The Vanguard 3.11.17
Words by Liz | Photos by Emma
Sam Westhoff is a singer, songwriter, and genuine PAL from our very own Tulsa, OK! He is the front man and brains behind some pretty cool music. He plays alongside his brother Hugh (bass), and good friend John Pierce (drums). We were able to sit down and chat with the guys a bit before they opened for Jared + the Mill at the Vanguard. We are always amazed to see how much talent Tulsa holds, and Sam and the guys are definitely ones to keep your eye on. Get to know them a bit below!
Tell us about yourselves! Do you guys all write together or does Sam do all the writing?
Sam: So Hugh plays bass and John plays drums. They’ve been playing for me, but this next album is going to be a collective effort- we are goin’ for the whole band thing.
Hugh: So far Sam mostly does everything. He’s a machine. He cranks stuff out real fast. He will like basically write the whole song and we’ll come in and give some input.
What are you going to call your band?
S: We don’t know yet. We were pretty sold on this one idea then we found out it’s a super famous Mexican band.
H: Like 400,000 followers famous.
S: Yeah, that didn’t work out.
H: It’s hard to come up with a name really quick.
S: It can get really cheesy really quick but there are some bands that really nailed it. Drew Holocomb and the Neighbors- that’s a great name. Nathaniel Ratecliff and the Night Sweats… it’s super gross and weird but awesome. I guess we’ll see what happens!
Sam Westhoff and the Pit Stains, perhaps?
Are you working full time on music?
S: We are actually starting a video production business! [Hugh] is a cinematographer. What we do is we go to local businesses- and we do social media videos for them. Hugh goes and shows off their shop then I write music for it.
H: I do freelance stuff, too.
Was music a big part of your life growing up?
S: Our parents are super… not musical at all, but we both did classical music when we were young. Hugh stopped after like four years and went the bass route then I stuck with it until I was about 17. And that was about it. We got super bored of the classical stuff so we started rebelling and listening to a lot of heavy metal stuff.
H: We listened to like the weirdest stuff- like a band called Gall-Gotha and it was so bad. It was so bad.
Did you make your whole life heavy metal?
H: We tried, but at this point I was probably 10 or 12. We started music really young so our heavy metal phase was like pre-teen. Our dad was a radio DJ so he kinda turned us onto classic rock like as quickly as possible after that and it’s something we still listen to a bunch.
What artists have influenced your music and writing style?
S: I’m super into old school soul. My favorite guy is Ray Charles, but I listen to a lot of Bill Withers and Sam Cooke, too. I also like the folk scene. Ray Lamontagne, Amos Lee, Nora Jones, and indie-rock stuff like Houndmouth, we love them. It’s kinda all over the place but mostly folk and indie.
What was one of the last good shows you saw?
S: We like going, but we don’t really like paying for concerts. If it’s a good band or a friend we will though!
H: I think the last good one we saw was Sports.
We love Sports! How would you describe the Tulsa music scene?
S: It’s there and it has a ton of history.
John: I would say...it’s like a fetus. It’s like a Benjamin button fetus. It’s old and has awesome roots but it’s still growing. It’s kinda like when you’re growing your hair out and it’s at that awkward length but you know it’s gonna be really cool after a while.
H: Yeah, in like 3-5 years it’ll be bumpin.’
J: The Tulsa music scene is there. It’s good. But it has the potential to be awesome.
Do you guys plan on staying here in Tulsa?
S: Yeah. John has been here for a while. Technically, we all three have moved around a lot. We grew up here and then we all left and all came back. We moved to Indianapolis- my dad got a radio gig up there and it was home base for a while. In that time though, I moved to England for an internship and then Denver and then back to Indy.
Who are some of your favorite Tulsa artists?
S: The Gap band is awesome.
H: Heck yeah!
S: We are good buds with the guys in Young Vines and Sports. Dad. the Band. is cool, too!
H: Uhh, HANSON.
*Editor’s note: TRUUUUUUU
Do you think the music scene here has made you better musicians? Has it made you want to reach a certain level of success or made you want to ever just get up and leave?
S: I go back and forth. Sometimes it makes me wanna leave and sometimes it makes me wanna stay. But, I don’t think it’s effected how hard we work. Even if you go to LA and the music scene itself makes you work harder, once u leave it can be dangerous so we’ve kept it consistent. It’s good having friends like the Young Vines who are step ahead of us and Sports are a step ahead of the Young Vines because we can watch them and what they’re doing then kind of follow in their tracks.
When you release new music, do you get nervous? What about looking back on music you released before and second guessing it?
S: Oh yeah, for sure. It’s like a constant thing. I think its healthy that you’re always looking back on your past work critiquing and knowing you could’ve done better. I think its freaky if you don’t. I don’t ever really feel scared to release stuff tho. If it falls flat that’s it.
S: There’s always the embarrassment of when you get older and better and look back like “ohh that’s a bad song.”
Do you have any songs that you wish never happened?
S: There’s this one song that we haven’t played in like 8 months and …it was a bad song. We ditched it.
H: It’s not a bad but it’s like the bathroom break song. And we didn’t really want that.
S: We haven’t played it in months so we just act like it didn’t happen.
What do you guys hope to accomplish? Any set goals for the near future?
S: I guess the main thing we have is getting this record done. We finished the fourth song last week and have six more to go. I’m mentally taking this as the beginning. We are going to start here and take it super seriously and see where it goes.
We look forward to keeping up with Sam and guys and are so excited for new music! In the mean time, check him out on Spotify and follow him on Instagram @sam_westhoff_music.
peep those live concert photos by Emma here