By CA Marshall
There’s a storm brewing in Los Angeles and it isn’t the weather-related type either. I am speaking about an accumulative combination of exceptional instrumentation, vocal ability, and lyrics that are fresh, intense, loud, and intentional. This storm is called SMITHRADIO (formerly GORDON) and in as little as three months (since their inception in June 2016), they have accomplished three live benefit concert performances, launched a dynamic website, and connected with a Producer to begin recording their five song EP (literally within a week!). For a band so young, hurling themselves into the industry with this kind of energy and determination is virtually unheard of, but they’re doing it.
And I haven’t even touched on the music yet.
If you are already a fan (or a careful observer like me) you will have already enjoyed seeing snippets of the bands’ music via short videos of live performances posted by frontman Scott Patterson on social media daily. (see links below to engage/follow SMITHRADIO) What I’ve heard to date is just what this industry is missing in terms of a classic ‘Blues/Rock and Roll/Punk Rock’ (yes, Punk Rock!) sound and that is: a true ode to an iconic period in music history. Let’s face it, many of our industry peers have left us this year and have passed the torch to a new generation of musicians and when we speak in terms of ‘filling their shoes’, SMITHRADIO fits the bill. Every music icon from the late 60’s onward is respected in the music that GORDON has created and very soon, the whole world will be able to verify my claim when the band will launch their EP on iTunes this fall.
I had the opportunity to speak with Scott one on one in July 2016 only days before the band left for their live debut shows in West Virginia and New Jersey. Just days ago, we touched base again and delved a little further into discussion about their progress, upcoming EP, and even a little about the frontman himself. Here’s what he had to say:
Exclusive Interview: Scott Patterson | September 14th, 2016-
SMC – Hi Scott! Nice to talk to you again. So, let’s get right into it right away: there were three live shows out east in August. (see: Spotlight Series No.1 Scott Patterson SMITHRADIO (formerly GORDON) debut interview) What was your experience with the fans?
SP – They were all great! As a band wave become progressively more comfortable with our live performance. During the second show (in West Virginia for flood relief), we really got people on their feet into the second song and for the next two hours it was complete mayhem. I learned as a frontman how to engage an audience which is a decision that you make in the moment. The same thing happened in Ocean City because the venue, I think, was the kind where people didn’t feel comfortable getting up and rocking out and forgetting themselves. I gave them the permission to do it and they did. It was an interesting dynamic, with the fan participation at that level – it really elevates the experience for everyone. We had a great time!
SMC – That’s awesome. I can see this in the photos you’ve been posting on your Social Media – I’ve been following along the journey with the band and seeing how it’s coming along. It’s quite impressive! I also saw in photos that you were also traveling (by motorcycle) between shows….
SP – That was separate from the shows…that was something I did for amfAR – The Foundation for AIDS Research and Kiehl’s to help raise awareness and money for AIDS research.
SMC – Nice! What was the song that was most responded to in your live performances?
SP – I did an acoustic pre-show before the concert and people really responded to ‘Kristina’ there’s a clip of it up on my Facebook Band page (SMITHRADIO – Band). I would say ‘Shady’ as well, they really loved ‘Shady’. They just seemed to respond with excitement and enthusiasm to every song we played. After the show, we were covered in sweat, we did three encores. Total exhilaration!
SMC – I Bet! Well I remember our last interview how you spoke about how much energy it took even in the practices prior to these shows! How are the practices and recording processes going for the band now?
SP – We’re gearing up to go into the recording studio either this weekend or early next. We’re going to record five tracks and make an EP that should be ready early to mid-October working with a really great (Producer). I’m going to go and meet him tomorrow to go over some of the songs. We’re very excited about it because we’re going to have five or six radio-ready tracks. They’re real quality tracks which is what we need at this point and then it’s off to Brazil (laughs).
SMC – Oh wow! Brazil! Is that for the band or……?
SP – Yeah! I’m having a love affair with Brazil right now.
SMC – Really? That’s awesome!
SP – Yeah! I’m just getting bombarded with messages on the Facebook band page from fans in Brazil. It’s just so crazy and overwhelming the support! I am talking to some people about arranging some shows in San Paulo right now but we’re going to give ourselves some time to promote of course. Organically, it’s looking like a Latin America tour to start off!
