Sam Quartin of the Bobby Lees talks the band's new album, Little Richard, and schizophrenia
by Interviews

The Bobby Lees just released a new album! It's called Bellevue and it's all about guitarist/singer Sam Quartin having a nine month long mental breakdown! It's heavy duty stuff but.. it also ROCKS. While Quartin does look into the heavier side of things, there is kicking riff after kicking riff! What do you do when an album is about literally losing your mind but it's a really fun listen?! Read on below to find out!

Tell us about seeing Little Richard live! What was it like and what was the importance of that show on your life? I was a little kid, but I remember being blown away by his energy. Like he was a rocket ship I wanted to get on. I remember his electric beam eyes, and I remember he reminded me of my grandmother cause they both wore a lot of face makeup. I had never seen someone give that much - I think it must have had an effect on me. I pray before we go on stage, and his name usually comes up “in the name of…Little Richard, I pray for the courage needed to give that kind of energy away."

You've stated that the album is influenced by the most painful things you have gone through, because those have resulted in some creative accomplishments. What's a painful or difficult event that you went through that influenced this album? I had a mental breakdown that lasted nine months. It was definitely the scariest thing I’ve been through, but now that years have passed, it's kind of fun to look back on and draw from it for creative stuff. Some of the things now don’t feel psychotic, they feel more like an extreme spiritual awakening, but I had a really bad drinking problem at the time it happened. Once I got sober, the voices and hallucinations stopped so I haven’t picked up a drink since then. Getting sober was also hard but has been very worth it so far.

What influenced your guitar technique? Did you study other musicians or just develop your own thing? I don’t think I have a technique, ha. I can only play on the E string and I only know basic chords, so I guess those limitations create the blueprint for our songs. I learned a Bo Diddley song on guitar that was 2 chords and that’s when I started writing music for the band.

Is 'Bellevue' a reference to the famous mental hospital? Yeah, I lived near there when I had my 9 month episode or whatever you wanna call it. I thought I was communicating with the people in there telepathically, haha. My mom had picked out a long term mental institution to send me to that was outside of NY, but I stopped drinking and got better quickly and never got sent there.

In another interview, I was recently told it means BEAUTIFUL VIEW in French. Which is nice!

Who is the monkey in monkey mind and what is its deal? It’s just my brain.

"Be My Enemy" has the line "won't you be my enemy, I'll be your enemy, too!" Is conflict good? I think it’s good to stay true to yourself by any means necessary, and only do what feels right. I think you’re bound to make an enemy or two if you live that way. I definitely have. It took me a while to get the courage and self love to stand by that, and be okay with not everyone liking or understanding me.

You just got back from a big Euro tour! What fun things did you do? Oh man, that one was tough haha. We had some incredible shows -Dublin, Belgium Stock Festival, KLIKO fest. I had the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted in Holland, that was a highlight for me. We rode some rides, we met nice people, and I went on a great bike ride in Holland. I’m like an old lady so my idea of a good time might be different than yours.

In earlier interviews, you said you had schizophrenic episodes. If you don't mind, what is that like and how did it affect your music? (For instance, this issue was central to Nick Blinko's Pope Adrian 37th album). I’ve never done acid, but from what I’ve heard it’s like that? Except it never ends. And I wasn’t on any drugs, it just happened. Some things were very cool, concepts and new ways of thinking, and some parts were a true nightmare. At certain times I thought I was being followed by the government, I thought I was hired to be an assassin, I thought I was communicating with aliens, Jim Morrison, all the 1010 schizo stuff haha…I’m lucky I didn’t accidentally kill myself or someone else. The band started right after that stuff settled down, so I’ve only really written post that, with those experiences swimming around in my mind. I now gravitate towards alternate reality literature. I love the author Murakami, I'm on his 10th book now - started him last year, and I love Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Neil Gaiman etc . I'm open to new suggestions if you have any!

Everyone talks about the fact that you all are from Woodstock, Ny. Has Woodstock affected your sound/art, or is the location arbitrary? I’m not sure! I tried to start a band when I lived in Brooklyn and never could align with the right people, but as soon as I moved to Woodstock, It happened. Maybe the trees have magic powers up here.

You work with Vance Powell on this record- that's Jack White's dude! What was it like working with Vance as a producer? Vance is an all around amazing fella. We’re very lucky we got to work with him. His studio Sputnik Sound has such a good feel, it was the first time I felt at ease in a recording space. We love Vance! And Mike Fahey, his assistant!

Is there anything else that you'd like the readers to know? If there’s anyone who wants to start a band but feel like they suck/don’t know how - I read this book called The Artist Way by Julia Cameron and it changed my life - the band manifested right after I finished, it was pretty incredible. Before that I felt paralyzed with fear and not good enough-ness, it helped me get over myself and just try.

Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing our band and BELLEVUE around! I hope to meet you at a show!