By Candice Anne Marshall
images provided by Scott Patterson | SMITHRADIO
If any of the Starlight Music Chronicles followers on Twitter were paying attention from January 15th to 22nd, they would have noticed a flurry of activity. This was the seven-day period that will go down in our history books as the Artist of the Month fan voted competition that broke some serious records in terms of ‘fan votes’. It was the first time ever that a band (fan nominated) would achieve the highest ever votes for the social media poll posted. In fact, SMITHRADIO fans were relentless in their pursuit of making music history by elevating their favorite Musician, Scott Patterson and his band, to this level of success with a whopping 1112 fan votes tallied as of January 22nd, 11:50 pm MST. (previously, the highest votes ever recorded was held by The Roxy Suicide in December 2015)
Recently. I connected with Scott to talk about the February 2017 Artist of the Month win, his fans (who have now labelled themselves the SMITHRADIO Army), and what that means for the upcoming Artist of the Year competition in June 2017. Here’s what he had to say
INTERVIEW | Scott Patterson SMITHRADIO January 30 2017
SMC – So tell me, what are your thoughts on winning SMC’s February 2017 Artist of the Month (AOM) competition?
SP – Well, it’s a terrific honor to get this kind of validation so early in the game. I didn’t expect to get a nomination, was surprised when we got it and was even more surprised we won. Kinda pinching myself on this one, truth be told.
SMC – Yes, they sure did! It’s so exciting Scott because a lot of Artists who come out with a first single don’t have this kind of support right away and I believe it’s what SMITHRADIO has produced so far that really has enraptured the fans. What was your first reaction when you found out you were nominated by a fan?
SP – My fans have always been there for me. There have been times when I’ve been so exhausted, too exhausted to continue on a given day and just seeing a few nice comments got me to the finish line. I’m doing this all myself – my own label (Blind Horse Records), my own small but dedicated staff and fan support that is unprecedented for me.
SMC – That’s true! You’re right!
SP – My assistant called to tell me that we were beginning to pull ahead in the voting and I was quite moved by the whole thing. It meant the fans were supporting it and wanting to represent. That was very meaningful for me and the guys (band). I never thought we would win.
SMC – what was your reaction to the win?
SP – I didn’t know right away. My assistant contacted me and said, ‘They’ve made a decision and we won!’, and I thought, ‘Good Lord, how did that happen?’ I was excited. I was in the middle of writing a song when I got the news. So, I allowed myself to have that moment, and then the work ethic in me demanded that I stop celebrating and get back to writing the song. After my writing session was done, I got on the phone and was talking to everyone (band) and we had a good time (celebrating). We are really excited about it.
SMC – Yeah, that’s great. The fans went crazy. I think they’re still celebrating.
SP – Yeah, Isn’t that amazing?
SMC – Absolutely. I’ve seen this happen with another young (new) band once before and I know that this is possible. Aside from the win, how did the name SMITHRADIO Army come about? That’s pretty cool.
SP – That was a term I was kicking around with my assistant at the beginning and then some fans picked up on it and ran with it so it stuck. I have some very loyal fans that are spreading the word about “HAHA SONG” and SMITHRADIO just like any other band but these particular fans are going the extra mile. Can’t wait to meet them, comp them when we tour and thank them personally.
SMC – That’s exciting. So, which Social Media platform did you find the fans most active on for this competition?
SP – I spent more time on twitter and I jumped on the Instagram and Facebook band pages to engage as well. I just tried to be active on as much as I could.
SMC- What are your thoughts on the other Artists you competed against in terms of the camaraderie while there was active fan voting?
SP – I think they were a very classy group of people. They congratulated us and were very kind. I was really moved by all that and I wish them all the best. I don’t know their music but I can’t wait to hear it. When we go to the U.K. I can’t wait to see The Black Jackals.
SMC – Hey that’s awesome.
SP – Yeah, they just kick ass! Also, Neil and Adam – such nice guys! I haven’t listened to their stuff but I am going to. They all reached out to me – classy guys. That’s what I love about music – these Musicians are so giving and generous. It’s not really a competition really, it’s a chance for people to get to know one another and share music.
