SAMANTHA MALONEY TALKS TO SERGEANT D. ABOUT BROTHER CLYDE, SHIFT, MOTLEY CRUE AND MORE
Samantha Maloney is one of the unsung veterans of the music industry, having drummed for bands including Shift, Hole, Motley Crue, and now Billy Ray Cyrus’ rock band, Brother Clyde. I’ve been a big fan of hers since she was in Shift back in the 90s, so I am sincerely stoked to finally get the chance to interview her after all these years. Thanks to Carlos Ramirez of power violence legends the Black Army Jackets for hooking it up, and please check out the Brother Clyde record, it’s actually a really good rock n’ roll album and Billy Ray will cry if his daughter outsells him.
You’ve played with an enviable roster of artists over the past fifteen years or so, so it’s hard to sum up your career in an elevator pitch. How would you introduce yourself to the readers of Metal Sucks?
Um… Hi. My name is Samantha Maloney. I am a drummer and I have played with an enviable roster of artists. I have also played in some well know bands throughout the years.
You’re currently playing with Billy Ray Cyrus’ band, Brother Clyde. How’s that been so far, and how did you end up in that gig?
Billy Ray is pure awesomeness. He is the most humble, self-deprecating, talented musician I have ever met in this wacky business.
We have the same management team, so when he was looking for a band, my name came up as a candidate for “Perfect Drummer Extraordianare.” Actually, truth be told, I think he lost a bet and that’s how I wound up playing drums for Brother Clyde. Poor Billy Ray.
What kind of adjustments (if any) did you have to make as a drummer?
Although the Brother Clyde album is a rock record and sounds like Johnny Cash meets Stone Temple Pilots, since playing with Billy Ray I actually have an interest in listening to country music. Never say never I guess is the lesson! I am diggin’ it!
Brother Clyde’s debut video
It might sound dumb, but I still think of you first and foremost as the drummer for Shift, playing the Velvet Elvis in Seattle back in 1995 or whatever. Can you talk a little bit about your experience in that band?
I get all misty eyed whenever anyone knows/remembers my first band, Shift. The band was akin to my first love. Shift had two indie releases on Equal Vision Records and our major label release on Columbia.We were a post-hardcore band from NYC. It would probably be considered “emo” by today’s standards, but I like to think we were cooler than that. I sometimes run into the successful emo bands today and they tell me they were influenced by Shift, which I am very proud of. (Shout out to The Velvet Elvis and the Capitol Hill Crew in the 90’s!)
What did you learn from those years, both as a drummer and as a person trying to make their living as a musician?
That although NYC is the BEST CITY in this world, the city is a beat down when it comes to being creative as an artist and living there as an artist. It was very expensive in the mid and late 90’s and there were not many bands in the scene that were actually making a decent living or breaking out into the mainstream. There was not as much opportunity to make a career out of playing drums as say Los Angeles, where there were way more labels and producers and albums being made. So I think I learned that although I had a killer education (I went to Performing Arts High School, aka FAME, as a percussion major) I wasn’t going to have as much opportunity as a drummer as I would in LA.
How often do you run into people who know you from Shift?
I see Josh and Mark every few months in LA. They both missed me so much they had to move out here, just to be close to me.
Brandon will never leave the Lower East Side of NYC.
Did you ever have to teach Ryan Murphy how to play a proper double-stroke roll when he filled in for you?
No, but I wish I could taught him some other things. That guy was cute!
I’m sure you’ve told this story a zillion times, so apologies, but can you tell us how you ended up in Motley Crue?
Nikki Sixx and I met after a Motley show in NYC. He was a fan of Hole and we hit it off that night , so he got my email and kept in touch. Then one day Randy Castillo got sick, and Nikki Sixx called me early one morning and asked me to come fill in for Randy. I thought I was dreaming. I told him if he was serious I would be on a plane that day. I was in LA the next morning rehearsing with the band for the tour.
When I heard about it, I was super stoked because I loved Shift and I was happy for you, but I never knew how it happened. Tommy Lee isn’t a technical wizard, but he is solid as fuck and his playing is perfect for their music — how did you feel about filling his shoes?
Well, I am a size 8.5 mens and word on the street is he has big shoes, but that wasn’t a concern for me. I grew up on Shout at the Devil, Girls Girls Girls and Dr. Feelgood, so I knew the hits and fills by heart. I was so stoked, I wasn’t nervous at all. Sounds dumb, but it is true.
It’s really hard to find footage of Shift!! This is the best I could do, but definitely track down “Spacesuit” and “Get In”
I liked all the Shift records, but Get In was my favorite in that it was the most accessible pop record in your catalog, with the strongest songwriting. It seemed like the label put a lot of marketing behind that album, but it never quite got as big as it should have. Can you give us a look behind the scenes into what happened with Get In?
Thanks for liking Shift! It was so long ago… jeeze, I don’t know specifically what happened with that album cycle. We didn’t get the A list tours we should have. The radio department picked the wrong single. The stars weren’t aligned for Shift… But it all happened for a reason. Had it gone well, I wouldn’t have left Shift to join Hole, which led me to Motley, which leads me to this ultra exclusive interview with MetalSucks, etc., etc…
You have played plenty of hardcore shows, as well as put in time as the drummer for hipster sensation Peaches’ live band. Which is bigger, Eddie Sutton’s ego or Peaches’ bush?
