Underground-rock pioneers Death of Samantha will release their first new studio album in 24 years on February 11, 2014 via their revived St. Valentine Records label. If Memory Serves Us Well is a18-song double-album of repertoire spanning their career from their first 45RPM release onwards. The album was recorded live in the studio, the night before the reformed band played Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, on December 23, 2011 with all the members of their original line-up on deck: Doug Gillard, guitar-vocals; David James, bass-vocals; John Petkovic, vocals-guitar-clarinet; Steve-o, drums.
These days the 1980s Indie/“College-rock” scene is often portrayed primarily as the crucible in which Nirvana was conceived, nurtured and finally outgrew as they heralded the much more commercially successful “Alternative Rock” era. But in truth, the 80’s underground boasted a wealth of innovative, diverse and dynamic bands. While Death of Samantha played with Nirvana — and other notable groups of that epoch — the Cleveland quartet charted its own, intensely unique course in the American indie movement.
“There were precious few combos birthed in the ’80s to whom THE SHOW was the thing. Paramount amongst this anti-hip elite was Cleveland’s own Death of Samantha,” wrote noted critic Byron Coley.
The band’s iconoclastic approach inspired, among others, Robert Pollard, of Guided by Voice, who contributes liner notes to If Memory Serves Us Well, along with Thurston Moore and Mark Lanegan.
Pollard writes: “I got into their sense of humor, the snippets, samples, titles and album covers. The fact that they had put out all their albums on Homestead. The way they dressed. Their employment of television and movie culture. The whole package. Plus, they flat out could write songs and play.”
From 1983 to 1990, Death of Samantha — Doug Gillard, guitar-vocals; David James, bass-vocals; John Petkovic, vocals-guitar-clarinet; Steve-o, drums — released three acclaimed albums and an EP on Homestead Records, a NY-based imprint that pioneered the indie-rock sound. Death of Samantha formed as a high school band, with its members ranging from 15 to 19 years old.
DOS enjoyed one of rock’s most bizarre debuts ever — playing on chicken-wing night at a family restaurant called the Ground Round. The show led to a mini riot and the firing of Petkovic, who was working as a janitor there at the time. DOS was renowned for a wild stage show — which featured weird props and Steve-o popping out of coffins.
DOS toured and performed with bands such as the Replacements, Sonic Youth, Gun Club and Iggy Pop. The Smashing Pumpkins opened for them. The band broke up in 1990, with members going on to play in a number of bands: Cobra Verde, Gem, Guided by Voices, Sweet Apple and Nada Surf.
In 2014, the band plans to re-issue its back catalog and re-enter the studio to record an album of new material.