The Smith Street Band are returning to Perth to play their new album More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me for a local audience. Bringing their Australian brand of DIY Punk to the masses at Metro City along with US band Joyce Manor, ELLE CEE chats to drummer Chris Cowburn ahead of the June 9 show.
Hey Chris, where are you calling us from today?
Hey, I am calling you from my bed!
With this album what were you hoping to achieve, did you have any goals?
I don’t know if we necessarily set out to accomplish any specific goals, just kind of keep going with the things we’ve already been doing and we hope to be able to keep touring and we love touring, meeting people and playing music. From a musical stand point, you put out the best music that you can do and keep writing and always learning. You don’t always have the opportunity to spend more than two weeks on one album. There are maybe things I would have done differently but it’s such a learning curve. I guess that’s why you surround yourself with people who come into contact with it every day like producers and engineers who are coming into it fresh.
What artists influenced you in the making of this album?
Well I think it was more up to Jeff (Rosenstock, their producer) in the journey of the album. He’s the one who if we talk about people in the studio who are always working, from even the second record he produced for us he didn’t hold back. We really respect his musical taste and he has been really beneficial to take us from the beginning of the process and I don’t think enough can be said for that. In terms of musical influences with this album, I don’t really know that we had any musically, not intentionally. We are always trying and always listening to as much music as we can and maybe some come recommended from a friend or handed down through one of our friendship groups; we are always listening. I think specifically with Wil (Wagner) being the primary songwriter, he is sort of on his own in a lot of ways. He writes whatever he wants but he doesn’t have too many specific influences when it comes to his song writing so it’s a process I guess. With that being said, I can remember there is one song on the album that, well he was listening to a lot of Killers and I remember him telling me “I’m going to try write a song sort of like a Killers song” and that song is Shine on the album.
How does it feel to debut at No 3 on the ARIA charts being a DIY punk band?
Yeah, it feels good, just a really special thing. Like you said, we are a DIY punk band, we are still. Like we got there with the help of a handful of people and now we have our own record label that we created (Pool House Records). That’s this album that we put out and it’s on our record label and it feels good to come in at number three and it’s a process of all the hard work that we put into it. We found out in the evening after it came out and during the filming of the Shine film clip so we were all together with our fantastic film crew and we were already having a drink for finishing up the clip. Then we got the news so it turned into a bit more of a celebration. I haven’t really worked harder at anything else in my life than on this album so to achieve that accolade definitely meant something.
You mentioned you’ve started your own label, Pool House Records. How did that come about?
It was something we were interested in for a long time and we very nearly did it with the previous album as well. Even as far back as Sunshine and Technology (2012) we talked about doing our own record label then, but for whatever reason, the timing just wasn’t right for us. It’s a continuation of a really good healthy relationship that we have with Poison City Records and we continued to release music with those guys and we still do have a fantastic relationship with them. With this album, unlike the last three albums, now there are a lot more artists releasing their own stuff, so it felt like the time was right. We have the right amount of know-how and are now more experienced than previously, so it just felt like something we wanted to do and it was the right time to do it.
How do you keep yourself sane on tour?
I don’t know if I do to be honest. It’s gruelling for a reason but it all gets pretty easy once you get to the stage where you know what you’re doing. It can be play a show, rinse and repeat for 30 days or whatever, which gets pretty intense. I think probably the most important little windows of sanity on tour is when you can just go for a walk or listen to music with your headphones on and have a coffee and just create a little downtime. Also surrounding yourself with people who are like-minded that are your friends in that city that you might be visiting and so you can catch up with people you might not get to see frequently because you come to their city every six months or so. It’s a wild ride but really fantastic and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Finally, what can we expect from you this tour?
It’s been really fantastic so far with the new album and we’re excited to be touring. It has been hard to keep it a secret before the shows that we are playing with a big band now including Jess Locke and Lucy Wilson. Jess is playing guitar and the keys and they’re both incredible singers so it’s been really rad so far getting to learn songs with them. We’re playing some huge venues so lots of emotions go in with that when you’re doing something like that with so many people. It’s really exciting and to have two of our other friends up there with us makes it more of a party, specifically for me as the drummer. I’m always at the back so it gives me someone to talk to having Jess and Lucy there towards the back with me. I can actually talk to them during the set so it’s nice to have someone to hang out with you regularly as the other three guys are further away.