June 2002 - GIDEON SMITH & THE DIXIE DAMNED
Life can be full of bad surprises and tragic moments, and this time it happens after my good friend Thorsten Quenders had done this interview with Gideon Smith. In the night from the sixth to the seventh of June drummer Boo of the Dixie Damned died very tragic while he was asleep. It isn't really necesarry to say that this was a terrible shock for the whole band and everything they've planned for this year is very uncertain. If you don't know this band, then I give you the advice to get a copy of their full-length "Southern Gentlman". They don't come up with the usual heavy southern doom style.Read the review inside this webzine and you know, what I'm talking about. And enjoy reading this detailed and high informative interview with Gideon Smith. Thanks to Thorsten for the questions!
Please tell us about the history of GS&TDD. I mean when did you start and who`s who in the band at the moment?
The band came together around 1999, at that time I had three guys who had been in the band Animal Bag. Keith Innman, Otis and Boo Creepy. We made that first ep on Game Two, which was a little more metallic and jam oriented. Keith and Otis couldn't tour or play shows due to personal commitments at that time, so Boo and I built the new line up out of other musical partners in crime: Jose Carlos on bass, Brad Fury on guitar and Mike Kelleher on guitars, then we made the "Southern Gentlemen" cd and that is the line up that is now, the one at shows and future tours. Its alot more raw and groove heavy, three big guitars, swampy slide and great rhythm section!
Is there something like a NC Scene? Where do the heavy bands like you and Karma To Burn play or are you more east-coast-oriented?
Yeah there are some great bands from the south in general, like the punk legends Antiseen, the sludge kings Sour Vein (originally from Wilmington,NC), Weedeater, Throttlerod, Buzzoven, others. I have seen Karma to Burn, I think their first stuff is excellent I havent heard the other records, but did see them live- it was great, powerful stuff..but I believe Karma are from Virginia, not Carolina. I think Weedeater puts on great live shows, Dave Collins is one of my all time favroite bassists, he's the man..also I credit Buzzoven years ago for starting the whole movement of bands that sound like that, those guys were the pioneers of that and put on some great shows years ago. In Charlotte, I like Black Lagoon, Jennifer Strip, Dead Kings, bands like that. But all across the southern parts of the States you have great bands out of Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana and across to Texas. But also it's interesting you have bands like Five Horse from Ohio and Halfway To Gone from up North, who has southern influenced flavor to their sounds, its great. I enjoy alot of them, if not all!
I know the Roadburn reports, so it`s obvious that you have a lot of different influences in your music, but is there a different kind of influence for your southern swamp blues style, especially in this part of the USA. On the one side the Heavyness of the East-Coast and on the other side a big heavy influence of the South?
Yeah, I think it comes from listening to alot of REAL OLD country and bluegrass in addition to 70's rock. Also the blues based music from New Orleans, Mississippii, Carolina and out of Memphis Tennessee. Rock and roll was basically created in the south to my knowledge, and if you reach back and listen to the old stuff as well as the big southern rock of the seventies, you can get alot of good influence. Also, bands from England that brought it back to the USA. Chicago blues..stuff like that.
To my mind, you cannot describe the sound of the GS&TDD as typical Southern influenced Heavyrock. That is correct, but I think there`s more. For me it`s the long awaited fusion between these new heavy southern influenced sounds like Alabama Thunder Pussy, Five Horse Johnson, Karma To Burn, Halfway To Gone , Backdraft and the east-coast Heavy Scene and especially the spirit of the godfathers of all like Johnny Cash, Elvis, H. Williams.
Well thanks man, I appreciate your insight and interest! Yeah I love all those bands. Most of them I know personally, but all of those bands are great, kind people who have their own awesome music and vibe and I love em all. Thats part of what makes the recent uprise in southern influenced rock so cool is that the scene is filled with musicians who was really great, kind personally when you meet them, then their music kicks ass and it kinda connects everybody in one big family tree almost! Especially the Smallstone bands, we're all wayward children of Scott Hamilton!!! hahaa..Children of 70's rock, Sabbath, Skynyrd and Hank Senior. Grown up on psychedelics and beer and fried foods!..But hey, I am happy you can see our sound is slightly different from most..I think it's cause I listened to alot of old Cash, Hank Sr., BB King, Elvis, Doors and Cult and stuff like that. I wanted to bring the outlaw country, blues and hard rock jams together because I could play that more naturally than the doom style or punk influenced music. Also, its about being song oriented as well as guitar riff oriented: bands like Five Horse, HalfWay, ATP and especially the mighty Raging Slab have stand out songs that you can remember and jam over and over again. Songs last forever man!
