Smokey Bastard Interview

DGM managed to catch the guys during a quiet period and ask some questions. So if you want to know what band members would be eaten first, their worst gig or if they can play drunk, read on.

Firstly a big thank you from Devils Gate Media(DGM) for taking the time to answer some questions.

DGM You have to get a massive well done for the speed at which you surpassed your pledge target for the new album, however, it is always a gamble. how did you feel prior to the announcement and after you knocked it out of the park?

SB We were quietly confident that we would reach our goal, but it’s always a risk. We spent a long time working on the album, which meant we weren’t playing live as much, so there was a worry that people had forgotten about us. On the other hand, as it’s been such a long time coming, we hoped people would be excited to hear the new songs. We were amazed at how quickly we hit our target, and we’re very pleased that people have kept on pre-ordering the album, so now we can’t wait to get back out on the road and play to all the people who supported us.

DGM You did a live session at Maida Vale for the BBC. How was that? Did you take in the amount of history there and the famous bands who have been in the same studio and off all the sessions gone before you what was your favourite?

SB Playing at Maida Vale was a great experience. I think another band had to pull out at the last minute which gave us the opportunity to do the session, so we felt very fortunate to be there. The engineer who recorded our session also worked on some of the tracks that appeared on Nirvana’s Incesticide album. It was an honour to work with someone who has recorded so many other artists that have influenced us as a band.

DGM Now I don’t know you guys to speak to so can you give me a little background please. You are from Reading so are you posh( yes this is a joke and very much stereotyping but I would still like an answer). I am hoping you are going to say no as I cannot imagine you introducing your band with a posh accent.

SB There are 6 of us in the band, 4 are from Reading, one is French and one is Australian, so there are a few accents going on. Obviously, being from the Home Counties, we don’t have any accent of any kind, it’s just everyone else who speaks funny.

DGM “Back To The Drawing Room” is all but complete, what can we expect from this one? More of the same or is the title quite literal?

SB The new album takes the next step in the band’s progression. Over the years there have been a lot of line up changes and each new member brings something new to the mix when we write. When the band started, the aim was to emulate bands like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys, but as we time went on, we realised that they do what they do very well, so there was no point trying to be the same as them. During the second album, we were branching out a bit from the Celtic-Punk template and trying to find our own sound. The new album is still recognisable as Smokey Bastard, but keeps going in the same direction with our own take on Folk-Punk, while incorporating a wide range of influences from the current band members. It seems like the natural progression to us, and we hope everyone else likes it as well.

DGM I am taking it you will be planning a full tour after the release, how comprehensive is it going to be? Will we see you the length and breadth of the country? ( little hint dropped in oh so nonchalantly….Glasgow will love you guys).

SB We are currently booking a UK tour for November. We’re trying to make it as comprehensive as possible, but we will shortly start work on booking another tour fro the new year to pick up any places we miss this time round.

DGM How did six guys, ever get involved in a project like Smokey Bastard? I cannot imagine there is a massive punk/folk movement there. I come from Glasgow, Scotland and apart from Ireland we probably have the largest folk movement in the world. I have friends who play lots of folk festivals, it is in the blood up here so how did this come about?

SB It started when our guitarist, Matt, saw Flogging Molly at Reading festival. The combination of folk and punk has an energy that’s hard to find in a lot of other genres. We all came to folk-punk from the punk side – most of us hadn’t played folk instruments before we started playing in the band. Before Smokey Bastard, several of the original members were in ska bands, which is quite different musically, but in terms of song structure, there’s a lot of crossover. Punk songs have verses and choruses, whereas Folk-punk and Ska-punk songs have verses, choruses and melody or tune sections. We’ve always tried to make sure the folk side was authentic and wasn’t used as a cheap gimmick. We don’t want to play guitar lines on banjo, mandolin and accordion and call it folk – we want the folk influence to be driving the songs. We’re happy to switch between guitar-led sections and folk-led sections, but we want to stay true to folk traditions.

DGM Talking of festivals what one would be your heaven to play and if you could chose the line-up who would be on it with you?

SB As a Reading based band, it will be no surprise to hear that Reading and Leeds are top of the list of dream festival slots. We went to Reading festival as teenagers and seeing bands play there was a huge inspiration to us. In terms of lineup, there are too many bands to list, but Streetlight Manifesto and NOFX would certainly be on our dream bill.

DGM A serious folk question here. Can you play as well pissed as sober( please note this is a pre requisite in getting any gigs in Scotland).

SB Good question. We’ve had a lot of practice at playing pissed, so although there’s a chance we might play better sober, we may never know for sure…

DGM What is your all time worst gig and why?

SB I’m sure every band has stories of playing gigs to 2 people in the middle of nowhere and we’re no exception. We’ve played gigs where the sound desk wasn’t big enough for all our instruments so we’ve been asked if we all really needed to be there. We’ve played some gigs where we were so horrendously hung over from the night before that we could barely function, but those gigs often turn out to be some of the best because you have a great story to tell and it sticks in your memory. I guess the worst gigs we’ve played have been the ones that we don’t really remember because they were uneventful.

DGM Lastly we like to finish on a little light hearted question at DGM so picture the scene…You have just played a gig in Las Vegas, you are in the tour bus and your driver takes a supposed shortcut and once you are 100 miles out in the desert the bus brakes down. You have no food and enough water for 24 hours. The driver also informs you nobody ever goes on this road. What do you do?

1 kill the driver, skin him, give the skin to one of the band( to reduce heat exposure) with all the water and send them on the way to get help. You must name the band member who kills him, who skins him and who does the walk. 2 Amazingly a very old,ugly,smelly and drunk lady stops on a motorcycle, she offers to take one of you to the next town but only for sexual favours, who takes one for the team? 3 You find some peyote so take it and don’t care what happens now. 4 As you are already drunk you decide you can make an aeroplane out of the bus but it is going to take 2 days so you have to kill one band member to eat and his water to make the extra day. Who is getting chomped? 5 Accept your fate, sit down outside the bus and hold hands like a bunch of girls.

SB That’s quite a question. I guess the first problem is that our guitarist Matt normally eats at least 6 times a day, so if we didn’t kill and eat him immediately, he would probably kill and eat all of us within the first few hours. Our drummer Tyron enjoys female company, so if a motorcycle ride was on offer, he would be only too happy to “hop on and take the ride”. After that, I think taking peyote and trying to build a plane sounds like a fun way to go out in style. We’d probably let the driver live – it seems cruel to kill him for trying to take a short cut and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be making that mistake again.

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