Overhand Sam: The Origin
>> Sam Snyder wasn’t always known as Overhand Sam. There is a story behind the name and how he became the musician he is today. I will tell you that story with help from Overhand Sam. A couple of weeks ago Sam sat down with the creator of the magazine, Krit Upra, to tell his story. The origin of Overhand Sam.
“I got the name because when I was 15, my dad would go out to see these Blues bands in Rochester. One day I went down and I met those guys. My dad told them I played. They said I should go up and play a song. I started going down two days a week with my dad just to jam with these guys. I got the name because one of the guys I played with, his name is Too Tall, he started having me come up and sit in with his band. The Blues band members all have prefixes to their names. Everyone started calling me Overhand Sam and that lead to OHS. I’ve had that name for 13 years. I never chose that. Now, anytime I play with a band, even playing with Maybird, it’s one more thing people have to remember. But people remember Overhand Sam.”
It became so popular that a cocktail at the Cocktail Revival was named the Overhand Sam. Sam was surprised and found out in an interesting way, “I checked instagram because someone had tagged Overhand Sam and it was all these cocktails. It was cool. It doesn’t mean anything. They know the name.”
Sam has more interesting stories to tell. The most important of them being the reason he plays the guitar the way he does. Overhand. It all started when he broke his arm in four places. Sam reminisced about this injury that forever changed his guitar playing ways, “I was skateboarding and I did a blunt stall on a halfpipe, I learned how to do it and I had been doing it for a while. I got ahead of myself. I landed back and slammed my arm on the bar. Full weight, karate chop on a metal bar. I ended up on the ground and push my arm back together. In my mind I was like, ‘Oh my god, I disconnected my arm’. I was in shock that I actually broke it. I got up and skated around for another hour or two. A couple of hours went by and I was in so much pain because the shock wore off and I called my mom saying, ‘Hey I think I dislocated my arm, I need to go to the hospital’. We were in the hospital all day and they told me, ‘No you broke your arm’. It was good that I grabbed it and pushed because I could have done nerve damage if I had not done that... Skateboarding completely changed my life though.”
Sam was stuck in a cast for 14 weeks. Out of boredom he’d set his guitar on the table and taught himself how to play. The cast wasn’t going to get in the way of his creativity or need to play music. “My brother is the one who is responsible for me getting into music. My dad bought my brother a used, cigarette stained Strat. I love that guitar, I still have it. Right when he got the guitar I broke my arm. He was going out with his friends every day. I was stuck at home. I put the guitar on the table and slid my arm up and down it. I started learning all these tunes that I wanted to know. When I got the cast off I already knew how to play guitar.”
Being a guitar player was far from Sam’s mind as a kid. He told his brother he never imagined himself being a guitar player as there are so many things that can go wrong. Well obviously, Sam was wrong about what he imagined as a kid. “I was thirteen when I started playing.
When you’re that age you’re not thinking about when you’re 27 and you’re trying to pay rent on your apartment through the gigs that you have. I was just doing it because I liked to play, but then I got the bug, I got the illness that is playing in front of people.”
This illness has carried Sam through many many shows and now he plays in several bands, Maybird being one of his projects. Overhand Sam treats his bands as a collective/family. Yes, there are different people that play from time to time but they always learn from one another and are connected and inspired by each other.
Inspiration doesn’t just come from the
people he plays with. “Musically I get a lot of inspiration from everything I listen to. I don’t like to think too hard about it. I write little notes to myself, write a song that sounds like this song or conveys this idea. Lyrically I get the most inspiration out of past experiences I’ve had. I only know what I know. I do a really poor job when I start interpreting other people’s experiences. I like to invent stories and sometimes a song will be about that. More often than not it’s just about relationships,
my feelings. They’re relatable obviously but
I like to hide the meaning in it as much as I can.”
The first thing Sam released was an album of five songs called, A Prince’s Empty Bedroom, which was recorded in his friend Adam Prince’s empty bedroom all on one take using a tape cassette. He has came a long way since then. Still using a tape recorder but experimenting more and more with unusual sounds and the famous omnichord. Long Legs, my favorite album of his, had more “honesty to it” (his words) even though he only spent a week recording it he focused most of his time promoting it and mixing it.
Each album that Overhand Sam has recorded he has experimented more and more with sounds. He recently released Longer Legs, which he says, “I am most excited about. I think they’re the best songs I’ve written”. The release show for Longer Legs is June 30th at the new Funk 'N Waffles, which to most is known as the old Water Street Music Hall. I highly suggest that you come through if you want to listen to some rad, experimental, psychedelic jams and meet the famous and talented Overhand Sam. <<
Longer Legs Release show at Funk 'N Waffles:
OHS Bandcamp / Longer Legs: