Sinister Sam


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San Jose metal crossover act Sinister Sam originated in 1987 by Silver Creek High School alumni John Sanders and Scot Miller. The name Sinister Sam was born the day John passed a note to Scot in class, with a charicature of Scot boasting that his band “Sinister Sam” would one day headline Chuck E Cheese. At this time John & Scot were actually in seperate bands. Scot thought the name was so funny that he ended up calling his band Sinister Sam. John & Scot eventually ended up merging their two bands together.

Earliest footage of Sinister Sam

Sam’s 1st gig was a Silver Creek Ice Cream Social. During High School, Sam went on to play many backyard parties, playing many songs by Van Halen, Metallica, Ratt, Dio, Dokken and Ozzy. Their original material at this time was average at best.

Being inspired by Bay Area Thrash Metal bands like Forbidden and Vio-Lence, as well as eclectic  bands like Fishbone, Frank Zappa, and Mr Bungle, Sam got its shit together. Their music started combining elements of funk and jazz always surrounded by a metal core. Guitar solos were crazy, but not prominent in every song. Their first demo was Catfish Gumbo, recorded in 1991 at Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati, California (studio of many Shrapnel label recording artists). Songs included were Work, Fresno, Lecter, Dr McCoy, and Nice to Meet You.


sam Bam


Catfish Gumbo Demo (1991)

With the strength of Catfish Gumbo and their aspirations of delivering a bad ass live show, Sam started playing the San Jose Club circuit, most notably San Jose’s Cactus Club, then The Stone, The Omni, One Step Beyond, Slims, The Catalyst, Berkeley Square, FX, Marsugi’s, The I-Beam, The Caberet, etc.

Sam’s second Demo, Picklehead Willy (also recorded at Prairie Sun), featured a more mature and whacked out version of the band, with the songs Passion, Tan Man, Hebrew, and Staring, plus many small splices of audio randomness.

Sam has supported the following National and International acts: Vio-Lence, Forbidden, Fungo Mungo, MIRV, Agent Orange, X, Nuclear Assault, Deftones, Psychefunkapus, and others.

Sinister Sam Trio (last incarnation  of Sam)


Scot Miller: guitar and vocals

John Sanders: guitar, vocals and tambourine

Aaron Liebelt: bass

Donnie Green: drums

Shawn Washabaugh: lead vocals and trumpet

Gary Metrovich: Lead Vocals / early keyboards

John Perrine: drums

Bruce Graves: bass

Rocky Cirrone: keyboards

Jason Hart: vocals

Dave Shuster: drums

Scott Henry: bass

Andrew Duggan: drums

Ian Evans: sign guy

Steve Esquivel: sign guy

Rick: sign guy

 Intro Vio-Lence (I Profit) – Wall – Nice to Meet You (off Catfish Gumbo) 

Rehearsal in downtown San Jose’s Rock Gardens – RIP

Wanna hear the project I was in after SAM? Go HERE

My current band STATUS


8 responses to “Sinister Sam

  1. I am a huge fan from Cactus days and wore a self made, airbrushed Sinister Sam shirt. How did you get that metal guitar tone?? Please. I remember seeing you and Scott with Ampeg SS 140c’s, BBE Sonic Maximizer’s, Ibanez Rg’s with EMG’s. I would kill for the tone on Catfish! Any boost pedals? There must have been something else in the recipe? Anyways, thanks for the inspiration! From my mother’s sister’s daughter’s aunt’s son to you bro, cheers!!

  2. I’m actually a really big fan of Sinister Sam and lost the demo tape (1st one) a long time ago. I was actually at a Cactus Club or One Step Beyond show where you guys performed live. Is there any way I could buy all of your songs on mp3 for personal listening use? I miss your guys music and Statue Man, brings me back.
    You guys were awesome!

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