By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
Macnichol knows what he's talking about when it comes to capitalizing on the Samples name as a solo act. After hitting the road alone, reality quickly slapped him upside the head. "When I released my first solo album," he recalls, "I had a plan to hit all the same spots where two years before, the Samples were huge. I hired a publicist and got amazing reviews, even front-page reviews in the college papers and stuff, saying how great the CD was, and 'Don't miss the former drummer for the Samples.' So I was really pumped for the tour. I would get to these towns and, literally, like five people would come down. And of the five, four of them would be drummers, going, 'Dude, when are you getting back on the drums?'"
Understandably, Macnichol says his road days are in the rearview. Now, when he's not filling the role of Mr. Mom for his two kids, he's assuming the role of Mr. Anonymous -- at least, that's the name of his latest project. A series of recordings from sessions at Cutty Ranks's studio in Kingston, Jamaica, it will feature Ranks, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Bounty Killer and Black Uhuru's Michael Rose, who sang on Macnichol's last record, Cool & Easy.
"Basically, I'm working with all of the musicians who were kind of my heroes growing up," Macnichol offers. "The style of the new album is very dancehall, very kind of hip-hop, sort of electronica and kind of a mix of dub music."
These days the Samples are mostly a memory for Macnichol. Seven years after leaving the group, he insists he's not interested in "slinging mud," as he puts it. But when the subject comes up of his former bandmate's infamous plea for financial aid -- the singer led an effort to solicit $50 contributions from fans in exchange for a special Lifetime Tour Pass (Backwash, May 29, 2003) -- he can't stifle his opinion.
"I hate to say it, but I think it's the most nauseating thing I've ever seen," Macnichol says. "I think there's been so many aspects of destroying the Samples legacy, it's ridiculous. For the amount of times that Sean would sit on the stage and complain about our record company to 500 kids who were really just down there to hear our songs.... There was a long stint where he was just complaining about Dave Matthews and how Dave Matthews owes all of his success to the Samples and that we've never gotten paid back. I've had so many friends or even just fans who have e-mailed me personally just to say how ridiculous and embarrassing the stage antics were.
"And just the thing of asking the fans for money," he continues. "First of all, the basis for that -- a friend of mine e-mailed me the letter he sent to the fans -- was all lies. Like, he was claiming that he'd never made a dime during the entire existence of the Samples. It was just a bunch of bullshit. And then to take the money that people had donated to keep the band on the road, and then the Samples come through town in, like, a 2004 Prevost top-of-the-line tour bus, with a crew of like five people? It's a joke. That's the problem I had since day one, of them never willing to rough it. It's like, if you're that down and out and you make eight thousand bucks off your fans, save that money. Get in a van and make money to maybe pay those people back or something, but don't cruise around in a high-end bus. They got a lot of e-mails and complaints after that went down. The whole thing was just embarrassing, man."
But Macnichol claims he's not that bummed with Kelly. After running across Roberts's original column (Feedback, September 18, 1997) on the Internet, he just wanted to set the record straight.
"Honestly, I definitely wish him the best," he says. "We had our experiences, we had our ups and downs, and the past is the past, man. I certainly don't wish him any bad. The biggest thing I wish for him is peace of mind. I hope he gets to the point where he's really happy as an artist. And maybe if he is that way with the new band, then more power to him."
Dave Wakeling, another artist who appears on the upcoming Mr. Anonymous record, was once a member of the English Beat, a band that VH1 recently tried to reunite -- unsuccessfully. Is there any possibility of the original Samples lineup reconvening at some point?
"No, I don't think so," Macnichol says. "Definitely not for me."
Next week: Sean Kelly responds.
Upbeats and beatdowns: On Friday, September 17, Joy Jackson, Hemi Cuda, the Railbenders and Buckwild get to stompin' at Herman's Hideaway; the Scott Julsen Band, Askimbo and Paint add color to the Soiled Dove; Forecast, Ghost Buffalo, Labrador Hip and Git Some jump off the hi-dive; Core of the Earth, More Than Human and Audio Dream Sister enter the Lion's Lair; Crispy Critters and Haymaker hit Cricket on the Hill; and 802, Chronophonic, Battery Park, the Fray and Rachel's Playpen challenge the senses at "Feel the Music," a benefit for abused deaf women and children at the Gothic Theatre. Then on Saturday, September 18, at Herman's Hideaway, Rubber Planet, Esovae and Shards of Seven welcome Rexway back after a brief hiatus; and the Dinnermints stop by the hi-dive for this month's edition of Radio 1190's Local Takeover.