Interview: Sam Porter Of Kali Masi

Kali Masi

Chicago, IL punk rock / indie rock quartet Kali Masi released their latest full-length [laughs] a while ago. Therefore, I sat down with Sam Porter (lead singer, frontman, guitarist) and discussed their latest album, recording process, favorite records, and many other things along the way. Enjoy!

Hi guys! First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to reply to these questions. How have you been?

Sam: Our pleasure! I’d say we’ve been doing really, really well and also very busy. We just played our first two shows back, one of which being the record release show and last show with Wes Moore, and the other being the first show with a new guitarist. They both went super well. It felt good to rip the bandage off. 

You released a brand new full-length named [laughs] several months ago. What hides behind the title, and what this theme means to you?

Sam: The album title comes from closed captioning in movies and TV. The record being a work of sound, and using a soundless description like subtitles was interesting to us. When a subtitle is in brackets, it indicates a sound and when it’s italicized, it means that it is a sound that is happening off-screen somewhere. I like the juxtaposition of the title over the album. The songs come from a place of anguish and turmoil that are constantly cross-referencing the internal pursuit of happiness. We wanted the album title to hint that maybe that joy is off-screen somewhere, or maybe not in the place that you’re initially looking for it. 

The record came out in March. What is the reaction of the crowd so far? Are you satisfied with the response?

Sam: The reaction has been great so far. The songs are a little meat-ier and take a bit more time to feel comfortable, I think. But overall, yeah, positive response. The shows we just played were really validating. For months we could only go off of retweets and streaming numbers, so to actually sing along with people was really special. 

Are you satisfied with how the record turned out? Is there anything you would like to change about it?

Sam: Yes. No.

You released an impressive amount of singles, EPs, and one full-length before [laughs]. How this album differs from your previous recordings, in your opinion?

Sam: With every release we get a little more comfortable with ourselves, and a bit closer to finding ourselves as a band. That process can take a while. I’m really proud of everything we have released, but [laughs] feels more like ‘us’ than anything that we’ve released prior. It was also the most collaborative we’ve ever been with writing and recording.

I found [laughs] slightly different, calmer, polished than your previous recordings. Was the change in sound a necessary move, or it came as a natural progression of the band?

Sam: I think it’s just a natural progression for us. We were deliberate in not ‘going for’ anything in particular aside from writing songs that got us excited and felt accurate to how we felt at the time. We’re all a little more dialed in as musicians and also tighter as friends and as a band. On Wind Instrument, Wes had joined the band maybe a month or two prior to recording, we didn’t know eachother or the songs or how to fit together as well as we do now. This record came together after 3.5 years of touring and practicing and writing together, so there’s definitely going to be more cool, calm, calculated cohesion there.

I must say that your latest album sounds divine. Where do you get your inspiration?

Sam: Thank you so much. The most honest answer is maybe not the most interesting one, but I think we all draw inspiration from everywhere. Books, music, movies, nature, family, friends, food!

Every band has a different working ethic. How do you guys work on the songs? Is there any particular formula that you use while writing and composing your tunes?

Sam: There is no formula we have locked down. We’re pretty brutal with criticism, and dig into every part to see how things work together. There’s a lot of little rhythmic intricacies that fit together that we spend a lot of time on. John and Anthony definitely work as a unit together and make a lot of magic happen. I think the most important ingredient here is that no one is reluctant to speak their minds if they love or hate something or have an idea. 

The pandemic affected the music industry in so many ways. The venues, promoters, labels, and bands are suffering the most under these restrictions. How did you manage gatherings, rehearsals, and recording sessions during quarantine?

Sam: Really carefully! We spent a long time apart and did the ZOOM thing to plan out music videos and how we wanted to release the album. It was scary and we approached everything with a lot of caution but there was a huge reward in making it work.

Kali Masi

How have pandemics affected your personal life? Are there any tunes on the record directly inspired by those events?

Sam: We recorded this record in Feb/March 2020 so the pandemic was just starting to hit the news when we finished. 

What artists currently occupy your playlists? Any particular tunes, records, artists, bands you enjoy in recent days and would like to recommend to our readers? (Besides [laughs], of course).

Sam: Personally, I’ve been loving the new Options. record ‘On The Draw’. But this record has seen a ton of great releases so far!!!

Options. – On The Draw
Annihilus – Follow A Song From The Sky
Telethon – Swim Out Past The Breakers
Laura Jane Grace – Stay Alive
Fiddlehead – Between The Richness
Shame – Drunk Tank Pink
The Killers – Pressure Machine
Tyler The Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost

That’s it. Thank you so much for answering these questions. Anything you would like to say to your fans and readers of our blog?

Sam: Thank you so much. Thank you for listening to our band, for hearing the record and everything. Please send it to your friends! ❤

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