Sean on Sucking 

The leader of the Samples shares his unique worldview.

The Samples
  • The Samples
When Sean Kelly reflects on the state of rock and roll, the Samples' leader boils it down to this: It sucks.

That's why he and bandmate Tom Askin hooked up with Vertical Horizon drummer Ed Toth at a Connecticut college last year and recorded a live acoustic set of 17 of the Samples' songs. Kelly hopes the resulting CD/DVD package, Seventeen, will restore some faith in music. "People really seem to understand its origins and purpose," he says. "It's just that I feel the commercial aspect of music sucks bad."

Kelly, Askin, and the other four Samples are on the road playing songs from the dozen-plus albums they've released since forming more than 15 years ago in Colorado. Back then, they were mostly ignored.

"The band was deemed not only hopelessly uncommercial, but also hopelessly uninteresting," Kelly says. There wasn't much he could do. So he worked odd construction and house-painting jobs and wrote songs about grief, hope, and the celebration of love. He also shuffled the band's lineup and made 1993's breakthrough album, The Last Drag. "One would think that it was the result of dysfunction, when in reality, I feel that it [was] because of function."

Now that the Samples apparently have a purpose, Kelly lambastes more than commercial music. He detests politics ("It's a load of crap"), ignores music videos ("What's MTV?"), and stands up for animals. "One of the greatest misconceptions about all other life is that the natural world is somehow less worthy and less intelligent than humans, based on some kind of bullshit knowledge passed down from the ages."

His biggest peeve is with the human race -- so full of itself that it manipulates and controls all the guilt, blame, and shame in life, he says. "I feel that these three emotions play no logical role whatsoever in the natural world. And I can't imagine that this would not lead a species straight into extinction."

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