Harkening to the days of Mississippi John Hurt, John Lee Hooker, Donovan and the like, combined with The White Stripes and The Black Keys, Smooth Hound Smith are a duo you don’t want to miss.
They’re Zack Smith and Caitlyn Doyle. Both sing, Caitlyn does percussion and Zack does everything else. They honor the “traditions of hazy front porch folk songs as well as raucous back-alley juke joints” and are here to tell us a little bit of what spurns them to make their music and what they’ve been up to lately:
Describe to us how the music scenes compare in your two towns of Nashville and Los Angeles.
Both places have their pros and cons… Nashville is a town where the idea of “the song” reigns supreme and people go to listen, and look closely at lyrics and structure. There’s a lot of different scenes, particularly in East Nashville. In LA, we’ve noticed that dance-ability is a big thing. People like to get moving and cut loose with high-energy music. Of course all this varies venue to venue and band to band, but both are fantastic music cities.
On your Twitter, you’re all about avocados and dog cuddling. How does this factor into your music making process?
That pretty much sums us up…avocados, dog-cuddling…music is a distant third.
Tell us more about the brown furred “smooth hound” of your’s.
His name is Leon Redbone. He’s a year-old hound dog mix that we got at a shelter outside of Nashville. He’s wild and really smart and tends to chew on anything he can get his teeth on. We also have a poodle/bichon mix that’s needy and neurotic. Our hands are pretty full.
Looks like you’re still listening to stuff on vinyl. What’re your favorite analog recordings?
We love to go thrifting, so we’re always keeping an eye out for wicked threads and sweet old tunes. Our best thrift store vinyl finds include a ton of Muddy Waters, the first David Grisman Quintet album, a best of Willie Nelson double vinyl, some Clifton Chenier, and a plethora of lesser known blues artists like Abner Jay (who was a one-man-band!) and Driftin’ Slim. The production techniques on records like those are so inspiring. It’s rough and gritty in a way that’s so pleasing, yet difficult to replicate.
Making ladies dance on tables with “harmonica breakdowns” we see. Are all your live shows this wild?
[Laughs] We’re a new band, so we definitely have our share of less wild shows. Regardless, we try to bring the energy every time to get people moving. Sometimes our shows start out with people staring, slack-jawed, because our setup is so bizarre…a duo with foot drums and a bunch of auxiliary percussion is certainly not the norm.
You use things like washboards in your studio work. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve made music with?
Hmm…that’s an awesome question. Recently when we were recording our debut full-length album, I played an empty 12 oz. Mexican Coca-Cola bottle with a drumstick to punctuate the rhythm on a really groovy blues number. Really made it pop…but don’t try it with the American Coke bottles… the sound just isn’t the same.
Do you have any other “boy/girl” duos you’re fond of?
Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch are masters in every sense, from storytelling to musical virtuosity. Shovels & Rope out of Charleston, South Carolina put on an amazing live show as well, and their harmonies are off the charts. Of course, we usually draw comparisons to The White Stripes, who we love, too, even though our setup and sound is a little different.
Well, we’re certainly fond of these smoothies–