A big thanks to all the nationals, dailies, weeklies, music sites & blogs, TV and radio that have come out thus far with features, interviews, show previews and radio in-studios for Sam Llanas and his new solo album “The Whole Night Thru”!
SOUND & VISION MAGAZINE
(national music magazine)
Former BoDeans Vocalist Sam Llanas Owns the Sound of the Night
By Mike Mettler
“I’ve always been a fan of records that tastefully use effects to enhance the listening experience,” says Sam Llanas, former vocalist/guitarist for roots-rock pioneers BoDeans, now ensconced in a full-time solo career. Llanas’ distinct vocal tone — which resides somewhere between gravel and grace — has touched the soul of indelible songs like “Closer to Free,” “Feed the Fire,” and “Rickshaw Riding,” and on The Whole Night Thru (Llanas Music), Llanas opens up his palette on deeply personal tracks like “Deja Vu” and “I’m Still Alive” to achieve an even more honest aural identity. “We did decide early on that we would like to make a record that would be engaging on headphones,” he reports.
Here, Llanas, 53, and I (along with producer Gary Tanin) discuss the importance of equipment choices and microphone placement, how to make a record that hits “hard and fast,” and his favorite BoDeans album. The man is very much still alive and kicking.
Mike Mettler: I’m sure capturing the very specific, unique character of your voice — as on tracks like “Deja Vu,” “Dangerous Love,” and “Addicted to the Cure” — well, on all of the album, really — is of paramount importance to you in the studio. Do you take a hands-on approach to things like microphone choice and microphone placement? What equipment do you prefer to use in the studio environment?
Sam Llanas: Something either sounds good to me, or it doesn’t. I’m much more interested in capturing a great performance than anything else. I do realize, however, that choosing the right microphones, EQs, etc., is very important if you want a great-sounding record. I leave those choices to my producer Gary Tanin and engineer Ric Probst. [Note: Both Tanin and Probst outline all of the gear and mic choices in great detail in the longer version of this interview over on soundbard.com.]
Mettler: To me, gear choice and mic placement — especially when it comes to the snare — is paramount in getting the sound you want the listeners to hear. You often employ echo/reverb as an effect on your vocals, which I also happen to like very much. Do you have a particular blueprint for how your vocals should be recorded and how you want us, the listeners, to hear them?
Llanas: Like l said, I usually like to get a good vocal take recorded first, and then I will decide from there what kind of and how much of an effect or effects to use. It’s usually a trial-and-error process, although I do have to say that we did decide early on that we would like to make a record that would be engaging on headphones. I’ve always been a fan of records that tastefully use effects to enhance the listening experience.
Mettler: Oh, me too. Many of these songs, like “Everywhere But Here,” feature lead-guitar work that’s clear and upfront in the mix, which I think lends added muscle to your message. What were the overall production goals you and Gary discussed for this album?
Llanas: We wanted to make a record that hit hard and fast. That’s why there’s only nine cuts on the record, and that’s why the cuts are all relatively short. We tried to trim the songs of all unnecessary fat. Consequently, when Sean Williamson’s guitar leads hit, they have maximum effect. It seems that, these days, people don’t take the time to listen to an album in its entirety. We tried to do all we could to encourage that they might.
Gary Tanin: I’ve been fortunate in having produced all of Sam’s solo records, which gave me clarity and insight into the artist’s approach to recording, vocal styling, and vision. I knew this record was to be a departure from Sam’s previous solo records and had to reflect his legacy in a modern context. That meant layers of vocal harmonies (a la BoDeans), emotional deliveries, and a guitar-driven sound with tasteful use of effects to keep the journey engaging and a bit unpredictable. I’m very proud of the results we’ve achieved on all our records together; each one is unique and unlike the previous one. This album is the pinnacle of the three studio album trilogy — A Good Day to Die (1998, under the band name Absinthe), 4.A.M. (The Way Home) (2011), and The Whole Night Thru (2014).
Mettler: What is your guitar, or guitars, of choice these days? Is there a particular sound you’re striving for as an acoustic guitar player?
Llanas: I don’t consider myself to be a real guitar player, but having said that, l have come up with a couple of picking techniques and a tapping approach that can be quite effective. On the record, there is very little of my rhythm acoustic guitar featured, but if you were to strip away the other instruments, you would hear my Taylor being strummed thru a Crate acoustic amp that we tracked live. On the songs “I’m Still Alive” and “To Where You Go,” I play another Taylor that we close-miked. I like to hear the full spectrum of the acoustic guitar. I call it hearing the wood! It’s not that easy to achieve in a rock-band setting, but that was the goal. I’ve been playing Taylor guitars for quite awhile now, and I also have a Takamine that sounds fat and full when you plug it in. I use a pretty little blonde Guild as my main writing guitar.
Mettler: “I’m Still Alive” is one of the most poignant songs on the album to me, given the subject matter, the inherent emotionality in your vocals, and the sound of the acoustic guitars and the drums. Can you break down the writing/production/sonic choices for that song?
Llanas: “I’m Still Alive” was the last song written and the only song not tracked live for the album. It was written on January 1, 2014, and recorded probably in late February or March. The other songs were recorded in my living room in April 2013, l think. I spent a good deal of time in New Orleans over the years and lost several prized possessions, including my whole vinyl collection, in Hurricane Katrina, so I think the sense of loss is coming from a true place in the song.
We recorded it in Gary’s overdub room at his mastering studio — which has solid 3/4-inch knotty-pine paneling. We also recorded all the vocals there too. We started with just my guitar and vocal. This was a first-take vocal with guitar. l asked Gary to try a piano arrangement on the piece. He also added mellotron flutes and created string arrangements for the track. Sean Williamson recorded an atmospheric pedal-steel part that we used way in the distance. It all seemed to enhance the song without taking away from its intimate nature.
Tanin: The most unique song on the record started out as a demo recorded a few days into the new year (2014). “I’m Still Alive” was a natural for treatment with piano and strings. There was an homage to The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” with the mellotron flutes. There was no percussion other than the tapping technique Sam used on guitar, so his meter drove the rest of the song. It truly was the first vocal takes we recorded that made the final mix. That just couldn’t be topped — and we did try to top that first performance. Sam and I rarely disagree on final vocal takes, as they tend to be obvious — at least to us.
Mettler: Do you have a preferred way of listening to music yourself these days? Are you a fan of vinyl? Could we expect to get The Whole Night Thru on vinyl at some point?
Llanas: I love to hear vinyl when I can, and I still think it is a superior listening experience, but I know that technology is not going back — although I do applaud the people who are keeping vinyl alive! Unfortunately, vinyl has become very expensive to manufacture, so I cant afford to do that right now, but I would love to hear my record in that format. I really miss hearing the music in fine studios off the 2-inch tape! Now that is the ultimate!
Mettler: I very much agree, as both you and I know what gets lost with the MP3 format in terms of what you want us to hear after approving the final masters. Personally, I feel high-resolution audio is the best way to hear music like yours in the digital realm. All of the vocal subtleties, separation of instruments, and production qualities are right there, and nothing is lost. We get to hear it exactly how you intended. Services like HDtracks, Acoustic Sounds Super HiRez, and Neil Young’s Pono are all doing a great job in delivering the highest quality music files, in my opinion.
Llanas: Yes, to me MP3s sound so thin that they’re hard to listen to. I’m really looking forward to when high-res audio becomes a standard format. Go Neil!
Mettler: With the BoDeans in the rearview mirror, would you mind encapsulating what you consider that band’s finest moments/accomplishments? Do you have a particular personal favorite song/album from that catalog?
Llanas: The finest moments of the BoDeans were always onstage. Live, the songs were driven mainly by two voices and very simple instrumentation, allowing the vocals to be heard in a very pure way. l think we rarely captured that in a studio. Joe Dirt Car (1995) is the best representation of this, in my opinion. Having said that, I would even venture to say that the BoDeans might have been at their best before we ever had a bass player, with Guy Hoffmann on drums. That was in our freshest and most unique form.
Mettler: Obviously, many people consider the BoDeans’ debut album, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams (1986), to be a benchmark in terms of its approach, freshness, songwriting prowess, and overall sound. I know T Bone Burnett remains fond of it to this day. What’s your take on it now, almost 30 years down the line?
Llanas: I know why most fans love that record, but like a lot of artists, l mostly hear what I feel is wrong with it and things I wish I could change about it — mostly in the sound of my voice! But T Bone did do a fine job of helping us capture a raw, fresh feeling and in helping us make the best record we were capable of making at that moment in time.
Mettler: I spoke with Robbie Robertson back in 2013, and he fondly recalled working with you on his first solo album in 1987. What do you remember about working with Robbie? Are you pleased with how your work turned out on tracks like “Somewhere Down the Crazy River”?
Llanas: Working with Robbie was a real gift for a young musician because I also got a chance to work with the great producer Daniel Lanois and a young Jim Scott, who would go on to become a fine producer as well. Talk about a master class!