SMC – Scott, only you could pull this off…. seriously!
SP – It’s just bizarre, right?
SMC – Well I have seen with other bands with that level of ‘uniqueness’ where it’s the Latin American fans that respond the best initially. They’re so loyal!
SP – I just can’t believe what’s coming through on these messages. It’s fantastic!
SMC – Yeah, that’s great.
SP – There are a lot of other countries that are responding: Germany, the UK, Canada is big….we should probably start in Canada because it’ll be easier to get up there. But Brazil….they’re just winning the day. It’s overwhelming! It’s interesting to see who’s stepping up but every day it’s Brazil, Brazil, Brazil…it’s great.
SMC – How do you feel about the progress with everything? I mean, you’re really pushing hard!
SP – Yeah, we’re working hard. I feel it’s going the way it should go you know? It’s going to take a while. These things don’t happen overnight. We need to get that smaller club level, conquer it, then go to the next level and so on. We just need to travel and play and have people hear us repeatedly and return to those places and perform continuously and we’re looking forward to it. We love to play live it’s a real blast. It’s also going to be challenging doing back to back to back shows (laughs) it will be hard vocally. Energy-wise, it will be pretty tough to do that because we are playing a long set and we are adding to it. It’s stretching out to about two and a half to three hours.
SMC – Oh wow! That’s amazing!
SP – Yeah, there’s all kinds of new material coming in and we’re going to record some of it. We’re playing really long shows but now I am learning to pace myself. Before, it was us blasting right out of the gate at top speed and not slowing down….maybe a little bit in the middle, and then we’re just ramping it back up again. Now I am seeing that might not be possible for two solid hours and it’s definitely not possible for two and a half to three. So, what I am doing is adding in some acoustic songs to add balance. It gives the band and even the fans a little break, you know what I mean? I remember those nice moments in concerts when I was growing up and really enjoying them. We’re learning how to pace the show and really let each song breathe. As we’re rehearsing and I am working on these songs of my own, I am coming up with different approaches and different angles of how to approach the song and let it breathe a little. I am very pleased with the progress, it feels organic and right. No one is in a big rush to get anywhere our opinion is ‘Let’s just work on the songs and make them better and perform them better’ If you focus on the songs, you’re going to be okay. If the material is there the rest will fall into place.
SMC – There’s some beautiful imagery on your website too!
SP – Yes, well, it’s your basic website. We’re going to keep improving on it and working on it. There’s a lot that goes into these things.
SMC – Well I wanted to know more about the main image on the site which I see you have also used as your twitter banner….
SP – Yes, that’s a photograph of mine. I am into abstract photography and painting and have been for a long time. So that’s one of a series of images that I have. It’s a self-portrait from the day I was born.
SMC – Really?
SP – Yeah and I call the series ‘King Electric’ and it has nothing to do with music. It’s not a guitar or anything, that’s just what I call it. So, there’s a whole story behind it and a whole series. In photography, if you want your work shown in a gallery it’s best to string together twenty photos where they tell a unified complete story and that photo is just one selection from that portfolio. I want to use my own art on album covers because that’s the kind of band we are.
SMC – Well I can certainly appreciate this being an Artist myself. Can you tell us the story about how that came to be?
SP – Well, it’s just some of the work I do. The photography I can’t do it all the time. It comes in these spasms…. a couple of times during the year I have these creative spasms. I get ideas and get inspired and I get into my studio where I work on configuring shots and then executing the shots is really just a formality. The work goes into planning the shots: I get an idea in my head and I’ll have to duplicate it in my studio or outdoors and capture it. I don’t work on it all the time. I can’t it’s too draining because I put a lot into it. Of the hundreds of thousands of shots that I’ve taken in the last couple of years, there’s been some really good ones. It’s just another leg of the table for me.
SMC – This is why I like to ask questions about all aspects of an Artist because the fact that you’re using this art on your website and upcoming album you’re going to be using it on your upcoming work correct?
SP – Sure. Unless we get some designer to come in and take over. (laughs)
SMC – I saw something stated in your newsletter to your fans that you’re going to ‘push’ to get the album completed as soon as possible and I laughed because really, that sounds like who you are and It’s a positive attribute. You get the job done! What are your thoughts on that?
