Samara Kain is a Singer/songwriter/musician fronting her rock band ‘Gasoline Thrill’. She is no stranger to the music business, having played in a variety of bands since being a teenager guitarist in her native France. Now a resident of London for many years, she has delved into numerous creative outlets, from a spell modelling alternative clothing, to featuring in TV shows, both presenting and interviewing bands, to freelance writing for alternative magazines, appearing in music videos and even had a stint at music PR. Prior to her current band, Samara fronted the all girl punk, metal, rock band ‘Catfight’, but recently they changed name and direction slightly when they invited a male to join the ranks, then they became ‘Gasoline Thrill’. They have a fast paced, hard hitting debut album out this month called ‘Burn’ and a first single was released 'Not Afraid', with an outstanding piece of camera work.
Samara is one of the most stunning women on the rock scene today and she speaks with a very sensual Bardot tone, diminutive in stature, with lots of colourful tattoos, she’s a real rock chick with class and so overwhelmingly nice. I’ve know Samara since 2010, and therefore when I got an invite to the show in Bolton I was there like a rat up a drainpipe. So having sorted my questions before hand it was off to the Railway Pub to meet Samara and the band, partake in a little photoshoot and get to see some live high energy action. This Woman can rock your socks off and some more….
MEL: I suppose the first question seems logical to ask, originally you were an all girl band called ‘Catfight’ – what made you decide now to have a male drummer?
SAM: Well Magz basically left the band, for various reasons so, we were going to go into recording. We just bumped into Dave, he’s been a mate of mine for a long time and we were like “oh Dave we really need someone to record with us, you’re a good drummer, so would you be available to do it?” He says yea, actually I’ll do it, so he was just gonna be here for the recording, but its just worked so well and so we kept him.
MEL: Does he cause you much bother being the only male? [laughs]
SAM: [laughs] No, he’s quiet and he’s actually so easy going, so no, he does as he is told, so nice easy going really!
MEL: The band started its life as ‘Catfight’, why the name change?
SAM: Catfight was a good name for an all girl band I thought. There is another all girl band called Catfight, based in America, but people looked for us on Google and they got female wrestling. They kept telling us we can’t find you, so we thought we have a new drummer, a new beginning, the sound changed to writing different songs. Gasoline Thrill there is a lot of things you can do with it, and nobodies got the name, so we thought lets go with this one. We met up over a few drinks then, deciding the name, someone came up with Gasoline, then we threw up words. We just thought ‘Gasoline Thrill’ was really good, gasoline is full of energy, thrill, you can do a lot visually with it. We think it reflects the music we are now doing, and the new songs and the writing.
MEL: Is the music the same as ‘Catfight’ or with the arrival of the new drummer has it changed at all?
SAM: We’re still playing the Catfight songs and we have written new songs. Its still the same band, its still Catfight, its really just a name change. At the beginning Dave was only there for recording but now he is staying, he’s with us now. For a Guy to be in a band …“what’s the name of your band Catfight? It’s a little bit [laughs]… he comes from a metal background. Its so hard to find a good drummer, the music that we are doing is really driven by the drums and we don’t do complicated solos or anything, its really about the energy and we needed like a strong machine behind us and strong engine, its really all about the drums, and he is extremely tight, he’s a really good musician.
LES: I said to Mel before when I came out and listened to you doing your soundcheck and, when you have got your individual sounds when you all play together, it’s a really tight punky, tight sound.
SAM: Exactly. It was hard he started as a stand in drummer. Dave joined and it changed completely the sound of the band. He is such a good drummer, that we felt so comfortable with him on stand. He’s so good that we don’t want to let him go, we wanted an all girl band kind of thing, but when you find the right drummer and it sounds so good – why?MEL: Let’s talk about the new album, it’s a debut album called ‘Burn’ – how much blood, sweat and tears has gone into the making of this?
