Like that friend that always makes everyone else feel great, Sam Craighead is the seretonin shot we need pre-Christmas. The genuine singer-songwriter offering from this unique artist comes up via Head2Wall Records and we’re thrilled to give you the new music video for his new chilly tune called “Jawline”. It serves a pretty great combination of fun/funny, and really important, relevant political and social commentary.
Sam came up playing in punk and indie rock bands, but has spent the last few years writing this beautiful, melancholy, understated pop stuff, including an unlikely collaboration EP with the guys from the pop band The Fray. Today, we celebrate the release of his new single with a special in-depth commentary from Sam, explaining his inspirations, telling some interesting stories that formed his worldview, and sharing his first-hand track by track rundown for the new album “OK Computer Room“.
OK Computer Room tapes are now available from the Head2Wall store and true fans worldwide have taken to the streets to scream at the top of their lungs that “it is the ultimate stocking stuffer.”
“I have a tendency to come up with bad ideas and follow them to their logical conclusion, often a little farther.” – comments Sam.
“A couple years ago I wanted to make a record that sounded like it was recorded in a Christian dad’s home studio in the 1990s. Saw one of these once, though never heard what it sounded like. I bought an electronic drum kit and a shiny Yamaha bass and started looking at Ovation guitars, but determined those were too expensive. Not because I couldn’t afford one; it just seemed like too much to invest in a joke. I got an iMac with Logic Pro X and proceeded to record almost everything direct-in or with MIDI to make things extra clean and digital. I’d spent most of my life since high school in front of a computer.
𝐺𝑜𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑢𝑙𝑙 𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑟𝑢𝑚 𝑜𝑓 ℎ𝑢𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑚𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑡𝑒𝑐ℎ𝑛𝑜𝑙𝑜𝑔𝑦.
“Should be pretty easy to figure out how to get this sound I was envisioning? Shortly after I started, so did the pandemic, which sort of normalized this tech-emo experience for a lot more people. Friends: welcome to my world and my computer room.” – he continues.
“Before the pandemic, I used to travel semi-frequently. Sometimes for work, other times for vacation or to see family and friends. The normal reasons people travel. I spent a lot of time in California. Was meant to be in San Francisco the week after lockdown started. Part of being forced to stay at home meant accepting that I really am from Columbus, Ohio and I really do live here. Since I was 2. My family moved away in my early 20s. I stayed and carved out a life and career. We even bought a house!”
𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑙𝑤𝑎𝑦𝑠 𝑓𝑒𝑙𝑡 𝑡𝑒𝑚𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑎𝑟𝑦, 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑒𝑙𝑠𝑒’𝑠 𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝐼 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ. 𝐶𝑎𝑛 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑑𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑟𝑡𝑦 𝑠𝑖𝑥 𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑠?
“If you have high speed internet, yes.”
Between periods of internet living, Sam developed a tight-knit friend group of Columbus individualists who make art and music and, per Sam, “don’t care about Buckeye football, and mostly work at schools and libraries.”
“None of us might ever suggest Columbus is cool, but we know where to find the cool places–international restaurants, weird townie bars, art spaces, hidden bowling alleys, Clown Cone. The group is mostly white, cis-hetero; not something I gave too much thought to in my teens or twenties. Was busy trying to figure out who I was and maybe who I wanted to be.”
Sam admits that Columbus is a pretty diverse place, but it’s also really segregated.
“Not just in our neighborhoods and schools, but the places we go to eat, drink, see music, art, etc. This is, thankfully, increasingly less the case, especially in the creative/art/food scene, but in the ’90s and early ’00s those spaces weren’t really integrated. Not the places I was going, anyway. Even now, it’s like I’m breaking an unspoken Midwestern white people taboo by acknowledging any of it publicly. But it’s true! I lived here then. I’m from here, remember?”
“In early 2020, I read this heart-wrenching Medium article by Kevin Williams called I Don’t Love Columbus Because I Can’t Participate In It. This wasn’t the first time I’d thought a lot about the lives of rideshare drivers. One of my favorite parts of traveling for work was taking a Lyft from the airport. I’d sit in the front passenger seat and try to learn as much about the person driving as I could before they dropped me off. It felt meaningful to connect in their personal space, if only for 20 minutes before we never saw each other again. When I went away, conversations were usually about the city I was visiting. When I came home, it was living here. You can learn a lot about your city from hearing how other people experience it, in their own words. Williams’ article filled in some gaps around what I picked up on those 20-minute trips.”
“So, I figured I could either hang onto my unspoken jet-setting fantasy life of “being from SoCal”–I’m out there 7 days a year, so I’m, like, basically bi-coastal–or I could accept that I’m not from somewhere cool. I’m from Columbus, Ohio. And the version of this city I get to pretend I’m “not from” isn’t available to most people that don’t look like me. And that won’t change until people that do look like me recognize we have to actually do something about it.”
So what am I going to do? For now, I wrote this album called OK Computer Room.
𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑚𝑦 𝑜𝑤𝑛 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑏𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑛 𝑎𝑑𝑢𝑙𝑡 𝑖𝑛 𝐶𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑏𝑢𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑡.
Some of what I’ve seen, felt, and learned about myself and my city and the world. It’s probably not very insightful, but hopefully it’s honest.
Here’s a track-by-track breakdown of the songs:
This time last year, Casey Goodson Jr. was killed in his home; shot 5 times in the back by Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Meade. Casey was carrying in a bag of Subway subs for his family. It took a full year before any charges were brought against the cop. My personal experience with Subway has been pretty different.
Gentrification is colonialism lite. It doesn’t start with developers building overpriced properties. First come the artists, later the foodies, the coffee drinkers and craft brewers. Somewhere in there tech startup incubators appear. Figured I should take accountability for my own contributions to the problem. What might we do differently to create better, safer communities for everyone? Saxophone solo by the wonderful and kind Kyle Sowash.
One of my first roommates finally got on social media recently and we communicated for the first time in 17 years or so. She sent photos she’d taken of me on her last day in Columbus, spring 2001. I’d had just enough therapy by the point I saw these that I was able to appreciate my younger self in a way I wasn’t capable of at the time. Still working on appreciating current me.
Chat Room Golem
The closest I ever came to writing a Simon & Garfunkel song. Y’all have never started a cross-country relationship in a Yahoo! chat room and it shows.
I have to pee a lot so I saw I doctor and took a trial medication. Had a bad interaction with cold medicine which led to a panic attack and a trip to the hospital. Came to the realization it was mostly in my head. Worth it?
The Toughest Guy
We watched the movie Never Back Down. It’s a more macho, less moral Karate Kid. Instead of finding healthy outlets for their emotional problems, an entire high school beats the shit out of each other MMA-style in the octagon, the parking lot, the school, and more. It is an incredibly foolish movie. Peak American exceptionalism.
Early inventory of my self-care rituals. Last recording to feature my old bass from high school with the pop punk stickers and the 60 cycle hum.
Cover of a beautiful song by Alexander Paquet aka Field Sleeper. Recorded as a test of my new MIDI cables since I didn’t have a new song in me that day. Asked my friend Gabe to slide in on the fretless bass. Check out Field Sleeper’s original version and the album A Better Grid.
Internet collaboration with one-time almost roommate, eventual colleague Mike Shiflet. A reworking of an Erik Satie-inspired song I wrote to accompany a watercolor painting I made for my wife, Colleen, for Christmas 2019. Bits of this were cut up and repurposed in Two Subways and in a cover of Joy Division’s Atmosphere that Colleen sings on too. All released as part of my monthly singles series in 2020. Find them online if you dare.
Thanks for watching! Peace be with you in this most seasonal time of the year :)