Music Showcase, Take Three

Nominated in Folk/Acoustic
10:15 p.m. The Sports Column

This past year in the life of the Samples has been so frenetic that it required more space to tell it than was available here; other details can be found in Feedback, page 84. But to Sean Kelly, the group's lead singer, the upshot of this turmoil has been a strong new lineup (featuring bassist Andy Sheldon, drummer Kenny James, keyboardist Alex Matson and guitarist Rob Somers) and an expansive semi-live CD the W.A.R.? label will release on September 29. "It's called Transmissions From the Sea of Tranquility, and it has an overall theme of the first landing on the moon, which I think is really neat," Kelly says. "It's two and a half hours long, with 27 songs that we either did live or set up in a way that we learned them really quickly and finished them in one take, which is something that the other band didn't really do." Because departed members Jeep MacNichol and Al Laughlin appear on only one cut, a cover of John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels," the focus is on change. "We did a lot of older songs, but we deliberately did them differently, so that they'd seem fresh. And there are also some newer songs, like 'Flying' and 'Prehistoric Bird' and 'Sacred Stones,' which is going to be promoted to radio. We're really psyched about all of them." To some, moving from major label MCA to W.A.R.? might seem like a comedown, but Kelly thinks that the Boulder-based company will help the Samples re-establish their connection with the people who've supported them through good times and bad. As a symbolic gesture toward these fans, the Samples are including in Tranquility a printout of the loyalists on the group's mailing list--all 60,000 of them. "It's in alphabetical order, and we had to make the names so small to fit them all on there that your eyes will probably hurt if you look at it for too long. But that way, you'll be able to find your name on there and know that you had a part in making it happen." He concludes, "The album isn't just a new beginning. It's a celebration. And we want everyone to feel a part of it."

Nominated in Major Label Act

Charles Edwards believes that the time for his goth-friendly band, Seraphim Shock, has finally come. Last year, as a CD was nearing completion, a cache of equipment was stolen, delaying the project for months. But the equipment was replaced and the disc, dubbed Red Silk Vow, is in the can. Edwards, who isn't shy about blowing his own horn, can't say enough nice things about it. "It's a really good blend of goth, industrial and metal," he notes. "Metal's an ugly word in the industry right now, but to me, that's just silly. Everything comes back, and I think it'll be back sooner, not later." He swears that label interest, spurred in part by the presence of a Seraphim Shock song on Goth Box, a four-CD set put out by Cleopatra Records, remains strong. But rather than waiting for a contract, the bandmembers (including guitarist Greg Kammerer, bassist David James and a drummer to be named later) will release it themselves sometime in October. "We've started our own label, Requiem Records, to give us some more bargaining power," Edwards continues. "And the promotion for the album is going to hit like a wave. This city will never have seen anything like this." Also upcoming are a pair of cameos in low-budget thrillers, including Captain Howdy, based on a Twisted Sister song and starring Sister frontman Dee Snider. With the mainstream media full of stories about violence associated with followers of the goth lifestyle, Seraphim's cinematic excursions would seem likely to make Edwards a lightning rod for criticism, but he isn't worried. He puts on "underground goth functions" at a private residence whose location he prefers to keep secret for fear of police interference, and he insists that the kids he's dealt with haven't caused the slightest trouble. "The whole thing is ridiculous. Everyone has been terribly misinformed. And even though we aren't a typical goth band, I'm sure we'll be put into that category. But it may turn out to be all right. Obviously, the events are unfortunate, but the publicity may turn out to be favorable for us."

Nominated in Hard Rock/Industrial

America may not have embraced 16 Horsepower's voodoo rock in great numbers yet, but audiences in Europe have. "We've sold 14,000 copies of our first album [Sackcloth 'n' Ashes] in France," reveals David Eugene Edwards, still suffering from jet lag after returning from an extended tour of the Old Country. "And we're doing really well in Holland, Belgium and Germany too." Given this strong reception, A&M Records, 16 Horsepower's label, decided to rush the release of the band's next album, Low Estate; it's already hitting London and other world capitals a full six months prior to its planned arrival in U.S. record stores. "It just made sense to release it over there first, and then later here," Edwards explains. "After all, we can't tour in both places at the same time. So the way it's looking is that we'll play a show here around the middle of October and then leave straight after that for another six weeks in Europe. Then we'll be off for Christmas. But once the record comes out here in February, we'll spend pretty much the rest of next year touring America." Executives at A&M recently purged the vast majority of rock bands from its roster: "They're mostly R&B at the moment," Edwards reports. For this reason, Edwards and the other Horses (Jean-yves Tola, Pascal Humbert and Jeffrey-Paul) see A&M's continued commitment to the band as a sign of enthusiasm for the new album, which was produced by P.J. Harvey associate John Parish. "Working with John was a really great experience. From the first time we met him, we felt he had a good understanding of what we wanted to do, and his input was very helpful. He played quite a bit on the record--percussion, shakers, rattles, guitar and some organ." Overall, Edwards believes, "there's more textures to the songs, what with the new bandmembers and Jeffrey-Paul's vocals and a lot of new instruments. I think it's more representative of what we sound like live than the first record. The first record, we tried to be as precise and clean as we could, but on this one, we did whatever we felt like doing." On a personal level, the players have undergone some changes: Tola has moved with his wife to Tuscadero, California, and Edwards and his beloved, Leah, are the proud parents of a four-month old boy, Elijah. But these events haven't lessened Edwards's dedication to his music. "We're having a good time playing together. And that's good, because we'll be doing a lot of it."

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