The rumors are TRUE!!! There was some talk about an interview with Lou Smart of the Smart Brothers in an earlier post, and hey! There was one. I was able to ask him a few questions, and he was able to give incredibly thoughtful and humorous answers. This blog is becoming very exciting for me. If you have no idea what I am talking about, read my past entries. Anyway, read below for the interview.
Me: You guys use stage names, why change your first name and adopt the last name of Smart?
Lou: Well, we didn’t change our first names too much, they’re just abbreviations of our real names and what we actually call each other. As far as changing our surname, we just wanted to be able to leave our stage personalities on stage so that we could have some privacy and anonymity in our personal lives.
Me: What is like working with your brother?
Lou: Working with my brother is great, we help each other in all aspects of each others lives. We push each other to the limit. The songs and act are all just manifestations of our brotherhood and I think that’s what draws people in.
Me: Do you guys write together?
Lou: Yes. I always try to get a co write on any song I can in case it’s a 1 hit wonder and makes billions of dollars. Just kidding. Not really though.
Me: Who is Mickey?
Lou: Mickey was the boyfriend of my brothers best friend’s sister. We met after my brother and I dropped out of high school and hit the road with our pop band. We asked him to play some shows with us early on in the career of the Smart Bros.
Me: What role did/ does Mickey play, he often comes in and out of your band?
Lou: Mickey was the 1st additional Smart Bro besides J and myself. He added a lot of the bluegrass flavor that we were known for in the beginning. We had a ton of fun and some shitty times too out on the road. I think he enjoys more of a producer/behind the scenes role and I think he’s doing well in that role with his new act. He’s a good friend and good musician.
Me: You guys have a very versatile show, what are all the different types you play?
Lou: Right now I’m playing drums and guitar, J is playing guitar. We always just focus on singing foremost. We’re working on getting a 4 piece together for spring touring. Maybe some 4 part harmony too. Ukuleles, banjos, harmonicas, pianos, accordions, mandolins, flutes, washboards, if we can play it it will be in the act at some point.
Me: Does the constant changing of show help or hurt you (In your opinion)?
Lou: I think it’s pretty much inevitable as an artist to change things up a lot. We’re just at the extreme end of that. We’re super passionate dudes, so when we get an idea that something will be cool onstage, we charge full speed ahead. It’s the excitement that people like. We’ve gotten encores with everything from a washboard tie to a full band with harmonizing metal guitars. As long as you’re blessing people they don’t care what you play and neither do I. It would be nice to focus on one instrument long enough to get really good at it. We’re playing with a 4 piece now, maybe I’ll just sing, I’m pretty stoked about that idea.
Me: You guys seem to busk a lot, what is the philosophy behind this?
Lou: Busking is a great way to meet people you wouldn’t meet in a club or venue. They’re just people on their way somewhere, and if you’re good they will stop and listen. Most of our good friends out on the road met us on the street. We got to hang out at John Prine’s manager’s farm in Nashville for a few weeks through a friend who met us on the street. While we were there he really kicked our asses and got our act in shape and told us stuff we needed to hear. Priceless.
Me: Who would you like to collaborate with most?
Lou: I like Tom Petty a lot. I guess I’d like to come up with a melody for a song and have Tom Petty write the words, he’s got sweet lyrics.
Me: I understand you guys are putting together a full band, what is the reasoning for this?
Lou: Putting a band together is something we’ve always wanted to do. I like watching a band like Tom Petty or My Morning Jacket where all the players are phenomenal and focused on the same goal and sound. We haven’t had the resources or patience to do it before. We’re working with some guys in LA now so we’ve been able to play with a lot of different people and not jump the gun till we get the right fit.
Me: How many instruments do you play in the group?
Lou: Around 15.
Me: Make It Last seems to be more rock and roll than your past recordings, what’s the reason behind this?
Lou: We wanted to make it a little more powerful in the production department on Make it Last. We put more money into the vocals and had our friend Justin Freose produce it. I think it’s also just the style of song we were writing at the time. After Mickey left we lost the bluegrass/vaudeville thing, but we tried to stick it out for a little bit as a duo because that’s what we were used to. We totally dropped that style on Make it Last, and it’s our most popular album yet. We wanted to have good songs and let people hear them for the song instead of the “genre”. I’m happy with it.
Me: How would you guys describe your style?
Lou: If it was wood I think it would be Cedar. Kind of like maple syrup too.
Me: Have you and your brother always been so close?