Following in the footsteps of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and the classic groups before her, the Suffers represent the latest generation working in the tradition of soul music.
The Houston based ten-piece band is making its first visit to the West Coast this winter, stopping in San Francisco on February 22 to play the cozy Amnesia bar in the Mission.
We spoke with singer Kam Franklin about the challenges of touring with nine other people and the band’s debut EP Make Some Room.
How does it work touring with so many people? Physically, how are you guys going to get around together?
(laughs) We will be purchasing a 15-passenger van in the next few days. We already have a trailer, but yeah it is going to be tight compared to your four- to six-person band. Most of us have been in larger acts and ska bands for a really long time, so it’s nothing that really worries us.
It’s more that we actually get to places on time with having to have pee breaks and people needing to stand up for awhile. We’ve never been concerned with the number because there is so much love between us all. We can worry about this or stay home or we can make it work and go see the world together.
It is amazing that such a large amount of people can get along with one another. It must be a unique experience to be in a group where you feel confident and like everyone has your back.
Yeah, it’s really bizarre. I never really thought I would end up in another family but that is pretty much what has happened. From when amazing things happen to when tragedies happen, it happens to all of us. When one person is going through something, we all know about it and try to support them in whatever way we can.
Your lyrics in “Make Some Room” are ” I know how to love and I know who I am….”. Being the only woman in a 10-person band, do you have to have a strong sense of self-awareness to be able to feel very comfortable? Does the comfort come from within or is your band externally mindful of being respectful and supportive of you?
I think it comes from both. I was lucky enough to grow up in an environment where I knew that I was a woman and I could do anything. I am strong and powerful. As long as I educate myself and carry myself in a way where I can respect myself, I can accomplish anything.
As for being the only woman in the band, I am surrounded by nine incredibly respectful, loving men that not only support me and what I do but they really trust me. They listen to me and I’ve never really felt like “the only woman.” I do have my days when once in a while I wished there were more women around to talk to, but 95 percent of the time, it’s not something that really crosses my mind.
You sound like a very lucky woman.
I am very blessed. I feel like that girl who just brags, “Yes, I met this man and he’s just perfect, handsome and tall!” I feel like that when I talk about my band. I have been in so many musical situations where they weren’t the best for me, I feel like this is the one frog that has turned into a prince. But instead of one prince, there are nine of them.
The Suffers perform at Amnesia on February 22. The show starts at 8pm and admission is $10.