Quality Time! With The Smith Street Band


By Georgia Corpe

“we’re like five brothers who see each other all day, every day”

Our favourite Melbournian rockers, The Smith Street Band are currently galavanting across EUROPE playing an outstanding run of shows in preparation to their warm return to AUSTRALIA and thrashing of the USA – all before the year is through!

Chris Cowburn (drummer) took a few moments out while en route to Hamburg, to have a chat with Bear Family’s Georgia Corpe.

BF: Hey guys, you have had a massive 2015 so far, with tours in USA and on home soil, playing a huge set at Splendour in the Grass and now you’re touring around the UK and Europe playing a heap of shows – what have been the highlights for you guys?
TSSB: Hello! Yeah this year has been a real whirlwind so far and I’m really grateful for all the cool opportunities we’ve been given! It’s very difficult to go past Splendour as the stand out – it was a total dream come true and something I don’t think any of us will forget in a hurry! We’ve also been fortunate enough to tour with some crazy good bands and people already this year – PUP, Andrew Jackson Jihad and Jeff Rosenstock are all absolutely inspiring to watch! Some of the places we’ve been have been crazy too – we just spent two days in Poland… never thought I’d get to go there!

BF: You are also on the bill to play Reading and Leeds Festivals later in the month, sharing the stage with some incredible bands – tell us how keen you are for these shows? Any bands you think you might ‘fan out’ with?
TSSB: Incredibly excited! It’s sort of hard to wrap your head around the fact that Splendour is our biggest festival in Aus, and Reading and Leeds are almost twice as big as that! I’m really not across who is playing which day just yet, but I’m sure I’d have a little fan out moment with Killer Mike from Run the Jewels. Laura Jane Grace is probably another, but from all reports she is absolutely lovely and awesome. There’s so many great bands I want to try and catch: Manchester Orchestra, Jamie T, Alvvays, Baroness, Modern Baseball, The Bronx, The Menzingers and The Skints (who are a crazy right reggae band we’ve been listening to a lot of in the van on this tour). Who we’ll actually get to watch? Who knows…

BF: You guys will be returning to AUS in September for the I Love Life Fest organised by yourselves and label Poison City Records, can you tell us a bit about the mini-festival, how it came about and the bands you’ll be touring with?
TSSB: ‘I Love Life’ boils down to a one day festival with a whole stack of our favourite bands – as many as the venues would let us put on the bill in fact. I urge people to check out and get into all the bands if they wanna come along – they’re all awesome in their own unique ways. We’ve obviously borrowed all the international acts from this year’s Poison City Weekender, but I suppose this is us guys in the band and our booker/best friend Bosma putting it on for the most part. We’ve had the chance to bring international bands to Australia quite a few times now and we always work really closely with Andy and Poison City when we plan those. We’d already asked Andrew Jackson Jihad and the Sidekicks to join us on the whole Australian tour, he was already talking to Iron Chic and Modern Baseball. Instead of trying to make the tours dance around each other, we thought, let’s make a thing of this, combine both tours and add a couple of awesome locals bands! The idea of working with Andy and creating our own event that we could put on, alongside the Poison City Weekender on a yearly basis was something we found really exciting! It’s something myself and Bosma are really interested in and work hard on – we’ll actually be promoting our first tour (that has nothing to do with Smith Street tour) towards the end of the year!

BF: For a band who seem like they are constantly touring, tell us about the typical touring life of TSSB?
TSSB: Funny that I’m answering this question right now, sat in a van with everyone driving towards Hamburg for our show tomorrow night! We’ve learnt an incredible amount about ourselves and each other through the amount of touring we do – and a lot of it in this past year I reckon. We had a really rough tour towards the end of last year where, not only did we have some bad luck and tragedy strike us, but I think we’d not done ourselves any favours by going so ‘bull-at-a-gate’ and not worrying about time to rest and people’s mental health. So that’s one big thing we’ve learnt; you can still tour like crazy without sending yourself crazy. And I think we’re seeing the benefits from it on this tour to be honest. Typically, touring without any other bands (as we are right now) can be a little harder – we’re like five brothers who see each other all day, every day, and without some new people to give a release, it can get tiring – but I think with the mindset of taking a little better care of each other, we’re all really having a sweet time now! I could go on for a long time amount the dumb van in-jokes, how many episodes of South Park we’ve watched and who the champion of Mario Kart is, but I think that’d be insanely boring for anyone reading!

BF: Something that a lot of your fans admire and support are your political expressions, and most prominently the money you raised with the release of Wipe That Shit-Eating Grin Off Your Punchable Face, a 7-inch single released earlier this year with a large chunk of the proceeds being donated to asylum seeker support organisations – do you guys plan on doing anymore campaigns in the name of fundraising?
TSSB: It’s a very important thing to us, doing everything we can for good causes, and trying to use the fortunate position we’re in as a vehicle for positive change to someone who’s in a less fortunate position. We don’t have any more of these types of ventures planned right now – and in now way does that mean there’s not issues we don’t care deeply about – but I think the things that come about the we end up supporting are the ones that we just have to get behind, we feel so strongly that we can’t not. That’s definitely how “Punchable Face” happened, both the lyrical content of the song, the release and the fundraising.

BF: Tell us about what the future holds for TSSB?
TSSB: Plenty of exciting stuff – some of which is either still unknown, or that I’m not allowed to tell you about yet! Sorry! We obviously have the Australian tour coming up, which is very exciting, and another little surprise planned (which may or may not be announced depending on when this is posted). Then we’re off on a big US tour with our friends the Front Bottoms, which will basically see out 2015 for us. Some really cool stuff already in the works for next year though, and I truly look forward to it!

BF: Thanks for the Q&A! We hope you are enjoying Europe and excited to see you guys in September.
TSSB: Thanks! See you soon 🙂 –Chris

We’re stoked to catch these guys while we can.



Georgia Corpe

Georgia plays the drums, has a killer music taste and is one of our oldest friends. She's also a lawyer so she's way smarter than you. If you see her around town, don't be shy, say hi.

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