An Interview with Sam “Bam” Koltun of Faster Pussycat & Dorothy

Header image credit: Sam Kolton Facebook (official)

Image credit: Sam Koltun Facebook (official)

If any appreciator or critic of hard rock and heavy metal music are in need of confirmation that the next generation of guitar heroes is upon us, look no further than six-stringer, Sam “Bam” Koltun.

Koltun’s fierce fretwork and grizzled, throwback vibe have proved a perfect fit for an invigorated Faster Pussycat. In addition to those duties, the Les Paul wielding demon troubadour also ably holds down ax duties for new wave of classic rock icon, Dorothy Martin.

For fans who fear that the genre has been left relegated and collecting dust – fear no more – for Koltun, and others of the same mindset are rising forth from the ashes, and granting hard rock music residence amongst the seething masses once again.

I recently set aside some time with Koltun to discuss his recent work with Faster Pussycat, and Dorothy, the formation of his passion project, Budderside, and more. If you would like to learn more about Sam’s many musical endeavors, the link to his official Facebook page is here.

Andrew:
Sam, I appreciate you taking the time today. How have you been holding up over the last year or so? What have you been up to?

Sam:
Thank you for having me! Honestly, this last year has been the busiest year of my life so far. Juggling three bands, writing, recording, touring, living, it’s been great. Just thankful to have a lot to work on “post-apocalypse.” 

Andrew:
Before we dive into your professional career, let’s go back a bit. What first got you hooked on music?

Sam:
I remember showing interest in music going back to when I was a toddler. I was obsessed with the song “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers and “Elevation” by U2. I don’t know why I was obsessed with those two songs or where I first heard them, but for some reason, I loved those tunes.

I became interested in guitar specifically when I was TEN years old. There was a TV show called Rockstar: INXS – a reality competition show where the band INXS was looking for a new singer. Rafael Moreira (Pink, American Idol) was the lead guitar player in the house backing band on the show. Watching Rafael play on the show every week, in addition to him having pretty much every Gibson guitar imaginable, made me want to play guitar. 

Andrew:
Who were some of your early influences?

Sam:
I honestly got into bands more so than guitar players at first. One of the first bands I really got into was Green Day, and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” was one of the first songs I learned to play. Growing up in St. Louis, MO, there were two main rock radio stations – the classic rock station and the alternative station. I fell more into the alternative music, which at that time (2006/2007), were bands like Three Days Grace, Seether, Shinedown, Papa Roach, and more.

My family always had burnt CDs with all different songs floating around as well – bands like Monster Magnet, Buckcherry, and Puddle of Mudd. Eventually, I discovered groups like Guns N’ Roses, Judas Priest, Dio, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, and Alice In Chains. Jerry Cantrell has been my number one since. A really big influence on me when I was coming up, and playing bars in town as a kid, was the local St. Louis guitar hero, Mark Crowell. Mark opened up a lot of doors for me as far as playing goes. He’s a super versatile player, and really great at thinking outside the box. We’re still great friends to this day, and play together in St. Louis whenever I can make it back there. 

Image credit: Sam Koltun Facebook (official)

Andrew:
Let’s talk about recent events. You’re on tour with Dorothy. Break the jaunt down for me.

Sam:
We’re about four weeks into the nearly nine-week, forty-show Gifts From the Holy Ghost tour, which is going great. Dorothy is just an incredible powerhouse singer, and the rest of her band are killer players. Currently out with Eliot Lorango (Corey Taylor) on bass and Jake Hayden (Missing Persons, Beth) on drums. So, I’m honored to be a part of Dorothy’s band, and I play on a few songs on the new Gifts From the Holy Ghost record as well, with came out April 22nd, 2022.

Andrew:
Going back a bit, take me through how you first met Dorothy, and subsequently, joined the band.

Sam:
I saw Dorothy live a couple of times over the last few years from being good friends with her bass player, Eliot Lorango. Eliot and I have done other gigs together in LA and have known each other for probably seven or so years. So, when they needed a guitar player for a Dorothy tour back in 2019, I believe my name came up, but I was out with Faster Pussycat already that summer.

