Origin: New York, Yew Nork
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“He has emerged with an assured debut that confidently blends country, blues, rock, garage, and more.” -Elmore Magazine
“Featuring a distinct musicality that conjures up hard luck blues, outlaw country and early rock n’ roll…” -Groundsounds
Nashville based singer and guitarist Rett Smith jump started his career when producer Joe Nicolo, known for his work with bands like the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith, saw one of his videos on YouTube and invited him to record at his studio. The result of those sessions, the EP Tularosa, was just released in September 2015. Aside from a cover of Roky Erickson’s “Two Headed Dog” the album is all Smith’s original work – an organic sounding collection of blues flavored rock. We called up Rett amidst birthday celebrations at the historic Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles to talk about his career thus far.
How did your collaboration with producer Joe Nicolo come about?
“I was living here in Los Angeles, and I was really just writing songs, and trying to find my way a little bit. I recorded some demos, and I got really lucky right off the bat, where the right people heard them. You know, concert bookers, and KCRW, the radio station here did an article right away. Totally out of the blue. So I was playing shows in LA out of nowhere. I never thought that I would be singing, especially, I just recorded the demos because no one else would.”
“Anyway, how Joe came about: Someone through the grapevine had said ‘have you heard this kid in LA?’ Just totally in passing. He looked it up, saw a video of me playing on YouTube that I put up, and reached out. We sent a couple of emails back and forth, and then I went to Philly within the week. His beautiful Studio 4 in Philadelphia is gorgeous. I just played him and his son every song I knew. Looking back on it, I was so nervous, and it was so shaky. But it all went from there.“
How did you approach the solo on “One Block Bar,” is it all improvisation?
“Yeah, totally. That cut is one take, front to back. That was really important to me. The solo on ‘Two Headed Dog’ was overdubbed, because I was the only guitar player in the room. But everything else is one take. The solo on ‘One Block Bar’ is totally improvised. I actually thought that that was going to be a scratch take, cause we were still going over the song with the band. And we were like ‘That’ll work, I’m cool with it.’ It’s in open G, I just go straight in to the slide part. I play behind the slide, and then go straight in to it.”