Sam and Steve Thill met when they were both 15 years of age in their hometown of Moulins, France. They got married, moved to Los Angeles and started a band. That’s a lifetime ago for these two young musicians and having already accomplished recording two albums and now prepping for a tour with their band Sinner Sinners, they’ve found a way to keep harmony in their marriage and their music.
We met up with Sam, Steve and the rest of Sinner Sinners at the legendary Rainbow Bar and Grill in West Los Angeles to chat and gain some insight into the making of the band. When we arrived Sam and Steve were casually having drinks on the patio where we sat down to have our interview. We were immediately impressed by their style and presence and as with many couples who’ve been together for a while there were unmistakable similarities in their appearance.
Originally from Vichy, France, Steve said famous for their hot springs, and Sam from The Hague, in Holland, she moved to France when she was 6-years old, the couple met in Moulins, a small town in France. Growing up the couple’s exposure to music was limited with very few outlets for music except a small record store. Says Sam, “I didn’t have a great musical culture when I was younger. We kind of discovered, at least for me, the rock ‘n roll world together and started listening to The Doors and The Rolling Stones which I mean is very common here in the US.” “We discovered the same stuff at the same time because we’d been together since we were 15, so that’s about the time where you start getting into finding what you like,” added Steve.
While still in France, Steve started playing with bands and eventually he was going on tour for long periods of time leaving Sam at home. “Because there was the rule, you know, no girlfriends on tour,” Steve explains. The couple wanted a way to stay together and so Steve suggested they start a band. The only hitch, Sam didn’t play an instrument or sing. Sam wondered what she was going to do. “And, so I picked an instrument, the keyboard, because it sounded a little easier to learn quickly. I started singing on the first recording in the apartment and then that pretty much started from there”
In the beginning Steve decided on the guitar as his instrument. At the time he said, “I don’t know how to play the guitar but that’s what I’m gonna do.” So as a self taught guitarist Steve put together a band of players all pretty much at the same musical level. Eventually he realized if he didn’t make some changes he would never improve and so he got a new drummer and bass player and stepped up his game. Says Steve, “When we started this band we played with an amazing drummer, amazing guitar player, amazing bass player. So that really brings your skills up because then you have to match. Now I have to write a song so these guys don’t get bored.”
As the main songwriter for Sinner Sinners, Steve writes both music and lyrics. “I usually start with a guitar riff and then we work it around,” explains Steve. “We write the music part and then the melody … the lyrics are gonna have to match whatever the melody is. So lyrics come last for me.” In the beginning Steve didn’t speak English well and so the lyrics were a little wonky, but on this new record he employed the help of Dan Cieplinski of The Vigils to tweak the lyrics. “I would go to his pad and I would bring my lyrics and he would look at it and you know, maybe you should like change this word because that’s really how we would say it in America.”
Sinner Sinners is a fusion of musical styles incorporating punk elements with classic rock and although Steve cites bands like The Damned and The Sonics as his big influences, he’s careful to abstain listening to them during the recording process. “Whenever we start recording we’re trained to not listen to anything that would be like the music we’re gonna write. So when we’re recording we were listening to only The Doors and The Rolling Stones and Stooges and stuff like that.”
Jason Blaustein (drummer) tells us about his unconventional introduction to music. “My dark secrets. My first show I ever went to was the Village People which was then followed up by my Mom taking me to Neil Diamond … then KISS. So I got on the rock ‘n roll track after KISS. So who knows where I would have gone – the other direction.” Tucker Krishock (bass) and Macy Mullen (guitar) also name classic rock as both their introduction and major influences with artists like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin to name a few.
Sam and Steve have come a long way from their humble beginnings in France. Now, with a new album under their belt and an upcoming tour, we wondered how they were able to keep harmony and balance in their professional and personal lives. Says Sam, “The thing is like we’re always together like no matter what. Just in life, in general. So, just being all the time together. Tour is the same. It doesn’t matter.” Steve adds, “We very rarely fight. And we try to do it in privacy.” Jason interjects, “And in French.”
On June 13, catch Sinner Sinners performing LIVE at The Satellite for their CD release of Sinner Sinners. Check out their videos and keep updated on their soon to be announced tour schedule.
UPDATE: Sinner Sinners performed at The Satellite on Friday, June 13. Check out the images in the slideshow.
Check out Sinner Sinners:
Twitter and Instagram: @sinnersinners
Sinner Sinners are:
Macy Mullen (guitar)
Tucker Krishock (bass)
Jason Blaustein (drums)