Music: Wolves at the door

The Sam Chase cuts through the noise

By Charlie Swanson

San Francisco songwriter The Sam Chase and his band the Untraditional are three weeks deep into a national tour, promoting his latest album, Great White Noise. He’s been meeting people of all backgrounds and talking about—what else—politics.

“I’ve always been somewhat socially-politically minded,” Chase says from the road (he and the band return to the North Bay with a show on November 12 in Bolinas). “Whether or not the politics are blatantly in your face, there’s a part of our everyday lives that are politically charged.”

“I feel like Great White Noise came from that,” he continues. “I didn’t have any intentions to make it political, but with the climate at the moment, it’s hard to avoid. Even in the liberal bubble of San Francisco, you can’t hide from it as much as you want to.”

Chase’s music is a rollicking indie Americana threaded with traces of his punk rock background, a genre that’s been politically minded from its origins. Yet, Chase’s biggest revelation these days is that amidst the din of media and punditry, people can still be civil.

“I had a lovely conversation last night with a bar owner [in Savannah] who had a Trump pin. We talked about where we’re at as a country and how we vote based on where we’re from and who’s around us,” he says.

“When you start to meet people before you meet their politics, you get to recognize that this is just a regular human being. We might disagree or we both might feel that the other is a bit naïve, but at the end of the day you can still be a lovely person,” he adds.

The problem, says Chase, is that we often only see the extremes coming from those we disagree with.

“With social media the way it is, every single person has a soapbox to get up and spout whatever they want, and a lot of times it’s used to spout anger or hatred towards the other,” he says. “I see it just as much on my side as the other. The best way to get your voice heard is to yell the loudest, at this point. That’s the whole reason why Trump got to where he is.”

Still, Chase is an eternal optimist. “We’re going to move as a culture, we’re always going to keep changing and turning into something that maybe the old-timers don’t agree with as much, but someday we’ll be those old-timers. I have no idea where we’re going to go, but I hope we learn the right lesson.”

The Sam Chase & the Untraditional, Saturday, Nov. 12, Smiley’s Schooner Saloon, 41 Wharf Rd., Bolinas; 9pm; $10; 415/868-1311.

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