I suppose it is ineveitable as our classic rock heroes close in on their 70’s (and 80’s), but it’s never easy losing a rock music legend. Today the ock universe lost the man who defined Southern Rock drumming. Butch Trucks was the freight train who powered Suthern Rock pioneers as one of their original drummers. He passed away earlier today of unknown causes.
A decade ago, three brash young Californians exploded onto the Alt-Rock scene with a smashing breakthrough single “Bottom of the Bottle.” Their first release peaked inside the Top 10 and they were on everyone’s list of band’s to watch. But then, they seemed to slip off the Alt-Rock radar.
Were they a one-hit wonder bereft of potential? No, far from it. The rock music business is a fickle one, record companies are unpredictable, and radio stations schizophrenic. While the trio still churned out excellent music, they lost some of their presence. But, fortunes are changing, and the trio is again on the cusp of big things.
We recently caught up with talented drummer Jake Kilmer after a rousing set in front of a few thousand rabid fans at hard rock’s premier music festival, Welcome To Rockville in Jacksonville. The band symbolically kicked off the set with “Black and Blue,” the title track off of their latest release; then powered through a nice sampling of their past decade of music, both new and old.
We took a few moments to chat about the band’s latest project, and their plans for this summer, shortly after they left the stage.
RARAsFarm: So, you guys had a big crowd out there. What did you think of the Jacksonville fans during your set? Jake Kilmer: I thought they were into it. There was some good energy there. I got an awesome picture with the guys in it and the crowd in the background, we had a lot of fun.
RARAsFarm – here’s the photo Jake referenced, and it is pretty damn good (we’ll provide our link to their show photos below)
RARAsFarm: You’ve been together for about ten years now, and just released your sixth album, Chemicals, how’s it doing? Jake Kilmer: It’s going good and fans dig it. They know more and more songs each day. Our second single “Chemicals” is out on Sirius XM’s Octane and it’s being picked up on radio stations all around the country.
RARAsFarm: You mention Octane, and truthfully there’s parts of Florida with no good rock stations, so Octane is where I hear most of these Welcome To Rockville bands. Has it become an important station for a band’s success these days? Jake Kilmer: Now it is, sure; Sirius XM’s Octane is bad ass, because it’s nationwide. If you’re on there, you are doing something right because you’re pleasing them.
RARAsFarm: What are your plans for the summer? Jake Kilmer: We’ll be touring. We just put a shitload of dates on our SmileEmptySoul.com site. We’re going all over.
RARAsFarm: Are you guys just focused on touring, or making new music now? Jake Kilmer: We’re just focused on touring. Sean’s always been writing. Collectively we all work on the tunes together to put them together, but he’s the songwriter. I’m sure he’s been writing a bunch. It’s never been hard for Smile to get together and produce new material; it’s only been hard to get the right label team who aren’t douchebags, to become a part of the team and support us.
RARAsFarm: It sounds like you have a lot of company. A bunch of bands I speak to are facing the same challenges. Jake Kilmer: That’s why it’s bad ass that we’re doing our own thing label-wise. We’re in control and that’s why we didn’t come back so fast. We got off that label because they didn’t do shit. We found a new opportunity with a friend of ours willing to invest. We put together this team, found a great radio team and publicist, and we’ve been working hard at it. And, we’re not going anywhere.
RARAsFarm: Well, the new stuff sounded great today and it was nice to hear, and you guys killed it live. Hopefully we’ll see you again soon on the East Coast. Jake Kilmer: Cheers. Thank you.
Check out the latest Smile Empty Soul album below. It’s jammed with solid straight-forward American alt-rock, and some of their best stuff in years.
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