DYD: Humor me, let’s pretend I live under a rock and I haven’t heard of Zak Smith, could you introduce yourself in 3 sentences?
Zak Smith: Sure I’ll humor you. I’m a singer and a songwriter and I have a band that plays alternative/americana sounding rock music. We’re based out of New York and New Jersey mainly but have played up and down the East Coast.
DYD: Your music is described as a merger between alternative rock and Americana. How did you manage to create such a distinct sound for yourself?
Zak Smith: That comes from the music I listened to growing up. I love loud guitars and distortion, AC/DC, Nirvana, the Pixies. But I don’t have a voice for screaming, and I’m not too interested in singing like that anyway. The Grateful Dead, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash were equally as big influences. Van Morrison, and Ray Charles too. Americana can mean different things to different people, to me there’s this one blues song called Key to the Highway that is my ideal vision of that, a bunch of people have sung it, but it’s kind of music that sweeps you along with it, and it’s natural and human sounding.
DYD: What can we expect with the release of your new album, The Precambrian Age, this fall? And what are you hoping for in the coming months with the release of your album?
Zak Smith: I’m hopefully going to make a video for one or two of the songs from the album pretty soon. I’m hoping people like the album, there’s a lot of stuff I’m proud of on it. In terms of the next couple months, I’m looking into doing a short East Coast tour in September and then getting back into the studio soon, I have a bunch of new material I want to record and also like 5 or 6 acoustic versions of some full band stuff I’ve been wanting to do.
DYD: Are you at all surprised at the way you have been received by American and international audiences?
Zak Smith: No, I’m not surprised. I haven’t been given the medal of honor in any country yet, at that point it would be surprising.
DYD: If you could pick a local artist to collaborate with then who would you choose?
Zak Smith: Well there’s local New Jersey and local New York City, I spend about half my time in both. In New Jersey I just heard a really great singer the other day who goes by the name Son of Dov, he’s a really great singer/songwriter. In New York there’s a lot of great bands and singers, off the top of my head there’s an awesome guitar player named Thomas Bryan Eaton who plays a bunch on my album that is as good a pedal steel guitarist as anybody, I would work with him again in a minute.
DYD: In the last few years, due to the rapid growth of internet access and use, music has become more accessible to people, how much would you credit the internet for your current successes?
Zak Smith: The internet is awesome for finding new music, the way I’ve gotten turned on to 95% of new bands or new music in the past 5 or 6 years has been through reading something about them online. So it’s great in that respect, you get reviews and things like that. I’ve also gotten offered a bunch of great gigs from people finding me online.
DYD: What do you enjoy about playing live and also do you have a particular song that you love to play live?
Zak Smith: I have a song called It’s Been A Hard Year Alone that I love to play live. It’s loose but has a bass line that I really like in it. When things are going right, and the bands playing tight, and there are people into it, I feel like I’m myself on stage, but like my best self.
DYD: What would your ultimate musical success be?
Zak Smith: It would be to create something huge that will last without me, and to make my family proud of me.
DYD: If you weren’t in the music industry where would you be?
Zak Smith: I’d want to be a writer. Novels, or poems, or essays.