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Is there a happy ending here?

Samezvous: I hope so. The steroids in combination with the physical therapy are supposed to do the trick. As well, I have to learn a new way of playing guitar, because the way I play guitar is the cause of this.

Aspiring rock artists take note!

Samezvous: No shit! But... who knows how much of it is hereditary? No idea. There was no one moment that tipped it. This has built up over the course of years and years. I just gotta learn some new behaviors and hopefully things will improve. Hopefully things will get better.

What determines "success" for you as an artist? What makes you happy at the end of the day?

Samezvous: In terms of long term success? That's a tough question.

Erm, kind of a dumb question on reflection, I guess. It's like asking someone what their "five year plan is, man."

Samezvous: Well, are you asking where I see myself or what keeps me going?

[ los halos ]

Both.

Samezvous: I was having this conversation with my girlfriend the other night, and what keeps me going is the moments where... the moment of creation, really. That's why I do this. For those once in a blue moon moments when an idea comes that feels so right to who you are and where you're at that you're giggling because you're so happy you came across it. It's a feeling like no other, and it's why I keep going. If that weren't there I wouldn't be doing this. It's that simple.

The fact of the matter is, every year I lose ten to fifteen thousand dollars doing this, and every year my ego gets beaten up. You put something out that means a lot to you, and it's amazing when people respond favorably to it, but at the same time when people respond negatively to your work, it hurts. You have to put up a shell. What's the old saying that goes "you're not as good as your best review and you're not as bad as your worst review"? But at the same time it's a tough blow to the ego when you play a show and people really dislike it.

I'm trying to put myself through school right now, and it totally takes it toll financially on that and the time that I can devote to it, because I pretty much have to take off every fall semester to tour. So, it makes life really difficult in a lot of different ways. But, those once in a blue moon moments are what keep you going.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of fun parts, too. But I wouldn't be pursuing it as diligently as I do without those moments.

You have a great haiku in the liner notes of Leaving VA: "Oh snail / Climb Mount Fuji / But slowly, slowly."

Samezvous: That is indeed a lesson I've learned. That came from Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. It's my favorite book of all time, and it made perfect sense for this album. Leaving VA took forever to make, and sometimes it can seem that everything takes a long, long time. The tough part is that when I was 21, I had no problem with time. But now I'm 30, and I'm bartending while trying to pay my school. At a certain point you start to get tired a little bit, and you want to start seeing some real results. But at the same time, if that's why you're doing it then you should stop. You do it for the moments of beauty -- that's why you do it. If the success is more important and is enough to bring you down to the point where you give up, then you weren't doing it for the right reasons in the first place.

Equally as important, you shouldn't be ashamed of anything you've done. And looking back at your catalog, you should be proud of what you've accomplished.

Samezvous: I'm very proud of everything I've done, and I'm really looking forward to the stuff I have yet to do. I don't think I've come close to what I'm capable of doing. There's so much that I have in my head that I need to find the time to do. I just need this injury to heal, because I can't even play guitar right now. I can't. Every time I sit down to play I'm in too much pain.

That's the ultimate punishment for a musician, isn't it?

Samezvous: Yeah. We have two shows coming up and I just need to make it through those and then it's back to rest and pain killers.

On the web:
Los Halos

Inside Earpollution:
Leaving VA album review

[ los halos ]
[ give a listen! ] "Leaving VA" MP3
96kbs/46sec/557kb

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