SAM: [laughs] hard work, we went into the studio early September, thinking we would have everything done by October and far from that we just finished a mastering but two weeks ago. We started with the one engineer; the engineer is also a guitar tech for various bands, as work came in he was “oh I’m gonna do that now”. So, we’d got to put things on hold and I was like – ok, this is taking too long so he agreed that we were gonna finish with another engineer, so we did that. So that was very frustrating, ‘cos we were supposed to finish everything in a month but it took longer. It was a long process, but it was fun as well, but we are happy its now done.
LES: Was that conscious that you went with an engineer rather than a producer? Did you have an idea of what you wanted yourselves?
SAM: We knew we were going to produce the album ourselves, but any other input from anyone was gonna be good. The engineer Pete Hambly was happy to help produce the album and he was amazing at getting us a good sound especially on guitars , he’s a great engineer, but you know ,usually when you work with a professional they are either an engineer or producer. The second engineer Andy Brook, I had worked with him before when we did the EP and he is really good at giving directions and threw a lots of ideas in and co produced with us.
LES: You pretty much knew what you wanted to sound like anyway?
SAM: Yes, absolutely. It’s very easy we wanted to sound like we sound live.
LES: That’s’ one of my questions, would you record very much live, or did you layer, some bands like to layer, some bands do both. They might record the bass, or the guitars, together then layer on top.
SAM: The first engineer wanted to record everything together and I was like, I don’t know, not many bands do that anymore. If you really wanna sound old school maybe, but I didn’t really wanna work like this, but we did record the drums and the bass together and then guitars laid, one by one, then the vocals. It was just so hard to get the sound that we have live, to get the energy, ‘cos I think we have a lot of energy live. When we listened to the mixes, we realised it was going to be a challenge to make it sound like we sound live or in rehearsals. We succeeded to a certain extent but I still think it doesn’t reflect how raw land heavy we are live
MEL: Are you signed yet?
SAM: No, we’re not! We’re not signed yet, but I think nowadays its not about getting record labels ‘cos they don’t do much for you. Unless you’re Lady Gaga and they don’t want to take any risks. For us what we would like is for a good Management, promote and do all the work that we have been doing ourselves, ‘cos its time consuming to organise all the recording, even the tour. We had some help, but we organised most of it, and then finding good festival slots for example, ‘cos for us I think that’s the next step, for us to be able to play some good festivals, or open for bigger bands. You can only do that if you’ve got a Manager, with a lot of contacts, but we are talking to some people, who are good managers, so they are looking at what we are doing. We are in talks with three Managers with good names, so it might well happen that we sign a deal with them this year and see what happens.
LES: Can I ask you about your song writing? What’s the process, do you write the lyrics or do you write pretty much the songs?
SAM: The band started as Catfight, I started the band so, Martha joined in 2010, Monica end of 2010, before then I was writing everything so, music and lyrics. They then joined in and started writing together, so we write the music first, its not true for everything ‘cos the song ‘The Pill’ for example was the other way round. I didn’t really have a vocal melody so it’s a bit of both really.
LES: Can I ask you about one in particular? When Queen did a song called ‘Death On Two legs’ it was about an old Manager, it was quite cutting, now you do a song called ‘Leeches. Is that about anybody in particular? You don’t have to say who… [smiles]
SAM: [laughs] Yea, its about people who came into my life for a very short time, and so its about two people mainly who pissed me off. I had to kind of let it go, its good when you a song writer, to be able to..…’cos I’m not an angry person, but probably ‘cos I can channel my anger through the words…so yea, they are about real people.
LES: You opened one of your songs ‘creased eyes, gave away years of happiness’ which I thought was a brilliant opening line to a song, and it’s a really positive song. Is that about somebody?
SAM: Absolutely! I told you earlier I wrote all the words for the songs, apart from this one. I’m not that optimistic, this one was written by Monica, the bass player, this is a song, she wrote the music and the words. This song was about her Great Auntie who passed away actually and she was an example to her because she was a very positive woman throughout her life and had so much dedication to the things and people she liked. A tribute to her. The lyrics for ‘Not afraid’ were written by Martha and myself.