Obviously, it was a bit intimidating, but when you work with the best people, it tends to bring out the best in you. I loved “Crazy River” from the start, but was a little puzzled that my voice was left so dry and unaffected on a track that just drips with such sonic atmosphere. But I get it now.
Mettler: Would you work with Robbie again?
Llanas: Of course I’d work with him again. I’ve been waiting for the call! I think he may be the finest American songwriter that wasn’t born in America.
Mettler: True — he captures the feel of America so well, just like another non-American, Mark Knopfler, does. Do you have any other dream collaborators?
Llanas: Dream collaborators? Far too many. I’ve always been a fan of people who go their own way. Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, The Clash, Tom Waits, and more recently, My Morning Jacket and Kings of Leon. And I’m very interested to hear where Lorde is headed. I’d sing with any of them anytime.
Mettler: Now that you have this album under your belt, can we expect another one anytime soon, and if so, what might it sound like? No pressure or anything like that…
Llanas: I’d like to make another record ASAP. Financing will be the biggest obstacle. I think I have the songs ready. Now that I’ve finished the trilogy of “night music,” l think I would like the next one to be much more lighthearted.
A longer version of this interview appears on Mike Mettler’s own site, soundbard.com.
(online politics & culture site)
A Conversation with Sam Llanas
Mike Ragogna: Sam Llanas, as I live and breathe. What’s shakin’ beyond your third solo studio album The Whole Night Thru that I’ll be asking you questions on?
Sam Llanas: I’m just trying to survive in a world where music has become almost completely devalued and it seems to be getting harder everyday.
MR: Sam, you got together with Gary Tanin for the project. What was the studio chemistry like? Did he energize you to try new or different things than you would normally?
SL: It was more like l energized myself. These days a band without a recording contract, which is to say most bands out there, has to be creative when making a record. So I decided that we would record the album in my house. That is where we were rehearsing at the time and I really liked the sound of the room, which was in fact my living room. Gary was up for it though and he knew a guy–Ric Probst, Remote Planet Recording–who had the right equipment to make it happen. The project was not without its challenges but I think the results speak for themselves.
MR: “Deja Vu” is your new single. Can you give us some background on that recording and song?
SL: “Deja Vu,” which could be my favorite track on the record, is a song about a guy who is having a dream. He is wandering around a dark and shadowy house. And as the dream slowly turns to nightmare, he realizes it is his own house and things are not looking too good for him.
MR: It’s been said you look at “The Whole Night Thru” as practically being your first solo album though it’s your third. Why is that? and did you perhaps there was some bleeding of BoDeans approaches into your previous releases?
SL: Yes, although it is my third–quote unquote–solo recording it is the first one that I have made since my departure from my previous band. On the first two solo projects, I was very careful not to compete with what could be called the BoDeans sound. On this one, though that was not a consideration at all. I just tried to make the best record that I possibly could. If from time to time this record sounds a lot like a ‘Deans record might, well that is only to be expected, no?
MR: Take us through the nine songs. What are a couple of the more interesting stories behind either the creative process or the storylines or both.
SL: People ask a lot of questions about the songwriting process. I don’t think it’s exactly the same for any two songwriters. Sometimes they want to know how long it takes to write a song. The answer is it’s never the same. The song called “Dangerous Love” on my new album is a good example. I started writing that song in about 1981. I liked it a lot but it was too long and so I would revisit it from time to time and try to edit it down and I really didn’t get it right until about 2012. I knew there was a good song in there but sometimes it just takes a while, kind of like a sculpture I guess. If anyone wants to know more then ask me on my Facebook page. I will be happy to respond.
MR: Were there any challenges on the project and did you at times have to completely rethink the approach to a song or rewrite it it drastically? And what inspires you creatively these days?
SL: The biggest creative challenge of the record was the song called “Addicted To The Cure.” One night I was talking to a lovely lady bartender named Amber and I asked her what she was listening to these days. Her response was right now I’m addicted to The Cure. I immediately thought to myself ‘wow that would be a good title for a song,’ so as far as being inspired creatively it can come as simply as that. Anyway, we recorded the song using the whole band but somehow it just wasn’t working for me. So Gary and I started to strip away the instruments until it was pretty much just my voice and my guitar. At that point we started to re-insert tiny bits of the drums and bass and electric guitars. It turned out to be quite a challenge. I have to admit that some days I like it and some days I don’t, but at the very least it’s a very interesting track. You decide for yourselves.
MR: Sam, what is your advice for new artists?
SL: I think at this point, I’d be more interested in what advice new artists would have for me.
(national music magazine) – Positive album review…
(national music magazine) – “Dangerous Love” song premiere
EXCLUSIVE: Former BoDeans Rocker Sam Llanas Shares New Track Off Upcoming Album
With the November 18 release of The Whole Night Thru, former BoDeans’ guitarist/vocalist Sam Llanas will be three albums into his solo career, and he seems to be very much enjoying the creative freedom. A roots rock powerhouse, the new album speaks to the wide range of sounds that inspired Llanas as a young man, and surely still do: “In the ’60s, when radio was wide open, you would hear the Beatles and the Stones, Motown Soul and Atlanta Soul, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding and Southern Soul. You’d hear Tom Jones, The Carpenters, Glen Campbell and country artists, you’d hear Johnny Cash and folk.”
“Dangerous Love” represents but one facet of Llanas’ varied style. “‘Dangerous Love’ is a song about seduction,” according to Llanas. “Letting yourself be lured into something that you know is probably going to get you in trouble.” Behind a steady beat that both rocks and grooves, Llanas’ vocal wail, with the help of some equally wailing guitar, is rather seductive itself. See for yourself below, and catch Llanas at New York’s Stage Left Studio on October 17 and 18 as part of the theatrical production of playwright Doug Vincent’s A Day for Grace, benefiting the Road Recovery organization for at-risk youth.
(Milwaukee monthly) – Positive show preview
Saturday, December 27: Sam Llanas with The Delta Routine at Shank Hall, 8 p.m. ($15)
Since Sam Llanas parted ways with longtime Milwaukee rock cornerstones the BoDeans in 2011, he’s blazed his own trail as a gruff troubadour, releasing a handful of solo albums. His latest, The Whole Night Thru, finds Llanas as formidable and soulful as ever. (1434 N. Farwell Ave., ShankHall.com)
THE DAILY VAULT
(online music site) Positive album review with cover art.
SAM LLANAS “THE WHOLE NIGHT THRU”
On the third solo album by former BoDeans frontman Sam Llanas, he continues in a style that is very natural for him and he succeeds at most everything he tries. Kicking things off with “Deja Vú,” a slow burner of a rock track, is the perfect way to tell the world that he is free from his old band. But his vocals are such a definitive part of that band, it’s impossible to completely break free and that’s something he’s fine with. On tracks like this, his vocals are crystal clear and very suited to each individual song. Damn fine way to start this record off.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250
“Cold N’ Clean” is one of those songs that sounds like an old school BoDeans track from the ‘80s, which is a great thing. The lyrics showcase Llanas’ immense songwriting talents. Crisp production is present all throughout the record. “Everywhere But Here” is a strong example, with some amazing vocals and Llanas’s band sounding really cohesive. Unfortunately, there are some unnecessary detours present as well, including “I’m Still Alive,” an acoustic number that probably could’ve benefitted from being plugged in.
One of the best tracks here is “The Best I Can,” an anthemic rocker that should be remembered as one of Llanas’ best songs, ever. The magnitude of how excellent this song cannot be measured in words; it truly has to be heard in order to be fully appreciated.
At thirty-four minutes long, the disc does feel a little brief, but that’s a minor complaint. With track like “To Where You Go,” Llanas is more than forgiven for the small amount of songs here. This cut has the feel of one of those slow burning BoDeans songs that the band was known for. He may have left the BoDeans several years ago, but it’s clear that Llanas has got a great future ahead of him. With material like this and a band that hopefully won’t need to be constantly replaced, he should feel secure about what’s ahead of him.
Physical copies of the CD can be ordered from Llanas’ website.
DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE
(NYC music blog)
The 100 Best Songs of 2014 HONORABLE MENTION: Sam Llanas: “The Whole Night Thru”. The voice of The BoDeans with a stellar solo album. Here’s a full album stream at YouTube. Click here.http://www.daabar.com/
(Bridgeport, CT Public Radio)
Last Week’s Listener ‘Thumbs-Ups’ – Sam Llanas: To Where You Go http://northforksound.blogspot.com/2015/01/north-fork-sound-top-20-january-4th-2014.html
NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY
(NYC music blog)
The 100 Best Songs of 2014 Sam Llanas – To Where You Go From
The elegant, regret-laden final cut from the soulful BoDeans frontman’s new solo album The Whole Night Thru, a vivid, broodingly nocturnal highway theme. Watch the video (be careful – you may have to mute an ad at the beginning since this is a full album stream) http://newyorkmusicdaily.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/bestsongs2014/
(Roots music blog)
Mayer’s Playlist for December 2014 The Best That I Can, Sam Llanas (from the Daystorm / Sam Llanas Music release The Whole Night Thru) The Bodeans founder is now walking a solo path and it suits him well. He’s got one of the more distinctive voices in rock and roll, full of character and the perfect match for the brawny songs that make up this release. http://twangville.com/20842/mayers-playlist-for-december-2014/
(Milwaukee weekly) Sam Llanas Enjoys Solo Artistic Freedom By Joshua Miller When singer Sam Llanas left the BoDeans in 2011, he faced the challenging prospect of going solo after 25 years in a popular band. Any pressure he might have felt, however, isn’t reflected on his latest solo album, The Whole Night Thru. As he tells it, he’s enjoying the freedom and comfort in this new chapter of his life. His longtime interest in the night gets revisited on the The Whole Night Thru, with its title referring to his habit of working a lot during night hours. It was during many a night (and day) that he crafted the songs for this album, refining his songwriting approach while staying true to what’s worked in the past. “This record is me,” Llanas says. “It’s a good representation of what I do. I think I found my voice long ago and this is just another expression of it.” That representation features plenty of the roots rock and other influences that have been trademarks through Llanas’ career. At times the songs are reminiscent of his work with the BoDeans, but he says that’s never deliberate. “I was in that band and was a big part of that band,” he explains. “I’m still the same guy so a lot of what I do is going to be reminiscent of what I did with the BoDeans, because it’s me doing it. It’s not anything I thought about. It’s how I sound and the way I write. Of course it’s going to sound like the BoDeans.” He started writing the songs for the album last year and recorded the basic tracks at his house. Afterward, he turned to longtime producer and collaborator Gary Tanin, who produced his previous two solo albums at Tanin’s Milwaukee home studio Daystorm Music. Llanas says, that “it was a very homemade kind of record,” and that working with Tanin has become very natural. “He’s just somebody who’s diligent about doing the work,” Llanas says. “I’m kind of a workaholic when it comes to making records and he’s very similar. We seem to work together fairly well and fairly comfortably. I met him a long time ago and we were just good studio partners.” He also received some help from his backing band, which features Milwaukee musicians Sean Williamson, Matt Turner, Ryan Schiedermayer and Tanin. “I liked the way they played and they liked the music I was writing,” Llanas says. “And we seemed to get along together and seemed to be able to make music together so we just decided to play together. We’ve been playing together about three years now.” Llanas says that while he’s enjoying the freedom that’s come with being a solo artist, he’s not entirely dismissive of the band environment. “When you’re in a band you don’t get to decide everything,” he says. “Everything is a democratic process. Everybody gets a vote. So it’s hard to do what you want to do because maybe the other guys in the band don’t want to do that. There’s always little arguments or discussions about whatever it is that you’re going to do. But when you’re a solo artist you don’t really have that problem. You can pretty much do what you want to do. And there’s been a lot of freedom in that. But sometimes it’s tough because every decision falls on you and sometimes it’s nice having other people carrying some of that weight. So it’s kind of a two-edged sword.” As he’s faced challenges going from the success of the BoDeans to a solo career, Llanas has kept his expectations realistic. He hopes to keep making music and work many more nights. “The plan is to just survive in the music industry,” he says. “It’s become quite a challenge. If I can just survive I’ll feel successful.” Sam Llanas plays Shank Hall at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 27 with The Delta Routine. http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-permalink-24621.html
DIAL URBAN MILWAUKEE
The Return of Sam Llanas He’s quit the BoDeans, his music has gotten darker and he’s ready to rock at Shank Hall. By Jon Gilbertson Top Show: Sam Llanas and the Delta Routine, Shank Hall, Saturday, December 27 In August 2011, Sam Llanas departed the BoDeans with startling abruptness. He had founded the band with Kurt Neumann in Waukesha during the 1980s, and the two had been the group’s most (or only) consistent members in the years to follow. So his departure was probably less an inexplicable retirement of some kind than the cork finally popping from years of stoppered dissatisfaction. And if BoDeans lost momentum before continuing without him, Llanas already had a solo album, 4 A.M.(The Way Home) ready to go. That album and its follow-up, 2014’s The Whole Night Thru, contain elements not dramatically different from the contributions Llanas made to BoDeans: the earthiness of the roots in the band’s roots-rock approach and, of course, the curious voice that time and delivery have changed from an adenoidal quack to an enduring quirk. Solo, Llanas has set that voice inside music rawer and darker than most of his former band’s material, and on Whole Night he is particularly focused on establishing murky moods from which the songs can emerge. He’s not entirely unlike an upper-Midwest Alejandro Escovedo now. The Delta Routine, opening for Llanas, is not entirely unlike an upper-Midwest version of the Strokes (when the Strokes were good) or a Britpop band (one of the good ones), although the Milwaukee quartet upends the expectations of such influences with Southern-rock grease and British Invasion cheek. In July, the DR got a nod from USA Today for a new song, “Home With You,” and a fourth full-length, You and Your Lion, which was originally scheduled for October release, but is now awaiting a release next year. The band plans to feature the aforementioned new song and many other Lion tracks at its gigs, which means that neither the Delta Routine nor Sam Llanas will be riding entirely on past glories at this show.
The Return of Sam Llanas He’s quit the BoDeans, his music has gotten darker and he’s ready to rock at Shank Hall. By Jon Gilbertson Top Show: Sam Llanas and the Delta Routine, Shank Hall, Saturday, December 27 In August 2011, Sam Llanas departed the BoDeans with startling abruptness. He had founded the band with Kurt Neumann in Waukesha during the 1980s, and the two had been the group’s most (or only) consistent members in the years to follow. So his departure was probably less an inexplicable retirement of some kind than the cork finally popping from years of stoppered dissatisfaction. And if BoDeans lost momentum before continuing without him, Llanas already had a solo album, 4 A.M.(The Way Home) ready to go. That album and its follow-up, 2014’s The Whole Night Thru, contain elements not dramatically different from the contributions Llanas made to BoDeans: the earthiness of the roots in the band’s roots-rock approach and, of course, the curious voice that time and delivery have changed from an adenoidal quack to an enduring quirk. Solo, Llanas has set that voice inside music rawer and darker than most of his former band’s material, and on Whole Night he is particularly focused on establishing murky moods from which the songs can emerge. He’s not entirely unlike an upper-Midwest Alejandro Escovedo now. The Delta Routine, opening for Llanas, is not entirely unlike an upper-Midwest version of the Strokes (when the Strokes were good) or a Britpop band (one of the good ones), although the Milwaukee quartet upends the expectations of such influences with Southern-rock grease and British Invasion cheek. In July, the DR got a nod from USA Today for a new song, “Home With You,” and a fourth full-length, You and Your Lion, which was originally scheduled for October release, but is now awaiting a release next year. The band plans to feature the aforementioned new song and many other Lion tracks at its gigs, which means that neither the Delta Routine nor Sam Llanas will be riding entirely on past glories at this show. http://urbanmilwaukeedial.com/2014/12/22/rock-roundup-the-return-of-sam-llanas/
(Chicago music blog) SAM LLANAS @ Schubas January 24, 2015
Having been underwhelmed by the current FauxDeans lineup that has come through town a number of times since Llanas and Kurt Neumann parted ways, it’ll be great to hear Llanas’ reedy vocals in the mix again. After all, no matter how many songs Neumann sang, Sammy was always the true voice of the BoDeans. http://superiorshit.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-ticket-counter-ministry-all-them.html
(online music site) “Dangerous Love”stream featured.
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
(Milwaukee daily) TOP 10 SONGS BY MILWAUKEE ARTISTS:
“Deja Vu,” Sam Llanas: Llanas will inevitably be best remembered for his crucial role in the BoDeans (he left the band he co-founded in 2011). But his best songwriting days are not behind him. “Deja Vu,” from his latest solo album, “The Whole Night Thru,” is a lyrically surreal, smoldering rock epic.
(Milwaukee college radio) 12/23 in-studio acoustic session with Sam scheduled for 7:30pm CST
DC ROCK LIVE
(DC music site) Positive album review with cover art.
SAM LLANAS “THE WHOLE NIGHT THRU”
Roots music is plentiful. It often does not push the barriers too much, but if the heart is there, the songs are there, and the musicians are competent or better, there is always an eager audience. Sam Llanas gets checks in all of the above boxes with this album. It is not too much of a surprise as Llanas had a good bit of success in the band the BoDeans which he was in for 28 years. There is a touch of Tom Petty, David Ackles, and more all mixed with plenty of raspy expressive vocals and maybe even more than a touch of the Jayhawks and REM in there as well. I like the pop hooks he uses as well that has a romantic old time rock’n’roll feeling even as the sound is much more modern with ringing guitars over a strong rhythm section. My comparisons seem a bit slippery here and elusive, which means that Llanas is doing plenty right with his own personality and style dominating the proceedings. I’ll stop writing and give this another listen and will recommend you try it out as well.
