Satellite Ranch Artist Spotlight: An Interview with Sam Crespo of Space BaconZachary Franck
Zachary Franck interviewing Sam Crespo
Sam Crespo plays drums in Space Bacon and is the unsung hero of the band. Their style and sound is often fast and tenacious. As a drummer, it requires serious stamina and patience to keep up and play well. Space Bacon has continued to grow as a band and brand and Sam has been a vital part to their onstage success. Crespo is an avid fan of the Disco Biscuits, and their original drummer Sam Altman is arguably his biggest percussive influence. He met keyboard player Chris Gironda in the smoking section of a Biscuits show once upon a time, Chris asked Sam for a lighter and it ended up being the spark that created Space Bacon. After impressing everyone at Satellite Ranch last year, we are ecstatic to have them back for two sets instead of one. They guaranteed that they’re going to bring the heat, and I don’t doubt them for a second.
ZF: I think a lot of people are attracted to Space Bacon because of the band’s character. You guys are accessible at this point in your career and it’s vital to connect with your fan base. How would you describe the overall personality of the band?
SC: I think we’ve been blessed both by the technological times we currently live in, as well as the understanding to maximize that potential. We’ve helped cultivate a very vibrant and engaging community of friends and fans, and we aim to match that engagement. Building an online community is easy when you have such dope fans.
Space Bacon is made up of four different yet complimentary personalities, each with our pros and cons. As time goes on, I think that our personalities sort of rub off on each other, and our common goals sort of meld into one common goal. I think this applies for us both musically, as well as for the broader perspective that we have about what we’re doing. We are all driven and determined to be the very best band that we can possibly be. How do you maintain that balance, of keeping yourselves seriously committed, while still having fun? I can’t tell you how because I don’t really know, but I CAN tell you that when we’re on a stage, doing what we do, I don’t think there are too many people in the room that are actually having more fun than we are.
ZF: Fans often focus on the improvisational prowess of Space Bacon, but the best jams usually spring from strong compositions. How has the band’s focus shifted when it comes to songwriting?
SC: In the past, there was a more proprietary approach to writing songs; each song was treated like a prized creation that was to be guarded from outside influence. Outside influence was always a constant because we’re all highly opinionated, as well as highly motivated to make the best music we can make. There was never a song proposal that ended up looking identical to the finished product, as all of us always insisted on throwing in our two cents to make changes to various parts. I think there was also a feeling of pressure to have a song fully written and completed before being brought to the table. When you consider these two trends, you can understand a sentiment of something like “I just spent all this time writing this song and nowyou’re trying to change everything?” Lots of disagreement would ensue.
The difference is that now a song gets brought to the table when it’s just a little baby song, or an adolescent song, with two or three parts but no bridges, for example. In some extreme-cases it’s just one riff. We take those structural pieces and we build the rest of the structure together. It streamlines our song production. We took something that hindered our songwriting and turned it into a positive.
ZF: If you could pinpoint a single opportunity that altered the trajectory of Space Bacon’s career thus far, what would it be?
SC: If we’re talking opportunities afforded to us, I’d have to say when we were given the distinct honor of doing a run of shows opening for Breaking Biscuits (Aron Magner and Marc Brownstein of THE Disco Biscuits, with Adam Deitch and Borham Lee of Break Science), which also included our debut at Brooklyn Bowl. Opening for Umphrey’s McGee at the Capitol Theatre was by far the largest audience we’ve ever had the pleasure of performing in front of, and it was such a completely surreal dream come true for us, but I think that show doesn’t happen without the Breaking Biscuits run. Aside from getting to share the stages and green rooms with our musical idols for three days, we also learned a lot about how to better operate as an organization moving forward. That run was a game-changer for us.
ZF: You guys played Camp Bisco for your first time, I know how special that was for you, what makes Camp Bisco stick out amongst other festivals?
SC: The very first word that comes to mind is: family. When the Disco Biscuits pioneered a completely new sound, they created a massive family, not only of fans, but also musically through other artists. If you look at the Biscuits and their fans as a nuclear family, you could look at other groups that were inspired by that pioneered sound, like Lotus, the New Deal and STS9, and their fans, as extended family. One of the most beautiful things about Camp Bisco is that you have Biscuits fam in full force, as well as their extended family. Three days of family having the time of our lives. The incredible honor of playing at Camp, almost ten years after attending my first Camp……I can’t really express how special that was.
The best thing about Camp is getting to hear and see the Biscuits absolutely crush in front of some of their most die-hard fans for three days in a row. When they’re playing the way that they have….the hive mind that they achieved that weekend, and throughout their careers….I don’t think anyone can deny that they currently are, and have always been, one of the absolute greatest jam bands of all time (phight me)
ZF: Space Bacon is returning to Satellite Ranch Festival for your second year in a row, but this time you’ll be playing two sets. What do you like about SR and how excited are you guys to return?
SC: After finishing our late night set at Satellite Ranch last year we immediately knew we wanted to be back. The festival is held on some beautiful grounds and is run by an incredibly awesome, organized and determined group of people. The fact that we get to play two sets is truly special because it allows us to, I think, give a really fair representation of what we’re about and what we like to play, without feeling like we need to make compromises due to time constraints. We always try to be true to ourselves, musically, regardless of how much time we get to play. That being said, as is often the case with bands that improvise a lot, it’s very true that playing two sets is more of our natural habitat. We can typically fit about 5 or 6 songs in a given set time while still allowing ourselves the freedom to go wherever we want to go, jam-wise (gamgee)
ZF: If you had to convince somebody that was on the fence about coming to Satellite Ranch, what would you say?
SC: One of the most frequently voiced opinions that I’ve heard from other people when it comes to festivals is a growing preference for smaller festivals over time, as well as how much everybody misses going to them (Big Up, Catskill Chill, etc). Among the many things that stand out about them is, of course, the “homie factor” of being able to easily and naturally bump into all of your friends at the festival, throughout the entire weekend. Satellite Ranch, especially with this year’s lineup, is going to be the ultimate Homie Fest.
Anyone who was fortunate enough to catch the VIP set that closed out Camp this year knows how dirty things can and will get with Silver Fameus (Ben Silver of Orchard Lounge and Allen Aucoin of the Disco Biscuits) The rest of the lineup boasts, in my opinion, some of the very best jamtronica acts that the Beast Coast has to offer. I would also remind this imaginary person who is sitting on the imaginary fence that the Bacon Boyz will be playing two sets.
Space Bacon returns to Satellite Ranch Festival September 1-2, and headlines a two-night run at Mercury Lounge in NYC, October 5-6!