SMC – Absolutely. That’s really the point of our fan nominated competitions – is to engage and cross promote the Artists. When we’re talking indie music, we are talking about bands who may not know a lot of the other Artists that are in other countries. Because SMC promotes bands on a global scale, this is a way of introducing one another via the fans. For this new season, we have three European bands who have won AOM (Hannah Clive, DaveIt Ferris, and Tamsyn) in the latter part of 2016 and now one North American band to kick off 2017 (SMITHRADIO). We have a few more months left before we head to the Artist of the Year competition in June 2017 so there may be more, but SMITHRADIO is the first North American band to win AOM this season. Last season, our Artist of the Year (IAMWARFACE) is from the U.K. and they won with 22,000+ votes. What are your thoughts on all of this?
SP – Oh wow. Well, the EP will be out and we will hopefully be touring by then so maybe we’ve got a chance. Wow.
SMC- I think you do!
SP – Okay, well, we’ll knuckle down. We’ll see what happens. Does this mean we are enrolled into the Artist of the Year event?
SMC – Yes. All our Artists of the Month are automatically enrolled into the June 2017 Artist of the Year (AOY) event.
SP – Wow. Okay!
SMC – It was your fans who nominated you and brought you to this place.
SP – They are the very best in the world which is why I am being so meticulous with these tracks. Want them to be as good as they can be for the fans. They deserve that.
SMC – Part of the Artist of the Year win means you get a scholarship for ArtistMax. This program is in Los Angeles with Producer Ken Caillat (Fleetwood Mac) and his daughter Colbie (Caillat – Grammy award winner), who is one of the program mentors. Our AOY winner will also receive VIP invitations by ArtistMax to VIP events as part of their scholarship program as well. It’s kind of a big deal. So, what are your thoughts about going to that next level in addition to what you’ve already accomplished?
SP – Wow that’s great. Well, we need to just keep doing what we are doing. The 5 songs (for the new EP) are almost mastered. We are going to release the EP and then a single after that. There is a single that I wrote that has a different feel than the rest of the songs (on the EP). It’s a more serious song which hooks into something we’re involved in. We want to roll this out the best way and that’s really the step to take us to the next level. We’re going to be playing the SXSW (South by Southwest) 2017 Music Festival this year as well. I was on the Rachael Ray show back in November and played a couple of bars of “HAHA DONG” and right there, she said, “I want you to come and play at SXSW. We have three stages down there and you get one of them for a 30-minute set”. That’ll be fun. Rachael really hooked me up. You know, we had that instant chemistry when we met and we had a great chat. Spectacular woman. She and her team are comped for life any show we do. I mean, how do you pay someone back for being so generous and having your back like that? Anyway, could go on about her forever. Love her. There’s also a Sirius XM radio concert in New York as well as an AOL Build appearance which will hit Facebook as well. We are rehearsing for that. In the meantime, writing a lot of new material and eager to get back in the studio to record. Don’t like songs to sit very long after they are born.
SMC – I heard an interview earlier today that you had with Pulse 98.4’s Big Drive Home with Peter Greenwood. You talked about your influences. Who are your main ones?
SP – When I was five I use to stand on top of my parent stereo console (like a coffee table) with a hairbrush mic and sing along to Beatles songs. Hard Days Night, Rubber Soul. I’d put on shows for my parents when my dad got home from work. Then there was The Rolling Stones and ‘Satisfaction’. The sound of that guitar bore into me and from that moment I wanted to play guitar as well as sing. We had an old Spanish guitar laying around the place and I started plucking away. Growing up it was Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Zepplin, Bowie, James Gang, Skynyrd, Deep Purple, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, The Who, the usual suspects. I liked bands and songwriters. I liked guitar heroes. I liked guitar solos and drum solos. I like bathing myself in the giant cloud of marijuana that hovered above the ice rink at The Spectrum in Philly where I saw all those great bands. There was joy, anticipation, beautiful girls and a big train of rock music coming our way as soon as the lights went down. Joni Mitchell fascinated me. The tone of her voice is really special. Neil Young, too. Love that big arena sound – The Who, Zepplin. When Patti Smith came along that just blew apart everything for me because what she was doing was her poetry and putting music to it. People were doing that a lot in the Village in NYC in the early 70’s but not like that. Blew me away. There are so many different types of performers – flashy showmen/women, introverted songwriters, etc. and I love them all. Anybody with the guts to get out there and just play their songs, well, I’m gonna listen. Over the past twenty five years or so there have been some great bands and songwriters but the one guy that always stood out for me was Noel Gallagher. No bullshit. Just gets right to it. With him it’s about the song and nothing else. It’s about a melody, a dynamic and a structure over an entire set. Very powerful. His ‘High Flying Birds’ will be my next concert to attend.