Songs to try first:
Deja Vu – Rich opening track has a full sound and an invigorating melody.
Everywhere but Here – A lovely song that could be interpreted in a roots or thick rock style and comes somewhere in between here.
Something’ Comin’ – A deep Dick Gaughn beginning, alone much more American slowly unravels into a full and interesting rock song.
NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY
(NYC music site) – Positive album review
Former BoDeans Frontman Sam Llanas Returns with a Vengeance to Fiery Electric Rock
There’s no small irony in the fact that when the BoDeans broke up in the mid-zeros, guitarist Kurt Neumann brought in four new members to replace co-founder Sam Llanas. While Neumann continued touring the band with more of an emphasis on cajun and C&W sounds, Llanas concentrated on brooding, mostly acoustic songwriting. But now Llanas is back with a vengeance, with the best BoDeans album since the 90s…except that it’s not a BoDeans record, it’s a Llanas solo album. On the brand-new The Whole Night Thru – streaming at Spotify – he’s assembled a smoldering electric band: Sean Williamson on guitar, Matt Turner on bass and Ryan Schiedermayer on drums, with Gary Tanin on keys. The result is the best studio project anybody associated with the BoDeans has probably done since before the band’s iconic double live album, Joe Dirt Car back in 1995.
And it’s got everything that made the group a stadium rock favorite across the country for so long; big singalong anthems, volcanic guitar sonics and the same burning, impassioned vocals that made songs like Feed the Fire and Still the Night such audience favorites. This is definitely one for the diehards, and ought to draw in a new generation of fans who missed Llanas in his previous incarnation.
The opening track, Deja Vu, like many of the songs here, opens with suspenseful atmospherics and builds to a classic, anthemic Llanas chorus. It’s a lurid song: Llanas references Edgar Allen Poe and might or might not be addressing the breakup of his old band with the line about the “vultures waiting for your body to fall.” Williamson adds an all-too-brief solo, playing searing lines against a single resonating string.
The swaying, catchy, shuffling Cold n’ Clean will be familiar to those who’ve followed Llanas’ solo performances: with its wishing well imagery, it manages to be sardonic and poignant at the same time. Everywhere But Here brings back the noir of the opening track, addressing a mystery New York girl against an ominous, 80s-tinged gothic rock backdrop: “I’ve been chasing your ghost around Miltown,” Llanas laments, “You’re everywhere but here.” Again, Williamson’s guitar takes the intensity to redline.
With its layers of guitars and shifting vocals, Dangerous Love ponders what kind of price a femme fatale’s going to extract. By contrast, I’m Still Alive paints a somber portrait of a hurricane survivor facing hard times, alone and alienated. Then the band picks it up with Somethin’ Comin’ as the song rises from a simmering intro to roaring, slide guitar-fueled anthem: it’s one of the loudest numbers Llanas has ever recorded, and he makes it worth the effort.
Addicted to the Cure returns to Llanas’ familiar theme of whether or not to resist the advances of a woman who’s obviously got an agenda. The Best I Can gives the chance to work Llanas’ signature catchy chord changes dynamically, back and forth against a roaring blend of distorted guitar textures. The elegant, regret-laden final cut, To Where You Go paints an achingly vivid picture of the solitude of a cross-country night drive. It’s everything a fan of Llanas’ old band could possibly want. Four-on-the-floor rock records don’t get any more satisfying than this.
(Milwaukee public radio) – Live in-studio session 11/20 (to be aired 11/21)
Sam Llanas: Career in Déjà vu
By BRUCE WINTER & MCALLISTER.WRITT
Released early this week, “The Whole Night Thru” is the new album by singer, songwriter, and acoustic guitarist Sam Llanas, a founding member of Waukesha-based rock band, the BoDeans. After years of writing music and touring, the 53-year-old rock n’ roller is setting his sights on a newfound solo career. Performing three tracks off “The Whole Night Thru,” including song Deja Vu, Llanas sat down with Bruce Winter in the WUWM@Nite studio to talk about his new material, “reestablishing” his brand, and his musical guilty pleasures.
Sam Llanas first established himself as a solo act in the late 1990s, and with the release of “4 A.M. (The Way Home)” in 2011. Llanas founded the band Absinthe along with Milwaukee musicians Jim Eannelli and Guy Hoffman. The trio released one album, “A Good Day To Die” in 1998. In 2011, he left the BoDeans for unknown reasons. Today, Llanas is slowing carving out a new identity within the music industry, adhering to both old and new fans of his work.
“When I was with the BoDeans, whenever I made a solo record, I was careful not to tread into ‘BoDeanland’,” says Llanas. “Now it doesn’t matter, I can just make the best record I can”
Many cite Llanas’s new material as a nod to his previous work. Indeed, “The Whole Night Thru” is a true rock album, a stark contrast to Llanas’ prior solo albums which boast a quieter, more acoustic feel. His first record since Ilanas’ separation from the BoDeans, the new album was produced by longtime collaborator Gary Tanin. Establishing himself as a new artist and brand, especially given today’s music industry, has proven to be a challenge for the old time rocker.
Newfound solo artist Sam Llanas talks and performs in the WUWM studio.
“It has been a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, unfortunately people know the BoDeans’ name but they don’t necessarily know my name,” says Ilanas. “But I’m confident if you make good music people will hear it eventually.”
Speaking about his guilty pleasures Llanas cites Rihanna and rapper Macklemore as some current acts that have impressed him with their songwriting chops, both of which he was introduced to by his young son’s musical tastes.
“I don’t care what genre it is, if it’s a good song it’s a good song,” says Llanas.
On stage Llanas, who provides both vocals and acoustic guitar, is joined by three musical performance veterans, Ryan Schiedermayer (drums/percussion), Matt Turner (bass guitar), and Sean Williamson (electric guitar).
Sam Llanas and his band are playing next at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music tomorrow, Nov. 22 at 7:30pm and on Dec. 27 at Shank Hall in Milwaukee.
Llanas’ new album “The Whole Night Thru” can be heard here:
(Milwaukee A&E site) – Show preview
SATURDAY NOV. 22 – SAM LLANAS
You may know him from the BoDeans — but this is your chance to get to know Sam on his own. He recently released his first solo work “The Whole Night Thru” blending soul and blues for the nine songs featured on it. See him tonight at Wisconsin Conservatory of Music at 7:30 p.m.
88NINE 414 MUSIC LIVE
(Milwaukee radio) – Live in-studio session 11/20
Listen To 414 Music Live With Sam Llanas (formerly of BoDeans)
Take a listen to the 414 Music Live session with Sam Llanas in the player above and check out the photos below.
FOX 6-TV “STUDIO A”
(Milwaukee FOX TV affiliate) – Live in-studio session 11/19
Sam Llanas joins the Studio A crew after the release of his new CD
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — He just released his third solo CD “The Whole Night Thru” on Tuesday, November 18th. The Studio A team was eager to welcome Sam Llanas to the studio on Wednesday.
(Milwaukee weekly) – Positive album review
Sam Llanas – The Whole Night Thru(LLANAS MUSIC)
If 2011’s intimate 4 A.M. suggested that Sam Llanas wanted to move beyond the BoDeans, The Whole Night Thru acknowledges he’s not quite ready to surrender the sound that made him famous.
The singer-guitarist’s third solo album opens with “Deja Vú,” a dark mid-tempo rocker more vivid and compelling than any song on the BoDeans’ Llanas-less 2012 album, American Made. Llanas then dips into familiar-sounding territory with the rootsy “Cold ’n Clean” and “The Best I Can,” which prove he hasn’t lost his thirst for melodic and stirring storytelling infused with almost quaint emotion.
Milwaukee musicians Sean Williamson (guitar), Matt Turner (bass) and Ryan Schiedermayer (drums and percussion) enthusiastically back him, and local stalwart Gary Tanin recorded, mixed and mastered the album. With a running time of only 34 minutes, The Whole Night Thru could have used a few more songs. But the nine here represent some of Llanas’ best work. No wonder he’s on the verge of cracking a smile in the back-cover photo.
Sam Llanas performs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22 at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1584 N. Prospect Ave.—Michael Popke
(Milwaukee weekly) –show preview
Saturday, Nov. 22- Sam Llanas @ Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 7:30 p.m.
“Sam Llanas will always be best known as one half of the BoDeans, but since splitting from that Milwaukee roots-rock institution several years ago he’s carried on as an eager solo artist, touring aggressively. This month he releases his first album since parting from the BoDeans, The Whole Night Thru, a lean, nine-song record that draws deeply from the songwriter’s love of classic soul and blues music. Llanas recorded it with longtime producer Gary Tanin and a small band featuring guitarist Sean Williamson, bassist Turner ‘el’ Matthew and drummer Ryan Schiedermayer.”
PITTSBURGH IN TUNE
(Pittsburgh music site) – positive 3.5 star album review with photo and album art.
