These guys hardly need any introduction. They’re everywhere these days. You’ve probably seen one or two of The Sam Willows somewhere in the past year – in a musical, at a music festival, on national television, or even heard them on radio with their hit track “Glasshouse”.
The charismatic band comprises of siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng, 24 and 22 respectively, and friends Sandra Riley Tang and Jon Chua, both 24, who all share the same immense love for music.
Despite being just 3 years old with a self-titled EP to date, they’ve made a name for themselves both nationally and internationally. They also had the privilege of opening for The Script when they were in town in April this year.
Huddled comfortably on a turquoise blue couch in The Yoga Co. co-founded by Sandra, the quartet is in high spirits. So what can we possibly ask Singapore’s fastest rising band that you wouldn’t already know the answer to? UrbanWire scores a quick hangout with them to tease out some fun facts.
1. Jon broke a lamp in an important show
They still get nervous before every show. Narelle recalls: “Gigs that made me nervous were the ones we played for Sony before we got signed on. Oh my God, I felt my whole stomach crunching back then.”
Jon, coined ‘The Nervous One’ in the group, even broke a light during that show. “He went all crazy at the end and dented the light above him with his guitar.” Everyone was in shock with mouths agape, recounts Narelle.
Meanwhile, Sandra and Benjamin hop off the couch and are animatedly acting out the scene, to Jon’s embarrassment.
2. They have ridiculous pre-show rituals
The moment Jon divulges that he talks to his guitar before every show, the rest begin to mimic how he coos at his guitar, in exaggerated tones. You can tell they have no qualms when it comes to teasing one another. (Or maybe it’s just Jon!)
In slightly more rational behaviour, the girls explain their standard warm-up routines, running through the songs at rehearsals to get their vocals ready for their luscious harmonies.
3. Some of them can sing backwards
Fans gush over this quartet that can sing, act, start their own business (Sandra’s The Yoga Co.and Jon’s Lezzgo) and are above all, blessed with good looks. So we challenge them with something to prove they’re actually human: Can The Sam Willows sing the Alphabet Song backwards? You be the judge.
4. Haters? They just Shake It Off
Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” couldn’t be more apt as an anthem for the band. The band readily acknowledges that every singer’s success comes with both fans and haters. However, Narelle feels that most of them hate for the sake of hating, putting the band down without even knowing who they are or what they do. “The (comments) that really hurt are those of indifferent things, like ‘You’re going to go unnoticed’.”
Benjamin on the other hand, paints a more positive picture by quoting Bob Marley: “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” Nicely put.
“We thrive on comments like these, and at the end of the day, you can either give a response, or respond to it by doing more work,” adds Benjamin.
And that’s exactly what The Sam Willows are doing. The band’s first full-length album (still unnamed) is set to drop in the later half of the year, with “Take Heart” already released as a single. Check out a live rendition of this song.
5. They built snowmen and lost their way in Sweden
In February earlier this year, the band spent 11 days in Stockholm, Sweden to record their new album.“I built a snowman!” exclaims Sandra proudly, like a happy Anna who managed to convince Elsa in Frozen. Then there was the day they lost their way for over an hour. Instead of heading back to their apartment after their usual studio sessions, they decided to grab dinner in the city.
“For some reason, the GPS (in our car) wasn’t working,” recounts Jon as the other members add dramatic sounds of despair. They eventually found their way after an hour of old-school navigation— asking around for directions, plus a little luck.
6. Their new album sounds kinda spicy
“Ben likes to call it Kimchi Chocolate. There’s this punch,” explains Narelle. Benjamin elaborates by describing the new album as “very eclectic” with lots of different sounds and genres – a reflection of who they are as The Sam Willows. Judging from the ‘Kimchi Chocolate’ label, should we be expecting something spicy… and addictive?
There you have it – 6 wacky gems that we unearthed from our chat with The Sam Willows. Can’t get enough of the telegenic quartet? They will be performing at the upcoming Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 28th SEA Games 2015 on June 5 and 16 respectively. They’ve also hinted at a huge gig coming up in September so fans, do keep a lookout!
The sky’s definitely the limit for these four adept individuals who’ve come together as one strong, versatile band that’s slowly making their music known worldwide. Who knows, we just might see them getting the Grammy-Award that they’re aiming for.
What do you think of The Sam Willows’ new single “Take Heart”? Tell us in the comments below!