Tell us 'bout your recording-session at the holy Sun Studios. While listening to songs like "Whiskey Devil", "The Witchs House" or the mighty "Ghost Rider "of „Southern Gentleman“, I feel the spirit of Cash and Elvis. How was it to record songs in an earlier session at this birthplace of Rock, Rock`and`roll, Country or whatever ? Please, give us an insight into the studio sessions.
Man that was one of the greatest nights of my life! It was a dream come true to record there and use those 50 yr old mics..it was the best! One of the greatest moments of my musical life thus far and probably ever. People might wonder why I did it, but if you dont get it you dont need to hear no explainin'! Haha..but really man, I guess I just had the incredible drive to make it happen and I loved every minute of it. It was so cool..couldn't have been cooler brother! And also..hey..saying you can hear that influence in my band, thats the best man, I can't tell ya how much that means to me! That music has been my life's blood and happiness in times of trouble baby!
To me GS&TDD is not a typical band, who came together and so on. It`s not easy to describe, but in the roadburn report you told us `bout shuffling the line ups. How are the decisions in the band made.
Well, I never really looked at the band as a project with a big group of people for years at a time..I started it myself as a joke, something fun and exciting and the only goal was to kick ass and just enjoy making music. No plans, no goals, no problems like most bands..Anyway, thanks to musical Gods people got excited about it and it became what it is today. Smallstone called me and offered me a deal, and I signed by myself, then wrote the songs and built the band up from the ground based around myself and Boo Creepy. Scott was happy with the new line up and new songs, so we recorded Southern Gentlemen like you read about on Roadburn. Now that line up stayed together and made the band a real band. Jose, Mike and Brad were all old friends from past bands, so these guys and myself go years back, we're all brothers and old friends from like maybe fifteen years ago. So they liked what I got rolling with Boo, and then joined up and we made it a solid, ass kicking band!
So yeah, this didn't come together like most bands, but magic will happen differently for every person's lives..so thats how it happend to me and us as a band. But like you asked..As far as desicions and band politics..it basicaly comes down to what I started and worked hard for, I busted ass to make it happen and I work hard today, all day, every day. As for the other members, if they have an opinion or idea or whatever, we talk about it and I'm all about it and it all plays into the way the band works. At the end of the day, they respect me, and I respect all of them, and somehow we manage to avoid alot of the stress and heartbreaks that happen in most band's tours of duty. I know I can count on those guys and they trust me to do what I do. Also, when the music is silent and things are slow for the moment, we all hang out and laugh all day and we've been like that for years before there was a band, you know? Can you dig it?
What`s the story behind the name Smith or who`s Gid Gator?
It's just a joke..I laugh at myself all day man..thats really my name..I got named after a relative..Gid Gator was just a joke we had because a guy I know who was a cook in a cajun restaurant called me Big Gator, and I called him Jumbalaya and shit like that..also I have a life long goal to jump in a river and wrestle a big ass alligator and one day I will do it!!!! As for the band name, I wanted a long ass name that would be different like Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction and shit like Arthur Brown's Crazy World or whatever!
Will the European, especially the German fans see you on stage soon and do you play normally a lot of gigs?
Well, I probably shouldn't talk about it yet..but we are looking at plans for a European tour in early fall, most likely November! I am so excited!!!!! Me and the gand are working with the same guy who deals with our friends Five Horse, HTG, Raging Slab and Leadfoot..and it looks like we're gonna get to roll on over and do a month or so of shows in early fall. It's been one of my life long goals to tour Europe and I am beyond thrilled that we're gonna go! Smallstone has done a killer job of promoting my cd and our music in Europe and we have gotten some wonderful press and interest, it means so much to be that people in Germany and other countries have enjoyed the cd! I can't wait to get over there and kick ass all over with live shows and get to meet everybody. Walter and Roadburn, Klaus and Cosmic Lava and Henk Mol in Vain Productions, Psychedelic zine, as well as my pal Big Luciano in Italy, Cargo UK and Bertus have all done so much for us to promote our music in Europe, its been great. We cannot wait to get over there and rock out big time and have fun, meet everybody!! So yeah, we're all bouncing off the walls at the chance to go.
Is there meanwhile a chance to release the early Sun Studio Recordings, this „lonely rock and roll outlaw cowboy record“, through Small Stone Records, which you mentioned in the Roadburn report?
Man, its not going to come out anytime soon..its real raw and not very slick sounding..which is just what I wanted..but anyway we'll see I think it will come out soon maybe on vinyl..I'll probably have to release it myself, cause its raw and sloppy like an old record, not really big time like our electric stuff..But I'm happy people wanna hear and it and means alot to me, cause the music is so painful and heavy personally..its' not happy stuff, its really dark and filled with personal heartbreak..which is what happened at the time so I can't apologize for it.
