Sam Llanas Takes a Stand Against Bullying While Launching a Solo Career
Former frontman of Wisconsin-born rock band, The BoDeans, Sam Llanas is looking at his career in a new light. Fresh off the November 2014 release of his solo album, The Whole Night Thru, he’s moving forward on his own.
“I look at it as my first record in a way,” he says of the latest disc. “It’s really the first I’ve made since I’ve been on my own. It’s a good representation of what I can do.”
Sam Llanas left the BoDeans in 2011 after being with the band since it began in 1983. The change has been a challenge and a blessing for the singer-songwriter and guitarist.
“On one hand, I have a lot more freedom,” he says. “On the other—it’s a lot more work. You make all the decisions. Everyone is looking to you.”
Llanas has kept himself occupied with a variety of projects. In addition to the new album, he’s been getting more active in anti-bullying outreach programs and has had his music featured in the play A Day for Grace.
The play, tells the true story of playwright Doug Vincent’s experiences with alcoholism, bullying, drug addition, mental illness, and the suicide of his father. It is similar to stories told on Llanas’s 1998 album with Absinthe, A Good Day to Die. The record directly addresses Sam Llanas’s experiences with suicide within his family.
“Vincent found us and asked if we’d be willing to let him use some of my music for the play,” Llanas explains. “He sent a script and when we read it, it was just amazing and almost weird the way his script really mirrored the record I’d made almost 15 years before. And he was totally unaware of that record.”
The two have performed the play throughout the US and are looking for further backing to bring it to more cities. Llanas has visited several schools to discuss bullying and shares his song, “Bully on the Corner,” which directly talks about his childhood and personal experiences.
“I got beat up every day after school,” he says. “I know what it’s like to live in that fear. I can shed some light on the subject and let them know that they’re not alone.”
“We try to get some dialogue going,” he says. “It’s remarkable when you put yourself in their shoes, when you show you were just as nervous, they’ll open up and speak up. It’s about time we talk about it.”
Sam Llanas continues to perform with his new band, featured on the latest album, and hopes to find renewed success as a solo artist.
“My advice to aspiring players is: make sure you’re doing it because you can’t not do it,” he says. “The odds of making money at it [music] are a zillion to one. Be in it for the right reasons. Don’t worry what anybody else says; do what’s in your heart. Do what you do. Your voice is the strongest thing you can have as an artist. A young girl trying to be Taylor Swift will never be Taylor Swift because she can’t be. Be yourself. My voice is so unusual—I didn’t have a choice. Accept it or go home.”
Check out his website and listen to the full album below!