If you’ve been yearning for a bit of good, old-fashioned sci-fi storytelling in your new music, then you’re in luck: Laika, the new album from Welsh indie-proggers Samoans, has you covered. Based around (and named after) Laika, the first dog ever sent into space, the quartet’s second album raises thoughtful questions about science’s impact on living creatures, all set to a backdrop of angular, exploratory sonic experimentation.
New track Patience, now streaming exclusively here on TeamRock, blends post-rock guitars with awkward time signatures and a touch of Jeff Buckley-esque pacing. Throw in the space-age concept underpinning the track (loosely, robots aimlessly roaming the streets) and you have a true modern prog contender.
We catch up with band-leader Dan to hear about the new record, what they have lined up for next, and what it’s like to record with a rock dynasty.
What’s the story behind your track Patience?
“Patience is one of my favourites on the album. I’d had the lyrics for a while but never really settled on the music. I usually have phases where I’ll listen to one particular band or artist religiously and that then seeps into whatever I end up jamming at home when writing. I remember at the time of writing Patience I was revisiting Grace by Jeff Buckley and Everything Must Go by the Manics. The lyrics talk of machines roaming the streets in some dystopian street scene where humans are no longer the alpha.”
What sorts of themes do you cover on the new album Laika?
“Tempted to go with what Brian in the show Spaced would say: ‘anger, pain, fear and aggression’, but I’d say the main theme is centred on science fiction and self-reflection on where we’re going as a species.”
What drew you to these themes?
“I’m a Philip K Dick nut and read a lot of his work. It’s the same with how inspiration for music comes from our favourite bands. His writing sets fireworks off in my mind.”
What’s the story behind the album’s name?
“After having a conversation about the album’s theme with my friend, he suggested Laika as the title and it instantly stuck. The album is named after the dog that was launched into space to its impact on living creatures. Laika was never expected to return to earth, spelling out the sacrifices humans make in the name of progress.”
You have your own record label, Apres Vous. What was behind the decision to open your own label and self-release your record?
“Well the label was started by our drummer Chris when he was in his previous band Hold Your Horse Is. After they broke up we decided that instead of chasing labels we would release everything through Apres Vous. This meant we were in control of every aspect of our releases. It can be quite stressful at times in the build up to a release, especially with us holding down full-time jobs but it’s really rewarding to hold the final product. When we were nominated for the Welsh Music Prize back in 2014 for Rescue, John Rostron who is one of the founders of the prize said when he typed in Apres Vous into google all he got was porn and that maybe we should change the name of the label. Obviously we didn’t get round to that!”
What’s your favourite story or anecdote from recording the album?
“We recorded the album with Todd Campbell, who was our first drummer. His dad, Phil Campbell used to be in Motorhead, so there’s lots of amazing memorabilia in the studio and we got to use some of his guitars on the record too.”
What do you hope people take from your music?
“That they enjoy it and maybe take some inspiration for their own music. Just like we do from our peers.”
What’s been your highlight of being in the band so far?
“Getting nominated for the Welsh Music Prize up against artists like the Manics, Gruff Rhys and Cate Le Bon was a huge highlight. I grew idolising the Manics and the Super Furries so to be nominated against them was crazy. I’d also say touring with No Devotion on their first ever run of shows. They’re an amazing group of guys and we’ve all become firm friends.”
What’s next for Samoans?
“We’re playing a release show on September 23 in Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff, followed by more tour dates later in the year (TBA). We’re excited for people to finally hear this record!”
Samoans’ new album Laika will be released on 29th September via Apres Vous records