Upon hearing Ryan Sambol’s untameable and somewhat frantic vocals, you immediately conjure up a stereotypical image of him. Sunglasses inside, constantly drunk, full of it; your average rock star, really. But, with a quiet voice, Ryan contemplates every question thoroughly whilst powering through a tall pint and a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes, coming across as shy and humble as a secondary school supply teacher. He guides us through the process of new album Live Music.

Jamie Carson: NME recently said in an album review of Live Music that ‘If The Strange Boys were Brits, they’d officially be a big deal by now’. Do you agree with that statement?

Ryan Sambol: England is so much smaller, and the press is so different here. I’m an outsider, so this is just my point of view, but it seems to me that England listens more to the music press. It just seems that the press here hype something up and then just let go of it.

JC: How was school life for you? Were you always involved in music?

RS: I was about 15-16 when I first started playing. I’ve always played more or less punk n RnB. It’s a good way to describe music; RnB, you can kind of do everything with it. I tried to pick a label that was most open, so I wasn’t really labelling myself, just keeping it all open.

JC: How was the recording process for the new album? Does it differ from Be Brave?

RS:We recorded at a studio in California, the same place we did the Be Brave record at. Rough Trade said they wanted more songs, so we then recorded a few more songs in Texas. We aren’t really gear heads; we don’t have the money to be. We just use what’s lying around. The last album was so fast; some songs were only like two weeks old. They weren’t thought out. A little more though went into these songs... not a lot, but a little more.


I couldn’t have put it any better myself. There is a lot more structure to the songs now, a lot more planning has went into them, but there is still that excitement from their previous records that begs the questions ‘where are they going with this?’ and ‘Do they even know what they’re doing?’ The new album is split into two sides. Side A was recorded in April of this year in Texas with producer and Spoon drummer Jim Eno, while Side B was recorded in December 2010 at producer Mike McHugh’s distillery.

JC: What’s the video for ‘Me and You’ all about?

RS: Our Friend Daniel Hill in Austin, who did the ‘Woe Is You And Me’ video, helped direct it. I just thought lets use as many pianos as we can and then try to be as creative as we can. We told people that we were doing a documentary on the disappearance of pianos in music, because when we told them that we were doing a music video, everyone just said no. All the black churches were cool with it; where as the white churches were really uptight about it.


And creative Ryan and Daniel were, the video sees a piano attached to the ceiling, flying down a road, Ryan playing one in his underwear (it’s easier if you just watch it).

JC: Are you listening to anything in particular at the moment?

RS: Gillian Welch, Nina Simone. I don’t listen to that much music on the go because I don’t have an iPod. I just listen to vinyl at home really.

JC: Do you think drugs help or hinder the music making process?

RS: Well, if you can take it as a personal thing. If you can be a junkie and still have a job, then do what you want to do, not what you need to do. Personally, I find for the first time in my life, I’m cutting back on a lot of things like that. As you get older, you realise it’s not worth it, it becomes more of a chore than an enjoyment.

JC: How is it playing in a band with your brother?

RS: He joined two years in, he’s also the manager of the band. We went through a few line-up changes, but the group is tight now. I feel really lucky to have these guys; it wouldn’t be the same without them. It’s a weird dynamic; it’s not a solo thing by any means.


Listening to The Strange Boys new album, you can clearly see they have evolved as a band. Not matured, but definitely grown. The excitement and uncertainty is still firmly lodged in there, but it seems like they now have a direction in which they are heading. Whether that will be to a top of a mountain or off the side of a cliff, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

The new album Live Music is out now through Rough Trade.