Sam Llanas finds groove as solo artist on ‘The Whole Night Thru’
‘The Whole Night Thru’
Sam Llanas (Llanas Music/Oarfin)
3.5 stars out of 5
After fronting veteran rock outfit The BoDeans for more than a quarter century, Sam Llanas struck out on his own with 2011 solo debut “4 A.M.” The 53-year-old Llanas makes a rock-solid return with latest offering “The Whole Night Thru,” an intriguing album that mixes his signature roots-rock sound with Llanas’ other musical influences.
Sam Llanas CD“I view ‘The Whole Night Thru’ as my first ‘official’ solo record,” Llanas explains. “Though I previously released two solo studio records, I had always been very careful to not compete with The BoDeans sound. But now that I’m no longer in that band, the gloves are off and this is a record that has many elements that fansof my former band love. If fans are looking for that BoDeans sound, it comes from my voice and it’s all over this record.”
The freedom Llanas gets as a solo artist serves him well on the nine-track “The Whole Night Thru.” He’s cobbled together an eclectic platter highlighted by “Cold n’ Clean,” “Everywhere But Here,” personal favorite “Somethin’ Comin’,” “Addicted to the Cure” and “To Where You Go.” Good stuff. (Jeffrey Sisk)
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
(Milwaukee daily) – Brief mention with show preview in “New CDs in stores this week”
Sam Llanas, “The Whole Night Thru” (Llanas Music/OARFIN/eOne). Familiar to Milwaukee denizens in the BoDeans before he departed that band, Llanas carries on his solo career with a solid third LP. (Sam Llanas and his band perform Nov. 22 at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1584 N. Prospect Ave.)
(music site) – News post on new album with live photo (from press announcement)
Sam Llanas to release third studio album ‘The Whole Night Thru’
(music site) – Positive album review
Album Review: “The Whole Night Thru” by Sam Llanas
The Whole Night Thru
by Nik Cameron
This is one of those situations where I received an album by someone whom I’m frankly not familiar with at all.
Sam Llanas isn’t new in any stretch of the imagination.
He was a founding member of the roots rock band The BoDeans, whom I’ve heard of, but for the life of me I can’t name any songs by them.
He was also a member of the band Absinthe, also whom I can tell you nothing about.
I’ve had the beverage and I found it disappointing, but that’s about as far as I can get here. I can tell you he’s been at the music game for a very long time and he’s known for his acoustic guitar work, but for the rest, I’m flying blind here.
This album is lush and vibrant.
It starts off with Deja Vu (see below) which features some very wonderful electric guitar work that features a soft, but overdriven timbre that creates a great retro vibe.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your personal pedigree, the guitar switches back and fourth to an acoustic on the softer ballads giving a wonderful amount of varied tones.
It’s always nice when a band has more than one sound on their records.
The drums are off kilter…I can’t think of another way to describe what I heard here, but even mellow and calm they gallop behind the guitars and the vocals.
The vocals have an interesting twangy/nasal timbre that ease their way in and out of the guitars.
What I loved about t his album was how it freed my mind to think while I was listening to it. That makes this record great for travelling. If you’re going on a road trip, crank this up as you’re leaving the drive way.
(Milwaukee college radio) – Thanks Pete Rohde @ WMSE in Milwaukee for the recent spin of Sam Llanas’ new track “I’m Still Alive”
MY RACINE COUNTY
(SE WI daily) – Feature to preview Burlington show.
BoDeans behind him, Llanas embarks on new path
Sam Llanas, on his own with a solo career since splitting with the BoDeans in 2011, will perform in Burlington Friday at The Coffee House at Chestnut and Pine. (Photo courtesy Deone Jahnke)
Singer-songwriter will play gig at local coffeehouse
By Jennifer Eisenbart
Life in recent years has changed for Sam Llanas.
The co-founder of the BoDeans along with Kurt Neumann, Llanas and the band saw great success – including playing to packed stadiums and seeing the song “Closer to Free” used as the theme for the TV show “Party of Five.”
But in 2011, Llanas left the BoDeans due to differences with Neumann and has since embarked on a solo career. Llanas said he wants to make one point very clear.
“There’s a misconception that I left that band so I could have a solo career,” he said. “That’s not the truth. Kurt Neumannn broke up The BoDeans. I said, if that’s how you really feel about it, fine.”
Now, Llanas takes on smaller venues, trying a different route than what he has known in the past.
“The music has always been the important thing,” Llanas explained. “As long as I can play music in front of people, I can be happy.
“If it’s the right 50 people, it can be fantastic.”
Llanas will be at The Coffee House at Chestnut and Pine, 492 North Pine Street, Burlington, Friday, for one of his solo concerts. He will be promoting his recent solo release, “The Whole Night Through,” and also offering visitors a glimpse at his music from the past.
Tickets are $15 for limited seating, and $5 for standing room.
Llanas, who grew up in Waukesha, has somehow never been to Burlington.
“I’m coming to Burlington because there’s a great little radio station there,” Llanas said. “They’ve been playing my music, and I’ve never been to Burlington.
“The least I can do is go there and play a show.”
Llanas admitted that life has changed since the “breakup of the band.” That said, he’s also older – and perhaps a little wiser – in his approach to music.
“I’m just trying to make honest music,” Llanas said.
Judging by the tracks on Llanas’ newest release, his voice still sounds as clear and distinctive as it did during his work with the BoDeans.
The first track on the album, “Déjà Vu,” talks about haunted rooms, memories and the constant reminders of having been in a place before.
The album moves along the theme of haunting in many senses. “Everywhere But Here” talks of hints of a past relationship and of chasing ghosts, with a strong bass guitar in the background. “I’m Still Alive” has a lighter, airier feel, but strikes a chord about looking for the light in the future.
Llanas’ music remains true to the BoDeans sound, though, with the trademark voice of Llanas – distinctive and soulful but not overwhelming – and a refined rock sound backing him up.
The music, to Llanas, is a trip on truth – something that he wants front and center in the sound he is now promoting. He said he is still the same musician he was when he was with the BoDeans.
“I’m the same guy,” Llanas said. “I just make the music that’s in my heart. You just have to be true to yourself.
“You’ve got to be yourself,” he added. “You can’t go chasing trends. You just have to be yourself because you have to be honest.”
He’s also excited about playing in the small, intimate environment.
“It’s been my experience that whenever you play a smaller town, it’s a lot more exciting,” he said. “Not everybody goes to the smaller town. When it does happen, it’s kind of a big deal. They appreciate it more, I think. That’s been my experience.”
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
(Milwaukee daily) – Two song Sound Check performance on their TAP site
Sound Check | Inside local music
Sam Llanas’ new solo album, ‘The Whole Night Thru,’ is a creative return to form
By Piet Levy
Going solo in the wake of the breakup of the BoDeans has been good and bad for co-founder Sam Llanas.
“The one thing I miss is having an established name behind me,” Llanas says.”The hardest thing is trying to re-establish myself. I’ve been struggling with that a bit.”
Even though Llanas has kept himself busy with gigs at local venues such as Shank Hall and Linneman’s Riverwest Inn — and providing the music for the play “A Day for Grace” — Llanas, 53, says he and his current band “aren’t getting enough jobs. …I used to make my living making music, but now I have been living off my savings.”
But there is one thing Llanas clearly has going for him. His latest solo album, “The Whole Night Thru,” due out Nov. 18, is largely a creative return to form, more reminiscent of the spirit and style of the BoDeans than his prior solo releases.
Llanas talked about his writing process and new band.
His songwriting process: Sometimes I start off playing maybe a Hank Williams song, then start fooling around on my guitar and go from there. All of a sudden something strikes you, like a certain chord progression, and in that chord progression you hear a melody. I don’t have the words yet, so I start singing jibberish, and then there could be a word or a phrase and then boom, it sparks something else.
My songs aren’t really autobiographical. I try to make them more universal. But the emotions are real. That’s what makes a good song, something that is real, something that people can relate to.
His backing band: My band came together for my (2011) “4 A.M.” record. Initially I was going to make the record with me and (Jazz Estate co-manager) Matt Turner on bass. It wasn’t working out so well, so I asked Matt if he knew someone who played percussion. That is when Ryan (Schiedermayer) came over and immediately clicked.
A little while after that, I would go to the Jazz Estate when Matt would bartend, and where I like to sit in that place, you can’t see the stage. One time there I heard someone playing guitar on stage and asked Matt who he was. He said it was Sean Williamson. Flash forward six weeks. I went back there, heard someone playing guitar, asked Matt who it was, and he said, “That’s Sean.”
It happened three times, and after the third time, I was like, “He is the guy.” So I approached Sean, and he’s been playing with us for three years now. (The full band appears on “The Whole Night Thru” and performed two songs for Tap Milwaukee’s Sound Check video series.)
Making “The Whole Night Thru”: The first two solo albums I put out, I was still in the BoDeans when I made them, so I was always careful not to make a record be like a BoDeans record. “4 A.M.” doesn’t have drums on it by design. For this one, I wasn’t in the band anymore, so I thought, “Well, does it matter if some of the songs sound like the BoDeans?” They should, because I was half of that band (with former fellow singer-guitarist Kurt Neumann, who has continued on with the BoDeans), and I wanted to make this record as commercial as I could. If people want a BoDeans fix, they’ll listen to this and get one.
