Sam Roberts looking to catch fire in U.S. -- The Canadian rockers are re-releasing their album, ''We Were Born in a Flame,'' in America after having success in their native country

By Raymond Fiore
Updated September 17, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

Sam Roberts have a dirty little secret about their just-released debut: It originally came out last summer — and it bombed. The Canadian classic rockers’ collection of arena anthems, We Were Born in a Flame, was DOA — a common industry fate — due to poor promotion and, um, false advertising. ”It was a case of mistaken identity,” says the band’s 29-year-old frontman and namesake, who claims the label, Universal, pushed him as a sensitive singer-songwriter rather than the leader of a good ol’-fashioned rock band. So the group came to an agreement with their label to release them from their contract and continued with the company’s Canadian arm. Sure enough, Flame was a huge success, spawning several radio hits. The underdogs even scored a coup at April’s Juno Awards (Canada’s answer to the Grammys), winning Album, Rock Album, and Artist of the Year. ”It was nice to get recognized,” says Roberts, ”but at the same time, we knew that things in the States had ground to a halt.” So they ventured to Austin’s annual South by Southwest music convention to try to land another U.S. deal. Luckily, Kim Buie of Lost Highway Records (home of alt-country staples like Ryan Adams) caught their set and signed them. ”They were the last show I went to. I was so stoked,” says Buie. But are they ready to start from the bottom again? ”When we were growing up, we were playing to rooms of 40 people,” says Roberts. ”We’re used to having to work for our dinner.”