The duo of Zack Smith and Caitlin Doyle (better known as Smooth Hound Smith) may be the musical incarnation of Bonnie and Clyde. Their roots- and blues-based songs have a stormy, clamorous rock energy that could fill an amphitheater. It easily makes two musicians sound like twelve.
Their songs are not just raw noise. Although they’re big, they are often subtle as well. With vocals that complement each other like two souls combined into one, the whole thing feels completely natural. Without a doubt, their first album is worth the time, and fortunately for us, their upcoming project promises to expand on a great thing.
NYMM: So how did you meet and get started?
Zack: We met each other in LA. About three years ago, I moved to Nashville, but we stayed in touch. Eventually I moved back to LA, and that’s when we started this.
Caitlin: He moved because he was in love with me [laughs].
Zack: Yeah, that’s not a small detail [laughs].
NYMM: You’ve been working on a crowd funding project, but it’s directly through your website – not through Kickstarter or anything. What made you decide to do that?
Caitlin: Yes, we’re doing it all on our own. We are doing it all through our website so there’s no middleman. Anything that anyone gives goes directly to us.
Zack: We were looking into Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, but the problem with those is that they take 12-15% of what you make. It seemed like the smarter thing was to use PayPal and our website.
Caitlin: It helps cover a radio campaign, some of the production costs, and merchandising.
Zack: We have a lot of things to pay for to make this happen. We did a lot of it on the fly for our last album and probably wasted a lot of money that way.
NYMM: Do you think a lot of people don’t understand how much time and money goes into trying to make music for a living?
Zack: To really be successful as an independent artist, you need to be excellent at five or six different jobs at once. If you can’t afford to have someone else do it. You need to be your own web designer. You have to know how to be your own promoter. You need to know enough Photoshop to make your own posters and flyers. You need to know social media and still save enough time to write music and play gigs. It’s a full-time job.
Caitlin: That’s just the music part of our lives. We still have lives outside of that: a relationship that we work on, a house that we pay rent on, dogs that we have to find a place for when we tour. Our lawn needs to be mowed when we’re gone.
People always want to hear crazy stories from the road, but the truth is that you sleep in the van in a Walmart parking lot and then drive six more hours to get to a show, while doing all of the administrative stuff that has to happen through our phones.
NYMM: How do you guys work together on songwriting?
Caitlin: Most of the songs on the first album pre-date the formation of the band. Zack was a one-man-band before we started working together. This band and our relationship developed around the same time, so most of the songs on that album were written by him. On this new album, it’s more of a collaboration.
NYMM: Have you guys done a lot of touring?
Zack: We were just shy of eight full months on the road last year.
NYMM: How do you stay sane with all that time on the road?
Caitlin: We’re not sane. Otherwise we wouldn’t do this.
Zack: The important thing is to not eat fast food.
NYMM: Is there a particular song that you really enjoy performing?
Caitlin: I really enjoy performing “Crazy Over You.” It’s the love song on the album, and I really enjoy the vocals on it. There aren’t a lot of songs where we sing together the whole way through, so that one is a lot of fun.
NYMM: What has been one of the high points of touring for you?
Caitlin: For me, it was playing at a show in Malibu. I looked out in the audience and saw this blonde girl with short hair singing along with our songs, and I realized it was Natalie Maines [of the Dixie Chicks]. It turns out that she’s a big fan of ours, and of course, I’m a huge fan of her music.
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