Means Well: Sam Means on his New Album

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Sam Means describes Nate Ruess, his former bandmate in The Format, as big and bold. But Means says he’s more reserved, and a mixture of both personalities will be reflected on his debut album, 10 Songs, set for release on January 22.

While he doesn’t compare their music, he does size up their musical approaches.

“Nate always had a lot of really grand ideas,” Means says during an interview at a Tempe coffeehouse. “Everything was big. His voice was big. His ideas are big and he has a big personality.

“I was always quiet and simple, purposely restrained. The things that I learned [with The Format]were to keep a really good balance, how to keep it in the middle. I wanted to try to keep it catchy and not too complicated. I tried to balance how Nate would sing with how it’s still pretty low key. There are still moments where it’s grand. It’s a mix.”

That’s his approach to 10 Songs. He would like to tour in support of it, but he’s not sure that it’s practical. Means is hoping that through some press and word of mouth, fans will discover 10 Songs.

“My goal is to get it out,” he says. “It’ll do its thing. Since I did put a little more money and time, it’s defi nitely more special to me than anything I’ve done.”

Means kept the project in The Format’s family, relying on lawyers, publicists and producers from his days with the alternapop band.

Means wrote the songs in 2014 in Phoenix with former Format bandmates—bassist Don Raymond Jr., guitarist Marko Buzard and drummer John O’Reilly Jr. The album was produced by Steven McDonald in 2015 in Los Angeles.

“I worked with Steve McDonald, who I worked with before with The Format,” Means says. “I also worked with Roger Manning Jr., who was in a band called Jellyfish. He did all of the arrangements for [The Format album] Dog Problems.

“I knew a lot of this has an orchestral vibe to it, so it was super cool to work with him again.”

Sitting in the coffee shop it’s clear that Means is excited about his new project. After all, the full-length release is Means’ first since The Format disbanded. Instead of pursuing music again full time, he started Hello Merch in 2008 and the following year, his daughter arrived. But he was always interested in making new music.

“I just want to keep making music,” he says. “It’s not all I want to do—it’s what I want to do.”

 

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