I also look at this record as the third in a trilogy of night music. Most of the songs take place at night, and most were written at night. People call me a vampire; I like to rise just before the sun is going down and go to sleep after the sun is coming up.
Half of the songs were written between 2011 and now, and half of them already existed in some sort of form. The song “Dangerous Love,” I started writing that in 1980. I didn’t really finish it until last year. The first version of the song was really long, about six minutes. I always really liked it and knew a good song was in there. But then the last song on the record, “I’m Still Alive,” I wrote that song on New Year’s Day this year. We did a gig on New Year’s Eve; when I got home I was restless and picked up my guitar…. It’s about a guy who gets lost after he loses his wife in Hurricane Katrina. It’s about really finding yourself again and feeling whole again.
Album track he’s most proud of: I like all of them, I really do. It’s a strong record, and I think my writing is as good as ever, maybe a little better. But I really do like “Deja Vu” quite a bit. It’s a really good rock song. … It’s about this guy who doesn’t realize he’s having a dream, and it dawns on him that he’s lost in his house, and (the dream) isn’t going very well, and he can’t get out of it.
The live show: The biggest difference is there’s not another singer; there isn’t that back and forth, and that was a good thing we had in the BoDeans. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same high-energy show. I’m really proud of the guys I’ve been playing with; the band sounds great. I’m still doing a lot of songs I played in the BoDeans. …We’ve done several private parties, and people have pooled money together, and we play their house. Those things are a lot of fun. But I’d like to get on the road. We have a booking agent we just got with.
Where do you want to be in five years? We’d like to still be doing it. It’s tough out there. There are so, so many recording artists now…. If I can’t continue to do this, I don’t have a plan B.
Next gig:7:30 p.m. Nov. 22, Helen Bader Recital Hall, Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1584 N. Prospect Ave. $25 to $35 at the box office, (414) 276-5760 and wcmusic.org.
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
(Milwaukee daily) – Brief album review and 11/22 show preview
Local album reviews: Sam Llanas
Sam Llanas, “The Whole Night Thru”
Maybe it’s best Sam Llanas isn’t with the BoDeans anymore. There may be moments on his latest solo album where the roots rocker can be a bit hokey, as on “Addicted to the Cure.” But there’s no denying the intensity of his passion on “Night.” He’s an artist rejuvenated.
Next gig:7:30 p.m. Nov. 22,Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1584 N. Prospect Ave. $25 to $35 at (414) 276-5760 and wcmusic.org.
Listen to “Dangerous Love” from Sam Llanas’ “The Whole Night Thru.”
(Milwaukee weekly) – Show preview
Tuesday, Nov. 11
Dave Davies w/ Sam Llanas @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
Along with his brother Ray, Dave Davies was the co-founder of one of the most pioneering rock bands of the ’60s, The Kinks, influencing generations of young bands with his infectiously scuzzy guitar riffs on songs like “You Really Got Me.” Since The Kinks split up in 1996, Davies has concentrated on a solo career, recording occasional albums, including this fall’s Rippin’ Up Time, which was timed for a release in conjunction with The Kinks’ 50th anniversary. For this show, he’ll be joined by an opening act who understands what it’s like to be one-half the leadership of an important band: Sam Llanas, the former BoDeans singer/guitarist who later this month will release his first solo album since departing from the BoDeans, The Whole Night Thru.
THE JOURNAL TIMES
(Burlington daily) – Interview with Sam with photo
Center Stage: Sam Llanas
BURLINGTON — Sam Llanas (pronounced yanas), formerly of the BoDeans, will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, at The Coffee House at Chestnut & Pine, 492 N. Pine St.
With a career spanning decades, Llanas is continuing his solo pilgrimage after 25 years with the band he co-founded. His 12th studio album and third major solo effort, “The Whole Night Thru,” blends a powerful roots-rock style with Llanas’ own genre-bending musical influences.
Llanas’ new solo opus reveals a new-found clarity on “The Whole Night Thru” and the result is a mix of Johnny Cash’s fiery fervor and Otis Redding’s nostalgic soulfulness, without limitation — stylistically or by genre classification.
“I’ve always been influenced by what I heard,” Llanas said. “In the 1960s, when radio was wide open, you would hear the Beatles and the Stones, Motown Soul and Atlanta Soul, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding and Southern Soul. You’d hear Tom Jones, The Carpenters, Glen Campbell and country artists, you’d hear Johnny Cash and folk. Those songs were all really well written and well performed.”
Going solo at this point in his career has allowed Llanas to combine the experience of a seasoned professional with the passion of an emerging artist. It is a need for deep self-exploration and expression that drives him to create his music and continue to perform.
Tickets cost $15 in advance for reserved seating, $5 at the door for standing.
(online A&E site) – Interview with Sam
Sam Llanas, possessor of one of the most distinctive voices in Milwaukee music.
7 questions for Sam Llanas
You know Sam Llanas thanks to the BoDeans; there’s no getting away from that. But, on his third solo studio effort — “The Whole Night Thru,” due out Nov. 18 — Llanas finally feels liberated.
Though Llanas — who owns one of the most distinctive voices in Milwaukee music — didn’t want the band to end — “I think people have this misconception that I left the BoDeans to pursue a solo career, but that’s just not the truth,” he says, “I never wanted to break up the BoDeans” — it’s over, despite the fact that Llanas says, “It broke my heart.
“I view ‘The Whole Night Thru’ as my first ‘official’ solo record. Though I had previously released two solo studio records, I had always been very careful to not compete with the BoDeans sound. But now that I’m no longer in that band, the gloves are off and this is a record that has many elements that fans of my former band love. If fans are looking for that BoDeans sound, it comes from my voice and it’s all over this record.”
The nine-song disc was made with a band that includes a great line-up of seemingly ubiquitous Milwaukee musicians like guitarist Sean Williamson, bassist Matt Turner and drummer Ryan Schiedermayer. Gary Tanin was again manning the board as engineer, along with Ric Probst, and as producer.
We asked Llanas about the new record, the new band and his new-found feeling of freedom.
OnMilwaukee.com: You’re probably sick of talking about this, but tell me a bit about the dynamic of making solo records after working so long and so closely with one collaborator. Is it freeing? Is it weird?
Sam Llanas: It’s a double-edged sword in that although you are free to make something that is pretty much completely your own vision, you have to make all the artistic decisions yourself, which can be a little daunting at times.
OMC: Does it — or did it initially — feel risky? Did you almost feel a bit like you were starting over?
SL: A bit risky in the sense that if people dont like it, you alone take all of the blame. I don’t know about starting over because before the BoDeans took off and had their success l did a lot of performing and some recording on my own.
OMC: But you’ve had something of a close collaborator now, too, in Gary Tanin, haven’t you? What is it about working with him that keeps you coming back for more?
SL: Gary Tanin is a very talented producer / musician and engineer and those are things that l don’t have much patience for. His work ethic is very strong and he takes pride in taking the time to get it right.
OMC: I read that you consider this your first “real” solo record. What do you mean by that?
SL: Although I’ve made two previous solo records, l was always careful to not sound like l was trying to make a BoDeans record by myself. With this new one l just made the best record l could.
OMC: Trying to steer clear of the Bodeans sound sounds like a lot of mental work. How did you finally free yourself from that?
SL: It was. I just don’t care anymore. In light of how I’ve been treated by the BoDeans organization since l left, l was anxious to show that l can make a record that sounds just as much like a classic BoDeans record as that other guy can.
OMC: Tell me a bit about the guys on the record. Did they help push you in different directions?
SL: The guys that I’m playing with now are all much better musicians than me so after they’ve learned the song that l present it’s a much better song. The song “Everywhere But Here” is a great example of them pushing me to a different musical place than l could get to on my own. I feel very lucky to have this group of guys with me.
OMC: Finally, now that you’ve officially moved forward, so to speak, what’s next?
SL: Well, unfortunately, we’ve had quite a few setbacks in the last few years but now things are finally coming together and so hopefully now we can get this show on the road.
(online A&E site) – Show preview with Sam with photo
Sam Llanas headlines this year’s Festival of Trees & Music at the Conservatory of Music.
Llanas headlines Conservatory’s Festival of Trees & Music
Iconic American singer, acoustic guitarist and songwriter Sam Llanas (formerly of the BoDeans) is one of 11 highly anticipated acts set to headline during the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music’s 11-day Festival of Trees & Music Nov. 13-23.
Llanas will perform Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the elegant Helen Bader Recital Hall, hailed as one of the finest small performance spaces in Milwaukee, located in the historic McIntosh|Goodrich Mansion at 1584 N. Prospect Ave. in Milwaukee.