LES: Its amazing that you’ve said that because that stood out, then this one came up, it suits the music. It stood out as being really different.
SAM: Yes, that was written by Monica Nixx, its her nature she is very optimistic and she has a got a positive attitude. She has got a very good energy to have in the band, she’s always smiling, and everything is always cool. So, we’ll get her to write more songs [laughs]
LES: About the album, influences really, if you ask a band to name them, they either say there are far too many to mention or they reel off a load of names. So, I’ll ask you if you had to have a tattoo of somebody else on your person and where would it be?
SAM: I’ve got tattoos, here, here, and here….[pointing to various parts of the body laughing]. Its hard to say, it’s a tough questions…I’ve got a lot of people, if you’d asked me about 10 years ago I would have had Trent Reznor tattooed probably.
MEL: The video for ‘Not Afraid’ it’s a stunning masterpiece, its not just your average black & white, its very film noir….do you have any particular tales about the experience of the making of this video?
SAM: It was directed by David Kenny, he is a really good music video director, and we spent the first part of the day recording in a pub, which was right next door to our rehearsal room. We recorded in the basement but he didn’t end up using it. Then we went to Terminal Studios, we spent the whole day doing it……but no funny moments…well I guess there are always funny moments. Yea, it was a good experience, it was good fun, and then I had to go back to his place ‘cos he wasn’t happy with it, so we went back there. He wanted me to run outside, ‘cos like the line….run from you…so he made me run with a weird metal thing, its basically so you can put your camera there, like a harness. It was freezing, he didn’t want me to wear a jacket or anything so I was there in East London running round the place, looking absolutely freezing, in the end he didn’t like it so we didn’t use it! It was good working with him.
He filmed the ‘Die So Fluid’ videos, he’s done a lot of bands, we are gonna do another video with him sometime before June. Either for the song ‘Singing’ or maybe ‘Let me Down’, not too sure yet. We’re gonna try and make a completely different way, its not black & white, I want something really colourful or lots of lights.
MEL: Its very hard whilst interviewing bands to avoid asking clique questions, ‘cos everybody tends to ask the same thing. So what you like somebody to ask you and how would you reply. Have you ever thought I’d really want them to ask me this…but they never do!
SAM: I like people to ask me about the music ya know, as you did actually, the song writing process and how we worked together, music directions that we are taking. Mainly that but I’m open to any questions [laughs]. Its true when people ask you the same questions, I can tell you a question I hate, when people ask how the bands came together, ‘cos I’ve answered this so many times, that’s the only one…
MEL: A little bit about yourself, talk us through your own musical CV, as you seem to have had your fingers and toes in all different settings in a creative way, writing, music, modelling, TV….
SAM: I started playing guitar when I was 16 basically. I am from the South of France, from Nice, and its not a very rock & roll place at all so I had a couple of bands there but it didn’t really work ‘cos the rock scene is so small I couldn’t find any people with the same kind of musical influence.
MEL: You were into the Goth scene at that time?
