CRAIG SMITH
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CRAIG SMITH

Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | INDIE

Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2007
Solo Folk Alternative

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"Indie Scene - Craig Smith"

by Carrie Humphries
February 24 - March 2, 2011

CRAIG SMITH

In 2007, Craig Smith gave us Not Sure Not Sure. In 2011, Smith offers Heavy Early in a CD Release party marked for Saturday, February 26th. The rock/roots Busted Flat recording artist gave me an email interview to talk about writing the new record, his selection of the Boathouse and recording with the late Dan Achen.
Quoted as being the type of artist who’s honesty ‘permeates everything he touches and everyone he meets, every song he sings’, Smith’s music is easily the best friend you’ve known your entire life. Melodic and intricate, the songs tell a story about love and life, experiences and what’s to come. And besides being simply well-written, it’s Smith’s exceptional voice that ties the music together and leaves you wanting to listen to more.
Explaining Heavy Early, Smith says, “My new record is called Heavy Early and it was recorded and produced by my brother Ian at his studio The White House, and the late, great, Dan Achen at Catherine North in Hamilton. The record was completed a year ago and is only coming out now, so hopefully it was worth the wait!” He goes on to add that he, Smith and Achen also had a production team called Goldilocks. “I was lucky enough to benefit from their tag-team approach to producing music, where Ian’s biggest strength is in getting the song to pop, and Dan was an incredible producer who wasn’t afraid to tell you if you sucked, which is a valuable thing to hear when you’re recording! Unfortunately Dan passed away during the time he was mixing the record, and his assistant Michael Chambers took over but it took a little while for this to happen, which was fine and I think it turned out great.”
Citing that in musical blocks he’d ask himself ‘What Would Ron Sexsmith Do Here?’, Smith recognizes his own evolution in songwriting. “My last project Not Sure Not Sure was written, recorded and produced by me, and I’m usually happy working by myself in my own comfort zone. Working with my brother was great because he has different sensibilities than I do when it comes to writing and producing. I have a lot of respect for Ian and the music he makes, he’s a true craftsman.”
With such a rich difference in sound between the Smith brothers, I asked Craig about his personal influences. “Ian and I have a different sound, we each have a unique vision of how our music will come across. We were raised on the classics, especially Bowie, The Replacements, Neil Young, Zeppelin, a lot of British rock and pop music,” Smith explains. “I think I’m more influenced by a traditional American style of music than Ian is. I hear stuff like folk and country as well as pop in my music, whereas Ian’s sound is pure pop and dance oriented. I’m still influenced by the same people as before, but there’s a lot more diversity as well and I love hearing new music which I find inspiring. So many great artists and bands out there making music now, and so many are right in our own backyard. I could name 20 Canadian artists that I love off the top of my head, Howie Beck, Fiest, Arcade Fire, Romney Getty, Danny Michel & Spirits, to name a few.”
Citing online resources as the fast-paced method to getting your sound out, heard and available to fans, Smith says there is more focus on artists doing it on their own. “There’s a lot more riding on the artist to make success happen for themselves, like going to fans directly via as opposed to having a record company, manager, booking agent help,” he says. “I think the ‘do it yourself’ esthetic that the internet enabled for artists is where we’ll continue to go.” Currently a member of the Busted Flat Record label, Smith adds that two of his influences are a pair of his label mates. “Mark Logan, owner and big giant head of Busted Flat Records is a huge music fan and all around solid dude, and being a part of his label is an honour,” Smith shares. “There are a lot of great musicians on Busted Flat - Paul MacLeod and Shannon Lyon are two of my big influences.”
For a night of solid music, good company and all that great food, find yourself at the Boathouse on Saturday for Craig Smith’s release of Heavy Early.

