Art Is Never Finished: An Interview with Sam Tinnesz

by - February 21, 2023

Photo courtesy of The Dwyers

Sam Tinnesz found himself, like many others, using the last few years as motivation to ask the question: what am I doing with my life?

He still finds it difficult to consider himself a professional musician, but he can admit that he has had some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to write and perform alongside legendary artists. So why has he not made the type of record that he has always wanted to make?

It started with the discovery of singer, record producer and comedian Oliver Tree. Tinnesz was mesmerized by the punk rock guitars and outlandish lyrics, and inspired by the recognition it was receiving.

“Everybody was doing the blink-182 thing,” he said. “Nobody was doing the Weezer thing; nobody’s doing the Everclear, Nirvana, Wheatus… that’s what I grew up listening to. I started just seeing if I could write stuff like that but with a modern, fresh spin on it.”

A song or two became an EP, and ultimately an LP. Titled There Goes The Neighborhood, the 14-track album is set to release February 24.

For the first time, it felt like Tinnesz was making an album for himself. He found himself reflecting on past relationships, touring and being away from family. A lot of previously ignored emotions came to the surface, and diving into them brought forth an album of resolutions.

“I’ve been making music that’s very cinematic,” he said. “I’ve been [putting forth] all these different faces, but this was the first that I felt like I was really leaning into my natural thing.”

His public and personal personas are vastly different. By embracing more of his personal persona, Tinnesz let go of that less touchable, more distant vibe to share his true self with listeners.

“With this record, trying to be my full self and not censoring myself and not thinking of music in terms of ‘how is this usable’, just making the music was really the most challenging,” he said. “Getting myself to be as authentic as possible, as real as possible, writing about things that I actually feel but also if somebody was hanging out with me, what would the music sound like? What would my music sound like as a person?”

He had so many questions going into the creation process of this album. It gave him the freedom to really think about those questions before answering them. There came a point, however, where he had to wrap up the creation process and prepare to share it with the world.

“I’m never satisfied with what’s there,” he said. “The whole idea of ‘art is never finished, it’s just abandoned’ is more where I stand.”

What he refused to abandon was the idea of collaborating as much as possible. He has spent a great deal of his career playing in bands, and finding collaborators gave him a bit of that band feel again. Bryce Fox, who is featured on “Loser”, wrote the song with Tinnesz, while Chris Carrabbba of Dashboard Confessional wrote and sang on “Bittersweet” as well as appeared in the music video. After writing the song “Spaced Out”, which included lyrics as a nod to The All-American Rejects, Tinnesz was able to snag the band’s guitarist, Nick Wheeler, to accompany the piece.

“I keep meeting these guys that are in really awesome positions but are so open to work together,” Tinnesz said. “I knew at that moment when they were open to being a part of it that maybe I had something special that was happening. Doing this rock record has felt like a magnet that’s pulled all of my favorite acts growing up into my orbit and it’s just been a dream.”

Creating There Goes The Neighborhood brought Sam Tinnesz back to his roots. He let himself question anything and everything, and finding those answers is what makes this album so meaningful.

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