you can tell from looking at a CD cover that an album is going to
be a gas and I got that same kind of vibe from the cover art of the
2011 CD from Matt Smiths World. Best described
as a mix of funky blues and jazz, Matt Smith's World features
some rock solid guitar work from the Austin, Texas based Smith, who
gets some fine support from a solid band of players including Ernie
Durawa on drums, Joe Morales (sax) and Aaron Lack (steel
drums). Guitar watchers are being bowled over by the diverse amounts
of music in play on Matt Smith's World with some esteemed critics
noting various influences that seep into the all original fare, including
the fiery global jazz-rock of Santana, the swampy R&B grooves
of Sly Stone, the deep folk-ish voice of Fred Neil and the urbane
jazz/blues of Boz Scaggs. In addition to the blusier numbers, there
are some interesting torch song type rock tracks as well as an excellent
CD closing guitar-based Gypsy Jazz style instrumental track entitled
"Hot Club Of Brooklyn". Blues and roots rock fans who enjoy
say, Robbie Robertson or even Bruce Springsteens music will
enjoy Smiths outstanding electric guitar and vocals as well
as his intriguing and quite unique approach to songwriting. Oh yeah,
plus you also get that very cool cover art and packaging when you
pick up the CD. www.MattSmithsWorld.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
mwe3: Can you say something about where youre from originally
as I heard you were living in NYC for a while and then you moved to
Austin. How would you compare the two places and how do you feel Austin
(and NYC for that matter) has impacted your musical style and how
did that in turn lead to the making of the Matt Smiths World
SMITH: I cut my teeth in Upstate New York in the Albany / Saratoga
region, moved to NYC in 1994 and lived and worked there till summer
2009 when I moved to Austin. NYC was a great training ground for me.
I got my butt kicked in a lot of very important good ways. I immersed
myself in the myriad forms of music that surrounded me. There were
so many great musicians there. It was immensely inspiring. I learned
about coming at music from a deeper place, that it doesn't come from
me, but through me. My parents had the good sense to retire to Austin
25 years ago, so I had spent a lot of time there and formed a band
called The Monstas, which as its members were many members of my current
band. Austin is a much more laid back place. I like it a lot! The
music scene here is the best in the world in my opinion. It's a great
community and the locals make a point of supporting live music. I
produce music in my studio, Lost Oasis, and play with my band whenever
mwe3: Where and when was the CD written and then recorded and who
plays with you on the album? Theres a pretty eclectic bunch
of musicians on the album yet the chemistry is great. What kind of
sound were you going for on the new album?
MS: Most of the songs were written in Austin in 2010. It was recorded
in the studio I share with Cary Bialac, Lost Oasis and mixed by Stuart
Sullivan in deep south Austin. The sound of this band is unique.
Ernie Durawa is a legendary texas hall of fame drummer, Joe Morales
on saxes, flute is as good as it gets. Aaron Lack is a virtuoso Steel
Pan player who also plays amazing percussion and sings great. Mark
Epstein is also an old friend from NYC who I reconnected with. Mark
co-wrote with me and is a killer bassist. Davis Webb is a top call
top shelf keyboardist who rounds out the sound, which is unique. LZ
Love provided the background vocals.
is my 10th album. I was going for the sound of the bands I grew up
getting excited about as a young musician. Santana, early Doobie Brothers,
Steely Dan, Frank Zappa, Loggins and Messina, Paul Simon. Basically
West Coast early 70's.
mwe3: Your guitar work is amazing on the album. Can you remember your
early introduction to the guitar? Who inspired you to play and how
has your style of guitar playing and song writing evolved and grown
over the years?
MS: There were always instruments around my house growing up. I learned
to play on a 1916 Dyer harp guitar, which I thought was normal till
I brought it to school one day. An ancient upright piano with a sustain
pedal was a pivotal influence as well. I've been playing since I was
10 years old and began writing songs immediately. Through friends
I was was turned on to Duane Allman, Leo Kottke, Jerry Garcia, Richie
Blackmore, Andre Segovia... so many others! Guitar Player magazine
and programs like Midnight Special and Rock Concert turned me on to
Mahavishnu Orchestra, Marshall Tucker and those influences are what
this CD was all about! The single biggest influence on my guitar playing
has to be the great guitarists I've had the honor and privilege of
working with the last 23 years at the National Guitar Workshop.
writing always seemed to be the whole point of it for me. I always
played a lot and sought out new chords and would write with them.