CRAIG SMITH
Album Release Show
Saturday February 26, The Boathouse
myspace.com/craigsmithh
- Echo Weekly, Feb. 24, 2011


"Explore Music"

"God & The Devil" was included on: "5 Songs you gotta hear today" Jeff Woods, Explore Music - AUX TV


"Craig Smith - Not Sure Not Sure"

Craig Smith’s debut record is immediately striking for its obvious affections for Crazy Horse stomp and grind, but closer inspection reveals a plethora of influences. “Rock Bottom Girl” is the best barnburner that Cracker never wrote, while Smith’s musings on age, love and his place in the world strongly recall Jeff Tweedy’s melancholy side. Sadness and paranoia may be the album’s primary thematic anchor but Not Sure Not Sure is a great summertime party album. Smith isn’t afraid to crank up the amps and his gift for melody makes this a triumphant barbeque’n’beers record. This is kick-ass party rock that won’t alienate the meatheads but will give the literati something to think about. (Independent)
- Exclaim! Magazine


"Craig Smith - CBC Fresh Air"

'On air' edited transcript, Sept. 2, 2007:

“I really like his music, because what he does is he manages to channel both the electric, and acoustic sides of Neil Young, sometimes on the same song. Craig calls the effect ‘roots music with a twist.’”

“We get a lot of cd’s in music resources from people who are inspired by Neil Young, not so surprisingly, but that’ll usually mean that it’s an acoustic record that sounds like Harvest, or it’s a rock record that sounds like Tonight’s the Night, and not often you get someone like Craig Smith that manages to combine both aspects of Neil Young all the time and steadily.”

“And throw in a pretty nice melody hook there”

“That’s the other key thing, too. The songs on the record are really good all the way through, so he’s a wonderful songwriter in his own right.”


- CBC (Mark Rheaume & Jeff Goodes)


"Toronto Star Anti-Hit List"

(The Anti-Hit List is a compilation of the best music found outside the mainstream, Sept. 29, 2007)

7. CRAIG SMITH
"Scenery"
Formerly a member of The Miniatures (along with younger brother Ian), Smith has no compunction about owning up to his admiration for Neil Young (his label is even called Zuma), which makes it easy to overstate that single influence on his music. While there are moments during this melancholy rumination that evoke both Young and Crazy Horse, there's also an unintentional melodic hint of Semisonic's "Closing Time" amid the raw "Old love, new highway" sentiment. (From Not Sure Not Sure, myspace.com/craigsmithh)
- The Toronto Star


"Toronto Star Anti-Hit List"

(The Anti-Hit List is a compilation of the best music found outside the mainstream, Sept. 29, 2007)

7. CRAIG SMITH
"Scenery"
Formerly a member of The Miniatures (along with younger brother Ian), Smith has no compunction about owning up to his admiration for Neil Young (his label is even called Zuma), which makes it easy to overstate that single influence on his music. While there are moments during this melancholy rumination that evoke both Young and Crazy Horse, there's also an unintentional melodic hint of Semisonic's "Closing Time" amid the raw "Old love, new highway" sentiment. (From Not Sure Not Sure, myspace.com/craigsmithh)
- The Toronto Star


"Craig Smith Steps Out On His Own,"

On the opening track of his new album Not Sure Not Sure, Craig Smith says he's been doing all the wrong things the right way. While the phrase is obviously delivered with a tongue-in-cheek swagger reminiscent of one of his main songwriting heroes, Paul Westerberg, Smith admits it's taken him longer than he planned to finally get his solo career fully underway.

The K-W native has been a part of the local scene for much of the past 15 years, although lately he has become better known as the older brother of Ian Smith, frontman for The Miniatures. But since moving to Collingwood several years ago, Craig has found the space to begin concentrating on his own songwriting, and crafted Not Sure Not Sure largely by himself in his home studio.

"I had all the songs written by the summer of 2005, and it took about a year to record them," Smith says. "I'd always done recordings since I was in high school, so when we moved to Collingwood I had a basement that allowed me to build my own studio for the first time. That really pushed me to see if I could make my own record, instead of just demos."

Although the final results of Not Sure Not Sure easily stand alongside any independently-produced Canadian album of recent memory, the title still reflects Smith's anxiety about undertaking the project. "That title is kind of my credo," he says. "I've never really been sure about what I'm doing. I just write songs and kind of hope for the best."