SP –SMC – So when we talk about your five song EP, we are going to be listening to songs that are your truths, correct?
SP – Yes. The songs are all about a girl: they are either break-up songs, love songs, or they’re ‘can’t-wait-to-get-away-from-you’ songs. The one song that will release as a single after the EP is launched is not me, it’s someone else’s point of view. I put myself in someone’s shoes and felt a need to tell the story of their life through that song. I imagined what it must be like for this individual to go through this particular experience. Deals with PTSD.
SMC – I do know that Patti Smith’s daughter had reached out to you and that you are looking at doing a benefit concert with Patti. Does this song tie into that?
SP – It may…. it’s about one specific type of a person but it could cross over into everyone who is experiencing these types of feelings. It’s not specific to any one category of person but that’s who I am telling to story of the song through. Kristina – pieces of it has been online, and that’s a song that might be appropriate for a benefit concert. That’s about a young girl being sexually abused and becoming a teenager who escapes her circumstances.
SMC- So many people look to that to tell that kind of a story. In terms of your EP and the kind of variety in genres (blues, punk rock, rock), what can we expect?
SP – You’re going to get rock and roll, Americana, some Glam, a dash of punk. In the same family as “HAHA SONG”.
SMC – Yeah, I love it.
SP – Yeah, I love it. Some good, classic party songs on the album and I attribute that to coming out of long period of writing very serious material and, quite frankly, getting sick of writing serious material. I simplified everything and started writing the kind of songs that come out of jam sessions with friends just horsing around at a party with maybe a beer or two in you. Just let it fly, appreciate the major chords and play what’s fun to play for YOU. What feels right and good in the moment. Might be the simplest progression but doesn’t matter if it rocks. It’s RockNRoll, man. It’s not complicated. Write what you feel and scream it out.
SMC – Oh excellent! You’re songwriting style is very strong.
SP – Like I said…..it’s rock. Rock is a specific discipline that too many people clutter with bullshit. Rock is supposed to hit you in those places we can’t talk about at family dinners. Rock is momentum. It’s a locomotive, it’s inevitable. But it’s personal to each songwriter. I write all the time which mean I’m strumming the guitar all the time. A lot of time bullshit comes out but when a real song comes out of your soul, for me it comes fast. Five minutes. Like a window opened and some power handing you something good. That’s exciting. So, there’s stuff in the hopper ready to record. These are the songs I’m sharing with the world.
SMC – That’s exciting! In terms of touring, are you possibly looking at Australia?
SP – We’re looking at everything. Candice, we’re looking at touring all over for a number of years. We want to play everywhere and we don’t want to stop. That’s just something I want to do until I drop. So yes, we are looking at all possibilities to go everywhere. We are in discussions about this right now and we need to choose wisely. We thought we were going to start in the USA to do a six-week tour of the south west, now a lot of other countries are stepping up: Brazil, Scotland, U.K., Japan, and it’s a nice problem to have but we don’t want to alienate anyone. We want to do it right, so we’re being very careful and methodical about it. There will be something to announce soon enough. I understand the fans are getting anxious but I promise we will announce the EP and some solid dates real soon.
SMC – I know that the pressure is on but I do know the process of producing something that is quality and that takes time….
SP – It does. I spent the holidays laying down guitar tracks for a couple of the songs for the EP. I am very meticulous about this. I am working with people that are equally meticulous. We don’t want to have to go back and redo anything, we want to get it right the first time. Recording a song properly is complex. The listening public is very sophisticated now and they’re used to a very high quality recording because there’s lots of great Producers and bands and they’re hearing great stuff all the time. It’s important to step up and compete and we’re going for a knockout punch and “HAHA SONG” set the bar real high.
SMC – I know it’s going to be a great follow-up: you’re working with Michael Nomad Ripoll (Producer and Guitarist for SMITHRADIO)
SP – Yeah, Nomad and I work well together in the studio and we are producing a great album. Hell of a guitar player, too. The band is together and we will be introducing members soon.
SMC – Are they the same musicians that will be touring with you that were also in the studio recording?
SP – Couple of the same and a couple different.
SMC – Going back to Patti Smith, what was your reaction when her daughter reached out to you?
SP – Total shock. Read that email ten times before it hit me. Full circle kind of thing. Nice when that happens.
SMC – Absolutely. So, what is the greater feeling of gratification for you: finishing the recording of a new song, or performing in front of an audience?
