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April Samuels

Interview by Sean Mitchell // July 02 2007
April Samuels

You can never judge a book by its cover. I always seem to get something positive from meeting so many different people.

Her Myspace quote says it all, “Hard-hitting, mind-numbing, chick drumming.” Mind-numbing, to say the least. Keeping track of April’s schedule would be a full-time job unto itself. The Lone Star state’s April Samuels has to be the busiest drummer on the face of the planet—never mind in Texas. Between the many bands she performs with live and in the studio, April finds time to teach, run a booking agency and donate her time to many causes and charities. There are few like April who surround themselves with everything they are passionate about and live life to it’s fullest extent. A word of warning: this interview may cause a sudden urge to become inspired, quit your day job and do what it is you REALLY want to do!   



Wow, I thought I was busy! What gigs are you working right now? 

Hey, Sean! I’m primarily working with four groups: 49th Vibration, Bullitt, GIRL, and Rocket Girl. I also pick up shows for groups here and there, primarily Courtney Fairchild when she is in town from Philly and most recently, I’ve gigged with The Ju Ju Beans. I also run sound for the LinC contemporary band at FUMC Plano every other Sunday. Sometimes I sit in on a tune here and there on drums or guitar. Last, I teach drum lessons—which I love.  

I have listened to many tracks on your Myspace and now consider myself a huge fan of your playing. Your groove is very fluid. How have you developed that part of your playing style?

First, thank you. My style of playing developed from listening to one specific person’s drumming: Sean Phillips. He was the driving back beat behind Little Sister/Sister 7, a now defunct band out of Austin, TX. (You’d likely recognize the singer, Patrice Pike, most recently known from her appearances on Rock Star: Supernova.) Sean has such a killer pocket and I really felt something listening to his playing that I really connected with. It brought out something that is very natural for me.

Do you categorize yourself as a genre oriented player or are you versed in all styles of music?

Each project I’m involved in is drastically different covering everything from jazz, country, praise and worship, funk, hard rock, pop rock, punk rock, blues, and folk. I play a lot of different styles of music, but there are still some styles I haven’t tapped into. I’d love to study blues shuffles. I haven’t had an opportunity to really dive into that style much but am starting to look closer into it now with one of the groups.

What would you say has been your greatest lesson in music so far?

Teaching. I’ve taught drum kit off and on for years. Most recently, I’ve been teaching an eight year old. She’s going to be amazing. Teaching has helped me spend more time thinking in terms of what a song would look like written out, since I write out all the parts for her to work on. It’s really helped me in my playing break down different parts.

You are involved on many levels with a variety of social causes. When did this desire for awareness and activism develop for you?

I guess I’ve had a desire to help the under-dog for as long as I can remember. The guy that everyone thought was a nerd or “not cool,” I always befriended. You can never judge a book by its cover and I always seem to get something positive from meeting so many different people.

What social issues are you most passionate about?

Gosh, this is tough to narrow down. I would say domestic violence, drug/alcohol abuse, and equality. I actually became involved in working against domestic violence through another musician in Dallas. Later, through a personal relationship, it hit closer to home—fueling my fight against domestic violence. Currently, I do some volunteer work for the New Beginning Center in Garland Texas. I wish had more time to do more for them. For drug/alcohol abuse, I haven’t ever really held any events, but I’ve always wanted to go and speak to high school kids about it. I hope I will some day. This December will be 15 years of sobriety for me. And equality in marriage and the workplace. I’m not out to tell all people to embrace homosexuality—everyone is entitled to their beliefs. What I am out to do is support equal rights for the GLBT community.

What is Music for Marriage?

This is along the same lines as my equality rant. Music for Marriage is an organization that supports equality in marriage. It was founded two years ago when there was a proposal to amend the Texas Constitution to further roadblock same-sex marriages. Unfortunately, the amendment passed and now the Texas Constitution defines marriage as “between one man and one woman." Originally, there was going to be an event backing the cause, but unfortunately, our venue fell through at the last moment. We were able to use the organization to spread the word and help educate the community on marriage equality. I learned a lot and met a lot of wonderful people and organizations from all walks of life.

How did you get into booking bands?

When I first started playing out, we had so much trouble getting shows and finding someone we could trust that we finally asked my brother to do it. When he moved to Denver, CO, it became harder for him to keep it up. From working with him, I’d learned a lot and eventually founded 100 Proof Entertainment. I attended many very worth-while conferences, many SXSW seminars as well as publishing and copyright classes through the Dallas Songwriter’s Association and the Austin Songwriter’s Group. I also was assistant booking agent at a Dallas club for sometime and managed a publishing department for a company also. Over the course of several years, I’ve represented over 40 bands, handling as many as 13 at a time.

What do you look for in potential bands to add to your roster?

Currently, I’m so busy that I can’t even consider taking on anything more. As a standard, it has to be good quality music and talent. It would be my job to help gain the exposure.

Have booking agents been unduly given a bum rap? What in your opinion makes a good agency?

Well, I’ve had many bad experiences with agencies myself, so it’s understandable. I haven’t kept up with the other local agencies well enough to be able to recommend anyone, but I do feel there are good ones out there. Like any other musician, you just have to be careful, so I guess I’m coming at it from both sides. To me, what makes a good agency is someone willing to work and help promote too. Also, the quality of groups under that umbrella is usually telling.

How did you get hooked up with Silverfox Percussion?

Silverfox sent an email to my booking agency, 100 Proof Entertainment, back in 2003 asking for any interested parties to submit a press kit. They sent me a pair of sticks, and I’ve loved them ever since! They treat their endorsees great and have a killer product. Also, their parent company, Grover, makes excellent kits. I have a Grover Custom maple. It’s my favorite kit, hands down.

Who in the drumming industry really sticks…(pardon the pun)…out for you as far as talent? 

Hee hee! For me personally, Sean Phillips followed by Matt Chamberlain, Carter Beauford, and Taylor Hawkins.

You seem to have had great success being independent. Any desire to sign “The Big Contract” or will you stay indie?

Ah, yeah, I’m always looking for the big contract in the sky. I hadn’t realized it until you asked, but in my mind, I guess I’m looking more for the touring gig than anything. I love to travel and perform. I think a freelance “for hire” gig just seems more realistic at this point in my career.  

What can we look forward to from April Samuels in the coming months?

More of the same, I’m sure! I’m hopeful that 49th Vibration and GIRL will start playing out. Both groups beg to be seen and heard. Also, I hope to finish up some more recordings and maybe do some more traveling. So, more shows and more recordings—I’ll get everything out of me that I can muster!

Visit April online: http://www.aprilsamuels.com/



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About the Author
Sean Mitchell

Sean Mitchell has been an active participant in the drumming industry for over 20 years. He has studied under Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge and Drumming's Global Ambassador Dom Famularo. Sean is also a songwriter and regularly performs with his wife (and singer) Jill Mitchell. Sean proudly endorses Aquarian Drumheads.

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