Sammy Rae & The Friends: “This is the year where we tour our faces off…” (10/13 at The Fillmore)

“We’re never really home for more than four days, so the line between home and road is really blurry,” Sammy Rae tells me during a recent phone chat.  Sammy...

“We’re never really home for more than four days, so the line between home and road is really blurry,” Sammy Rae tells me during a recent phone chat.  Sammy Rae is the frontwoman of Sammy Rae & The Friends, a NYC group who blends classic rock, folk, jazz, musical theatre, and more into a brand of indie pop that could only be the product of literal everlasting best friends.  Philly, and PHILTHY, can attest to the band’s dedication to touring, as we first met Sammy last August, as they were gearing up for a sold-out October show in The Music Hall of World Café Live, and later caught up with her this February, just prior to a March date at Theatre of Living Arts.  Well, Sammy Rae & The Friends are returning to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection once again, for their biggest area appearance yet, when they will be headlining The Fillmore next Thursday, October 13th.

Although Sammy Rae & The Friends are yet to release a proper LP, they have been steadily releasing singles throughout this period, and have a handful of EPs under their belt.  This August the band dropped their latest single, “If It All Goes South,” which came about surprisingly and unexpectedly easily, after a December trip to Miami in which the singer/songwriter forced herself to write, yet had significantly less luck: “I tried to get in this routine: wake up, go to the beach for 10 minutes, and then write…  I put final touches on three songs, which was like painstaking…  And then I flew home, sat down on my couch with my banjo, and wrote that in half-an-hour!”  The song is an ineffably charming contemporary show tune of sorts, which has an equally charming music video.

“It’s a song about, ‘Let’s not take it too seriously,’ a lot of first love/young love energy, but it took on this really mature sound…  We wanted to challenge the notion that reckless, live-in-the-moment love is just for young people,” says Sammy Rae of the song.  The music video features elder actors Barbara Lochiatto and Don Walker partaking in just such a love, which takes them from the diner, to the movie theatre, to the bowling alley, before settling on the beach to watch a sunset, and it has been blowing up Sammy’s social media: “We got so many wonderful comments about our actors!”  The maturity the band found in the song also encouraged them to try something they hadn’t in a while: “We were unanimously like, ‘We need a string section!’  And I think it was our first time with strings since ‘Jackie Onassis.’”

While next week will have Sammy Rae & The Friends performing for the 215 for the third time in just over a year, Sammy tells me that each individual tour is unique: “I come from theatre, and so do a lot of people in the band.  We’re very theatrical performers, very visually influenced.  For the Follow Me Like The Moon Tour [which appeared at the TLA this spring] we wanted something space/galaxy/dark, lots of blacks, purples, and blues.”  And she says their upcoming show is going to be something else entirely.

“For this tour, we’re picking a world that’s totally different, with an autumnal color palette.  And we wanted to find a way to make the show very collaborative, so we thought of patchwork.  We’re asking fans, when you come out to the show, bring us scarves and bandanas and silks, and by the end of the tour, we’re hoping to cover the whole stage with these, so it’ll be a lot more colorful.  We’re asking people to provide our set!”

In addition to their headlining tours, Sammy Rae & The Friends also spent the summer hitting the festival circuit, which she tells me is a really great experience, but also forces a band to re-think their approach to performing: “We’re really grateful for such large audiences, and we get to meet so many different kinds of artists that we wouldn’t normally meet.  But we’d just got done doing a five-week tour, where we’d gotten really tight and basically had the same show every night, but the point of festivals is to be really loose…  I’m interested to see how festival season informs our upcoming tour.”

“There’s so much touring.  We’ve been touring pretty nonstop for the past year,” Sammy says jokingly, but goes on to say that’s a good thing for the band: “We’re at a place in our career where touring is really important.  This is the year where we tour our faces off and we’re never home.”  She also says that this will likely continue for the foreseeable future, but that it might be a little while before we get to see them again: “Touring internationally, that’s gonna be a huge priority for next year.  We’re trying to get some Europe dates and break into that market.”  So, whether you are yet to experience Sammy Rae & The Friends live, or you’ve loved getting to see the band numerous times in recent history, I would definitely suggest getting your tickets for October 13th at The Fillmore.  I would also recommend getting there early, as opening this run of dates is recently profiled North Carolina folk-pop group The Collection, who played a stellar show at World Café Live this August.  At the time of our discussion Sammy tells me she & The Friends had just started to get to know The Collection, when a festival the two groups were set to play in Martha’s Vineyard got rained out (which she tells me was not an uncommon occurrence this summer), but that she is very excited about the pairing: “We’re both very family-oriented bands, so we’re a lil match made in Heaven!”

*Get your tickets here.

Band InterviewsLive EventsMusic

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.