SP – Either or. They are both great feelings that stay with you. I’m addicted to both. Can’t imagine not recording or performing.
SMC – I agree. It’s funny because I had a fan private message me and say that they felt that this career path you’ve taken really speaks about you as an individual the most. Do you feel the same?
SP – That is an accurate statement, yes. I’m ready. I have tried to pursue a music career several different times in my life: out of high school, again when I was out here in LA initially, then back in New York, and a couple of different times out here. What remains the same is that I continued to write music. When I was growing up I began writing my own stuff. Now, it’s about getting my music out of my own body and soul. That’s what interests me. So, to answer the question, yes, I feel this is the right path for me. Things are happening and people are responding in a positive way. I’m steering the ship, it’s my record label, it’s all coming out of me. That’s where I am happiest.
SMC – It really shows too. You’ve been on a few talk shows already, Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show, and Rachel Ray to name a few since “HAHA SONG” released and you could really see that you were excited when they began to talk about the single and your music career. What were those experiences like?
SP – It was completely surreal. When I went out there and sat down on the couch next to Jimmy (Fallon), and we started talking and he held up a placard with the “HAHA SONG” on it, a photograph that I took, it was just a surreal moment. Here’s the biggest talk show guy in the world holding up my song and talking about it. I thought, ‘Good God, it doesn’t get any better than this!’ It was a real moment. That was the moment, to reference the previous question, that I knew I made a good decision in choosing this career path. I have made a lot of bad ones in my life, but I made a good one here.
SMC – When I saw you walk out, I jumped up in my seat and shouted ‘YES! He did it!’
SP – It was surreal. It’s The Tonight Show. Grew up watching it. Was a head trip.
SMC – I know, I was so excited for you.
SP – They give you seven minutes but it feels like seven seconds. It’s over before you know it.
SMC – You know I really don’t think that will be the last time he will have you there. He always has a music component on his show and I’d love to see you two do that sing-off or guitar playoff – whatever it may be. Is that something you’d like to see happen?
SP – We went out for dinner after and I pitched the idea of the ‘three lost Dylan brothers’ to the Producer (Bob hasn’t anything to do with this and nobody knows about them) but they do Bob Dylan covers. Let’s see if the phone rings.
SMC – Oh, that’d be great.
SP – Then the Producer sent me a clip of Jimmy actually doing Dylan which was really funny. Jimmy is talented – really talented.
SMC – That would be amazing. One of the fans had asked if you would be looking at writing a SMITHRADIO Army song?
SP – I think I already have…. I wrote a song about taking over the world (laughs).
SMC – Pretty much!
SP – It’s something that I’ve been tossing around as a way to say thank you to the SMITHRADIO Army. It’s got to be rock with a little bit of humor. I am trying to get the right tone and balance for that song so yeah, I’ve been thinking about that song. Absolutely.
SMC – When we are talking about this all coming together, and the fans being there for you, years down the road, when you are really in the groove, you’ve gotta look back at the beginnings and the people who were there at the very beginning, how would you pay homage to them?
SP – The people that I started out with are still with me. They are either with me in spirit, or they’re employed by me. The team is very solid. They’re very dedicated, and loyal and that’s the great part about it. It is a family, it’s an extended family. The vision is: maybe a year from now, there is a SMITHRADIO convention, or a picnic, or a weekend retreat, something like that. These people get along very well. They are connecting and making friends and that warms my heart.
SMC – In terms of looking back at the first couple of interviews that you and I have had – One of the fans asked why I hadn’t changed the original GORDON name on the title of those articles to SMITHRADIO. I told them that the purpose of SMC was to actually chronicle the journey for the Artists we support. Therefore, you will see a numbered series on the Spotlight portion of our website. We feel it’s important to keep the chronicle as it was written with no updates so that we can keep a well-documented history of the Artist’s career and milestones. Later, when the band has become big, it’s always nice to uncover the beginnings and find those treasures for fans. What are your thoughts on this kind of authenticity?
SP – Hey, you’re the boss of that situation. (laughs) Well, hey, that’s what I was then and I think it should stay. I agree.
SMC – What’s behind the name change and the name itself?
SP – I thought of what my biggest influence was and what made me want to do this (music career) – what changed my life as a young person most radically, and that was Patti Smith. Through Patti, I discovered that Artistic courage and staying true to your art really was. Through her, I discovered so much literature – Arthur Rimbaud (French Poet) who, I ended up having a bigger obsession with than Patti.