Fast forward, Dorothy and I communicated a bit over Instagram, but we officially met right before the Pandemic. Ace Von Johnson and Dorothy are good friends, and so, Ace brought her to the Viper Room on a night when she was in LA to see my play. We met at the Viper, hung out a bit, and she said, “You should jam with my band.” I said, “I would love to jam with your band,” and that was it! 

Andrew:
Can you break down some of your contributions to the latest Dorothy record?

Sam:
Before even jamming together as a group, Dorothy sent me a few demo tracks to try solos on. This led to her graciously asking if I would be up to going to New York with her and Eliot to record for her third record. Dorothy and I did a writing session or two, nothing that got to the point of recording, but it was great to sit down and see how being creative felt together. Maybe something in the future!

Those sessions in New York City at Studio B gave life to a couple of songs that ended up making the record. I know for sure “Made to Die” is a song that’s all me on guitar, and a couple of other songs are from those sessions. Dorothy ended up writing quite a bulk of the songs that made the record after the sessions in New York. She and Chris Lord Alge, who mixed and produced, had a bunch of different players on the rest of the record – Phil X, Trev Lukather, and more. The record went to #1 on iTunes as well! Super exciting to be a part of.

Image credit: William Greenberg

Andrew:
You joined Faster Pussycat in 2019. Walk me through your indoctrination.

Faster Pussycat came about from their former lead guitar player, Ace Von Johnson. Ace and I have been close friends for a while – he’s like the older brother I never had but always wanted! I received a text one day from Ace, probably April 2019, asking if I would be interested in subbing for the Faster Pussycat summer tour that year since he had recently fully committed to LA Guns. I said, “yes” and was launched into the great unknown with Faster Pussycat on a two-month summer tour. A whole new experience on many levels! While I did go into the gig just to sub in Ace’s place, Taime and the guys wanted me to stay with the band. So I’m still here. [Laughs].

Andrew:
Taime Downe is a legend of glam rock. What were your first impressions?

Sam:
Taime is a rockstar! That was my first impression. Probably something along the lines of, “Wow! This guy’s cool as fuck…and also wow does he say fuck a lot!” [Laughs]. Everyone else made quite the impression as well! Danny Nordahl (Slim Tender) is one of the funniest human beings I’ve ever met. Chad [Stewart] is very much a good time as well. We have a lot of fun. Even though I have never drank or partied in any way before (by choice), they’ve definitely affected me in one way or another. Admittedly, I didn’t grow up listening to Faster, although I was very aware of who they were from playing on shows with them on the same bill. So, it was first impressions all across the board. 

Andrew:
Ace, and especially Brent, left some big shoes to fill. How do you plan to best translate the music of Faster Pussycat while still putting your spin on it?

Sam:
Greg did too! You know, a lot of the original Faster stuff was Greg on lead guitar. But to attempt to answer the question, I guess the same way I’ve been trying to do it the last three years or so is playing the songs hopefully how they were recorded while throwing in “my own thing” here and there where it fits. I honestly want to play the songs and guitar solos in the vein of how they were recorded, because the parts are so great, and I would think that’s what the audience wants to hear. Obviously, I’m not Ace, Greg, or Brent, but I’ve done my “research” between using my ear on the recordings, and watching how stuff was played live back in the day to try to get close. And now, with the two new songs we’re playing live, I’m actually playing my own parts that I recorded. But I genuinely have fun playing the classic songs as they are. 

Image credit: Sam Koltun Facebook (official)

Andrew:
What makes the current lineup of Faster Pussycat the best the band has ever had?

Sam:
I have heard a few people say that about this current lineup! I’m actually not the new guy anymore as we have Ronnie Simmons (Richie Ramone, Rose Tattoo) on second guitar. So, that’s new and super fun! Now, whether this is the best lineup the band has ever had – that’s not for me to say. What I will say about it is we have Greg Steele’s seal of approval! Greg came out and jammed a bunch of songs with us at the first show with the “new” lineup at the beginning of the year at the Whisky A Go Go. After the show, Greg actually said that exact thing that you mentioned – that the current band is the best band Taime has ever had. Like I said, that’s not really for me to say, it’s for everyone else to decide, but I will say it’s a pretty rad rock ‘n’ roll band! We’ve put a lot of effort and rehearsal into getting it to be as great as it can be musically to put on the best show we can. 

