Sam Chase and Yuri Trusty were not — repeat, NOT — friends from the beginning. Far from it. They might be the best of friends and musical partners now, but when the pair were in middle school, they were mortal enemies.
“Oh man, we hated each other,” said Chase, who grew up in Glenburn. “I was kind of a jerk to him. I intimidated him.”
“I was scared of him,” said Trusty, a Bangor boy. “He was so abrasive. We definitely did not get along.”
The thing that brought them together, though, was a shared love of a few key bands. A summer camping trip both lads were forced to endure together was the start of a beautiful friendship, when the pair realized that they both loved Blink-182 and Dashboard Confessional.
“We were collecting firewood and got to talking,” Chase said. “It was like, ‘Whoa, you like the same things I like. Maybe I don’t hate you.’”
Fast-forward six years. Chase, now 20, and Trusty, 19, started a band called Cold Water Armies while both were still students at Bangor High School. Since that band broke up, they’ve traveled the United States, writing songs, playing gigs, learning about life and building a strong foundation for their musical partnership. Sam & Yuri, as they’re known, play earnest, melodic indie rock that owes as much to the emotional wallop of Dashboard Confessional as it does to the groovy, smart acoustic stylings of Paul Simon, and the perfect pop of Death Cab for Cutie.
Sam & Yuri are set to play this Saturday at this year’s AS4MS Acoustic Showcase, sponsored by WHSN-FM to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The duo, now based in Bangor, spent a year from the summer of 2007 to the summer of 2008 making their way up and down the East Coast, playing music and seeing the country. Eventually, they landed in Key West, Fla. — as far south from Maine as they could get.
“It was a really great experience. Yuri and I always said we wanted to travel after we graduated,” said Chase, now an anthropology major at the University of Maine. “It taught us a lot about what we didn’t want to do, and what we did want to do. We didn’t want to make superficial pop music. We wanted to do our own thing, at our own pace, on our own.”
Since last summer, Chase and Trusty have been perfecting the songs they wrote on the road. They worked with New England School of Communications student Cory Deshane to record their debut album, “Drip and Bleed” released this past February. The album, which features nine songs, is as well produced and mature an album as has come out of this corner of Maine in some time. Chase and Trusty harmonize beautifully and have an innate sense of what makes a song work. “Rigged to Lose” chugs along on a loping, folky beat, while “Pine Tree State” is a chillingly pretty homage to our fair state.
“I’m really inspired by people like Ben Gibbard [of Death Cab for Cutie] and Chris Martin [of Coldplay],” said Chase. “You listen to the radio, and it’s kind of depressing. But then there are people like those two, who are so unique and so talented that they really stand out from everyone else.”
Chase and Trusty are in it for the long haul. They know each other and work well with each other. They’ve got the chops. Now, they’re ready to shoot for the big time. Or, if not the big time, then for a way to make a living doing what they love — making music. It’s a far cry from dirty glances across the playground.
“We’re going to take it as far as we can,” said Trusty. “We want to tour and make fans and keep writing. We’re putting all our eggs in one basket. It’s really, really exciting.”
Sam & Yuri will play with The Bay State, Wolves Among Sleep, The Goodnight Process and a Good Night Sound Rush at WHSN-FM’s AS4MS Showcase, set for 7 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at the Bangor Opera House. Tickets are $10 at the opera house box office. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/samandyuri.