Kellen Coffis – Alright, we’re with Sam Kellerman, the drummer and the newest member of The Coffis Brothers & the Mountain Men. Say hi to the people, Sam. How’s it going?
Sam Kellerman – Happy to be here. Looking forward to talking shop.
KC- Sam, this is your first chance to talk to the fans of the Coffis Brothers. Talk to the people. Tell us a little about yourself. We know you’re a drummer but what other hobbies do you have?
SK- Well, my Uncle lives right by Seascape/Manresa so every Saturday morning I have free I go surfing with him. That and playing basketball occasionally is the only recreational activities I can find time for. The best days to me are those spent grilling and chilling with friends. I go through periods where I read a lot and then don’t read at all. I’m not a big Netflix guy so I can almost guarantee I’ll have no idea what show you are talking about.
KC- But you watched Stranger Things, right? You did, didn’t you? Alright, let’s talk shop. Where’d you grow up and can you tell us what you’ve been up to for, oh how about the last 27 years?
SK- I’m born & raised in Aptos. The best part of Santa Cruz County really. (Editors note: the opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily reflect those of the Coffis Brothers) I had a charmed childhood. I was always super happy. Sports and music were always of interest. Then I switched to music. When soccer tournaments switched to playing bars until 2am, it all went super fucking downhill.
KC- So there’s a lot to untangle here. Let’s start with the sports. I’ve heard these Coffis boys are quite the athletes. You ever cross paths with them on the soccer fields or were the Ben Lomond leagues in which they played in, far superior to the Aptos leagues?
SK- Well, oddly enough I had to audition for a soccer team Kyle & Kellen were on. The Santa Cruz Breakers who were really an under-14 or under-15 dream team. I remember in High-School Soccer I always looked forward to the days we’d play Kyle and Kellen who played for SLV. That team was especially soft. (Editor’s note again: during the 2006-2007 soccer season SLV beat Aptos 2-0 and 3-1. Kyle and Kellen each scored goals.)
KC- Wow that’s really interesting. So you met Kyle and Kellen first on the soccer field. I would assume you all started playing music together shortly thereafter, right?
SK- I didn’t even play drums at the time. Or if I did, I just started. All I can say is I knew Kellen and a few guys on the team had guitars but I don’t remember seeing anybody play.
KC- So let’s cut right to it. How did you join this band? And maybe a better question is why did you join this band?
SK- I moved back up here after some time in LA. I let my long-time mentor and fantastic drummer, Zach Olsen, know that I was back in town. After a month or two, Zach mentioned he passed my number on to the Coffis Brothers.
KC- You’re just another example of the age old tale of a musician making the long journey from LA to Aptos to pursue his dream of playing rock and roll. What were you doing in LA?
SK- Exactly! Well on and off for five of the last seven years I’ve lived in LA. The first stint was in order to attend USC. Fight On! The second stint was to work for a liquor license brokerage and sort of play drums. When I moved back I was playing pick-up gigs with bizarre country bar bands in the East Bay and a cover band playing the food festival circuit in San Francisco.
KC- So you’re back in Santa Cruz and the Coffis Brothers call you up. What were you thinking at that point?
SK- I was excited to reconnect with Kyle and Kellen and I was just looking forward to playing some music. I honestly didn’t know what the details were so I just treated it with little expectations. The moment it clicked for me was actually seeing it all live at the Redwood Mountain Faire and at Moe’s Alley.
KC- Little expectations is probably good when talking about the Coffis Brothers. Can you tell us a little bit about the behind the scenes in joining the band? Did they put you through a highly intense audition process that tested both your musical ability as well as your social aptitude?
SK- Yeah, the Coffis Brothers have/had a talented way of not only keeping me in the dark as far as my status went, but also keeping one another in the dark. But we went on a four day run down south that not only tested my ability to play two hours of material, but also tested my willingness to play after being sleep-deprived and hungover.
KC- How were those first shows you played with the Coffis Brothers?
SK- I remember having a lot of fun and introducing them to some of my favorite phrases, none of which I can repeat here.
KC- Thank you for not. Has it been tough to jump into a fully formed band as the new guy? Has it been difficult to fill Henry Chadwick’s shoes? And I mean that in a more literal than figurative way as he has huge feet. So tell us what that has been like? Also, what size shoe are you?
SK- Yeah, that’s been the only bummer. There’s no way to improve on something that feels and sounds great. I’ve listened to a shit-ton of Henry’s drumming and it’s excellent. I’m a fan so I knew I had to have one foot in learning the tunes properly but also have one foot in my zone. There is no improving on it but with my influences I can make it different.
KC- But things must be going pretty good, right? It looks like you’ve already played upwards of 30 shows.
SK- Yeah, I’m super lucky and I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun on a bandstand consistently.
KC- Any shows in particular that stand out to you?
SK- Opening for the California Honeydrops at the Catalyst was a pretty wild experience. I had never played drums on the main stage. I played percussion with my brother’s band, The Skaflaws, but never got on the grown-up traps until then.
KC- Alright, so we’ve learned a lot about Sam but can we get some dirt on the Coffis Brothers?
SK- Here we go haha
KC- You’ve spent a lot of time on the road with these boys. Who’s the best and worst driver?
SK- Am I excluded? I have dreams where I die when Aidan is behind the wheel. But I’m the best driver. Kellen is second, then a three-way tied for third.
KC- Loudest in the van
SK- Well, we are a dynamic group so this is tough. We all get chatty and we all get sleepy so I would say the only time the van gets to a loud decibel level is when Aidan and Jamie get on one another.
KC- First person to end up with a drink in their hand at a show
SK- Jamie. He’s also the first to make friends at the bar with the locals.
KC- Last person to wake up in the morning
SK- Tie between Aidan and Kyle.
KC- Most likely to be a diva during soundcheck
SK- Kyle. Not because he is a diva but because the sound man consistently goes over to have a chat about his guitars.
KC- Great. This is sure to cause a few arguments in the band so I think our job here is done. Thanks for joining us. Anything else you’d like to tell the people?
SK- Thanks. I’m glad to be the newest Mountain Man and I hope everyone will introduce themselves on January 6th at Moe’s Alley. I especially hope everyone’s New Year’s Resolution is to really shake it in front of the band.