Smitty Offers Something "Different" With Debut Album The World I See
Deriving as much influence from Pink Floyd as it did from Primus, Smitty started off in 2004 as the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist/bass virtuoso Matthew Mackle and ace ax man Brian Liebman. Rounding out their funky, ethereal sound with a regularly changing cast of drummers over the course of a decade, Smitty has played every venue South Florida has to offer, sharing the stage equally with punkers, headbangers, classic rockers, hip-hoppers, and every genre in between, perpetually the square peg in a round hole.
Photo credit: Paul Pino. Also pictured: Matthew Mackle and some random.
"I would say that our biggest strength is that we're unique -- and maybe any band would say that -- but I think that, even to a fault, we've always done what felt good, and we always tried to play beyond our abilities," says Mackle, who serves as the band's sole lyricist. "I've always tried to play things that were harder than I could comfortably play, and that's made me better as a player."
Almost ten years later, the band is in the best place it's ever been. Mackle and Liebman's dedication has been matched in full for the first time by longtime local drummer Paul Pino, and they've just released their first full-length album, The World I See. The product of a year's worth of songwriting and recording, the record runs practically the gamut of classic, funk, and hard rock while never adhering solely to one.
"The first few songs of the album are more classic-rock-sounding, and then you get into the middle of the album, and it's probably where, musically, our best works are," says Pino, the only married member of the three-piece. "I think we cover a lot of genres of music that people are going to dig because people want different, and the whole album is different -- it's not just the same thing over and over again; we've got something for everyone in there."
The first sound we hear on the album's opener, "The Tide," is Pino priming Mackle and Liebman -- and, effectively, the listener -- with, "Alright, here we go." Four drumstick clicks later, a driving bass chops in, frantically descending and climbing a scale. It's soon overlaid with a steady, muted E power chord and, shortly after, Pino's drums, joining the bass' journey with rolling toms, all announcing their potency with full aplomb following the sharp snap of a snare drum. The song's lyrics, like the lyrics of much of the album, are purposefully written in a way that intersperses the cryptic with the inclusive, containing odd lines like, "Wonderful, freaky imagined eyes/Oh, yes. Oh, yes" and "Oh, if your mind/Goes in and out with the tide/Forgive and forget." By the end of the song, a couple of things are clear: These guys have chops, and we're not in musical Kansas anymore.
"I think when you get somewhere really interesting in an art sense is when music, sound, ideas, colors, and things like that turn into storytelling," says Liebman. "You can be really skilled, but if you have no story to tell, no emotion to convey in a circular sense, I don't think you really have anything there. Music gets confused. I hear things from other bands that come across as vacant or confused, and I want our audiences to feel like a story was told."