NHS.
Sam: Yeah, why not. It’s all good fun, but if I’m going to put a video up of me on the loo then I’m going to raise some money for charity doing it!
DGM: At least you didn’t totally embarrass yourself, like that woman who went viral by posting a video online from her bathroom, complete with a rather large pink sex toy in the background!
Sam: Oh no! You’ve got to be careful and check your background! I’ll be honest and say that I gave my bathroom a good clean beforehand. Mind you it might have been more authentic if it had been a mess.
DGM: Your new EP ‘Radio Gouda’ is due out early June. With a title like that you must have been prepared for countless cheese puns from your friends?
Sam: There’s a bit of a cheesy undertone to everything that I write. I think there’s something about my voice that makes it more cheesy as well. My first EP was called ‘Holy Sass’ and I wanted to do something like that again. But yeah, I thought this is cheesy so the title has to be something which conveys that.
DGM: The EP is perfect for the summer; really light and cheerful, but at the same time there are some cracking riffs in there. Anyone expecting a ‘classic rock’ EP is in for quite a surprise!
Sam: A lot of people said that about the last one. Because I came from Bigfoot, who were on the hard rock side of things, people expected something similar. The reality is though, I’m a guitarist first and foremost, and I just get by singing. I don’t have the kind of voice to sing that sort of music. I had to adapt and sing whatever fits my voice, and the cheesy, softer side of things was it for me.
DGM: Have you always sang?
Sam: Not really no. I never wanted to be a singer as such. I think it was because I’ve always struggled with singers or couldn’t find one, so I thought – “sod this, I’m sick of not gigging because I can’t find a singer”, and I started singing myself. I sang in a covers band for a long time, but you know what that’s like; you can sing along to anything as long as you know it! I consider myself the world’s best backing vocalist!
DGM: Well Bigfoot were renowned for their vocal harmonies.
Sam: We were all fans of bands like The Eagles, so we actually did focus on our vocal harmonies. We sat down with acoustic guitars and worked on them properly.
DGM: Back to the EP; it does prove that you can have pop sentiments without watering down the riffs.
Sam: I’m a big fan of other types of music, so I wanted to get more stuff across than just hard rock or metal. It’s surprising because it’s a good crossover I think. I was cautious releasing my first EP that I was going to be abandoned by Bigfoot fans who’d think “Oh he’s gone mad!” There might be some people that don’t like it, but I don’t think it’s miles away from before.
DGM: ‘Forbidden’ was the first single released. Why did you choose this as the first one for people to hear?
Sam: Literally because it was the only one that I had finished!
Sam: There was no tactical decision to it! The plan had been to do a few shows and build up to the EP release. Once the shows got postponed I was like “shit, what do I do now?” I didn’t want to lose momentum by doing nothing. This track was ready to go and the others still needed a bit of work. At least this way people could see that I was still doing something.
DGM: You’re just back from a tour with Dorja; how did that come about?
Sam: I know Anna, the drummer, and the band has recently gone through a change of line-up. The new guitarist couldn’t cover the European leg of the tour, so I got asked to do it. I thought why not, ten days in Europe – you’re not going to say no to that. It was a good decision because I got to travel for ten days before the lockdown was declared!
DGM: Perfect timing then really.
Sam: I’m surprised that I didn’t end up catching it over there to be honest! I got back March 3rd or something like that, and everything got worse straight afterwards. I didn’t even think about it when we were in Europe. I know Italy had it bad, but you didn’t even consider it when people were coming up and hugging and kissing you after the gig, now I think… shit!
DGM: Who knows when it will get back to anything resembling normality, but these are worrying times for bands and venue owners alike.
Sam: Yeah, how can you keep everybody two metres apart in a club? There are loads of venues I was due to play in that are like that. Hopefully all the gigs will get rescheduled but no-one really knows. I’ve rearranged the hometown one for October, but there’s no guarantee that will go ahead either. It’s good to be optimistic but you can’t bank on it.
DGM: As you were preparing to go on tour, I assume you had paid for the merchandise upfront. Has this left you massively out of pocket?
Sam: Yeah, I’m stuck with loads of t-shirts!
DGM: It’s vital, now more than ever, that when individual finances allow it, people keep their favourite artists afloat by buying merchandise and pre-ordering new music from them.
Sam: I don’t want to throw it in people’s faces but this is what I’m trying to say to them. I’m skint… buy it! I’m putting it out there that if you were going to come to a show, and you were planning on buying a t-shirt, then please, if you can afford to, buy it now! And it’s not just bands that are in trouble; it’s the venues as well. Some of them are still having to pay rent even though they are closed.
DGM: Really bad luck for you that the lockdown came at the time that it did.
Sam: Yeah; I thought things were bad a year ago!
DGM: What’s the most frustrating part about being in the music industry?
Sam: I think that it’s been massively cheapened; the vast majority of people take music for granted. It’s not even considered as something that you have to pay for anymore. It’s just difficult, it’s definitely not a viable career at the level that it might have been a long time ago.
DGM: On your Facebook page you put the cat amongst the pigeons by asking people to name not only the most underrated guitarist, but the most overrated guitarist – you opened a can of worms with that one!
Sam: Yeah I was surprised! My favourite guitarist of all time is Brian May, and a few people said he was overrated so I was like… “Sam, calm down!”
DGM: Do you think that they did it just to wind you up?
Sam: I am wondering yeah! Someone chose Kirk Hammett as being underrated and I was.. “get out, just get out! He’s in Metallica, how can he be underrated?”
DGM: You opted for John Frusciante as being the most overrated?
Sam: Yeah I got in trouble for that from some people! I just don’t get it though, I don’t mind the Chilis but I thought Dave Navarro’s stuff with them was better. It’s more when I see a guitar magazine saying “he’s channelling the spirit of Hendrix” and I’m like “no he’s not!”
DGM: So who is your most underrated guitarist then?
Sam: Kee Marcello who was in Europe for a while. I just think that he’s incredible and he was always one of my favourites. However, others don’t consider him to be a guitarist who’s ‘up there’.
DGM: You could add Phil X to the underrated list. Because of the Bon Jovi connection you write him off at your peril, but his recent tour with Phil X & The Drills was phenomenal. I believe that you are a fan?
Sam: Yes! I love him! I’ve followed him for ages, way before he was in Bon Jovi. Check out all his YouTube videos; he is amazing. He is a funny guy onstage, definitely got a personality about him.
DGM: Is there a particular reason that people call you Princess on Facebook?
Sam: (Laughs) Oh good God! Some of my friends started calling me that because people probably assume that I’m a bit of a diva! Which I’m not! I’m not actually sure who started it first, but I just let it happen.
DGM: Aren’t all guitarists supposed to be divas anyway?
Sam: Singers are worse…
To pre-order ‘Radio Gouda’ and purchase some snazzy t-shirts, connect with Sam online here.
Interview – Dave
Live image – Dave Jamieson