Fluffy Lumbers is Samuel Franklin, a native of New Jersey and a current Sarah Lawrence student. While Fluffy Lumbers is Franklin’s main gig, he also plays in multiple other Underwater Peoples bands. He is a cinema freak, a funny guy, a drummer before a guitarist and a lover of free coke. (a-cola).
Fluffy Lumbers is releasing its debut 12″ on Underwater Peoples in the not too distant future and is playing at Sarah Lawrence on Wednesday (with Pants Yell!), the Cake Shop on Nov. 21 and Bruar Falls on Dec. 5. The album is being recorded in his parents basement over Thanksgiving vacation and features mostly all new tracks. Franklin says “the cover, back cover and all inserts will be 3-D interactive holograms.” WOAH.
Read on if you’re interested in hilarity. Franklin talks bandmates, New Jersey, music categorization and much more.
What is a Fluffy Lumber?
Reactions to the name have ranged from “yeah” to “that’s the worst band name I’ve ever heard.” Frankly, I probably could have done a lot worse. Thinking about it, a lot of my favorite bands have what could be considered “bad” band names but I guess band names have never really mattered much to me. I realized at the onset that I probably wouldn’t be able to come up with a name of Guided By Voices or The Rolling Stones caliber so I just tried to choose something that sounded vaguely comforting and pleasant. Some people seem to think it’s referencing a fictional wholesale wood distributor, that’s fine. Someone made a joke once on a message board that it’s a synonym for flaccidity, that’s fine too. “Were you high?” No, I wasn’t high. It’s really just a name. Recent misspellings include: Fuzzy Lumbers, Fluffy Lumber, The Fluff Lumbers and Rob Bip & The Pacers.
When did you form this band? Tell me about the members?
In the fall of 2007 I began working towards a BFA at the School Of The Museum Of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts but due to an allergic reaction to something (maybe just some sort of late summer/fall seasonal thing?) the skin around my eyes became swollen and my eyes themselves were usually inflamed and watering. Looking this way, I rarely wanted to leave the single I had in the dorms except to attend class so I found that the best way to spend my time other than doing homework and going to the movies by myself was to record songs with my Casio keyboard and some guitar pedals. I sent these songs to a few friends and they were into it so I kept recording and, after learning the most basic basics of the guitar I received that Christmas, started playing shows by myself when I was invited. I decided from the get-go that the recordings would consist of only myself mostly because I find recording with other people to be very stressful but this summer and fall I asked some of my best friends to back me up at shows and they obliged. Luka Usmiani (bass), Ian Drennan (guitar), Ian Dykstra (drums), Alexander Steinberg (guitar), Alex Craig (guitar), Sebastian Castillo (guitar) have all played in various incarnations of the live band since June.
How is it playing drums in your own band?
People seem to like it but I would rather play guitar. My worry is that people will start calling the music ‘No Age-esque’ or something along those lines because all it took was a song about a COPS episode for people to start calling my music “beach,” “summer” and “surf.” The beach is fun sometimes but I don’t really feel strongly either way about it, summer’s cool and everything but I prefer fall and winter, and surf….what? I never really got that one. Drums were my first instrument so one could argue that the live show is tighter when I play drums and can’t make mistakes on the guitar but playing guitar is just more fun for me at this point.
You started playing guitar and someone else was the drummer right? What happened?
My friend Ian drummed for me this summer but goes to college in Pennsylvania so it would be hard for him to come and play shows in New York all the time. When I played a few CMJ shows this year I drummed for myself since those shows were generally to larger audiences but recently I’ve started playing by myself again. That’s been a lot of fun.
You go to Sarah Lawrence, what’s that like? What do you study? What’s your favorite class?
It’s nice so far. I was lucky and got into all the courses I signed up for. There’s actually a short screenplay due tomorrow that I still have to start. That class is fun. I don’t know if I necessarily have a favorite. My area of study kind of revolves around film studies, creative writing and literature. They don’t have majors here. It’s aLtErNaTiVe.
Do you hang in the city and in Jersey more than at college?
I only have three or four close friends at Sarah Lawrence, all of which I had already known. I haven’t been in New Jersey very much other than to see my family and pick things up from home. Most weekends have been spent in the city since the semester started so I haven’t really had much time to meet new people. When I am on campus 99% of my time is spent in class. The other 1% is spent eating these great personal pizzas that they sell at one of the dining halls. And then you tell the cashier you’re getting the free water at the fountain soda machine and actually get Coke.
How old are you? Your other Underwater People’s friends are a bit older right? How did you fall in with them?
