Growing up, San Francisco singer-songwriter Sam Chase learned to play music from listening to classic-rock greats such as the Who and Bruce Springsteen, folk outfits such as Simon & Garfunkel and old-school punks such as Rancid, giving his alt-Americana sound a rock & roll edge.
Since adopting his moniker, the Sam Chase, and forming his band, the Untraditional, the Bay Area raconteur has released three albums, though his fans haven’t seen anything like his new endeavor, an authentically epic rock opera of an album, The Last Rites of Dallas Pistol, available now. The Sam Chase performs a solo set on Sunday, March 1, with fellow alt-folk singer-songwriter Willy Tea Taylor at HopMonk Tavern in Novato.
“I love the album format that I grew up with,” Chase says. “I feel that in this day and age we’re moving into an era of singles instead of full-on albums—and I find that sad. This is my protest to the Spotify world we live in; by making an 18-song rock opera.”
In the works since 2012, The Last Rites of Dallas Pistol is a single narrative Chase tells over 18 tracks. The story involves the Devil and a man who sells his soul to save his son, the titular Pistol.
“I always wanted to make a spaghetti western rock opera,” Chase says. “I probably wrote about 30 songs and whittled it down to 18. I had a bunch of other characters in mind; love interests and other bad guys. I wanted to write an Odyssey, but I realized at the end of the day 18 songs is plenty.”
When Chase approached his seven-piece band with the concept, they welcomed the challenge.
“We knew from the beginning we were biting off more than we could chew,” he says. “Part of me never thought it would get finished. We put out two other albums in the time it took us to write and record this album. Leading up to the album’s release, I was just thinking to myself, ‘Ok, just don’t die before you’re done.’”