What do you do in "normal“ life or which part plays the band and music in your daily life?
Right now I just hang out..I am broke as hell and don't have a regular job..I'm just a total rock misfit..every day is another challenge to make ends meet..but I'm always having fun and living large.
Is there any connection between the MD and the bands from the South. Do you play concerts together? I love Sixty Watt Shaman and their Bluesy-Southern-Fuzz Style and Wino and all the Hellhound-stuff.
The Baltimore bands are cool! I like Sixty Watt..Rev.Jim is the coolest..Also I liked Iron Boss, they're rockin..that guy is like Jim Dandy's son..But no, I haven't done any shows with those bands yet, but I hope to and look forward to do so. Yeah, Wino is one of my heroes, he's got this feel that is just unbelievable..We all know each other like most bands and cross paths over the years. At one time I learned alot from Sour Vein, Antiseen..Those guys helped me out alot before I had this band going..we all kinda did time in each other's circles and then it's back to our own again..
What are your views about the development of the heavy southern style in the 80`s and 90`s after Skynyrd? Do you like bands as Five Horse Johnson, Sixty Watt Shaman, Halfway To Gone, etc and have you done any tours or gigs with these bands?
Well, southern rock as it's kinda known in rock history..i guess it died with Skynyrd in the plane crash in the 70's..that's damn sad to think about isnt it..but yeah I'm a big Allmans fan..a HUGE allmans fan..and I love Skynyrd of course..I guess to me at least, southern rock was pretty much was a 70's trip..but in the late 80's you had some fun biker rock bands like Circus of power, 4 Horsemen, Cult, Raging Slab, Danzig..and those bands kind of fathered the ones that exist today..ones you could name pretty easily in our music scene, we're all kind of from the seeds of the great southern rock bands and then biker rock and acid rock and stuff like that. But to answer your question, as for what I like today..man I love all those guys, I can dig pretty much all of those bands.
Five Horse is mighty, I have enjoyed all of their cds..Halfway..Sixty Watt..I like Alabama Thunder Pussy, good guys..explosive live show..what I like about those bands is that you can tell em all apart, each has their own style and vibration cosmicly. I also like the more sludge oriented bands, like Sour Vein and stuff like that. T-Roy has got a creepy evil voice and I like those big riffs. I like the Bottom girls alot, they're such enthusiastic people, good performers. Men of Porn, very original.. Glasspack..Throttlerod..I like the Hank III records..and of course I cannot say enough good things about Raging Slab,one of our all time favorites, great great people to meet..But where we fall into the variations of sound, I think our bands is more reaching back to outlaw country, blues acid rock and psychedelic rock, dirty swamp rock..it's all cool, I like em all. I hope all those bands keep putting out records and touring forever..I'm always excited to see and hear what everybody will do in the future.. I'm eager for the next few cds that will come out.
Is there still any chance to get your first EP, that was released on Game Two Records?
I dont know man..I think its sold out! I have to hang all that to Troy from SOUR because he hooked me up with G2 and if it wasnt for him it would have never happened. Also mike and conan did me a world of good with that EP, I'm happy it sold out and so many people liked it. It means the world to me..but yeah look for them, they're out there. I dont even have one!
Who created the album cover of "Southern Gentleman" and what is the story behind it? Obviously there's a nice influence of Western Movies, I think?!
A guy at Smallstone did it, its great we love it!
Thanks a lot for the interview. At last, what are the plans of GS&TDD, and please give us any last comment !
Well, we hope to go over to Europe in the fall..maybe again in the spring..We'll record another load of songs in the next year or so.. the future music gonna be bluesier, swamp magic darker, more space rock.. I hope to get out a few seven inch records..the Sun studio EP maybe as a vinyl 7"..we're gonna be on the Smallstone 70's comp cd..I'm still looking for a USA booking agent..also you can find us on the G2 skynyrd comp whenever that is finally out..we're also gonna be on a horror movie soundtrack! Its gonna rule..check out the website www.comegetsomethefilm.comand look out for the movie next year!
It's gonna have a new song specially for the film called "Zombie Killer". The director, Jason Griscom, is also directing our first pro video and it will be done soon, he also did pro videos for Antiseen. I wanna say thanks to you for doing this interview..thanks to Smallstone and Game Two for all they have done and do for me and the boys..Thanks to Walter and Roadburn, Henk Mol, Underdogma, Bertus, Cargo UK, Daredevil Magazine, Luciano in Italy..and everybody who has enjoyed the cds or shows and sent so much love our way, too many people to name..youre the best. Also to the guys in the band, who helped me get the motor running and make it all happen for us. Look forward to seeing yall on the road!