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QRD #33 - the Father's Day issue - June 2007
about this issue
Martin Bowes of Attrition
Benjy Johnson of Benjomatic
Sam Rosenthal of BTFABG
William Amundson
Josh Howard author of Dead@17
Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance
Aaron Molina of If Thousands
D.A. Sebasstian of KSK
Alan Sparhawk of Low
Shane Sauers
Rune Flaten of Origami Arktika
Tore Boe of Origami Republika
Chris Olley of Six by Seven
Timothy Renner of Stone Breath
Patrick Ogl of Thanatos
Mats Gustafsson of Broken Face
Jason Wallach of Unquiet Void
Chris Wade of The Wades
Nevada Hill of The Zanzibar Snails
Wayne Barnes
Dan Sostrom of Tonevendor
Colin Newman of Wire
Joe Kendrick of WNCW
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Interview with Sam Rosenthal of black tape for a blue girl & Projekt
May 16, 2007

When I was in high school, the artists on Sam Rosenthal’s Projekt Records were basically the inspiration to start QRD.  So it’s always nice to bring things back around.  He has been Sasha’s dad for five years.

Name: Sam Rosenthal
Bands: Black Tape for a Blue Girl, As Lonely as Dave Bowman

QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a professional musician?

Sam – I don’t know if I ever really realized that.  I just sorta started making music for fun.  & someday it evolved into my career.

QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical career?

Sam – I was interviewed for QRD outside of a bar once! =)  Seriously, I’ve released 9 albums from black tape for a blue girl & 3 electronic solo albums.  Each has been a highlight at the time.....  & then a new idea comes along & I’m off running, again.  Playing live for 1000 people at our first show was great.  & the last show we did on the 2004 tour, for about 25 people in Richmond, VA was also great.  The sound system sucked, & we had to do most of the show acoustic.  It was a challenge, & we overcame it.

QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?

Sam – I always felt I wanted to have kids. It was never a decision.  It took a long time to find the right person to have a kid with.  We have a wonderful son who is five years old.

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?

Sam – Since Sasha was born, I definitely mellowed out, & don’t care so much about other people’s B.S…. I don’t let it get to me now, because I can leave the office & go get Sasha from school, & then there’s a whole other world that’s far more important than work.

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?

Sam – Sasha likes coming to Projekt & putting things into the paper shredder.  It’s a useful skill.  It’s had a positive impact on his future career.  He says “Daddy, after I come back from college, I want to work at Projekt.” & I say to him “Well, then let’s save a step & you can skip college.” = )

QRD – Has your son effected the music you make &/or listen to?

Sam – I really enjoy Music for Aardvarks. They’re sort of Beatles/Ramones/Lou Reed influenced kids’ songs.  With just a bit of snotty sarcasm.  I like that.  I’ve actually started playing more music at home in the last few months.  I play CDs for him while he’s in the bath.  Recent selections: London’s Calling, Are We Not Men, Bob Marley Legend.

QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?

Sam – I personally have not had this problem, because I don’t really think about it.  I bring in enough money to survive.  The rent is paid, we eat.  Maybe I’m not getting rich, but we get by.

QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on being a touring musician, would you have toured more earlier in life if you’d known?

Sam – No.  I toured a bunch, in the late 1990s, with Sasha’s mom in the band.  We did a couple of hundred shows, or so it seems.  I can get away to tour, because we split Sasha’s time between us.

QRD – Do you think being a father or a musician has a greater impact on your community?

Sam – Um?  Depends on if you mean my local “community” or the “community” of people in the goth scene.  I think that being a musician has had a greater impact on more people.  But being a father has an amazing amount of impact on one person.  It is rewarding.

QRD – Would you rather see your son eventually become a musician or parent?

Sam – Well, both!  Sasha is very extroverted, & has a good memory, so I could see him being a musician or actor.  He’s much more of a people person than I am.  That’s a good trait.  Maybe he’ll be a used car salesman?  =)

QRD – Both family & music seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in.  How do you end up dividing your time?

Sam – When I have to leave work to get Sasha, I do.  Having him 1/2 the week is good for me, because it keeps me from working toooooo much.  & that helps me edit out the shit that wastes my time.  There’s only finite hours to get the important stuff done.  On the other hand, I do truly feel that Sasha & I have a much more intense & personal relationship because we have so much one-on-one time.  I think there’s a “default to mom” standard, with parents.  But I have to be there, & be involved all the time this way.  So I think it worked out really well.

QRD – Do you have a split/secret life between being a parent & being a musician?

Sam – No, I don’t think so.  I think that as a parent I can be silly & roughhouse & re-live my childhood.  As a musician, I sit around in dark rooms & twiddle a lot of knobs.  Which one sounds like more fun to you?

QRD – What does Sasha think of your music?

Sam – Um, Sasha has NOT asked me to turn it off, though sometimes he asks me to turn it down.  I don’t know if he totally understands that I make the music.  When I sat down at the piano at school, he was impressed that I made something melodic come out of it.  “Look John, my dad is playing the piano!”

QRD – Do you think you could ever do a musical project with your children?

Sam – Sure, that sounds like it could be fun.

QRD – Any words of advice to young people?

Sam – Don’t have children until you’re ready.  That’s what Oscar, blacktape’s old vocalist told me, “Wait until you’ve done the things you want to do, before you have kids.”  You’re gonna have at least 1/2 a decade where it’s kind of tough to get your life/career going... but you make it work.  Having kids before you know who you are & what your life is about just sounds like a recipe for trouble.  Of course, I waited ‘til I was 37.  When people ask me if I plan to have another kid, I say, “Every 30 years I’ll have one.” 

QRD – 2015 update - any new insight from eight more years of fatherhood?

Sam – It’s so hard to believe it’s been 8 years! I’ve only released one Blacktape album since wedid this interview, but I’ve released no new children; I guess you could say I haven’t been very productive at all! (laughs). There’s so much about being a parent that you’re not told before it happens & you just stumble into it. Lisa teaches lamazee & she does give some advice to parents-to-be on how to keep the relationship healthy after you have a baby. That’s the kind of stuff people really need. Maybe a course in “How to keep from exploding in rage when your kid punches you in the leg (or other place) for the 100th time.” I think I’ve learned to be more mellow & just let things be. & put the breaks on only when things have gotten far over the line. I see a lot of parents with young kids who are quite restrictive. “No, you cannot put that dirty toy in your mouth.” Aw, why not? So long as the toy isn’t small & a choking hazard, eating a little sand isn’t gonna be too big of a problem in the long run.
Fatherhood also points out time passing. “Whoa, when did you get so tall? When did your feet get as big as mine?” I think it really takes you out of your own ego-obsession. Life isn’t just about me or about a partner. It’s this wonderful person that we created, that we get to shape by being good parents & giving the best opportunities we can provide. That’s a lot more rewarding than making music if you ask me. Of course, now that he’s 13, I have more time for music. But I don’t lose quality family time because of it.

another QRD interview with Sam Rosenthal:
black tape for a blue girl interview (february 1998)