Smitt E. Smitty Interview
Ther BGN got in touch with Smitt E Smitty to talk about the
upcoming “The Virtual Video Atomic Fez Fundraiser for Once in
Somerville!” on Saturday September 26, @ 8PM.
The event includes a seemingly never ending list of bands you want to see! We
also got some history on Smitty, his bands and what he is doing now and planning
for the future. Smitt E Smitty is not one to sit around idle, that's for sure.
He has a lot going on!!
BGN: How are you doing with this non-interactive shut down?
Smitt E: Man Oh Man, it has been rough. We had two major
events canceled due to this horrible virus. We were supposed to do “The
Boston All-Star Rock FEZ-tival at Once in Somerville on 6/20/2020, AND “The
Detroit All-Star Rock FEZ-tival” in Detroit on 8/01/2020. The Detroit
event was going to coincide with a special limited vinyl release of a band I
played in back in 1980 called L-Seven, on Third Man Records
(Jack White’s label). The limited vinyl edition did get released at the
end of July, but no live event to celebrate it. And...by the way...You can get
the special limited edition at: thirdmanstore.com/l-seven
BGN: Many are finding it hard to get motivated in this new
situation. Do you have that problem?
Smitt E: We are so very lucky. Motivation is not a problem.
Smitt E. Smitty & The Feztones are currently recording
our second release at New Alliance Audio. Little Billy
Lost is writing brand new songs that we hope to record before the end
of the year. We also have “The Virtual Video Atomic Fez Fundraiser
for ONCE” coming up on Saturday, September 26, 2020. *(More on
BGN: Your posters for shows have been eye catching from the
beginning. You are a graphic artist by trade?
Smitt E: Yes. Graphic art and animated videos are how we
pay the bills. I was always on the art path from day one. It just so happens
I began playing drums in neighborhood garage bands back in the 60’s too.
I remember when I was in high school, my guidance counselor would say to me,
“Michael, by what your art teachers have told me, you are clearly very
good at art, but don’t you think you should have a backup plan just in
case that doesn’t work out?” I would give anything to go back in
time so I could reply, “Yes, I do have a backup plan. Playing drums in
a rock and roll band!” Smitt E: I moved to Boston in 1985, from Detroit. I was playing
drums in Figures On A Beach. Shortly after we arrived, we got
signed to Sire Records. It appeared like we showed up in Boston and just magically
got signed. The truth is, we were talking to Sire long before we came here.
True fact: Seymour Stein called us on the payphone at The
Rat during our sound check, to ask us if we wanted to be on his record
label. It doesn’t get much more Boston Rock than that. I've been playing
in bands the entire time I've lived here in Boston. When I decided to do my
own music in Smitt E. Smitty a little over two years ago, things
just began to really take shape. Playing drums in Little Billy Lost
is the cherry on top. What a beautiful blessing that has been, and continues
BGN: It seemed like one day we didn’t know you and the
next day everyone knew you. Did you show up in Boston at some point all of a
BGN: You are originally from Detroit and have your rock and
roll years there first there? What would you say is the difference between the
Detroit scene and the Boston Scene?
Smitt E: So let me first talk about what Boston and Detroit
have in common. GREAT local musicians, artists, and bands! Some of the best
in the world. Passion for music abounds. Now let me illustrate the difference
between the two cities with a short story about Detroit. I was playing a show
at a very popular Detroit rock venue about four years ago. At precisely 1:59
AM, the owner of the venue came on stage to announce “last call.”
The owner…1:59 AM. The patrons of the establishment had until approximately
2:30 AM to finish their drinks and begin to leave. They had to vacate the outside
area and parking lot by 3AM. Unless a food truck pops up. Then you can hangout
until about 4 AM. *(Everyone else is hanging out at Coney Island downtown.)
BGN: Smitt E Smitty & the Feztones are
recording a second album at New Alliance Audio in Somerville? Anything you can
reveal about that? Song titles? Cover songs?
Smitt E: We've been a band for a little over two years. In
that short span of time we've performed mostly originals with at least a couple
of covers in every set. This recording session at New Alliance Audio for the
next two weeks, is the first time we will have ALL the members of the band on
the record. We are very excited to say the least. The second release will be
self titled. Smitt E. Smitty & The Feztones. 10 songs. The cover
art? Yeah, we know what we’re doing for it, but don’t you want to
be surprised? Not top secret, but it will be more fun for everyone to see it
for the first time when it comes out. Probably in 2021.
Photo: John Keegan
BGN: What about the recording process with distancing? Is
Smitt E: Yes, that is a challenge. We all got tested, (negative
as of this post), social distancing in full effect, everyone wears a mask (except
when singing), and we only have individual band members come in separately to
record their parts. The one exception is when we have JoEllen and
Linda come in to sing. We will space the recording microphones at opposite
ends of the recording room. BTW, everyone had to learn their parts at home.
Rehearsals with nine band members during a pandemic? Not happening. We’re
professional. We got this.
BGN: This is actually an occasion to talk about the "Virtual
Video Atomic Fez Fundraiser for Once in Somerville". Like all
the shows you do, you bump it up by having 14 acts? Will all these acts be on
the Once stage? And perform in sequence? Or are some going to be filmed before
hand? Or will it be via Zoom?
Smitt E: “The Virtual Video Atomic Fez Fundraiser
for Once in Somerville!” YEAH! So after postponing our event
at Once two times, we just decided a virtual video showcase was the best route.
I’m a video guy, so it made perfect sense. We’ll have crazy fun
with it and help raise much needed funds for a truly wonderful venue and all
the beautiful people that work there. We are so very happy to do this.
All the bands are responsible for their music video submission. We will edit
all the performances together in one final piece. We will then do a time released
video on YouTube and Facebook on Saturday, September 26, @ 8PM.
(URL links for the video to come.) Once’s “GoFundMe” page
is at www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-once-somerville
). Once’s Venmo link is venmo @oncesomerville.
We are so very honored and fortunate to have Angie C. (100.7 WZLX)
and Dave Dow (The Worst Talk Show) to be our hosts for this
event. To say these guys are the BEST is the understatement of the universe.
BGN: Who are Hammer and Snake?
Smitt E: Hammer and Snake! Love this band. They were brought
to our attention by Bridget Duggan. Giving a new band a platform to perform
is one of the things I love most about putting events like this together. We
are very exciting to include them. Simply, tune in and discover them. Well worth
BGN: Emily Doran from The Gala
is going to do a solo? Or how gona do that? Same with Gene Dante?
Just him doing a solo?
Smitt E: There is an answer to that question. Not top secret,
but tune in and find out!
BGN: Is this the first thing you have organized since the
covid shutdown? Does this signal that you will be doing more like this?
Smitt E: Smitt E. Smitty & The Feztones
did a “Quarantine Cover” of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel”
to help raise awareness and donations to Boston’s Rosie’s
Place. Their mission is to provide a safe and nurturing environment
that helps poor and homeless women maintain their dignity, seek opportunity
and find security in their lives. (www.rosiesplace.com)
This "Virtual Video Atomic Fez Fundraiser for Once"
is the first of this kind for us. We would love to do more. Let’s first
raise much needed funds for Once with this event. Maybe we can do one of these
for all our cherished local venues.