“We are thrilled to present a diverse lineup of local, national and international acts during our Festival of Trees & Music this year,” said Gregory Ruffer, President and CEO of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. “Artists such as Sam Llanas, Peter Bernstein and Sonora Slocum among others will elevate this event, now in its second year.”
Best known for his unique and distinctively soulful voice, it was Llanas’ voice that supplied the trademark vocal on Robbie Robertson’s “Somewhere Down the Crazy River.” Llanas, who founded the band Absinthe in 1997, under which he released one album, 1998’s critically acclaimed “A Good Day To Die.”
In 2011 Sam Llanas left the BoDeans and released “4 A.M. (The Way Home)” on Inner Knot Records. In 2013 he released the live retrospective “4/5 Live – Vol I.” On Nov. 18, Llanas is set to release “The Whole Night Thru,” an all new studio record produced by longtime collaborator Gary Tanin, four days before his Festival of Trees & Music debut.
Other Festival of Trees & Music headliners include Jazz guitarist Peter Bernstein (Nov. 20), who has been a part of the jazz scene in New York and abroad since 1989; the unique and charismatic sounds of chamber music by the Chicago Harp Quartet (Nov. 23); the diverse sounds of the Grant Ziolkowski Brazilian Trio (Nov. 15); Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra principal flutist Sonora Slocum (Nov. 16); and two of the Conservatory’s resident ensembles—We Six jazz sextet (Nov. 13) and Philomusica String Quartet (Nov. 17) among others. Prior to each headline performance, the spotlight will shine on Conservatory students during daily music recitals.
Concert tickets are $35 for Premium Reserved Seating, $25 for General Admission. Suggested $10 donation for entrance into the tree exhibit and student recitals. For a complete festival lineup, visit Festival of Trees & Music Webpage at wcmusic.org/festival-of-trees-music-2014 for regular updates. For tickets, call (414) 276-5760 or visit wcmuic.org.
Student recitals from 4 to 6:45 p.m. Monday-Friday, from 1 to 6:45 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 2:45 p.m. Sunday. Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Following its 2013 debut, Festival of Trees & Music has evolved into what is now recognized as “a wonderland replete with thousands of lights, sparkling trees and stunning décor for children of all ages” transforming the Conservatory’s historic McIntosh|Goodrich mansion for the holidays. Last year, more than 4,000 attendees visited the mansion for an unforgettable live music experience while being surrounded by unique trees decorated by local artists.
(online A&E site) – News post with Sam photo (from press announcement)
Sam Llanas new solo LP ‘The Whole Night Thru’ out Nov. 18
Former BoDeans member Sam Llanas will release a new album, The Whole Night Thru, on Nov. 18. The guitar-driven release was produced by Gary Tanin, and features nine new tracks from the rocker. After 25 years with the BoDeans, Llanas continues to strike out on his own. “I think the best part about being solo has been that I get to express myself completely now,” Llanas said in a statement. “I never got to sing half of these songs, and I always wanted to. I love being able to have that freedom.” The Whole Night Thru is his third solo album, and 12th studio album, and features Milwaukee musicians Sean Williamson (guitar), Matt Turner (bass), and Ryan Schiedermayer (drums, percussion). Tanin provided the album’s string arrangements, piano, and mellotron.
The project has a roots-rock blend, as well as soulful, bluesy feel. “I’ve always been influenced by what I heard,” Llanas explained. “In the ‘60s, when radio was wide open, you would hear the Beatles and the Stones, Motown Soul and Atlanta Soul, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding and Southern Soul. You’d hear Tom Jones, The Carpenters, Glen Campbell and country artists, you’d hear Johnny Cash and folk. Those songs were all really well-written and well performed.”
Llanas recently released a new single, “Dangerous Love,” off of the upcoming album. The singer discussed the song in an exclusive interview with Elmore Magazine. “‘Dangerous Love’ is a song about seduction,” he said. “Letting yourself be lured into something that you know is probably going to get you in trouble.” Check out the sensual single on SoundCloud.
FOR MORE INFO ON SAM LLANAS:
(music site) – News post with Sam photo (from press announcement)
BoDeans singer goes solo
Sam Llanas, formerly of the BoDeans, will release his new album The Whole Night Thru on Nov. 18 via Llanas Music.
The guitar-driven collection was produced by longtime collaborator Gary Tanin and features nine Llanas originals.
With a career spanning decades, Llanas is continuing his solo pilgrimage after 25 years with the band he co-founded. His 12th studio album and third major solo effort, The Whole Night Thru, blends roots rock styles and more.
Work began in 2013 with Llanas began completing The Whole Night Thru in Milwaukee with producer-musician Tanin, who had also worked on the singer-songwriter’s previous solo efforts, A Good Day To Die, 4 A.M. (The Way Home) and 4/5 Live – Vol. I.
Milwaukee musicians Sean Williamson, Matt Turner and Ryan Schiedermayer contributed guitar, bass, drums & percussion respectively, while Tanin supplied the string arrangements, piano and mellotron on the new recording.
“I’ve always been influenced by what I heard,” Llanas revealed. “In the ‘60s, when radio was wide open, you would hear the Beatles and the Stones, Motown Soul and Atlanta Soul, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding and Southern Soul. You’d hear Tom Jones, The Carpenters, Glen Campbell and country artists, you’d hear Johnny Cash and folk. Those songs were all really well-written and well performed.”
Going solo at this point in his career has allowed Llanas to combine the experience of a seasoned professional with the passion of an emerging artist.
As Llanas admits, “I think the best part about being solo has been that I get to express myself completely now. I never got to sing half of these songs, and I always wanted to. I love being able to have that freedom.”
(music site) – Dangerous Love song premiere news
SAM LLANAS PREMIERES NEW “DANGEROUS LOVE” TRACK VIA ELMORE MAGAZINE! NEW SOLO LP “THE WHOLE NIGHT THRU” OUT NOV. 18TH!
(music blog) – Deju Vu song stream featured
Music Miscellany for 10/8/2014 – Part I
The last bit is from Sam Llanas with “Deja Vu” from his album The Whole Night Through which is due out in November.
(Door County, WI weekly) –Feature interview to preview Door County show with photo and album art.
Same Guy With a New Band
Sam Llanas feeling penalized by fans for leaving the BoDeans
By Jim Lundstrom
Sammy BoDean is dead. Long live Sam Llanas!
The co-founder of the Waukesha-born BoDeans is coming to Door County on Saturday, Sept. 27 with his “new” band (they’ve been together for three years, since Llanas left the BoDeans in 2011) to perform at Pumpkinmania at the Lodge at Leathem Smith in Sturgeon Bay, and he hopes you come to hear him.
“I’ve run into a little resistance,” Llanas said recently via telephone. “A lot of people, it seems to me, think I broke up the BoDeans, that I just left. I feel like I’m being penalized. Kurt Nuemann broke up the band. I said, ‘OK, if that’s how you want it, I’m leaving.’ And I left. Then he said he wasn’t going to stop the band. So he kind of painted this picture of him being deserted by me and he was the wounded soldier carrying on in the face of adversity. He really painted that picture of himself. People bought into that, and that’s not anywhere near the truth.
“It’s weird,” he continued. “I think a lot of people have resisted supporting me. It hasn’t been too easy without that name behind me. It’s been kind of a struggle. Hopefully with the new record, I’ll emerge from all that.”
The new record he mentions is called The Whole Night Thru and is due for release on Nov. 18, nine new Llanas’ songs delivered with the same fire and passion that he delivered with the BoDeans.
“I’m excited about it and I’m optimistic,” Llanas said. “I hope people will support it, but I can’t force them to. It’s hard to get out of something that you’ve been doing 30 years and people are always going to associate you with that, which is good. I’m proud of what we accomplished, but I guess it was just time to move on. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
And he’s trying to do it with Sean Williamson on electric guitar, Matt Turner on bass and Ryan Schiedermayer on drums.
“They’re really, really good players and they’re supportive of the music. They do what the song tells them to do,” Llanas said. “Sean Williamson, the guitarist, he’s so much better than I will ever be. He can use voicings that take the songs into a different place. I write very simply because that’s all I can do. Sean brings his talents and skills to the song and makes it sound different. He definitely puts a stamp on the song. There’s a song on the record called ‘Everywhere But Here.’ It’s a very good example of that because the way he plays the song is nowhere near the way I play it. It has a different kind of feel automatically.
“That’s the thing about being in a band, you have to allow for people to express themselves, unless it’s so in a different direction it just doesn’t work for me. But when you bring a song to a band, you kind of have to give it up and let everyone add their thing to it. A lot of times it comes out better.”
The initial recording began in May 2013.
“We recorded it in spurts,” Llanas said. “I’ve been playing with these guys about three years now, so we were well rehearsed when we recorded these things. We did most of it in my living room, pretty much tracked it live. That really adds a spark to everything, as opposed to layering everything.”
The hard part now is waiting for the album’s release next month.
“That really is the hardest part,” Llanas said. “I kind of feel like I’m in limbo right now. It’s done but not out yet, so we’re just kind of lining up all our ducks in a row.”
