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Byron Shire
January 26, 2022

Smith Street Band play Jonson

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With a full dance card of tour dates both in Australia 
and O/S, it’s clear
 the Smith Street Band
 are going somewhere… fast!

It’s been a stellar year for The Smith Street Band with their album Throw Me in the River receiving universal praise, scoring Top 20 in the ARIA charts and garnering the honours as Triple J’s Album of the Week.

How has Triple J’s Album of the Week increased your reach?

Having the Album of the Week was really awesome and I think we were really lucky to be selected for that. There’s no doubt it meant that a lot more people heard the album, and I guess a lot of those people were in more regional areas and places we don’t get to so much, which is really cool!

How do you approach a live gig?

Try to have as much fun as possible and put all the energy and passion you have into it. I think if you do those things, people watching can feel it.

The bands I love watching are honest and raw and funny and make you feel as though, whether you’re on the stage or in the crowd, you’re all sharing the same (hopefully great) experience!

How important are live gigs to building audience? Do bands still need to get out and gig hard?

Hugely important. Probably the most important thing. Getting out and meeting people, and other bands and travelling to see new places, is the most fun and rewarding part of being in a band!

How did you come to be touring through North America, Europe and the UK?

We have a couple of great guys who approached us who now book shows for us in each place. But we also just started connecting with people through sharing music on Facebook / bandcamp / wherever.

A now mutual friend put us in touch with Apologies, I Have None from the UK, who I started chatting to via email and we ended up doing our first European tour with. We’ve also been lucky enough to invite people we’ve never met before, mostly from the US, to tour Australia, and then they’ve returned the favour. That’s how we met Jeff Rosenstock, who produced our new album and who we’re about to do our third tour with.

You wrote a lot of your new album on the road – how did the situation affect the songs you were writing?

Wil is the guy who writes all the lyrics and barebones of the music, so I can’t speak for him, but from my perspective I think it’s what keep the songs honest and interesting.

The songs are in a way a little snapshot of where they were written, so hopefully you can hear that when you listen to them.

How does the band work up a song ?

Touched on this above, but it starts out with Wil scribbling down an idea of structure or lyrics, usually into his phone. He’ll normally work on it until it’s at a point of some sort of completion and then send us a rough acoustic demo. Then the rest of the band all jump in and flesh out our ideas and rework it. Sometimes we barely change anything, other times it ends up completely different from how it started.

The early demos of Surrey Dive and East London sound nothing like what’s on the album.

What makes the studio? Are you always clear about what you are wanting to achieve when you go in there or is it more of an organic process?

A studio is a beautiful and scary place; it’s where both your songs and your playing go under the microscope I guess. I think it’s best to prepare like crazy and in as much detail as you can, and then get in there and in a way forget everything and be open to changing things and making on-the-spot decisions on how things should sound.

What was the vision for Throw Me in the River?

I’m not sure we had a vision. With the honest and immediate nature of Wil’s songwriting, the albums just tend to turn out as a snapshot of where we’re at at the time. It’s based on the past and what we’ve just experienced and where we’ve come from, rather than looking forward and saying, ‘let’s make an album that sounds like this’… If that makes sense.

What should we expect for your Byron Show?

A big, loud party with lots of sweat, lots of beers and lots of energy!

They play the Hotel Great Northern on Sunday.

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