I actually wrote some of Impeach My Bush with Peaches and did a huge world tour with her. So I’ve seen that bush many a time. But I have never ever met Eddie Sutton. And lemme tell you something. I have met and played with some of the biggest artists out there, and I would give it all up to play drums with Leeway. LEEWAY IS MY FAVORITE METAL BAND EVER. And I have dealt with some of the craziest singers this world has to offer. So I am sure I can deal with Eddie Sutton’s ego. I look forward to meeting it someday.
SIDENOTE… does anyone have a LEEWAY t-shirt I can wear for my LOPEZ TONITE performance with Brother Clyde? Please… I need a mens small or medium.
Most musicians, drummers or otherwise, tend to think of success as being a founding member of a band that goes on to climb the charts and conquer the world. You’ve chosen what is, in my opinion, a different but maybe better career path along the lines of Josh Freese: playing as a hired gun with a variety of A-level artists that probably pay better than being in an indie band, while giving you enough of the spotlight to be fun without getting followed by paparazzi. Was that a deliberate decision, or did it just happen?
It just happened. I swear. You can’t plan this. You have to have a lot of luck, a bit of skill, and in this town and business, it’s not who you know. It’s who knows you. I just had this convo recently. I have been blessed to be able to walk in and out of some A list and Ultra Cool situations.I way prefer that than playing with the same band my entire career. I have learned SO MUCH from each band and musician. Not only about music, but about life. It would be like me marrying my first love. I would have never been able to “play” with anyone else. That doesn’t sound appealing to me.
What are your thoughts on the different paths you, or any musician, can take?
My father wants me to be in a wedding band. If you get into that you can potentially make a lot of money and have a blast. You can teach, you can be a road tech, you can work and do sound in a local club or venue.
You’ve played with such a wide variety of bands that versatility is clearly a strong point for you as a drummer.
Versatility, accountability, reliability and just being cool. Limited ego and a wicked sense of humor goes far as well.
What do you do in terms of either technique or listening habits to be able to jump from one band to the other so easily?
Practice Practice Practice. Actually, I never play drums unless I have to. I am not one of them cats that plays for 8 hours a day. Doing anything for 8 hours a day is so unappealing to me. I just listen and study the music and play and chart the music out. As a drummer you are the conductor of the band. You need to really be paying attention to everyone while holding it down. And if one of the musicians is not playing the tune properly, you James Brown ’em. (Dock their pay for every bum note.)
How much of the material you studied in school applies to what you do on a day-to-day basis?
I use everything I learned in music school on a daily basis. I am still learning.
I love Burn Halo almost as much as I love 18 Visions — ok not THAT much, but a lot!
Did you ever listen to the Orange County metalcore band 18 Visions? Because their singer, Jame Shart, looks an awful lot like Billy Ray Cyrus and his new band Burn Halo kinda sounds like Brother Clyde. I think both 18V and Burn Halo are sweet bands, but it’s kinda weird, huh?
I haven’t had the pleasure of knowing 18 Visions. I think if you combined 18 different visions of Billy Ray Cyrus and Trace Cyrus together like a kaleidoscope you may wind up with James. Not sure though.
I know you have a pretty solid education in percussion, and so much experience under your belt, I’m sure you have a lot to offer in terms of songwriting and arrangement. Are you able to flex those skills as a hired gun?
Oh, you know it.
Do you ever think about doing side projects where you can just play music for music’s sake?
Yes… It was my last band called Chelsea Girls. That was fun for a while.
As you may have noticed, you are a woman. That said, in my eyes you are a drummer first and a female second — sadly, this isn’t the case for all woman in bands, though. Do you feel any kind of responsibility as a role model for female musicians?
Yes. Because female drummers get a bad rap, like we can’t play as well or hit as hard because it is a very physical instrument.
It is a stupid stereotype.
What’s it like being a woman in a rowdy band like Motley Crue?
I will save it for my autobiography.
I’m sure you knew what you were getting into, but I’m sure it still wasn’t easy. Do you have any advice for female musicians, especially drummers?
I have been in bands with boys before and after Motley. I don’t ask or expect to be treated differently as a musician when it comes to playing music. When it comes to all the other shenanigans, I am treated with the utmost respect. My advice is to be cool, go with the flow, and be yourself. But if “yourself” means being a bitch, then don’t be yourself.
Ezec from Crown of Thornz/Skarhead/DMS fame told me Jackson Heights is what’s up when it comes to Queens neighborhoods, but I dunno. Since you are from the streets, can you rank the following Queens neighborhoods in order of hardest to softest: Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Little Neck, and Woodhaven? Is it true that Carlos Ramirez reps Elmurst?
Um, the only that that’s what’s “up” about Jackson Heights is the raised above ground El Train.
REGO PARK/FOREST HILLS/MIDDLE VILLAGE/ROCKAWAY
Thats what’s up. I am the Queen from Queens.
(mad love to my boy Ezec)
(CARLOS IS DEF REPPING ELMHURST!! MAD TRUE LOVE FOR ELMHURST TOO… my old zip is 11373!!!)
And Little Neck is softest. Or maybe Douglaston.
That’s it for me, thanks for your time! Is there anything you’d like to add?
SHIT! I’M LATE!!! I GOTTA RUN TO REHEARSAL…