SAM: Yes, punk rock, Goth, I love Metal, so I love rockabilly, psychobilly, maybe we are gonna go a little bit in that direction, but I always wanted to play punk rock as its such fun. So I started to play guitar it was so hard to find a band, then I think when I was 19 I was singing in a band, we were doing covers ‘cos that was the way we could actually play living in the South of France. So we did for a few months, then I moved here and I continued to play but on my own, in my bedroom, and getting a little bit better, then I was approached by a friend of mine, called Lucy, who was my neighbour back then. They were looking for a guitarist for a band called ‘Darling’, who was Ginger from The Wild hearts’ girlfriend at the time ‘Angie’, and that was her band.’. They did quite a lot of things, they toured Japan, and the band stopped, then she reformed the band in 2005. The band was actually managed by ‘Big Life Management’, which was a big management company; they had Snow Patrol, Killing Joke. So they were kind of looking after the band and we were gonna record an album, sent on a worldwide tour and she became pregnant and she just decided she didn’t want to do music anymore. So that was a bit of …we were so excited about it, especially it being my first band and everything. You have to go through a lot of hell, and I was like this is so great, this is my first real band and here I am. So then I joined a band called ‘Spiders Superstars’ and that was more an industrial Goth, mixture of Wednesday 13, meets Nine Inch Nails with a sleaze rock approach kind of thing. I joined the band on guitar, and then on bass, again the band stopped, he wanted to do something else, it wasn’t my band, I was just there learning the songs that I was told to learn. After that I joined a band called ‘Maxdmyz’ on bass for a while, after that I joined ‘Nemhain’, because their guitarist left and they had a tour planned so I joined them for the tour. I arrived in London in 2002, then you get to know people and then I had enough people who I knew who I’d played with and then I started the band and that was it.
MEL: But you have done other things like modelling, pr work, writing, you wrote a book about Goth….
SAM: Yea, not sure how the modelling happened, some photographers approached me to take pictures for their portfolio, and some alternative clothing companies that some acquaintances were running. The book was originally my Uni thesis on The Goth subculture. I studied English Literature in France and we had to write a thesis on any artistic movement from England or America. they let me cover the Goth culture. If I linked it to literature such as the Gothic novel, as well as analyse lyrics. The book was sent to 'Omnibus' press who took me through all the steps to have it published and then it took ages, other books came out around the same time it was left there.
MEL: You are also a French tutor…?
SAM: Yes, I still do that freelance. I teach adults. I worked in Schools before, its not for me. Kids are lovely but …Yes, so when I have a tour I can just say oh I’m going on tour, so the modelling…it was just a photographer who got in touch with me for some modelling, and it just went from there.
MEL: That is actually how I first spotted you all those years ago. So you moved from Nice in France, what was the catalyst in moving to London?
SAM: I used to come to England and stay with a Family for the Summer when i was a teenager, I had a passion for English from an early age, ‘cos I wanted to understand all the songs I was singing along to. I really wanted to be fluent, my Parents sent me over here when I was 14 in Bournemouth and I stayed with a Family. I just thought its great this Country, I just loved it. I kept going I went to Glastonbury and other places and I was 18 and so I said I want to go to London ‘cos I was a proper Goth at the time and I had all these places I wanted to go to. So I came to London and I just loved the night life, I was 22, it was party time, loved the bars and stuff. This is where I belong…
MEL: Did you go to the ‘Batcave’?
SAM: Yea, the Batcave, it was every Wednesday, it was Malicious, and on a Saturday that’s where they had Decadence, but then it moved to somewhere else, so yeah I used to be there. The Gossips it was called, it closed down in 2001 I think. I just wanted to be here and there are more opportunities for bands.
MEL: Are there any mind blowing experiences to date that you’d like to share with us, perhaps something that not many people know about? It could an ‘on the road’ tale…
SAM: Ahhh…let me think ….I can tell you about that, we are doing this tour with Casino 13, we’ve played with them before, the bass player, in fact he is a drummer, but he’s a good bass player too, he’s standing in ‘cos they are still looking for a bass player. We’ve been having a lot of fun, thanks to him being around, we’ve been on tour for three days, he’s lost his credit card in Kettering , his keys, he’s lost his jacket in Northampton so in every different venue we’ve been in, he s lost something so I don’t know what’s gonna happen next. It’s been kinda funny, he tells us there is one thing I ll never loose and that is my keys because he is an assistant Manager in a pub and its very important for me so we picked up his keys he had left on the table at a pub to see if he’d notice ... back in the van, few hours away from Northampton on our way to Bolton and he still hadn’t realised he didn’t have his keys around his neck! Then Monica left her credit card, wallet in Bolton! Oh well at least we didn’t lose anyone!
