Samurai Shotgun strive to inject innovation into rock with their storytelling skills and unique blend of musical influences. After a difficult year in which the music industry shut down, the band are looking to find their stride again. Most importantly, Samurai Shotgun—Matt Henley (lead vocalist), Tyler Mulder (guitarist), Bryant Harp (bassist), Jovan Lecaro (drummer) and Marquis Blocker, aka DJ Qeys (turntablist/keyboardist)—are setting their sights on expanding their reach with their identifiable sound and giving the Tampa rock scene wider representation. Meeting through work, school and mutual friends, the band share a love of music and expanding the genre beyond its borders.
With their new single “Limbo,” they continue to breathe new life into a boundary-pushing genre and find their power with the potent track. Through a tender performance, the song tells the story of the band’s journey over the last year.
What inspired you to write “Limbo,” and how did the concept for the music video develop?
JOVAN LECARO: Well, I think I started with the drums. I came up with the drumbeat for that beginning verse. I came up with that before we were trying to make the song, and I just thought it was really different [and] creative, and then our bassist came along and added a bass part to it. So we were just messing around with that. And then he started doing some crazy effect, which is what led to that ending part. So we just built it off those two sounds and decided, “Let’s try to put those together” in a way. And then I believe Tyler had a guitar after we came up with the bass and drums.
TYLER MULDER: Yeah, I was still trying to slap things together all the way to the studio. It wasn’t created for the pandemic, but it came out at the right time.
MATT HENLEY: So they created the music first, which is what we normally do with the band. It’s always the music first, and then I’ll write. It was upbeat, [and] it was a little funky, a little eerie, but the ending part where it gets a little harder, that’s the part that really got me the most. With “Limbo,” the lyrics just came, not to sound corny, out of nowhere. And I started writing it because our band were basically in a state of limbo as well. We weren’t doing too much at the time. We were divided in different states, not doing too much musically. And the first verse is actually about the band. And the second verse is about limbo in general to people—what you might be going through, if you’re stuck in a place, you don’t know where to go, left or right, up or down, you haven’t made a decision. It went into that followed by the hard part where I did a spoken-word type of rapping and screaming, and it hit me to do that. So, that was fun.
Your band have been under the radar for so long. What has that been like?
MULDER: You can’t stay in one area. You’ve got to venture out and expose yourself to more of an audience. We started in Tampa, Florida, and it molded us. You’ve gotta find different ways to put yourself out there, whether it’s social media [or] playing shows. If we get an opportunity to play in Cali, we have to pack up and go. It could be a missed opportunity if you don’t do it. In a way, we pushed it ourselves. When we go to shows, it’s like, “OK, we have to shine in this show, no matter what, perform great and put our names out there.”
Before the pandemic happened, we were really grinding our teeth playing shows and trying to make things happen with the band, and a lot of doors opened for us, but we never really got to sit at the table and eat. And [with] the pandemic, it was like, “Maybe this is a blessing in disguise” because it gave us time to get our energy right as a band and figure things out. We’ve been under the radar for so long, and that takes a toll after a while.
HENLEY: It’s tough. Most of us artists don’t have the most money and work jobs that we don’t like most of the time, but they give us time off for touring and stuff like that. But there’s a lot of dope bands in Florida, period. It’s just a lot of them don’t take that chance. I figured out how to book shows and put together tours myself. And also, I fell under the wings of some promoters in Tampa, and they molded me as well to get that together. Our live shows are where we’re our strongest. People, even if they don’t like the music or that genre, will be like, “OK, this band have a dope stage presence. They can play their instruments.” [Laughs.]
BRYANT HARP: It’s all about community. We had our album release for our sophomore album, Riptide, and the whole town came out to support us, friends, family. People who haven’t seen us one time absolutely loved us. They’re just always there. We have friends that we made from day one that we’re still friends with. I’ll walk anywhere in Tampa, and I’ll have people asking us how Mateo is doing, how’s Jovan doing. You can have 100,000 fans who don’t know exactly who you are come out to shows and enjoy themselves, but you [can] have 1,000 fans that absolutely love you. They know your first name, your last name, you remember the conversation you had with them before or after a show—it’s all about the memories. The entire reason why I got into music in the first place was to be able to express myself and to be able to connect with people, to make people feel great and to feel great myself.
What can fans expect from you next?
LECARO: We do have a new song that’s gonna come out soon. We’re hoping for the summer. It’s gonna be pretty dope. We have new stuff coming out, so we’re excited for that.
HENLEY: It’s completely different from “Limbo.”
FOR FANS OF: The OBGMs, Rebelmatic, Radkey
SONG RECOMMENDATION: “Limbo”
You can read the AP RECS interview with Samurai Shotgun in issue 393 featuring cover stars Architects. The issue is available here.