As I write this I am 20 years old. Oh, this cursed year. Not a teenager anymore but still can’t legally drink. Most of the people involved in Underwater Peoples are a bit older, or at least out of school. The vast majority of the people and bands that have anything to do with the label attended either Ridgewood High School, Glen Rock High School, or at the very least grew up in New Jersey so I was friendly with many of them before the label got started. But excepting those people who were already very close friends of mine (James of Frat Dad, Ian of Big Troubles and Liam), my invitation to join this collective brought me exponentially closer to all people and bands involved. The whole thing’s real buddy-buddy and everyone has nothing but respect and admiration for each other. It’s like a family.
What’s your approach to songwriting?
I don’t really have a formula for songwriting. All the songs are written differently. For example, the night I tried putting my guitar in drop d for the first time I found myself playing a funny, vaguely metal sounding riff. I wrote the lyrics about a television show I watched a few years ago and named the song after an episode of that show (“Night Moves”) and then built a song around it. “Night Moves” is also one of my favorite Gene Hackman movies. Everyone should check that out!
What’s your favorite movie?
Having just mentioned Gene Hackman, “The Conversation” is definitely up there. It’s the movie Coppola made in between “Godfather” 1 & 2. This is a really tough question. “The Tenant,” “Stardust Memories,” “Barry Lyndon” are all up there. Those are all pretty well known though so what’s interesting about that? There’s a great Soviet WWII movie called “Come & See” that’s really stayed with me. That one’s definitely not for everyone though. Oh! In the early 70s Alan Arkin directed an adaptation of a play by a cartoonist (whose name I’m blanking on) called “Little Murders” that was absolutely great. Elliott Gould’s in it. So is Donald Sutherland. Very funny, very dark. Definitely worth looking for. Speaking of Donald Sutherland, my favorite thriller is probably Philip Kaufman’s remake of “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.” “Umberto D.” is also up there (not a thriller, just one of my favorite films). I have a fifteen page paper due at the start of next month and my chosen topic is popular horror movie franchises and why they continue to be relevant so I’ll be watching all of the “Nightmare On Elm Street”, “Friday The 13th” and “Halloween” films. “Saw” too. Maybe I’ll learn to love one of the sequels I haven’t seen. Not that it’s necessarily perfect by any means, but I don’t know why “Strange Wilderness” hasn’t developed a huge cult following. I think it was the worst reviewed movie of 2008 or something but my friend James and I loved it. The plot’s paper thin, as are the characters, Jonah Hill’s accent changes in every scene and the movie ends with a blooper. Plus, Steve Zahn. Very funny. As far as comedies go, “The Party” may be the funniest movie I’ve ever seen.
What’s your favorite food?
Before I transferred to Sarah Lawrence, I lived off-campus during my second year at SMFA. The city I lived in was named Allston and it’s located right next to Cambridge, Mass. There was a Mexican restaurant there called Burritos On Fire. Their chicken quesadillas looked like burritos. It was unbelievable. That was my favorite food. In the winter the windows would fog up and you couldn’t see inside. It was pretty crushing when they went out of business. Most people thought it was the worst mexican food in the area. Those people were crazy. After they closed my friend Ian and I would eat many meals at Panera. Sometimes we’d be there twice in the same day. Times were dark. There’s a pizza parlor in Glen Rock, New Jersey called John’s Boy that means a lot to me. Also, White Manna in Hackensack, NJ.
What are you most excited about in the world?
Graduating college will be nice.
When did you start playing music?
In 6th or 7th grade my friend James started playing guitar and I started playing drums. We recorded one song under the name Micifuz on a Playskool tape recorder. The song was also named “Micifuz”. The song was more or less about posers (poseurs?) at our school.
What’s your favorite band to play in? (Can you even pick?)
Big Troubles. I only play with them live, they use drum machines on the recordings. Since they’re not my songs the whole thing is very low stress. That’s a lot of fun. Drumming for Bleeker (Alex Bleeker) is also fun. Frat Dad seriously varies but recently it’s been more fun than it used to be.
What is different about each band- F.L., Alex Bleeker, Frat Dad… Do you need a different type of energy for each?
Two of the bands are pop bands (Fluffy Lumbers and Frat Dad), one of them is a jam band (Alex Bleeker & The Freaks) and one is a shoegaze/dream pop band (Big Troubles). For the record, I am not the official drummer of The Freaks. Matt Mondanile plays on the record and has played more shows than I have but I fill in whenever he is not around to play or fills in for current shredder, Alexander Steinberg, on guitar. A different type of energy? No, it’s not really that complicated. I just drum hard and loud in all of the bands but The Freaks. That was a weird last question.
Fluffy Lumbers: Harry Dolland’s