Sam Isaac is gradually making himself known as one of the country’s most promising artists. Recently garnering airplay from the likes of Jo Whiley on Radio 1, Sam has come a long way from his intimate living room tours and limited edition releases. With his debut album on the way, Neon Buzz caught up with him before his recent show at London’s Borderline to get the low-down on the latest happenings in the Isaac camp.
So, how’s the tour going so far?
Tour is going pretty great. We’ve got to go all over, we started with a few northern dates which were quite fun and then we’ve had some good shows in Oxford, Bristol and Tunbridge Wells so it’s been pretty good. I’m looking forward to playing the London date, which is the kind of important one.
Has there been a place so far that’s been the best, in terms of reaction or otherwise?
Bristol went really, really well. There was a really full room and really good support acts, and we got a really good reaction. All of our equipment broke on stage but we got through it.
How do you choose your support acts?
Generally, I choose my friends cos it’s always fun to go on tour with your friends and also bands that I think are great. I try and choose as good support acts as I can, like bands that I think are better than me, cos then they’re going to make me play better.
You just released the ‘Sticker, Star and Tape’ EP, which has a few new songs on it. Are they the ones that weren’t good enough for your album?
I’m just going to say yes. I’m really pleased with the songs on the EP but they’re released kind of bearing in mind what I was going to save for the album. I’m hoping people enjoy the songs on the EP but in my opinion the songs left over for the album are much better.
You’ve spent the summer recording your album, is it all finished now?
Everything’s done apart from the vocals. I got quite ill over the summer so when it came to doing the vocals, I couldn’t really sing. I’m actually going in to do them straight after this tour so we’re actually so close to being finished. Hopefully by the start of November it’s all going to be done and we’re really hoping to release it at the end of January.
Can we expect to hear lots of new songs when it’s finally released?
Yeah, it’s weird to me cos it feels like a compilation of the last three years but I guess to my fans there are four or five new songs, but to me a lot of it feels quite old. I think they’re definitely the strongest songs I’ve written over the last two years and with the old songs we’ve done a lot to make the whole thing sound together.
You played a lot of festivals this summer, is there one that stands out as your favourite?
Latitude by far and away was the best one. We played to about 2000 people, which is easily the biggest crowd we’ve played to. There were just so many people and it was just absolutely amazing. If I never play any shows ever again, I will be happy that I got to play Latitude this year.
Why did you start writing and playing your own music?
The first music I ever listened to was the Beatles, my dad bought me all the tapes when I was little, and obviously they have great songs and great choruses and I think that was embedded in me so when I started playing guitar, I always wanted to write my own songs and write them with really good choruses. That was always really important to me. I guess I started writing songs when I was ten years old and it’s just always been something that I wanted to do.
You used to lots of shows and tours in people’s living rooms. Have you got any plans to do more of those or are you too big for that now?
I’m definitely not too big for that. When I started doing living room shows, it was just a way of touring. I couldn’t get booked in loads of venues across the country but I wanted to tour so it was just a way of doing that but it was also quite special because there wasn’t a lot of people doing it and also the scale on which I was doing it, going on tour for two or three months just playing living rooms, was quite outlandish at the time. But now, every single acoustic artist ever is saying I’ll play living rooms and stuff, and also it’s been commercialised so I’m not sure… I mean, it is really exciting and I had a great time, and I’m sure it’s a good way for new artists to get out there but if I did it now it might seem like I was rehashing an old idea, so I need to think of something new to do. They were really fun but I’m not sure it’s something I’d do on the same scale again. Maybe when the album comes out, we’ll do a week of special living room shows or something like that.
Do you miss doing living room shows?
Yeah, definitely. You know when you watch A Night with Take That or something on ITV, and as well as the songs everyone asks questions and stuff? Living room shows always turned into farces, like I’d play a song and then there’d be maybe ten minutes conversation in between of really good banter cos everyone’s just there and wants to get involved. I miss that cos I just turn up at venues now and play my songs as well as I can, it’s quite formulaic whereas playing living rooms is completely different every night.
What are your plans for the rest of the year, apart from finishing the album?
At the end of November I’m going to Sweden to play some acoustic shows, which is going to be really fun. Also, I’m doing another tour with the band of NME club nights and then we’re going to Germany to do a tour before Christmas, so a lot more touring I suppose and getting things ready for the album.