Interview with Sam Holt from Outformation


Interview by Scott Preston

With the national release of the Tennessee Before Daylight album under their belt and years of consistent national touring and collective song writing, Outformation entered the recording studio in early 2007 to record their second album, Traveler’s Rest.

For Outformation, recording Traveler’s Rest was a collective song writing process among band members and other musical influences. The title track, “Traveler’s Rest” was a large collaboration between Widespread Panic and Outformation. In addition, Mickey Raphael, from Willie Nelson’s Family Band, plays harmonica on the track “Winds”. “We’re really excited to have him on the album, his tone is unbelievable” said Sam Holt.

The album is composed of an array of songs old and new. For instance, the song “Anymore” had never been played live at the time of the album recording, “Carnac” had only been played once, and “Toy’s Song” had been around since the start of the band.

Outformation has appeared at Bonnaroo, SXSW, Hi Sierra Music Festival, Magnoliafest, and Wakarusa. In , 2007 following the release of Traveler’s Rest, Outformation opened for Widespread Panic, Shooter Jennings, and Umphrey’s McGee. These days Outformation finds themselves more mature and focused on their music. With a growing national fan base and consistent touring schedule, Outformation is ready to explore a new and exciting musical territory, which they find in Traveler’s Rest.

Cincy Groove: How long has Outformation been together?

Sam Holt: I guess we started calling ourselves Outformation in 2003. Starting out it was just myself, Grady (bass player) and Lee (drummer). We were just messing around playing shows in Atlanta. Then in 2005 we added a couple guys CR on keys and Jeff BirdDog on percussion.

Cincy Groove: How long did you work for Widespread Panic?

Sam Holt: I worked for Widespread Panic for about 7 years, my last gig with them was New Years Eve show in 2006. Since then its been strictly Outformation for me.

Cincy Groove: What did you do for a living before working with Widespread Panic?

Sam Holt: I was playing in a couple bands while I was going to school for audio engineering. Thats what I wanted to do was to be an audio engineer.

Cincy Groove: Who are some of your musical influences?

Sam Holt: I would say Toy Caldwell, he was the guitar player and main songwriter for The Marshall Tucker Band. He is no longer with us unfortunately, he is a great great talent. He played with his thumb not a pick so I kind of adopted that style also. Another influence was Mike Houser, who was the original guitar player for Widespread Panic. Frank Zappa although I can’t play like him. I just love Frank’s music and his attitude, his songwriting, composing. Willie Nelson, I love the way he plays, I try to pick up a little of what he is doing.

Cincy Groove: Did Outformation collaborate with anybody on “Travelers Rest”?

Sam Holt: The title track Travelers Rest was a collaboration between us and Jojo the keyboard player from Widespread Panic. That song came about from this riff that Jojo kept playing the the piano. I kept hearing it and I adopted it to the guitar and added another part. Outformation recorded the album in Nashville and Jojo lives close to where we were recording so I called him up and he came over and we hammered that song out. All the rest of the songs are all original Outformation sings.

Cincy Groove: Does Outformation have any new projects in the works?

Sam Holt: We are touring pretty hard right now, but we do have a dvd coming out in a couple months and will probably head back into the studio near the end of the year.

Cincy Groove: What do you do when your not on the road?

Sam Holt: I give a few guitar lessons and just try to make ends meet. I play a few gigs with a couple other bands. I like to play tennis as well.

Cincy Groove: Whats your favorite venue to play in?

Sam Holt: We just played the Sheridan Opera House in Telluride, CO. It had a very intimate feel to it, so that is my favorite that we played recently. The Granada Theater in Dallas, Texas is another great venue. We also played the High Sierra Music Festival in northern California which was beautiful.

Cincy Groove: How many shows does Outformation play in a year?

Sam Holt: I think last year we did 135. We will probably do around 150 this year. We are definitely hitting it hard, but thats what you have to do in this scene.

Cincy Groove: I’m glad Outformation is playing spring hookahville this year.

Sam Holt: I’m excited. I have been there once when John Bell played there in 2001 and had a great time. We are really looking forward to the show.

Cincy Groove: What do you think about the Setformation website?

Sam Holt: A couple fans started that and they are way into it. Its really to the point where I can’t even look at it theres so many stats (laughing). But I think its great they are so dedicated. It really blows me away sometimes.

Cincy Groove: Have you had the chance to perform with any of your idols?

Sam Holt: I played with Widespread Panic several times in the summer of 2006 and by the end of tour I was out there every night. I have sat in with Gov’t Mule and Jerry Joseph which was incredible. John Bell and I have done some touring together.

Outformation is:
Sam Holt – Guitar and Vocals
Grady Upchurch – Bass & Vocals
Lee Schwartz – Drums & Vocals
C.R. Gruver – Keyborads & Vocals
Jeff “Birddog” Lane – Percussion

Upcoming Outformation tour dates:
For complete show details visit Outformation’s website –
03/17/2008 Snowmass Village Snowmass, CO
03/19/2008 Crosstown Station Kansas City, MO
03/20/2008 Lucas School House St. Louis, MO
03/21/2008 George’s Majestic Fayetteville, AR
03/22/2008 Newby’s Memphis, TN
04/10/2008 The Dame Lexington, KY
04/11/2008 House of Blues Back Porch Chicago, IL
04/25/2008 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, NC
05/02/2008 Howlin’ Wolf New Orleans, LA
05/23/2008 AM JAM Deerfields, NC
05/25/2008 Hookahville Thornville, OH
06/20/2008 Windjammer Isle of Palms, SC
06/21/2008 Windjammer Isle of Palms, SC
07/12/2008 Allgood Festival Masontown, WV