I was extremely thrilled when I received the news I’d be able to interview Smile Smile, their new album Truth on Tape having continuous play on my iTunes since I heard the first chords of Tempo Bledsoe, one of my favorite songs off the album. Driving back to the Lake Forest College Campus, I was a bundle of excitement and anxiety. An hour later I was in dead panic. Our phone had decided to turn against me, and while the urge to throw the monster that it was through the glass window in front of me was strong, I calmly decided to call the knight in shining armor, a Yoda if you will, Matt Kistler, who promptly came up with the solution of posting this blog after the interview.
After playing a small game of phone tag, my hope like a vein connected to my cell phone, I was able to connect with Ryan of Smile Smile. His voice easily calmed my nerves, allowing me to relax, and feel as though I was talking more to a friend than an admired musician.
The interview consisted of the usual questions, inspirations and dreams, ending in a less conventional manner, a signature style of mine if I may say, and making my day a pleasant one.
Ryan and Jencey started writing music together while living in Dallas. The simple acoustic based sounds, which can be found on their albums, didn’t fit into the rock and electronic surf rock bands they were respectively in, so they began writing the melodies in their home. They recorded the songs more as a joke, something silly; they must really be laughing now, with success being the punch line. One of their past tours was with Metric, a huge and incredible leap as Ryan said to me.
Why the name Smile Smile? I couldn’t help but ask. “Jencey and I both liked the sound of Smile, but neither of us could agree on another word, so we just used it twice.” Ah, the art of compromise in a relationship.
The current albums inspiration spawned off the breakup of Jencey and Ryan. “It was pretty much the ultimate comeback. We broke up, she moved out, and I was hurting so I just wrote. We weren’t talking, but I’d email her these songs and we got up to about twelve, and there we go.”
“You can’t escape when the truth is put on tape, baby play it back,” lyrics from the song “Truth on Tape” show the raw emotions; They successfully combine both their vocal powers inside this vortex of simple yet poignant music.
And given that they’ll soon be heading to Canada, dreams to play at the Hollywood Bowl, could be right around the corner. “I feel like everyone says that but I mean it would just be amazing. We’ve also got some airplay in London, and I’d love to go abroad, but it’s an expensive trip so we’ll see.”
As our interview was coming to a close, Ryan shared with me where his love for music sprouted from. “When I was a kid my dad would sit me down and we’d listen to records. They were all this 60’s and 70’s music, and I just fell in love. I didn’t start writing music or even playing an instrument till I got to college.”
“I really have this thing about learning it on my own, so I taught myself how to play guitar, and I’ll mess around with any kind of instrument till I get a few chords and such.”
“If you were a Holiday sock, which one would you be?” I asked, my favorite question which seems to be well received in both of my now two band interviews. He laughs, and goes along, “I’d probably take a really shinny red Christmas sock and then tear it and dirty it up. I can’t stand something really new and shinny, I just feel like I have to mess it up.”
Well Ryan, you’ll be happy to know that your record is sitting here right next to me and while at one point it was nice and shinny, with the airplay it’s getting, and the dirtiness of our college radio room, it is no longer shinny and new, but well used and well played.