Best known as co-founder and drummer of The Sheepdogs, Sam Corbett created his solo project in 2018 while undergoing cancer treatment. Taking inspiration from this harrowing time and tapping into his skills as a songwriter, lyricist, and musician, NUTANA was born. With an album set for April, the debut single “You Belong” was just released – we caught up with Sam to chat about the new music, what made him want to become a musician, and the coolest show he’s played.
From The Strait: Tell us about the new single, “You Belong”.
Sam Corbett: You Belong is the first single from my new side project, NUTANA. I’ve been in The Sheepdogs for almost 20 years, but this first released song that was written by me, and with me singing the lead vocals. To me, this song is about overcoming the feeling of imposter syndrome, but if someone else had a different interpretation of the lyrics, I think that would be amazing
FTS: What can music fans expect from your upcoming debut album?
Sam Corbett: Musically, it’s in the same universe as The Sheepdogs, very 70s inspired, but it definitely has a softer vibe, maybe a little more singer-songwritery. Lyrically, much of the album deals with my testicular cancer diagnosis in 2018, and the subsequent treatment. At the same time, my wife was pregnant with our first child, so needless to say it was a very intense time period. But at least it gave me something interesting to write about!
FTS: What first made you want to be a musician? Was it a song, an artist, or just an undeniable pull to make music?
Sam Corbett: My Dad has been a professional musician my whole life, so music was something that was always around growing up. But it wasn’t until I was 20 when I first felt like I wanted to play the drums (my main instrument in The Sheepdogs), and that was largely because I was listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin at the time, and I basically thought that John Bonham was the baddest mother fucker of all time. As far as writing my own songs though, that was always something I wanted to do, and I think the cancer diagnosis really lit a fire under me, and made me make it more of a priority in my life.
FTS: What’s one album, artist or band you can’t get enough of right now?
Sam Corbett: I’m a really big Barry Gibb fan: he’s actually written 16 number one songs, which is second only to Paul McCartney. In the early 80s he started producing some albums for other artists, like Barbara Streisand and Kenny Rogers. Nearly all of the songs on those albums are written by him and his brothers, so it’s a really good way to hear some more music by one of the best who ever did it. The one on my record player right now is a Dionne Warwick album he produced, and I just keep flipping it back and forth from Side A to Side B
FTS: What is your favourite – and least favourite thing about being a musician?
Sam Corbett: My favorite part is the creation process, either writing songs, learning new songs, or making music in the studio. Coming up with ideas or executing other people’s ideas are both equally fun to me, and it’s just extremely satisfying to walk into the studio in the morning with nothing and leave at night with a song recorded. My least favourite part by a mile is being away from my kids while I’m on the road
FTS: What was the coolest (and/or weirdest) live show you’ve ever played?
Sam Corbett: I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of amazing shows with The Sheepdogs, but one that always stands out is a Liberation Day festival we played in the Netherlands. It was a big outdoor festival with about 50,000 people, and I bet less than 20 people knew who we were. But Liberation Day celebrates the end of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, which Canadian forces had a big part of. So as soon as the announcer told the crowd we were from Canada, we got a huge ovation, and the set turned out to be super fun and memorable
Check out “You Belong”, the new single by NUTANA!