SP – Well, you know, I’ve done this before in a couple of different careers. What it takes is discipline and hard work and that’s what I feel I am good at. I mean, I have had these songs for years but I didn’t work hard enough at it or do anything with them until now. I had some stuff happening before anything else took over and made this obsolete but now I am revisiting it and now I’ve got a real determination and iron will to accomplish it. I just feel this very strong and urgent need to connect with audiences in a live situation through my music. It is overwhelming I go to bed with it, I wake up with it, and I work on it in every aspect all day because I love it. I’ve fallen in love and it just doesn’t seem like work to me. I am eager to get at it each day. I am eager to get to my vocal coach back home and work on songs. I am eager to rehearse and when it’s over I’m disappointed because I want to keep going but I know these guys have a life (laughs). I am probably driving everybody crazy!
Look, in my experience, the only way to get things done is to force it and to work harder than everybody else. I’ve never been afraid of working hard. I think I need to because there are a lot of great musicians, songwriters, and singers out there and they’re working hard too. If you want to compete in this world, you’ve got to give it the respect that it deserves and the time that it needs. It’s a huge thing we’re going after and not a lot of people can do it or even want it. Some people work hard for it and get it and realize they don’t even want it that bad and they kind of back off. I often wonder what happens to bands that achieve number one world status and they disappear…. I think it’s because they realize to sustain something like that, it will begin to affect their artistry and therefore corrupts their songwriting and I understand that. So, it’s a big beast that we’re trying to wrestle down to the ground and it takes time and real discipline. That’s just how it works for me. I am not trying to force it, it’s just what I’m doing now.
SMC – You’re a real people person. You’re not a big ego-maniac at all. So, I am wondering….as your career progresses, where’s the limit for you? We have seen how fame in the music industry can affect a persons’ attitude. How do you think you would cope with that ‘Rolling Stones’ type level of fame?
SP – (laughs) If something like that happens to that level for this band, I think we’d be so thrilled and so grateful…I would be speechless and they’d have to throw something to hit me in the head just to sing a song. I think whether you are playing for two or twenty thousand people, you’ve gotta knock them dead. So there’s the fun. You go out there and kill it. Look, I think we’re just hopeful that we can sell out some two hundred seaters (laughs). I mean, it takes a long time to get to that (Rolling Stones) level. Very few bands enjoy that kind of success. We’re just hoping we can make a living at it and play some nice venues, travel…. we’re all hard working humble guys and we’re in it for the right reasons because we just love creating music. We could do it all day but then we’d probably burn out and you’d never hear from us again (laughs again).
It’s interesting because when we got back from Ocean City (New Jersey) we all got very busy. Then we met up ten days later at our rehearsal space and the energy was just fantastic! Everything felt so new and so fresh. You have to find that balance where you’ve rehearsed and you’re ready to go and you’re not burnt out because I think people can overdo it. We have rehearsed a lot to this point and we don’t need to go at it every day, I think that would just kill the mojo. If we’re going to put together a tour then yes, we will knock it out every day to get nice and tight. I’m really lucky with these guys. There’s a lot of work to be done still but we’re doing it.
SMC – Well we are happy to be a part of that journey!
SP – I think the thing is to get into one of these music festivals and play in front of a lot of people. That would be fun. We’re going to need to make an impact here first. Once we get these songs up on iTunes, hopefully we can get signed by a label and get going. That would be a real win. We’re all really hoping for that within the next year. I know we’re really ambitious but that’s just who we are.
SMC – I don’t think it’s unheard of. You have already created quite an impact with these live shows. So, with Brazil in the works and other live performances, are you ready to rock with a radio campaign?
SP – Yes, I think pretty quickly after that. I think it will depend on how the tracks are received. I think these next couple of steps are going to be crucial. The tracks must be great but we’ll have to take it one step at a time. Like I said, we’re not in any rush. We want the tracks to be great. We know we can kill it live and open for big bands in arenas. We’re very confident in the songs and the sound. We just need to earn that right to do that though. You don’t just come into the business after three shows and get to do that. We must go out there and earn that.
SMC – Your song ‘Marie’…. can you tell me what the ‘special-ness is about that song?’
