“If you find yourself a fan of bands like Coldplay, Death Cab For Cutie, or even Travis, you should check out what Steve Smith has created. Underneath this DJ lies a musician who had a calling to record this CD, a dream about one of the songs, and the enthusiasm to go through with it. These are the types of musicians I respect.” – Brian McIrish, Blog Critics
Dirty Vegas front man Steve Smith has taken a hard right turn from the sound that earned him two Grammys and helped him reach platinum sales. At least it would seem that way when comparing the electronica of his hit “Days Go By” (VIDEO) with the delightful fusion of folk and rock sounds that comprise his solo debut This Town, out February 18th via the artist’s own G.A.S. Recordings (named for his late father, George Albert Smith) via RedEye Distribution. The first 2500 copies of the record even include an acoustic version of “Days Go By” which listeners should A/B with the original to get the clearest picture of Smith’s evolution. Another bonus cut, “Late Nights and Street Fights”, which was chosen to be the main title theme for the FOX-TV hit series, Standoff is also included at the tail end of This Town.
Stream the entire This Town record HERE and check out an album trailer HERE.
While Smith’s stylistic shift in sound may seem cut and dried on the surface, it actually serves to reveal that he has been a songwriter at heart the entire time. This Town is about as heartfelt as an album can get, blending folk, rock and electronica with Smith’s inherent songwriting ability into a steady stream of memorable, affecting tunes about Smith’s physical and spiritual relocation from London to Boston . This Town draws the listener in from the start with an inspiring monologue by acclaimed actor John Savage (The Deer Hunter, Hair), introducing a narrative that will repeat throughout the rest of the album. Life is tough. Or, as Savage says so plainly at the beginning of the album: “Sometimes, being a genius is just getting up in the morning.”
Smith will be out on the road through much of the remainder of January and February performing DJ sets as well as acoustic renditions of This Town tunes in major markets as he continues to drum up attention for the record. Especially exciting is Smith’s upcoming show as part of the Sundance Film Festival’s awards party. See below for a complete list of dates, and be sure to schedule some time to chat.
Steve Smith of Dirty Vegas Live:
01/23 Park City, UT BMI Private at Sundance Film Festival (Acoustic set)
01/24 Montreal, QUE at Time (Dirty Vegas DJ set)
01/25 Ottawa, ONT at Heaven (Dirty Vegas DJ set)
01/26 Park City, UT Official Sundance Film Festival at Park City Racquet Club (Dirty Vegas DJ set)
02/01 Washington, DC at Five (Dirty Vegas DJ set)
02/02 Toronto, ONT at Circa (Dirty Vegas DJ set)
02/05 Boston, MA at Z-Square (Press day followed by acoustic set)
02/08 Los Angeles, CA at Hotel Café (Acoustic set)
02/09 San Francisco, CA at Ruby Skye (Dirty Vegas DJ set)
02/18 New York, NY at Pianos (Acoustic set)
02/20 Boston, MA at Middle East (Acoustic set)
This Town Track Listing:
Stream The Album HERE
View Album Trailer HERE
Release Date: February 18, 2008
01. This Town
02. Hit Me Up (MP3)
05. Morning Jane
07. Comedown Queen
08. Sleep Like A Lover
09. Better Off That Way
10. That Town
11. Bonus Track: Late Nights & Street Fights (Theme from the FOX-TV show Standoff)
12. Bonus Track: Days Go By (Steve Osbourne Acoustic Mix)
More about Steve Smith and Dirty Vegas:
14-year-old Steve Smith was waiting for his piano teacher to arrive when he spotted the school drums and jumped on the kit. He was lost in the moment when the door burst open and the horrified teacher asked, “wouldn’t you prefer to sign up for drum lessons instead?!” Cue a cheeky grin!
Born into a South London working class home in the early 70’s, Steve was the youngest of five. He grew up with his ear pressed to his elder siblings’ doors where he gleaned everything from Marvin Gaye to Pink Floyd. As his teenage devotion to percussion grew, so did his passion for Latin musicians, specifically Santana and Tito Puente.
In 1988, acid house exploded in the UK and Steve found himself swept up in a wild new era of electronic music. He began to experiment with sampling the classic tracks he loved his whole life. A well-known house DJ, Andy Nichols, started a band that aimed to blend house music with live musicians. Steve instantly had the perfect introduction to playing live shows in front of huge crowds.