Andrew;
Does the band have touring plans for 2022?

Sam;
Faster is going out this summer on the Sonic Slam 2022 tour with Tom Keifer and LA Guns. We will have our own shows sprinkled in as well as some shows with just Faster and LA Guns on “off days.”

I’ll have some other dates with Dorothy as well throughout the rest of the year. I know Dorothy is on the Louder Than Life Festival in September. And maybe more stuff with Faster later in the year too. 

And! If that wasn’t enough, hopefully, some dates with Budderside as well.

Andrew:
There have been no new full-length records from Faster Pussycat since 2006. Are there plans to change that? What can you tell us about the band’s plans for new music?

Sam:
Last year (May 2021) we released a new single called “NOLA” along with a cover of Johnny Thunders’s tune “Pirate Love” as the B-side. I played pretty much everything guitar-wise on “NOLA”, and “Pirate Love” features Ace Von Johnson and I both on guitar, trading off on solos, and even a little bit of dual harmony guitar on that song. There is more new Faster Pussycat music on the way, but, it’ll be out when it’s out. [Laughs].

Image credit: Sam Koltun Facebook (official)

Andrew:
How about with Dorothy and Budderside?

Sam:
As far as other new music, in addition to the new Dorothy record, I also play and get to write music with a group called Budderside, with four of my best friends. I played on the second record that came out last year in 2021, but since then, we’ve been working like crazy on releasing singles. These are songs the five of us have written together along with producer Matt Good, who worked with First to Last, produced for Asking Alexandria, Sleeping with Sirens, and more. We have four singles and videos out now, and many more on the way! If you have any interest in hearing some stuff I’ve written, and what I feel is a representation of who I am as a guitar player, check out Budderside songs such as “Voices”, “Ghostlighting”, “Never Worth It”, and “Too Far.” And like I said, more is on the way very soon!

Andrew:
On the subject of Budderside, I think some of our readers would enjoy the backstory. Walk me through your indoctrination.

Sam:
Well, the formation of Budderside goes back quite a while. At first, I came in to replace the original guitar player for a few shows. Extremely long story short, I came into the fold officially in 2018 to record the second record, Spiritual Violence. Throughout the long process of releasing Spiritual Violence, Patrick Stone (lead singer) and I assembled the band you see now. Gabe Maska (Bass), Jeff Dewbray (Drums), and Logan Nikolic (Guitar). The five of us all met and knew each other from the scene in LA/Hollywood, and would play together on different jam nights, or just hang at the Rainbow. Once we played together as a unit, we all knew that was it – and to boot – we are four best friends who talk every day, and would be super close friends even if we weren’t a band. 

Andrew:
Being an indie band, is there any label interest?

Sam:
As you mentioned, we are an indie band. We have released four singles over the last nine months, and we have four more ready to go, which are set to be released periodically over the next few months. The plan after that is to record four more tunes later this year so that we have a full twelve-song record to release, and we’ll go from there.

Andrew:
Last one. The risk of becoming a “legacy act” always looms for older bands. What will keep Faster Pussycat vital as we move forward?

Sam:
I think the good news for a band like Faster Pussycat is we are a truly old-school, sleazy, loud rock ‘n’ roll band, and that isn’t changing anytime soon. The band has honestly had a great run even without putting out a full record for fifteen years! So, I don’t see any reason why Faster won’t be able to continue to go out and jam like we have been doing. 

Image credit: Sam Koltun Facebook (official)

Interested in learning more about Sam “Bam” Koulton? Hit the links below:

Be sure to check out the full catalog of VWMusic Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found VWMusic in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Idle Chatter. Over time, the column grew into a website that now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process. Some of Andrew’s favorite artists include KISS, Oasis, ACϟDC, Elvis Presley, Ace Frehley, The Rolling Stones, Rush, The Pretenders, Led Zeppelin, The Gaslight Anthem, Iron Maiden, John Lennon, The Melvins, Noel Gallagher, Regina Spektor, Rory Gallagher, The Stone Roses, The Strokes, Thin Lizzy, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, Neil Young, Blur, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and many more.
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