It’s hardly surprising that Sam Cash would cite Elvis Costello as a prime musical influence. Gravitating towards his father’s record collection, Cash became an immediate fan of a British post-punk movement called `Pub Rock’ that not only featured Costello but also other British luminaries such as Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds (collectively known as Rockpile), Dr Feelgood and Graham Parker who all recorded in the 70’s and early 80’s under Jake Riviera’s Stiff Records banner.
It of course didn’t hurt Cash’s music inspirations that his father happens to be Andrew Cash, one time leader of Toronto underground hotties, L’Etranger and is mother still manager of Toronto-area rock acts.
And how ironic is it that this fan of Britain’s pub rock scene should record for Toronto-based Cameron House Records, home of a famous Queen St West bar.
Launching his first ever West Coast tour Thursday in Kelowna to promote his second record under the Cameron House Records banner as Sam Cash and The Romantic Dogs, titled `Tongue In Cheek Vows’, Cash concurred that he loved “all of that stuff” and the simplistic nature of their song writing and production has had a major effect on his own development as a singer-songwriter.
“In writing the 11 tracks for `Tongue In Cheek Vows’ I tried to keep the arrangements and lyrics simple, and not try to be too clever,” explained Cash. “I was also helped by Ian Blurton (Change Of Heart). He really understood what I was doing. I wanted solid, simple, exciting songs. This seems to be a contradiction to the way music is going – maybe I’m going backwards, but working with Ian allowed me to create the sound and direction I was looking for.”
Check out “Tossing & Turning”, the band’s first single which is a throwback to more simplistic times yet maintains a progressive ambiance. The same can be said for other album tracks like “Cast Away”, “Carmen” and “That Was The Summer”, stripped down arrangements, clean vocals and engaging lyrical hooks. “At a time when all current music seems to be designated into sub groups and sub titles and has to be labelled as something specific, I just want to create good, honest music.”
Cash wonders what would happen if some of his heroes like Costello, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen had tried to launch their careers today in an age of social media. “When those guys first launched, their first records didn’t do that well but their record labels kept the faith,” noted Cash. “But these days, I don’t think they’d get that chance. And I am sure people like Elvis Costello and Tom Petty wouldn’t want to go through the same song and dance we have to go through to get attention.”
Still Cash has taken gradual baby steps in developing his craft. Releasing `Teenage Hunger’ at the age of 19 in 2011 he was still finding his singing voice and shaping song ideas. Inspiration came in the form of gigs at the Cameron House, a much revered venue on Toronto’s Queen Street West. An outlet for all kinds of underground, street musicians, Warner Music Canada eventually agreed to sponsor an in-house record label which now boasts such diverse talents as Whitney Rose, Devon Cuddy and Handsome Ned.
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“Getting gigs at the Cameron House provided me with my first break,” allowed Cash. “We started off early in the set, progressed through the evening and eventually got the prime closing set. This is where I met my band; Aaron Cameron (bass), replaced by Graham Moffatt on tour, Matthew Bailey (guitar) and Kyle Sullivan (drums) and when I heard Cameron House was launching their own label, that gave me the incentive to release a second record, titled `Stand Together Fall Together’, the record was whipped together in just two days. “It wasn’t something I had planned to promote for two years but it was an honest reflection of where I was at that time.”
In the past two years, Cash has cultivated a strong reputation as he’s toured Ontario and the Maritimes, but in making the current record, he’s been laying low so now he’s just anxious to play and he is looking forward to breaking new ground with his debut excursion out West. Recognizing he is somewhat of an unknown entity out West, Cash is looking forward to the challenge of tackling new audiences. “No one knows who we are, which is exciting because we can re-invent ourselves.”
As the son of Andrew Cash, who set aside his guitar to successfully run as a federal NDP MP in Toronto in 2011 (before being blown out late last year by the latest surge of Trudeau-mania), Cash comes by his musical chops honestly with his Uncle Pete also playing for the Skydiggers and with his dad in The Cash Brothers.
The one thing I learned from watching my dad and my mother, who is still in the music business is how to hustle,” noted Cash. ”I thought it was cool that my dad got to travel and play music for a living but he’d be out on tour for weeks on end, and my mother worked nights as a band manager so I had to go along with her and as I did, I watched how they had to hustle to keep their careers going and I’ve realized that to succeed, you’ve got to do it yourself. You can’t rely on anyone else to do it for you.”