All things music: David Smith of Del Lowell & the SMITHTONES
Monday, December 15, 1 a.m. ET
What do you think of today's music scene? Think Del Lowell & the SMITHTONES are the real shizzle? Chat with founding member David Smith about everything Smithtone and all music-related topics.
the chat? Read the transcript below:
Del Lowell & the SMITHTONES are poised to release two CDs in the coming new year. First and foremost, the Smithtones' fourth CD, Lead Foot Lucy is on track for a summer release. In the meantime, fans can get a preview of the "Lucy vibe" in January, as the band will be issuing a four-song EP CD, STOP WORLD PEACE, which will feature two new songs, a Beach Boys' cover, and an instrumental remix of their 2002 smash hit, "Over Now". And yes, the band is referring to actress Lucy Liu in their CD title.
Fans are dying to find out about the new CD, any tour plans, who exactly plays in the band, and what the titles Lead Foot Lucy and STOP WORLD PEACE mean.
Lancaster, PA: What up Smith! First off I just want to say what, "thanks." You've given all of us talent-less hacks the hope that someday we can suck as bad as you. Here's the question. Can we expect more crappy singing on the next CD, or will it be back to those boring and never-ending instrumentals?
David Smith: Sounds like you're a big fan - thanks for the question. Unfortunately, instrumentals were becoming even more boring for me to make, so a few vocals here and there makes it a bit more interesting for me. That's what this is all about, by the way. Me. And another thing, you have to remember that I have to listen to my music 100 times or more while I'm recording, mixing, and mastering, so if anyone can complain, it's me!
El Paso, TX: Will you ever tour? I can't believe you won't take your show on the road. Public humiliation would give you wonderful inspiration for your next CD. Maybe you could open for Ass Cream or Finding Nympho on their next tours?
David Smith: Thanks for the vote of confidence - great bands, by the way. If I could ever find someone to man the drum machine with the same delicate syncopation that I use, I'd go out on tour in a second. It's funny, everytime I play my CDs for someone for the first time, they tell me I should "hit the road." I guess my tunes are meant for the masses.
Cairo, IL: Isn't it true that there are no 'Smithtones' to speak of, and that you are the only one in the band? Also, what exactly is Tim Randolph's role with Del Lowell & the SMITHTONES?
David Smiths: I, er, we think that by now, it's public knowledge that I, uh, we, suffer from a multiple personality disorder that causes me, ah, us to refer to myself as 'we' and 'us', instead of 'me' and 'I'. So there really isn't one David Smith, there are actually quite a few. As far as Tim Randolph is concerned, this is no one, really, named 'Tim Randolph'. When I need to lay down some monster guitar tracks, I drink a bunch of beer and this other person inside of me just comes out - like a cross between Yngwie Malmsteen and Donald Rumsfeld. His original name was David Smith #17, but the implication of a guest player on the CD was a better marketing move. (By the way, the name decision was between Tim Randolph or Tyra Dahmer.) But to answer that question, no there's no such person.
Tim Randolph: Smith is right. I don't exist.
Waupaca, WI: I hear the title for your next CD is Lead Foot Lucy. What the heck does that mean? And does STOP WORLD PEACE mean you're a flaming Republican?
David Smith: Lisa Wilson, the most important Wilson to walk Earth since Brian Wilson, came up with the title of Lead Foot Lucy (as well as "Speedvision" off of bikini). I'm a big "I Love Lucy" fan, but come on, it's all about Lucy Liu now, right? I hope that answers that. As far as my political leanings and the halting of world peace, I guess I would answer that this way. I am definitely not a right-wing conservative. In fact, my circle of friends think I'm a liberal. Here's simply what I believe in: I feel the United States should start a New World Order and destroy by any means possible the socialist and communist states of Europe. Too many people today have too many rights, and I think the world should live under one big police state with a CIA/NRA-type institution constantly watching over us. I also think we should turn New Jersey into the new Israel and then turn the Mideast into a big pool of radioactive waste. I do, however, have some radical beliefs, such as turning France and Canada into... (The following content has been edited by USA Today for political and social insensitivity).
