Breakers opens Savannah Stopover at the Ships of the Sea Museum on Thursday, March 10 // 630pm.
We are in the family home of Breakers lead singer Samford Justice on Isle of Hope, nestled right outside Savannah, Georgia, surrounded by hundreds of records: from the Louvin Brothers’ Satan Is Real, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, to Grandmaster Flash. He is talking with me about the “canon”, or in other words, music that will stand the test of time.
He refers to the greats of rock and roll, Bowie, Lou Reed, Television, and calls them “conduits” and heaps praise on them for being able to share their creations so fluidly with the world. “When you have done your homework,” he says, “you can actually participate in that form of expression.” Justice speaks like someone who has been through a season or two. “Its not about you being special its about that there is so much bigger than you that you can tap into with practice, concentration, and dedication”
Although it seems Justice has had lofty ambitions all along, Breakers was formed in very casual circumstances. Lucas Carpenter had just befriended the newly moved Justice and they were simply sharing demos. Carpenter, a SCAD graduate in the sound design program, heard something stark and unique in the demos.
Justice says: “If it wasn’t for Lucas cajoling me into exploring those first demos further, I don’t think I was in a place to share myself to the world in music. Especially in a new place, again.” Justice had just spent years in the fertile Athens music scene, and wasn’t necessarily burned out but didn’t seem too keen to get back into it so fast after just moving to a new city. But the prospect of a new band did not dissipate; Carson Sanders (drums) and Corey Hines (guitar) were both recruited. The band was nothing more than an “intramural sport,” says Justice: “We were simply exercising.” Eventually they played in front of an audience and there was a crowd that could not be denied. Just eight months later, Breakers was chosen to play in the kickoff show for Savannah Stopover, opening up for Ra Ra Riot.
The band has become much more than just an exercise. The sound that Breakers developed is reminiscent of the dark pop tendencies of the 80s British bands from the Factory Records’ era: Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays. Their pop sensibilities shine through the dark drama their brooding music purveys, with Justice conjuring up melodies like a punk rock debonair, much like Julian Casablancas. “The Strokes were my Guns n Roses,” says Justice.
In middle school, Justice started wearing his dad’s old tattered clothes, liked tighter jeans, worn shirts, and all the making of a vintage Goodwill wardrobe. Flipping through the channels one day, he came across the “Last Nite” video on MTV and what he saw changed Justice forever; “I saw these guys that looked like… me.. on TV. And they weren’t playing by the rules. And it was recorded in VHS. Aesthetically, it was everything I wanted.” Reading up on The Strokes’ interviews, he learned their influences and no longer cared about what current music was coming out any more. The history of rock and roll was large, and Justice knew he was going to have to do his homework in order to speak the language.
The demand is now high locally for Breakers’ material and more Breakers’ shows, but Justice says the band is fine with going out their own pace. “Living in Savannah gives us more time to think, feels less like a magnifying glass,” he remarks. Living in Savannah, outside of the frenetic pace of larger cities, has advantages for the band. “Its beautiful that everyone can make music now, but its also beautiful that it took us 6 months to record 4 songs,” says Justice, as he describes to me the difficulty of recording with all analog instruments, analog drum machines, and classic recording techniques. Tucked away on Isle of Hope away from the hustle of downtown, we look out of the window upon the moonlit creek. Rolling Stones’ “Some Girls” plays on and it’s like a call out of a blue from an old, old friend.