|INTERVIEW WITH THE SMILES
became aware of The Smiles through various avenues - YouTube, Facebook,
and other online sources. I approached original member John
McGrath about the possibility of interviewing them for this site, and
he graciously agreed. You can check them out at Bandcamp and Facebook
of business: Introduce yourself - where are you from? What's your
role(s) in The Smiles? Any background information/personal philosophies
you'd like to share?
from Baltimore, and I play the guitar whilst singing in the band.
There's not too much exciting background information for any of us,
except Will is a C-List youTube star. We've all been playing music
since we were kids, The Smiles is as good as we've ever been (or that
is what we hope).
was the genesis of The Smiles?
started with convincing Will to write some songs with me. After that
everything was a fairly-tale - we got rejected from America's Got
Talent. We actually did win an on-campus songwriting competition though.
about the name of your band: Who thought it up? (and just to get the
'elephant out of the room') Is it a reference to The Beach Boys 1967
album "Smile"? Any Beach Boys fans in the band? Favorite Beach Boys albums/songs?
Any surfers in the group?
with the name right from the album. I remember hearing about this
breakdown of Brian's after he heard Strawberry Fields, which led to
burning (maybe this is myth, but it's candy for me) tapes of the
sessions for Smile. I had to hear the album, so I did some digging on
the web and finally came across a full, well, as full as it could be,
version, and was completely struck after hearing. I must have burnt it
for five people and ordered them to listen to it. It is such a good
piece of music, I really wish it could be released on vinyl. This long
winded paragraph should suggest that I'm a huge fan of the Beach Boys,
but to re-iterate, I very much am. Bren is too, and I'd say Will is a
casual fan. I'm not sure about Echo.
is my favorite album, this is probably true for Bren too (Although Bren
does have the Pet Sounds sessions "album" which is amazing, but isn't
really an album). I can't pick a song, I'm sorry! There are so many
great ones that I will definitely bore the reader by the time I'm
finished listing (I am listening to Vegatables right now, if that is
surfing, I have two boards, although neither I really like. I want a
longboard, I feel like I've blown through the years where I should want
to rip the waves, and went right into the "old dude" longboarding
phase. Bren tries to get out and surf once in a while, I think I've
gotten into the water with him twice. He's been trying to save up to
buy a board for the past year.
are your musical heroes? Who do you listen to?
would have to say The Beatles are my musical heroes, The Beach Boys
really do come close.
brevity's sake, I'll make a list of old and new bands I listen to:
Beach Boys, Beatles, Dylan, The Faces, Otis Redding
Phoenix, Animal Collective, The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, Dirty
would you describe the sound of The Smiles?
genre for ourselves, for the past and present question "what's the
sound?" It's called Tropical Grunge, take The Beach Boys and The
Strokes, you get The Smiles. I feel the direction we're going in is
even more sun-spired. I know both Will and I would like to work with
harmonies more, so we may have to change our description, but for the
Hermosa EP that'll have to do.
are the songwriters in the band? What is your writing process like?
and I all wrote songs for the new EP. Having more than one songwriter
in the band is a great experience, and the songs come out great.
Usually one of us will have an idea and bring it to another (in most
cases me to Will) and we go from there.
you have a specific plan in mind for your first EP? i.e. a certain mood
or theme you were shooting for?
the first song we wrote as a band (Will, Bren & I) and is
definitely the theme of our music. We live in Southern California, it
is inescapable. Hopefully we have conveyed that mood well on the EP.
many songs did you write for the album (including ones that didn't make
the cut?) How long did the recording process take?
who produced the album?
say how many songs we wrote for the album, depending on what you call a
song. I know there are definitely at least three songs that we play
live or have played live that weren't put on the EP. So I guess one
could say we had nine songs that could have been recorded, but there
were so many more ideas for songs written in the past year. The
recording process spanned seven months I think, but we really spent
maybe seven days in the studio. Being students and musicians at the
same time is a little tough. Michael Peha, our friend from school,
recorded, mixed and produced the album, along with the band.
you wouldn't mind, discuss each of the songs on your new EP; any
the opener, its the most accessible for fans. It used to be called Coca
Cola, but we can't use the name for legal reasons. It's too bad, would
have been good publicity for them, right? Sun is next, first song we
wrote. These two songs are really the foundation of The Smiles' sound.
Swimming was written in April - the last song recorded, my favorite
song too. We recorded the album with a friend and didn't really know
what we were doing. By April I think we got a hang of it a bit better
(the tone on my guitar is great on the song). I Could Love You More was
written over winter break - our friend made a video of us and his
camera had distorted the bass sound when recording this song, we loved
the sound and used it in the recording. Girl I Love - least tropical
song we wrote, Will and I wrote it after I had been listening to Maps
by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for a week straight. Cali Girls started with
Bren and went through more drafts than you'd care to know. We didn't
want to use the same title as the Beach Boys, but it was the best for
the song. Its the same as the color red, it describes so many different
shades of that color - this is our view of California Girls. It is
unfortunate that Katy Perry used this title though...
that the EP is finished... what's next? Do you have a certain label
you'd love to sign with? Do you want to stay independent? Do you have
any specific goals for the band?
goal is to get fans and play shows. We'd just like everyone to hear our
songs, because the people who do hear them are more often than not,
really happy they ran into our music. As far as labels go, I know Will
wants to sign to a label called SubPop from Washington. Other than that
I think it's whatever would be best for the band. My goal is to become
the next Beatles, might as well aim high, right?
so much for your time, guys. Anything else you think people should know
about The Smiles and your new EP?
pleasure! Well the EP was released two weeks ago, so it's available for
download now, there are six songs, and I hope everyone reading goes to
check out the music! At our bandcamp website you can stream the whole
EP for free, and it is actually the only place to buy the album as of
now. Cala Cola is free for download at the site too. We'll have
physical copies of the EP in August and it should be on iTunes by that
time too, so stay updated!