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Proteus band members


Proteus, born from the ashes of Corduroy’s brief Pearl Jam tribute phase in 2019, evolved into a dynamic alternative metal force. The band, initially Minus 1, used the 2020 lockdowns to shed covers, forging a unique sound fusing Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Tool influences. The band, not confined by typical metal stereotypes, officially became Proteus a year and a half ago. With an EP titled “Origins” already released, they’re gearing up for their full-length album “Ain’t A Savage.” Proteus is set to make a lasting impact in the alternative metal scene in San Diego, defying conventions and pushing musical boundaries.

We caught up with vocalist/guitarist Sam Friedman to hear about the band’s formation, their connection to audiences using Twitch, and what the band hopes to achieve this year.

Photo: Alex Celestial



1.  How has transitioning from Corduroy to Minus 1, and now to Proteus, influenced your music?

When Corduroy was formed as a 5-piece Pearl Jam tribute, our band’s goals and inspirations were very different. I had taken almost a decade off from playing guitar and joined the band on a whim to try to get back into music. The other original member from Corduroy, Sean, had never performed live with a band before. We both felt fairly neutral about Pearl Jam’s music, so we were more interested in having fun and improving our skills as musicians when we joined. Our singer at the time, Joe, was a huge Pearl Jam fan, so when he left a few months after we formed, we were all pretty ready for a change of pace, and we decided to rename to Minus 1 and start playing covers from a variety of bands. The transition to Proteus came about a year later, after our fourth band member left and we had written some original music, creating our own sound and moving away from covers.

2.  How did the 2020 lockdowns shape Proteus’s unique sound in the beginning?

The pandemic came at a time when we were just beginning to write our own music, and while it was disappointing to not be able to play it live, it helped us to focus more on songwriting. The result was our first EP, Origin, which we released at the end of 2021. We spent a lot of our practices writing new music and refining the songs we’d written, and I think 2020 is when we really started to find our sound as a result of that.

3.  What impact did streaming on Twitch have on your connection with fans?

Streaming on Twitch honestly didn’t have much impact on fans as far as I’m aware, but it was a lot of fun for us, and it gave us a bit of the feeling of performing live music, which we of course missed a lot during the pandemic.

4.  What is a non-musical influence that fuels inspiration for Proteus?

I think one of our greatest sources of inspiration has been our friendship with each other. Cody, Sean, and I like to talk about games we’ve been playing, our successes and struggles at work, and our philosophies about life, and I think that translates into our chemistry in both songwriting and performing.

5.  Being a prog-influenced band in San Diego, how does this set Proteus apart in the local scene? Have there been any big hurdles?

We got our start performing in PB, where metal is certainly not the dominant genre in the live music scene, and I think our style has set us apart from other acts as a result, helping us to stand out. Our prog influence is certainly a big part of our sound, but I think it’s balanced with our other influences in alternative rock, nu metal, and grunge, and I think that helps to make us a little more accessible to people who wouldn’t normally listen to metal. We haven’t really had any major hurdles as of yet.

6.  How has playing within all these diverse genres influenced Proteus’ musical identity?

Our musical identity steadily evolved over the last few years from playing mostly grunge and classic rock as Corduroy and Minus 1 to more alternative and progressive metal as Proteus, and I’m really happy with how we’ve each grown as musicians and how we’ve found our own sound as a band. We originally planned to release an album after our initial EP, Origin, called “Come Clean,” but our songwriting changed so much in 2022-23 that we abandoned that album and instead focused on writing new material. We’re now planning to release an LP, “Ain’t A Savage,” in the first half of 2024. We released 3 singles last year that will be on the album, Crumble, Far Away, and All My Bones, and we’re very excited to share our new music with our friends, family, and fans.

7.  What are some key elements of your upcoming album compared to “Origin”?

Our upcoming album, “Ain’t A Savage,” showcases our band’s focus on groove, syncopation, and powerful hooks and breakdowns, containing both our heaviest and most vulnerable music yet. One of the things I like about our sound as a 3-piece is how much each band member can be heard and offers a unique spin on the music we collaboratively write during our rehearsals. Sean has a strong presence as a bass player, adding melody lines that add a unique element to our music that we’ve brought forward in this album. Cody also has a fairly different playing style as a drummer from Will, the drummer we recorded Origin with, adding more power and groove to our sound.

8.  What’s your biggest goal for Proteus in 2024?

Our focus in 2024 is on releasing our album, Ain’t A Savage, and recording a new single we wrote in 2023 that consists of two parts: Losing Control and Taking Control. We’re also hoping to work on more music videos to follow our first video we released this past year for the single, All My Bones. We also look forward to building stronger relationships with San Diego venues and artists this year, and we’re very excited to compete in the Humble Heart OB battle of the bands in February with some of San Diego’s top local bands.


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