In the late 80s, rabid dance fans flocked to the illegal South-East England rave scene despite frequent raids by police and scaremongering stories in the papers about the supposed “drug culture.” But that did not concern Steve, who devoted every weekend to playing with Andy Nichols’ band or as a live percussionist at house clubs. He began to receive invitations to recording sessions and playing on club tracks. He became increasingly fascinated with the world of samplers and 909 kick drums. Still, while completely immersed in electronic music, he always held tightly to his childhood love for the Bruce Springsteen songs that had come from his sisters’ bedroom, and the sweet tones of Stevie Nicks that had blared from his brothers’ old stereo.
Steve steadily built a reputation as an excellent Latin percussionist and held residencies at legendary clubs, including Ministry of Sound. He toured alongside DJ’s like Sasha and Paul Oakenfold, and was ultimately offered a residency at the world famous ‘Pacha’ on the clubbing mecca island of Ibiza.
It was the summer of 1999. Steve had just split with his long-term girlfriend. With nothing to lose he packed up and drove from London to Ibiza with everything he owned. Days were spent with an acoustic guitar on stunning beaches, and nights in the infamous ‘Manumission’ and ‘Space’ clubs. He played alongside the top DJ’s in the world - studying how certain tracks caused reactions in crowds unlike those at any rock concerts he’d ever attended.
Inspired by the island of Ibiza as creative artists David Bowie, Mike Oldfield, Mario Testino and Errol Flynn before him, Steve spent the summer composing songs. As 1999 drew to a close, Steve headed into the studio for a session with Paul Harris, a DJ friend, who had been playing around the London ‘Milk Bar’ scene since 1990. Paul had just started working with a young producer named Ben Harris (no relation). While they were recording, Steve picked up an acoustic guitar and played them a song he called, “Days go by.” Paul and Ben loved it, and started to play around with the tempo. They recorded the song, called themselves Dirty Vegas and pressed 1500 vinyl copies. The track spread like wildfire through clubland - suddenly Steve had an Ibiza dance anthem.
Steve, Paul and Ben found themselves swept up in a rock and roll dream world of major label signings and world tours. “Days Go By” climbed the charts, and was licensed to a television commercial for Mitsubishi, ultimately garnering the band three Grammy nominations, and the award for best electronic song, in 2003.
Throughout his years with Dirty Vegas, Steve continued to write songs on his acoustic guitar. He knew that one day he would record his own album. Personal, sweet and intimate, some of those songs finally make an appearance in the track-listing of his first solo effort, This Town.
Dirty Vegas disbanded and Steve reunited with his girlfriend. He felt it was time for a radical change. Boston always had a magnetic energy for him when he played there and he felt a need to encourage that feeling. A move to the USA in 2006 got his creativity flowing and just like Ibiza a few years before, Steve started to soak up the musical heritage of his surroundings.
Semi-biographical songs, such as “This Town,” are about his move from London, while “Smile” (dedicated to Steve’s late father) came to him in a dream. In an amazing coincidence, Steve saw violinist Jay Ungar play at a local church in the small town where he had recently taken residence. After the performance he asked Jay, who has appeared on many famous movie scores, if he would play on the song. He told Jay it would be an honor since his father’s favorite piece was James Horner’s score for the film Legends of The Fall, on which Jay had played violin.
Another coincidence brought him together with Anthony Saffery, the former sitar player from the UK band Cornershop, who had also relocated to the Boston area and had become a producer. Together they booked time in the legendary studio, Camp Street (formerly known as Fort Apache) and began long and intense recording sessions: the outcome of which are the tracks that are Steve’s first solo effort, meaningfully titled This Town.
On his album, Smith collaborates with an assortment of talents, including producer Anthony Saffery (Cornershop, The X-ecutioners), Claudia Gonson (The Magnetic Fields), Terry Barber (New York Symphony Orchestra), Jay Ungar (James Horner Orchestra), and Rob Swift (The X-ecutioners, Quincy Jones).
Steve can still be found spinning electro house sets at clubs around the country and around the world, but these days he might be just as likely to be strumming a guitar in a coffee shop, or playing percussion on a rock stage, in support of his new solo path. This Town is set for release on Smith’s own label, G.A.S. Records (named for his late father, George Albert Smith) on February 18, 2008.
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