LES: It’s only a matter of time before he gets lost himself and you won’t see him again….[laughs]
MEL: This is the fourth date on the tour so far what has the reaction been so far?
SAM: It’s been really good so far, especially last night actually in Kettering, Brighton was a bit quiet, because we played in a student pub and it was the 5th January and the students weren’t all back really. There were a few students there and the bands that played with us were absolutely awesome, they were really good bands. Last night was a really good place, ‘King Billy’ Northampton, it was really rock & roll, it was just really cool, the stage was really good. Kettering was really good, the staff and with the lock in and the party afterward the gig we had the lock in, we all got acoustic guitars and we jammed there for like two hours and that was good. The crowd was really majestic, its been really great.
MEL: What vital lessons, have you learnt from your time in the music business, perhaps something you might say to someone else who is just starting out? What have you learnt personally?
SAM: Be prepared its gonna be a long hard ride, its gonna take a lot of your time, you’re your energy, just keep going. Especially now, just do it yourself and just don’t wait for things to happen. A lot of bands start out they think oh we are gonna make money, your gonna spend money, that’s the thing that is gonna happen. It’s a long road, just keep going really!
MEL: How important is style, looks and image to the band?
SAM: It’s important to me. Its important because I think about bands I like, and when I go and see a show, I go because I like the music, it has to be tight, it has to be good, the performance has to be great but you know if they look good, its always better. Just make an effort basically, your there playing the show, people pay to see you, just do the best you can to give these people a good show, with good sound, but also visually to make them kind of want to come back again. So keep our style otherwise we wouldn’t be comfortable, we might try to push it a bit more, with more make up.
MEL: You’re a very beautiful woman and I’ve been reliably informed by a mutual friend [Dave Renegade] that you are also beautiful inside as well. Do you think it has in any way hindered your career in this male orientated music business….or the opposite?
SAM: Ahh thanks Dave….in a way, when it was an all girl band, sometimes we felt like it was a plus, in our favour and a lot of times it wasn’t a good thing that we had to be twice better to be taken seriously. There is still this idea with girls in a band, yea they look good, so if they look good they are probably not that good musicians, so we always kind of felt that we had to be better. So that was difficult but other than that nowadays there are quite a lot of female fronted bands.
MEL: So you think its changed a bit?
SAM: I think people wanna see girls rocking, definitely….this is why we liked the idea of being an all girl band, and it’s a different vibe when its all girls, different dynamics.
LES: I think with women they seem to be excitement driven, they are driven along by the excitement of it, were a lot of blokes are ego driven. That really annoys….
SAM: I’ll tell you something funny in my band, that’s weird, that never happens in any other bands. Martha, she is the lead guitar, she plays rhythm as well, she plays all main guitar parts but every times we write a brand new song, I say maybe a solo would be good here, I say you do it, she says no you can do it, no you can do it….[laughs] There is no ego in this band it is just so easy in this line up, it’s a pleasure.
MEL: Are you all mates?
SAM: Dave was a mate, he only joined in the summer, Martha, Monica and I met her through friends, and we became mates. We are definitely friends, we go out on a weekend or say what are you doing, we are close friends definitely.
LES: If your house was burning down and you had to rescue one cd, one article of clothing and one piece of equipment what would you save?
SAM: That’s a good question…my Gibson Les Paul first, it cost me a fortune. Yea…what would I save….I would go for a dress, so I had one thing to wear, I’d go for one of my ‘Made In Hell’ dresses yea [laughs]. Maybe I would go…a tough one….just one?.....maybe I’ll take The Downward Spiral.
MEL: And the last question any last words?
SAM: Thank you very much first of all and just being on tour and meeting people, meeting you people was great, we hope it is going to continue this way.
Interview by Mel – with additional questions by Les Glover