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Drew Smith’s Lonely Choir will be playing during SXSW. Check out times and days at www.myspace.com/drewsmithmusic.

Let’s talk SXSW.  Are you excited, nervous, over the hype…what are your thoughts?

We have played SXSW before, so I have first hand experience with getting lost in the sea
of bands. The way I look at it is to concentrate on getting a few good day shows to go
along with the showcase, talk about our music as much as we can, and enjoy the fact
that we are in the festival.  We’re not looking to come out of this thing famous or
anything.  I just want to make a good time of it.

Do you think about your sets any differently because of the audience? And how little time you have? And the fact that people are on music overload?

Most definitely.  I don’t want to be spending a 45 minute showcase telling stories over
the microphone.  I want to perform a set of songs that doesn’t lose the audience.  I love
the 45 minute set by the way.  No frills – just music.  So our sets that are a part of this
SXSW week will be song after song–as much as we can fit into this 30 minute set or that
45 minute set.  It is much different than performing a 2 hour set with a break or
something like that.  Those kind of sets are “Hey folks.  Drop by some time tonight.  We
will be playing and hanging and playing some more.”

What about for KGSR? You’ll be doing a radio slot. Do you think songs have a
certain radio play vs. others? Are there songs that might not translate? That aren’t meant to?

I suppose that any time you get a chance to be on the radio you are going to play what
you think the listeners would appreciate the most.  But I most definitely believe in the
theory that there are good songs and there are bad songs.  Nobody owns the perfect
formula to writing a song that DJs and their listeners are going to enjoy so much that
they want to hear the song over and over.  Of course there are ways to get on the radio
without having a song that really connects with listeners, but in the end, your chances
are better if you put your energy into writing more songs than wondering how your old
ones may come across to listeners.  Although, that is easier said than done to be honest.

How did you get started in the music biz?

I guess the music business just kind of crept its way into my life somehow.  Everyone in
this industry knows where they want to be, but not many know how they are going to get
there.  You pick up little puzzle pieces here and there and start building something that
you hope will lead you closer to your ultimate goal.  But I guess I got my start being
paid in tips to play a coffee shop in Colorado Springs when I was in high school.

Did you ever consider doing anything else?

When I was younger I never thought of myself playing music, or trying to write music
for a living.  I always had a passion for it, but it didn’t become an absolute necessity
until I was in my twenties.  That is when I realized “Oh…I guess I can’t get away from
this.  If I don’t write, I can’t sleep.  So I better start accepting the fact that I am an
artist.”  And when that realization came around there was nothing else to consider.

Your songs depict “nostalgic considerations of American life”. What/who are you inspired by?

I am inspired by sincerity.  What I mean is if an artist is expressing themselves, and the
audience (reader, listener, critic, etc) is made to believe that these things are real and
become genuinely attached or connected to the painting or the lyrics or whatever, then
the material has sincerity.  I have a hard time reading or watching fantasy stories.
However, sometimes the writing is so good and the characters are so real that you never
even question the fact that what they are doing and the world they are living in is
impossible and not real.  So when I find that connection in others’ artistic expression, it
inspires the hell out of me.

Were you a storyteller growing up? A daydreamer?

My mother tells stories of how my imaginary friends were quite a bit more elaborate
than my four brothers.  I guess I always had different “friends” coming over and she
would have to make sandwiches for them and I would tell her stories about their day and
drink from their Kool-aid cup when she wasn’t watching to make things look more real.
It seems to me that those imaginary friends were less artistic and probably more for
attention – you know, to be able to make up an interesting story that other people would
take interest in.

I have ALWAYS been a vivid daydreamer.  And one thing I regret is not pairing my
daydreaming up with reading when I was a kid.  I wish I would have discovered sooner
in life that daydreaming goes really well with a good book.  I am trying to make up for
that in my adult life.

Is there a song of yours that if someone could only hear one, you would absolutely want them to hear?

This kind of goes hand in hand with the radio question.  If I was put in a situation where
I HAD to pick one song, it would be different every single time.  I go in and out of
liking this song or that song.  I will hate a song I wrote so much I won’t play it for a
couple years, and then I will come across it one day and play it on my guitar.  Then I
like it all of a sudden and we start playing it again.  So today I will say “Diamonds”
from the new record.  I am happy with the lyrics and the melody…for the time being.
Tomorrow I might say “Travel My Dark Road” because I think we achieved the dynamic
that I was going for: pretty and dark at the same time.

Have you ever been compared to another musician/band that you thought, “Oh God,please no”.  Or someone you thought, “Oh yes, that’s perfect.” Or do you hate the whole comparison thing all together? Does it have its merits for a listener that hasn’t heard a band or musician before?

One time a college newspaper in Omaha compared my songs to Jewell and Eric Clapton.
That made me smile – and maybe roll my eyes a little.  Comparisons can be flattering
and/or not so flattering.  Everyone has a different background and little pieces of songs
will remind them of another artist or something they have listened to in the past, so that
is just fine.  Sometimes the comparison can leave too much to live up to – I don’t care
who you are, being compared to The Beatles might just leave the audience with
something to be desired.  But the best comparisons go something like “I heard a little of
this and a little of that, but in the end, the music was uniquely their own.”  That is what I
strive for anyway.

Anyone you are looking forward to seeing at SXSW?

I am excited to see my friends that are playing the festival and hopefully meet some
bands that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to meet.  I haven’t been able to do the research
on bands yet, but sometimes it is more fun going to a random spot and just seeing who
you find.  I stumbled on a night at the Parish (then it was the Mercury) a few years ago –
Japanese Punk Rock Night, or something like that.  Tons of energy and amazing rock
bands!  I stayed all night and left with my ears ringing.  Hopefully I find another gem
showcase like that.

Anything else?

Thanks!

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