Little Rock, AR: What's the worst song you've ever recorded?
David Smith: I love questions like this. I'd like to think that it's still inside of me. I don't believe that I've gotten close to my worst work yet.
New York City, NY: If you could work with any singers you wanted, who would your top three be?
David Smith: That's an easy question. Lita Ford, Lita Ford, Lita Ford. End of discussion.
Savannah, GA: What's your deal with The Beach Boys and their Pet Sounds album? And why do you have all those Eddie Van Halen guitars? Your music isn't even near the same solar system of cool as Van Halen or The Beach Boys. You sound more like The Blow Monkeys.
David Smith: Thanks for all those great comparisons - that means a lot to me. EVH is the best guitar player ever. Period. Brian Wilson is god (small 'g'). Period. And Digging Your Scene made me want to go out and buy a six-pack of Schlitz and a DOD American Metal pedal - in that order! Seriously, I love those guys, no matter what that jury's verdict was.
Iron Mountain, MI: With all of those guitars on your Web site, it's seems to me that you're trying to compensate for something.
David Smith: First of all, that's a comment, not a question. I guess I'm still looking for that perfect axe. OK, the truth is that I'm a full-on collector of all sorts of things. In fact, it took me several years to part with the 8,212 baby food jars of my deceased cat's urine.
Los Angeles, CA: What hints can you drop about the music styles on Lead Foot Lucy and when will it be done?
David Smith: 100% rap this time around, my bizzle. Thankfully, Tim Randolph is a master rapper, literally (he has a Masters in Urban Profanity-Laced Chanting from the University of New York-Rikers Island), and this new direction should lead to more shizzle and a spot on MTV Cribs. It'll be done by the summer.
Honestly, it's a little darker and a little less pop than bikini. Also, the songs were very short on bikini, so expect songs back in the 3-and-a-half to 4-minute range. I've been trying to expand the vocals with more harmonies, so hopefully that comes through, too.
Chicago, IL: Have you ever thought about taking some guitar lessons?
David Smith: Many moons ago, back when I was in high school, I did have a guitar teacher for several months, but he always wanted me to play easy stuff, like Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, George Lynch, etc., so I dogged him. Back then, I was into intricate and challenging riffs, like stuff by The Carpenters, so I took a custom three-string mandolin up to some state park and I was able to master their catalog during a lunch period.
Philadelphia, PA: What band or group are you a big fan of that would surprise a lot of people?
David Smith: The Outfield. I can't get enough of their stuff. Their greatest hits CD, Big Innings, is awesome. The unreleased tracks on there are so cool. I'm a also a huge ELO fan. Probably, though, being a big fan of The Spice Girls surprises most people.
NOTE: The above question was answered in all seriousness. I really own and play these guys' CDs.
Richmond, VA: With all of those guitars you have, there must be a favorite, right?
David Smith: Probably my Hohner Steinberger copy. I've used that on more recordings than any other guitar. It gets a great neck and bridge tone, and has killer action. It's also leaning up next to my recording unit, so it's always handy and in tune. And best of all, it was almost detonated by airport security at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC, and it once fell out of the overhead compartment on an airplane and bonked somebody on the head! The shape of the guitar means it can be used as a weapon, Jai Alai cesta, canoe paddle, spatula, garden hoe, pool cue, police baton, and it makes an effective high-ceiling, smoke-alarm destroyer.
Oklahoma City, OK: Is it true that you will be collaborating with Whitney Houston on her next CD, The Pot At The End Of The Rainbow?
David Smith: Whew - I guess you just broke that story. Yes, it's true. The Pot At The End Of The Rainbow should be in the stores by the end of 2004. I wrote two songs for the disc, a Latin chant titled "Indulgus Cannabis" and a pretty ballad called "Let's Do All The Drugs We Can Find In The House".
Thanks everyone for the great questions - this has been fun!