SMC- I remember you referencing that in one of our earlier interviews.
SP – Yeah, and there were a lot of other literary influences that I went through in my youth because of Patti Smith. I discovered – to borrow her term – “the country of the mind” as it related to music and poetry. There’s a deep spirituality that isn’t often recognized through her work. A kind of faith, deep-seated. I would listen to Patti Smith live concerts from The Bottom Line (venue in New York City) via WMMR (radio station in Philadelphia) when it was past my bedtime. It would be late when she would come on and I would listen to these Sunday night live concerts….We had to change the band name because I was doing this this radio interview last summer and the DJ said, “Wow, that’s quite an EP you’ve got there. It’s a really punk sound”, and I said, “What are you talking about, we don’t have an EP yet”. That’s when we found out there was another band with the same name. So, we had to change the name. I didn’t want to come up with just any name – had to be very meaningful to me. I just kept thinking about Patti and those Sunday nights listening to the radio with the sheets over me, in the dark on a rainy evening in South Jersey and Patti Smith turned low so no one could hear. Those were the moments that make you really dream, so I just thought Patti Smith on the radio…. Smith Radio….SMITHRADIO. I thought, you know, I’m a wavelength on SMITHRADIO. Artistically, I was invented by Patti Smith. She is the Muse.
SMC – That’s an amazing story. I love that! Wow……wow.
SP – I grew up with a very artistic mother who demanded artistic integrity, honesty, vulnerability and, above all, spirituality, in every piece of art, music, book, film she exposed me to. So, that’s what I aspire to. We’re starting this EP off with songs about love gone right and gone bad, longing with a kind of wistful resignation.
SMC – So there was that deep connection with her. I think you and I…. if I had read correctly…. both had mothers who passed away in 2008.
SP – Yes, my mother and I had always had a very deep connection…to the point where we were telepathic. I knew what she was thinking all the time, and vice versa. We didn’t have to speak, we just knew with a look. She never had to tell me to do anything, I always knew what she wanted me to do or what was expected of me.
SMC – My relationship with my mother was very similar, so I can concur.
SP – Yeah and it really contrasts with my relationship with my father because I had zero connection with him. We didn’t understand one another. He wasn’t around very much and when he was, it wasn’t very pleasant. When he left, I was really kind of relieved.
SMC – Now when I look at you having this success in your career along with also having a (young) son, and he starting to play with his guitar…with you not having that relationship with your own father, what would you like to bestow upon your son that you may not have gotten from a fatherly figure?
SP – My job is to prepare him to leave home eventually and thrive in the real world and that’s what I am doing. He’s very bright, willful. Absorbs everything I’m doing or saying so gotta be careful. The thing that really struck me is how much joy he brings every day, how funny he is. I literally laugh all day with him. Smart, quick, mischievous. Ton of fun. Then there’s the scary side, the worry but all worth it. He’s watching me build my music into something and I am very proud of that. I already have a nice, fat scrapbook about SMITHRADIO to go through with him when he’s ready. If I can inspire my boy to strive for great things and fight for his dreams I’ll have done my job.
SMC – In combining those two questions together, would you say that your mother, being the primary caregiver – obviously, she had to wear two hats – would you say that the skills she bestowed upon you is something that you are passing down to your son?
SP – I think that the greatest gift that my mother gave me was…. you know, she was toughest person that I’ve ever met. I’ve never met anyone with a backbone like that. She was 5ft 2” and the sweetest person you would ever want to meet but man, when people crossed her……uh oh! She wouldn’t yell. She would get really quiet and say, “Let me tell you about the facts of life here”, and we would go ‘Uh oh!’ She was amazing. But just tough as nails. Her famous line to me is the line I always say now and that’s: ‘Give ‘em hell’, that’s all I heard when I would walk out the door of the apartment was ‘Give ‘em hell’, and I did. In every aspect of my life, I gave ‘em hell. She wanted us to be competitive in all areas, and we were (he and his sisters). I still am – I don’t know any other way. I compete, therefore I am and that’s just what she wanted for us. She instilled the work ethic by example. I wish there were 30 hours in the day because I love putting in the work for my music. There’s just not enough time in the day.
SMC – I know, I can relate.
SP – I’m just at it all the time. People think I’m a mad man but I’m always saying, ‘I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go write.’ Songs hit me in odd place at odd times but the bottom line is they don’t hang around forever so you gotta split and get it down. When the Muse calls you answer.
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