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Normally reclusive and taciturn when off-stage, Steven Grant Smith makes for a reluctant parley. Recently tracked down by following the trail of dead bodies he often leaves behind (which looked suspiciously more like a dense path of Tostito crumbs sloshed with Corona), he was finally cornered in a dimly lit isolation booth inside his home studio. What follows is a transcript of the interview conducted by an anonymous relative:
Q - So. Steven Grant Smith. Tell us a little about yourself.
SGS - Six foot two and a half. Two hundred and twenty pounds. Bone and gristle. A hefty hunk of steamin’ junk.
Q - I know a James Taylor reference when I hear one. Is he a musical influence? Are there others?
SGS - Ah, James! Oh yeah, he’s part of the Holy Trinity of singer/songwriters, along with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Other influences would have to include Tom Waits, Leo Kottke, John Gorka, Gillian Welch, Richard Thompson, Suzanne Vega, Neil Young, and the late great Stan Rogers. Oh…and most recently, Peter Mulvey. Brilliant.
Q - How long have you been making your own music?
SGS - Didn’t start banging on the guitar with any degree of serious intention until about age 30. Love playing guitar, but not as much as drums. When I die, there’ll be a drum kit waiting for me in heaven. I have found, though, by way of intensive trial and error, that it’s much easier to write melodies on a guitar.
Q - Is it true that you taught Pat how to play guitar?
SGS - That’s an urban myth. See, Pat and I started out as serious rock climbing partners. And I mean serious. Obsessive. Anyway, we were hanging at my crib one night after a long day of climbing, knockin’ back a tad of libation and watching some dopey video, and Pat asks me to teach him a couple chords on my guitar. So, you know, I show him a few major and minor chords–next thing you know, about three months later, he’s the best dang guitar player in a seven county radius! Amazing. He just blew right by me. I’d love to take credit for it, but that would be–as the politicians say–a bit disingenuous…
Q - I hear you guys are collaborating on new tunes. What’s your long term goals?
SGS - I’m not sure my brain is wired to think long term. We plan on taking a break from playing out live and try to get in the studio soon. I want to get the whole band involved in the creative process–that voodoo witchcraft magical thing that happens when gifted folks bond over a rhythm and melody. There’s nothing else like it. I’m very excited about our next studio project. [Steven gestures toward the tape recorder] You’ll want to start saving your money now, kids! You’re gonna want to buy lots of copies for friends and family!
Q - So you and Pat are performing with a full band nowadays. How’s that working out?
SGS - I love it. I can’t speak for Pat, but I know it certainly helps to take a lot of the pressure off of me. It’s great having that fuller sonic spectrum when we’re live. And I hasten to say this: Don’t be deceived by Josh and Doogie’s dashing good looks. I mean, sure, they’re really cute–and we definitely want to expand our fan base to include more young females–but that’s not the only reason we picked them up. They’re both really great guys and terrific, smart musicians.
– TO BE CONTINUED–