Softspoken started with the idea of being true to yourself. The name of the band comes from the fact that Chris, who was the original ‘founder’ of the band, is a relatively soft-spoken and reserved person. He wanted to be who he is and write genuine, organic, passionate music.
Please list all of your band members and their roles in the band.
Sam Scheuer – Vocals
Chris Wethington – Guitar
Billy Zimpelman – Guitar
For starters, what bands were you guys a part of prior to Softspoken? How long has the band been around?
Softspoken came together in December of 2015, so we’ve been around 2.5 years now.
Prior to Softspoken…
Sam was in a metalcore band in Cincinnati, OH called Ocean Grid.
Billy was also in a metalcore band in Cincinnati, OH called Allies Aside.
Chris was in an easycore band in Japan called Coast to Coast.
What’s the origin of that name and have you changed the band’s name before?
Softspoken was originally a solo side-project for me (Chris) when I was living in Japan. I wanted an outlet where I could just write what came naturally to me, and write music that was 100% who I am. I’m generally a soft-spoken person, so it made sense to name the project “Softspoken”.
We haven’t changed the name.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs and do you think these topics will change over time?
All three of us are active in writing. In addition to being an amazing vocalist, Sam can also play guitar; and Billy and I both help Sam with vocal melodies and lyrics. There are songs where one of us might take the lead and just get input from the others, but for the most part it’s a balanced process.
The ideas behind each song are usually a little different – sometimes they can be inspired by personal situations in any of our lives, or they can be inspired by something someone we know is going through and we put ourselves in their shoes.
We try to retain a positive and uplifting message with our lyrics, and if anything the overall message is to be proud of who you are, fight for what you believe in, and don’t give up when things get hard.
What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
Bands that we feel have lived and operated by the same ideals we have when it comes to making music – being genuine, honest, organic in writing what you feel instead of what’s popular or expected.
A short list would be: Underoath, As Cities Burn, Norma Jean, Balance and Composure, My Epic, ERRA, Silent Planet, CHON – and more classic rock bands like Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Doors, etc.
Was there a particular band/artist or concert that inspired you to start a band?
Sam: Some of my influences were because of my mother. I grew up hearing Bob Marley and Freddie Mercury of Queen. They were her two favorites. I loved Freddie’s voice, and the voice of Bob’s guitar. But the band that got me singing songs to myself, making me want to go nuts on a stage, was Senses Fail. I fell in love with their album Let It Enfold You. I thought those lyrics had so much angst and power, it really moved me to want to start a band. I used to watch their tour DVD from that album almost every night before I went to bed.
Chris: I grew up influenced by the music my parents listened to – The Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival mostly – but also by my older brother and sister – Bush, Weezer, and Nirvana. But for me personally, the first time I went to see Green Day in Cincinnati there was a part where they pulled a kid up from the crowd to play a song and he nailed it – shredded out a solo and everything. I was just learning guitar at that time but said to myself “I want to be able to do that”, and that lit a fire in me. Then as I got a little older, bands like Chiodos and Senses Fail were really my first introduction to the alternative/post-hardcore sort of scene.
Billy: The first big inspirational artist I heard as a kid was Linkin Park. Their albums Hybrid Theory and Meteora had so much energy, rawness, and emotion to them. They resonated with me as a kid, and still do to this day. But it was after I heard As I Lay Dying’s album Shadows Are Security for the first time that I knew I wanted to drastically improve as a guitarist. The rest is history.
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, etc …
Sam: Before a show I will usually do some vocal warm-ups for around 10 minutes, maybe about 20 minutes before our set. I will stick my tongue out and repeat the word “Ya” in scales, starting low and working my up. I don’t try to sing as much as I do just try and enunciate the “Ya”. This really pulls and stretches the back of the throat. I’ll even vibrate my lips together in scales as well, really helps to loosen the larynx. Another thing I try to do before a show is actively watch every band’s set. “Softspoken watches every band” is something you might hear me saying at a show.
Chris: I usually just watch the other bands on the bill, whoever they are. I like to get mentally prepared, so watching others perform kind of gets me in that performance zone. I also make sure to do full-body stretches 10-15 minutes before going on stage, and some finger exercises – especially if it’s cold.
Billy: Usually 30 minutes before our set, I do jumping jacks and flail my arms and head around. It’s not unusual to hear Sam or Chris commenting “There goes Wild Bill,” when I’m getting pumped. I also like to experience the performances of the other bands playing, and mingle with the people at the show. It feels good to create that sense of togetherness since we’re all there for the same reason: to enjoy music.
What has been the biggest highlight of the band’s career so far?
I’d say recording our debut LP over three weeks with Matt Goldman – which we just wrapped up. It was an amazing experience not just because it’s been a goal of ours to work with him (he’s done so many records that we all love), but also because he really challenged us. He didn’t just take what we had and go with it, he pushed us to write better, write smarter, and grow as musicians which was awesome. It was definitely a major life experience for each of us individually, and for the band as well.
If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
Sam: If I could bring a bring back a band from the past to tour with I would have to go with Queen. My mother got to see them on their "Some Kind of Magic" tour at Wembley stadium in England. The way she would describe it to me sounded like some kind of magic. They always had a reputation of putting on the best performances and to share the stage with one of the most amazing vocalists to ever live would be legendary. But since I live in the present, if I could go on the road with anyone currently I would have to choose VRSTY. It's time for a new wave of artists in our scene to push through and Joey Varela is that new underrated talent that everyone needs to hear.
Chris: I’d love to tour with Metallica back in their heyday just to see what those shows were like back then – just watching documentaries and film it looks crazy. Currently there are too many bands I could pick to go out on the road with, but just for the sake of having fun I’d love to do a repeat of a tour we did with the guys in A Scent Like Wolves and RVNT last May – it was a great time and I’m sure round two would be even better.
Billy: Past – any rock bands from the 60s/70s era. Bands like The Doors, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, etc. because they knew how to spiritually indulge in music and play based on feel, without being so worried about what was going to sell them records. Present – Any band that knows how to jam and loves playing for the sake of playing.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We just wrapped up recording our debut full-length album with Matt Goldman (who produced Underoath, As Cities Burn, My Epic, and many more). We can’t say too much about it just yet, but the first single will be coming out later this summer. Stay in the loop by finding us on Facebook or Instagram @softspokenmusic.
Also, if you haven’t yet, take a second to check out our current releases. You can find our entire discography via your preferred platform at http://www.2lin.cc/deluxe.
We also have a growing group of music lovers we call The Speakers. We’d love for you to come join the group and share your passion with us. You can join at http://www.facebook.com/groups/softspoken.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and get to know us a little better!