NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–On September 17, punk rocker Sammy Kay played with his band at the Court Tavern on Church Street to kick off a global tour that will last almost 100 days, ending just before Christmas.
The tour will take him across the United States, through Canada, to Germany, Spain, England, France, as well as other countries.
It’s a big season for Sammy Kay—he also has two new records for sale.
One is an LP called Fourth Street Singers, and the other is an EP called Second Chances.
The music is all recorded, and thanks to a successful online crowd-funding campaign, the albums are now moving into production.
Kay used to play in the reggae band Hub City Stompers, but works solo now. At just 24 years old, Kay is already a jack-of-all-trades. On the albums he plays guitar, bass, piano, organ, and is the lead vocalist.
Both new albums are solo albums, although Kay recorded them with help from friends such as Mike Corvasce and Pete Steinkopf, a guitarist for the punk-rock band The Bouncing Souls, which got their start in New Brunswick back in 1988.
“We got to work with Pete!” said Kay, more than a little enthusiastic about this—he’s listened to The Bouncing Souls since he was ten.
“It was such an opportunity to work with this man whose records got me through rough times.”
Kay is a native of New Brunswick, though he has also spent several years in New York and Los Angeles, where he lived until just a year ago.
Fourth Street Singers is his second full-length album, but he has released several EP’s.
All the music he has ever produced has come out in vinyl, and Fourth Street Singers and Second Chances are not exceptions to the rule.
“It’s like a hip thing that cool kids have,” Kay told New Brunswick Today. “It’s cool that you can go into Target now and they have vinyls of Taylor Swift and the Lumineers.”
Kay’s music, especially Fourth Street Singers, is inspired by the sounds of New Jersey.
“It has a certain sound, a pretty, blue-eyed rock-and-roll, a pretty, blue-eyed soul ingrained here. I wanted to make a record that was what I like to listen to, part-influenced by skaa and reggae.”
Kay went through many difficulties before his return to New Brunswick, including two of rock music’s most challenging yet inspiring struggles: heartbreak and alcoholism.
“I spent my whole life living out the rock-and-roll stereotype, but I’ve quit drinking and cleaned up my act, and coming back to New Jersey is the reason why. That’s actually the underlying tone of the EP: second chances.”
Because he cancelled two tours earlier in the year, this will be his first time on the road since his recovery. He has been touring on-and-off for almost nine years.
The night before speaking to New Brunswick Today, Kay played a show in Rhode Island.
It made his voice go hoarse during the interview, but it also helped him achieve a rock star’s dream: to stand back from the microphone and listen to the audience sing his own words back to him.
“It was a great feeling. But all I really want is for some kid who’s hurting to find my album, and for it to be the sound they need to help them recover. A lot of people are hurting, suffering, but there is help and there will always be help.”
Kay's crowd-funding campaign for the new albums had only 10 days left when he spoke with NBToday, but the campaign has now concluded, exceeding the goal of $6,500 by more than $2,000.
“Everybody on the record is so excited by how it came out.”
To reward his fans for surpassing the fundraising goal, Kay is going to print his new records not only on vinyl and compact disc, but also as a Flexi-CD, which are vinyl records printed on paper or plastic.
He plans to print Fourth Street Singers as a postcard, so that buyers can mail the record to somebody, and the recipient can then put the postcard on a turntable and play Kay's music from it.
The last time Kay used crowd-funding to release an album, he raised $3,500 in 45 days. This time, he raised $3,500 within the first two days of the fundraiser.
“All the support is amazing,” he said. “I’m just a kid from New Brunswick.”