[INTERVIEW] Samson The Truest

Samson The Truest Press Photo by Saskia Kahn 2 high

You know that part in Sam Geller’s video for “Afterall“, where he’s dancing in Central Park…well that’s how we feel about the entirety of his recent debut album, Come Back ShaneEmotionally heavy, yet musically light, Brooklyn musician Samson The Truest gives us 12-tracks of just that – truth. With honest lyrics, effortlessly enchanting vocals, and a seemingly therapeutic sound (for both Sam and us), Come Back Shane delivers a relatable narrative that takes you on a journey of heartbreak, self-discovery, loneliness, and forgiveness.

Sam took some time out to dissect some of Cereal+Sounds’ favorite lyrics from the album, so take the journey with him, and find out why Samson The Truest is the realest.

Samson The Truest will be performing for PopGun Presents at Alphaville on Friday in support of Dom, and based on his Facebook post, it may be the last one for a while, so we highly recommend you go!

Afterall: “I was trapped inside my head/wishing that you were here/and I was trapped in yours instead”

I spend so much time in some sort of mental feedback loop wrestling my inner monologues. There’s this experience I’ve had a few times in my life, I think it’s somewhat akin to intimacy, when you’re just lying around with someone else listening to them talk stream of consciousness and you start to inhabit that other person’s mental space, and really their whole emotional universe and its just a wonderful feeling. If you’ve ever had that experience it stays with you, and to remember it when you’re walking around alone with just your own thoughts chasing you, it really heightens your loneliness and can create an intense sense of longing. That’s where I’m at in “Afterall” and really a whole bunch of songs from Come Back Shane.

Worst Thing: “I fight against my self appointed destiny”

Depending on the day, I probably usually think that all destiny is self-appointed. Particularly when it comes to emotional habits and relationships.  When I was writing Come Back Shane I was sort of looking back on a lot of past relationships and seeing some ugly patterns and wondering if I would inevitably continue to fall back into them.  So that line is me trying to psych myself up to believe I can break those cycles.

What’s the Difference Yeah: “We were searching for something/but we never found it that’s for sure”

A lot of the songs on this record deal with a deep sense of disappointment with our lives and the process of looking back and trying to figure out how it came to be like this. It’s the “Come Back Shane” trope, you know the kid from the movie Shane, at the end he’s yelling “Come back!” even though its clear to everyone else that Shane’s gone for good, but you can imagine that kid growing up and still yelling “Come back” throughout his whole adolescence, calling to his hero that can’t hear him and is probably not even on this planet anymore.  That unfulfilled calling out.

Neighborhood: “I’ve got this hunger that ain’t right/she’s resentful of my appetite”

I mean, that one’s pretty straight forward, right? That song has so many layers of experience and autobiography for me, but with that line I felt like I had this thing I wanted to communicate and when I sang that I knew that I nailed it.  But I guess to spell it out, a lot of relationships I’ve been in have involved me and someone else navigating the tension that arises when I am honest about the fact that I have strong feelings for a lot of different people, not just the one I’m in a committed relationship with.

Sidewinder: “Love is a sidewinder”

This is just a way to describe the phenomenon of when you have tunnel vision focus on one thing and something else comes and blindsides you and knocks you off your feet. It’s so rare that you’re going out trying to hook up with someone or whatever and you end up in a good situation.  In my experience, its only when I stop trying altogether, when I vow to focus on other things, that someone comes and hits me when I’m not at all prepared for it.

Come Back Shane: “I had your blood on my hands/but still didn’t understand”

Yeah this is lifted straight from the end of that movie “Shane.” The kid goes to hug Shane and he realizes Shane’s bleeding, he’s been shot, and then Shane is leaving, he’s going to die in some ditch in the middle of nowhere and the kid is still calling after him, saying “Come Back.” There’s something about that situation that struck a chord with me, and was a useful metaphor to understand a lot of the stuff I was thinking about. That song became the centerpiece of the album.

As I alluded to, I imagined myself as that kid all grown up still hoping Shane was coming back. And Shane, he’s such an obvious hero archetype, he lends himself so easily to different things you want to project onto him.  Shane as an idealized story-book version of true love that I thought I had when I was 19 and it totally fell apart but I still longed for it.  Or Shane as the idealized version of America—the founding fathers, or Walt Whitman’s America as the greatest poem—whatever we have now is so far from that, but we’re still as a country calling out for it even though we knows its long gone.

Gunslinger: “I’m not trying to go back to my old way of life”

So then I started having fun with the Shane analogy, instead of me as the kid crying for my dead hero, now this time, in this song I’m the fucking cowboy.  I’m the gunslinger.  Now I’m Shane and I’m hanging out with some homesteader family and I’m making this woman fall in love with me right in front of her husband’s eyes.  But in my actual real life right now I’m trying to do the right thing, not trying to fall back to my old patterns, you know when I was younger I was in some situations like that, and now I’m trying to do things differently.

Real: “It’s real/or else the whole world’s faking”

Oh I don’t know, its a love song about a girl who is just in every way realer than everyone else I’ve ever met.

Reach Out: “now I’m feeling isolated/now I’m feeling lost and confused”

At this point in the record, all these themes are coming around that we’ve seen again and again already.  Isolation, feeling lost, trapped inside my head.  And just desiring some sort of contact that can snap me out of it.

Can’t Id: “And in my mind/I’m constantly at war/I’m always shutting doors”

This is a funny line for me, because on the one hand it’s describing this feeling of being barraged by a million different ideas at once and out of necessity forgetting shit, abandoning goals, you name it, anything to keep treading water and stay out of the nuthouse, right?  But at the same time, and I haven’t really talked to many people about this, my imagination if left unchecked inevitably ends up dreaming up these violent scenarios where I’m literally a solider at war and I’m fighting enemies or something crazy along those lines.  Prison breaks, alley fist fights, guerrilla warfare, you name it.

Tornado: “It’s my city now/I’m not afraid/I won’t run away”

This is the Sidewinder reprise. So in a way this whole record takes place in one day, walking around New York, stoned, lonely, thinking about a million things at once, the past, the present, love and war, whatever.  Sidewinder starts out with a boy standing at the end of the train station literally shaking from all the thoughts and feelings in his head.  When I picture him, he’s hunched over and vulnerable, kind of freaked out, you know he’s really scared—of the world and of himself. And so here at the end of the record it’s that same boy, end of the day, he’s been on this whole journey and he’s come out of it stronger than before, poised, ready for whatever it is that comes next.