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Breaking Artist: Sam Champion

May 21, 2008 5:59 PM ET

Who: Sam Champion, a quartet of boisterous New Yorkers eager to play you the songs that got them kicked out of every practice facility in Brooklyn.

Sounds Like: Ryan Adams covering songs off Pavement's Wowee Zowee. On their second album Heavenly Bender, Sam Champion genre jumps from song to song, joyfully morphing elements of raw punk and twangy roots rock with Beck-like precision. "We're just trying to make music that we'd listen to. Crunchy guitars, weird parts, beautiful harmonies and songs you can sing along with," says singer/guiarist Noah Chernin.

Vital Stats:

• The band shares their name from noted New York television weatherman Sam Champion, even though they say he has nothing to do with their band. "He's a principal in a high school in Texas where I almost went to the school," jokes Chernin. "We were on a late night road trip and we decided that would be a funny name for a band."

• As a small band, Sam Champion developed an interesting means of raising money to fund the recording of their album. "I raised all this money through a non-profit organization that helps artists of all kinds," says bassist Jack Dolgen. "I partnered up with them, and that allowed us to make the album we wanted without being slave to a corporation."

• "Bob Marley, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Clash and George Harrison — those are the only four artists we all agree on. Other than that we all come from very different places," says Chernin. "But we basically try to get all of our ideas to go into those four things." "Incidentally, all of our moms also agree on those four artists," Dolgen says. The band also cites grunge, Elvis Costello's Spike and spoken word comedy albums as inspiration.

Hear It Now: Heavenly Bender will be out this summer, but until then, the band is streaming new tracks on their MySpace page. In our exclusive video, watch Sam Champion perform "Be Mine Everyone" in the back of a van in Brooklyn.

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Song Stories

“Vicious”

Lou Reed | 1972

Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

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