In the meantime, Llanas suggests you check out the band.
“I’m still playing a lot of the songs I played in the BoDeans. People should know that,” he said. “Those are my songs. I love those songs. And if you close your eyes, we sound as much like the BoDeans as that other band that is calling themselves the BoDeans. It’s that one guy, and that’s all. Kurt’s playing with whoever he can find that week. It’s very weird that way. But that’s how it is.
“We’re a good band and I think we deserve a chance to be heard. Get over whatever rumors or misconceptions you might have and give us a chance. I’m the same guy I’ve always been.”
DOOR COUNTY TODAY
(Door County, WI weekly) –Door County show preview with two photos of Sam.
Sammy Llanas, Dow Jones Perform at Pumpkinmania!
By LAUREL CIOHON
The Lodge at Leathem Smith has announced Pumpkinmania!, Door County’s newest fall festival featuring a pumpkin weigh-off, pumpkin regatta, pie baking contest, kids’ games, food booths, and live music by Sam Llanas, formerly of the BoDeans, and Dow Jones.
Dow Jones, a local Door County band from Sturgeon Bay, will perform on Saturday from 5-8pm, followed by Sam Llanas from 8-11pm.
Sam Llanas, singer, acoustic guitarist and songwriter, is known for his unusual and distinctive voice and was one of the founding members of the well-known rock band, the BoDeans. Sam’s fiery vocals fueled many of his former band’s finest songs, including their biggest hit “Closer to Free.” Sam Llanas left the BoDeans in 2011 and released 4 A.M. (The Way Home). On November 18, 2014, Llanas is set to release The Whole Night Through, an all-new studio record produced by Gary Tanin, and included 9 new Llanas originals.
Dow Jones, the classic rock band, call themselves a “four piece commercial rock band with twisted humor.” The four-member band from Sturgeon Bay includes front man Mark Thiede, owner of Thiede Painting & Decorating.
The family-friendly Pumpkinmania! will take place at Leathem Smith on Saturday, September 27 from 10am-5pm. The main event will be weighing the giant pumpkins, sanctioned by The Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) that provides a set of standards for similar events throughout the world.
For more information about Pumpkinmania!, please call The Lodge at Leathem Smith, 1640 Memorial Drive, Sturgeon Bay. 920.743.5555, thelodgeatls.com.
(Door County, WI weekly) – Feature / Door County show preview
Llanas Plays Pumpkinmania!
The Lodge at Leathem Smith welcomes Sam Llanas to the stage on Sept. 27 at Pumpkinmania! Pumpkinmania! is an all new fall festival featuring an officially sanctioned pumpkin weigh-off, pie baking and eating contest, a wide range of kids’ games, food booths by local restaurants, and live music by Dow Jones and Sam Llanas.
Llanas is well known in the music community as the former lead singer of the BoDeans. Llanas and Kurt Neumann started the band Da BoDeans back in 1980 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. In 1985 their label encouraged them to shorten their name to just the BoDeans and recorded their debut album Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams. Llanas decided to leave the BoDeans and strike out on his own in 2011.
Llanas is an iconic American singer, acoustic guitarist, and songwriter who is best known for his distinctive soulful voice. In 2011 he released 4 A.M. (The Way Home) on Inner Knot Records and in 2013 he released the live retrospective 4/5 Live – Vol I. On Nov. 18, Llanas is set to release The Whole Night Thru, an all-new studio record produced by longtime collaborator Gary Tanin.
This family-friendly event will take place on The Lodge at Leathem Smith’s grounds on Sept. 27, from 10 am – 5 pm. Dow Jones and Sam Llanas will play from 5 – 11 pm. The Lodge at Leathem Smith is located at 1640 Memorial Drive, Sturgeon Bay. For more information call 920.743.5555 or visit thelodgeatls.com.
(online A&E site) – Feature on A Day For Grace performances.
‘A Day for Grace’ tour coming to NYC
Brownie Marie – AXS Contributor
By: Brownie Marie
Popular autobiographical play “A Day for Grace” will be showing in New York on Oct. 17 and 18 at Stage Left Studios (214 W. 30th St.). The production was also developed at Stage Left Studios, and benefits New York non-profit Road Recovery – a youth outreach and treatment program. “A Day for Grace” tells the true story of playwright Doug Vincent, who took ten years to finish writing the stage play. It was only after the birth of his daughter, Grace, that he was able to complete the project.
“A Day for Grace” deals with alcoholism, bullying, drug addiction, dysfunctional families, mental illness, and centrally, suicide. Vincent began writing the play after his brother ended his life and, coincidentally, everyone involved in the production has lost a family member in the same tragic way.
The play also features live performances from rocker Sam Llanas of The BoDeans fame. Vincent sought out Llanas because he felt the musician’s work would be the perfect complement to the project, and soon discovered that nearly every song on Llanas’ 1998 release, A Good Day to Die, mirrored one of the scenes in the play.
“The haunting music complements the intricately woven tale that shifts back and forth between present day events and the ghosts of the past,” a press release read. “The obvious synchronicity is inherent in this collaboration. The unique mechanism of interplay between the songs and monologue is mesmerizing.”
Llanas will release a new album, The Whole Night Thru, on Nov. 18, and performs old, new, and unreleased material in “A Day for Grace.” His soulful sounds increase the emotion in each of the 10 characters that Vincent portrays. Llanas and Vincent’s hope is that their messages of healing and triumph over tribulations will resonate with audience members. “The play demonstrates that life’s most deeply disturbing obstacles can have a silver lining—especially if you open up, start talking and keep talking,” the release read.
On Oct. 17 at 6 p.m., Llanas, Vincent, and musical director Gary Tanin will conduct a MASTERTRAX presentation for the Road Recovery youth. MASTERTRAX is an interactive experience in which participants hear success stories from people who have achieved their career goals in various industries, and can ask questions and receive advice on how to reach their personal goals. The play will begin at 7 p.m., and will also start at 7 p.m. on Oct. 18.
Check out the trailer for “A Day for Grace” in the above video.
GREEN BAY PRESS GAZETTE
(Green Bay, WI daily) – Show preview and news on new album
Sam Llanas lands back-to-back nights in De Pere
From the big-news-for-a-small-venue department comes word that Sam Llanas — Sammy, if you’re a BoDeans fan from way back — will play back-to-back nights at 8 p.m. Oct. 10-11 at The Vault in De Pere.
Since seating is limited, so are tickets. They’ll be $20, with additional on-sale details still being worked out.
Llanas, who parted ways with the BoDeans a couple of years ago, announced this week he’ll release a new album, “The Whole Night Thru,” on Nov. 18. The project will be his third major solo effort and features nine original tracks. Llanas once again collaborated with producer Gary Tanin.
In a statement regarding press for the new album, Llanas said he considers it his first “official” solo record. “Though I previously released two solo studio records, I had always been very careful to not compete with the BoDeans sound. But now that I’m no longer in that band, the gloves are off and this is a record that has many elements that fans of my former band love. If fans are looking for that BoDeans sound, it comes from my voice and it’s all over this record.”
He also offered insight into his departure from the BoDeans in 2011: “I think people have this misconception that I left The BoDeans to pursue a solo career, but that’s just not the truth. I never wanted the break up of the BoDeans. It broke my heart.”
(online music site) – “News post on Deju Vu” song premiere.
SAM LLANAS’ NEW SINGLE “DEJA VU” VIA POPMATTERS
Sam Llanas (pronounced yanas), formerly of the BoDeans, will release his new album The Whole Night Thru November 18th. Determined and confident, gloves are off on this guitar-driven collection, produced by longtime collaborator Gary Tanin featuring nine new Llanas originals.
(online music site) – “Deju Vu” song stream with album info, Sam photo and album art (from press announcement.
Sam Llanas to release his third solo album The Whole Night Thru on November 18th.
(online music magazine) – “Deju Vu” song premiere with photo.
Sam Llanas (BoDeans) – “Deja Vu” (audio) (Premiere)
by Brice Ezell
The latest tune from BoDeans member Sam Llanas, “Deja Vu”, is a vibrant cut of blues-tinged rock and roll.
Sam Llanas (of the BoDeans fame) is set to drop his new solo record, The Whole Night Thru, this November.
When he announced the album, he said, “I view The Whole Night Thru as my first ‘official’ solo record. Though I previously released two solo studio records, I had always been very careful to not compete with the BoDeans sound. But now that I’m no longer in that band, the gloves are off and this is a record that has many elements that fans of my former band love. If fans are looking for that BoDeans sound, it comes from my voice and it’s all over this record.”
As a teaser for the record, you can stream “Deja Vu” below, which displays Llanas’ affinity for blues-tinged rock and roll.
Llanas tells PopMatters about the song, “‘Deja Vu’ is a song about a nightmare in which the protagonist slowly realizes that the hellish prison he is trapped in is his own house.”
The Whole Night Thru is out on November 18th through Llanas Music.