I like to think there's a clear arc over the course of my recorded
output that's reflective of my life situation and my environment at
the time. I've had some interesting environments!
mwe3: Theres some amazing guitars on the Matt Smiths
World CD. What guitars are featured mostly on the new album and
can you say something about your interest in all forms of fretboard
instruments like mandocello, uke, saz and charango too? No wonder
theres such an array of exotic sounds on the album!
MS: Thank you! All my life I've been fascinated by stringed instruments.
It started small. I need a lap steel. I need a mandolin. I should
have a banjo. My collection is quite large now and I get more comfortable
with them as the years go by. Each instrument brings something to
the others, a certain technique, a certain tuning, that's very inspiring.
I always use the correct tuning for each instrument and study the
On the CD I use a lot of guitars. My Fret King Matt-matic with the
ATD automatic tuning device. an array of Hamer guitars, a James Trussart
steelcaster, Hammertone octave 12, 1968 Martin D-18, 1952 J-45, Ovation
mwe3: Can you say something about your guitar / gear endorsements?
What companies are you working with these days and are there any new
upcoming guitar /gear endorsements pending?
MS: I'm a very lucky man to have been blessed to have a great relationship
with great companies! I now have or have had endorsements with:
Gear: D'Addario strings, Planet Waves cables, Pigtronix effects, Tony
Bruno Custom Amps, Trace Elliot, Sans Amp.
Guitars: Fret King guitars, Ovation guitars, Takamine guitars and
How about that cool Hammertone 12 string guitar? Its got a great
sound. Ive seen some similar guitars like that rare 1960s
Vox Starstream XII 12 String with those wild built in effects. Can
you compare the Hammertone with the Vox and what other weird and strange
guitars and guitar sounds are you fond of collecting and recording?
MS: Ed Gerhard is a brilliant guitarist who turned me on to the Hammertone.
I think you can't get them anymore, Its an electric solid body
octave 12, meaning it's tuned an octave higher than a normal 12. It's
one of my secret weapons, It's a little twinkle machine.
Some of my other more exotic instruments are Turkish instruments the
Saz and the Cumbus, South American Tiple, a Kantele (zither), a 1934
National Trojan and a 1931 Dobro, a 1930's Gretsch Hawaiian, an Indian
slide instrument with 21 strings called a Mohan Veena, (V.M. Bhatt),
Banjo uke, I could go on.
mwe3: When you recorded the CD did you use a lot of overdubs or was
it cut live mostly? Also can you say something about the mixing and
mastering of the album and how you feel that impacted the sound. The
CD sounds amazing, theres very little distortion and its
a very clean sounding CD in my opinion.
I always demo each song and work off that. I'll often cut bass and
drums live, then overdub. Stuart Sullivan is a genius who mixes at
Wire Studios in South Austin. As a producer who averages 5-6 CDS
a year, I need my team. I'd heard about Stuart and we hit it off.
His work is stellar. If I'm not mixing one of my productions, he is!
Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova rounds out the production team. He's mastered
most of what's been recorded in Austin over the last 20 years.
mwe3: What musicians guitarists do you still listen to and admire?
MS: My ears are always open to everything. I love music. I love passion
and authenticity. We have great radio in Austin, the best I've heard.
I mostly listen when I'm driving and I'm always discovering great
new artists. It's a whole new game now, really DIY!
Recordings have become promotional tools for artists and everybody
has to make new ones. I always check out friends recommendations,
and from interviews like this! Seems like with the collapse of the
traditional music business the playing field has been leveled somewhat.
Even established artists are putting out refreshing interesting music.
Mediocre doesnt cut it anymore.
What about interests and hobbies outside of the music business do
you have and can you say something regarding your upcoming plans for
2012 and beyond?
MS: I try and keep myself healthy these days. I love my job. When
I'm not making music, or producing or teaching, I go to music stores.
I'm 52 and still filled with wonder at life. I feel my best work is
still in front of me. A work in progress. More albums, more tours,
more writing, more producing, more teaching. That's Matt Smith's World!
Thanks to Matt Smith @ www.MattSmithsWorld.com