SP – With ‘Marie’, there’s a different structure to it…. Marie is special to me because it’s a bigger song than…. well, let’s just say it’s an ambitious song. It’s a love ballad but it’s a hard-driving love ballad. It’s non-stop words. It’s wordier than anything I’ve written before. Well, I have written songs like that before but have never performed them. There’s one song I wrote called ‘Broken Hands’ and it has a kind of country/Bob Dylan vibe to it with lots of words. It’s a long song that goes on for five to six minutes and I have added a bridge to it. Marie is a song that is interesting to me because of it’s structure and the potential of what it could be. I think someone more gifted can hear all the parts and structure it in such a way that will make it a very effective song. Right now, it’s about 85% complete. The lyrics are written but it’s just a question of the structure of the song and I think we will record it. I think that song has a great deal of potential because I was very excited about it when I was writing it. It took a while to write too. It came out in pieces but I enjoyed it because when I felt it was kind of drying up for me, I would put it to bed and not force it and the next day it (creative flow) would give me a little treat, and then the next day and that’s how it went. I am very eager to share that song with people.
SMC – Is there a specific reason? Is it specifically about a person you know?
SP This song is autobiographical in nature. There are pieces in it of how I feel about things…. every thought and feeling in that song I experienced firsthand and I am putting it into a song. It’s probably one of the most personal songs I have ever written.
SMC – Nice. Your five tracks would this be one of the five that you will be recording?
SP You know, even if the Producer thinks ‘nah’, I’m going to force this one on him. You’ve gotta give me one chip here and I’m going to play that chip on Marie.
SMC – Awesome.
SP – I think produced the right way it could be a big song.
SMC – I think that’s a gut feeling all Musicians have is when they feel they’ve hit that golden nugget…. always go with your gut.
SP – Well, I really feel this song, very deeply, it’s very personal. This EP is not going to just be these crazy hard driving songs we perform live. I want to layer this EP and have some softer and beautifully produced content. I am eager to do that and to see what this Producer can do. What I am interested in doing is finding a song and layering it and having the real sound emerge from that song. I think hunting for those combinations of instruments, beats, and rhythms is what is so intriguing. That’s what we are planning tomorrow with the Producer is playing the songs and then he’s going to pick five or six and then we’re going to rehearse until we record it all.
SMC – I saw a fan ask if you would consider a country song. Have you entertained that thought?
SP – Listen, I love country music….one of the songs we have ‘All The Way In Love With You’ is sort of country-ish. It really does have kind of a country/rock flavor to it. I think lyrically it also lends itself to that genre and I have others that are country/rock. You asked the question earlier: ‘what song did people respond most to?’ and you know? They really responded well to the punk song
SMC – I knew it!
SP – Yeah, They (fans) rocked out to the ‘HA HA’ song. They were not expecting that. They were completely shocked and we did it as an encore.
SMC – That’s awesome!
SP – I asked the people who were helping out with the merchandise table what they thought and they all said that the fans went crazy for the ‘HA HA’ song. You know, I wrote another punk song that I don’t know if we’re going to perform live yet or not. I could perform it for college crowds, but I don’t know that college kids are really angry anymore. We’re going to have to find the right venue I mean, this one’s out there, it’s called ‘Fuck The Suits’.
SMC – Right on! Love it (laughs). You know that’s the festival song!
SP – (laughs) Yeah, nobody is playing that kind of song. It’s truly a punk song. That’s like Patti Smith and Johnny Rotten had a kid it would be ‘Fuck The Suits’. I showed it originally to the band and they were like ‘What the hell is this?’ Then we started working on it and grooving to it, played it a few times, it was fun a lot of energy. Then during the next rehearsal, we went through the set list a few times and with 15 minutes left in the session, one of the quieter guys in the band said, ‘Hey, uh…. can we play Fuck The Suits?’ (laughs). We hadn’t played it yet, and everyone said, ‘Yeah, sure! Let’s do it!’ It has to be a song that we play at the end of a set because you will blow your voice out on that one. If ‘HA HA’ doesn’t kill me it will be that song that does (laughs).
SMC – (laughs) Well Scott we have a lot of great stuff here! Thank you so much for your time, we are excited to share this new info with your fans!
SP – Yes, it was great talking with you again Candice, thank you so much.
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