A distinct knack for melody and bittersweet lyrics certainly seems to run in the Smith family, but Craig has always leaned more toward the rootsy end of the rock spectrum. Still, on the album he has managed to strike a perfect balance between alt-country and power pop like few other Canadian artists have done before.

"I guess my main influences have been people like Neil Young who have always had the integrity to follow their own instincts," he says. "I wouldn't want to get boxed into one category, even though I understand some of the advantages of that. I mean, I love country music, but I also love Bowie. Most of my friends growing up were like that too, and I think that's what's made the K-W scene so interesting."

As for working with his brother Ian, who will be part of Smith's band for Not Sure Not Sure's launch party, Craig expresses nothing but admiration. "He's always been a gem as far as songwriting goes, and I've learned a lot from him," Smith says. "I think we each value each other's opinions immensely. We have a lot of mutual respect; I played in the Miniatures for a while and I learned there were certain boundaries that came with that. Now that he's playing with me, he's trying to get the sounds that I worked to get on the record, but at the same time it's been great to feed off his creativity.

"I'm just looking forward to playing again in my hometown. I've always been proud to be from K-W and be part of a scene with so many great artists."

CRAIG SMITH CD RELEASE W/PAUL MACLEOD APRIL 28 JANE BOND CAFE, WATERLOO $10 8 P.M. 519-885-4970 - Kitchener-Waterloo Record


"Craig Smith Steps Out On His Own,"

On the opening track of his new album Not Sure Not Sure, Craig Smith says he's been doing all the wrong things the right way. While the phrase is obviously delivered with a tongue-in-cheek swagger reminiscent of one of his main songwriting heroes, Paul Westerberg, Smith admits it's taken him longer than he planned to finally get his solo career fully underway.

The K-W native has been a part of the local scene for much of the past 15 years, although lately he has become better known as the older brother of Ian Smith, frontman for The Miniatures. But since moving to Collingwood several years ago, Craig has found the space to begin concentrating on his own songwriting, and crafted Not Sure Not Sure largely by himself in his home studio.

"I had all the songs written by the summer of 2005, and it took about a year to record them," Smith says. "I'd always done recordings since I was in high school, so when we moved to Collingwood I had a basement that allowed me to build my own studio for the first time. That really pushed me to see if I could make my own record, instead of just demos."

Although the final results of Not Sure Not Sure easily stand alongside any independently-produced Canadian album of recent memory, the title still reflects Smith's anxiety about undertaking the project. "That title is kind of my credo," he says. "I've never really been sure about what I'm doing. I just write songs and kind of hope for the best."

A distinct knack for melody and bittersweet lyrics certainly seems to run in the Smith family, but Craig has always leaned more toward the rootsy end of the rock spectrum. Still, on the album he has managed to strike a perfect balance between alt-country and power pop like few other Canadian artists have done before.

"I guess my main influences have been people like Neil Young who have always had the integrity to follow their own instincts," he says. "I wouldn't want to get boxed into one category, even though I understand some of the advantages of that. I mean, I love country music, but I also love Bowie. Most of my friends growing up were like that too, and I think that's what's made the K-W scene so interesting."

As for working with his brother Ian, who will be part of Smith's band for Not Sure Not Sure's launch party, Craig expresses nothing but admiration. "He's always been a gem as far as songwriting goes, and I've learned a lot from him," Smith says. "I think we each value each other's opinions immensely. We have a lot of mutual respect; I played in the Miniatures for a while and I learned there were certain boundaries that came with that. Now that he's playing with me, he's trying to get the sounds that I worked to get on the record, but at the same time it's been great to feed off his creativity.

"I'm just looking forward to playing again in my hometown. I've always been proud to be from K-W and be part of a scene with so many great artists."

CRAIG SMITH CD RELEASE W/PAUL MACLEOD APRIL 28 JANE BOND CAFE, WATERLOO $10 8 P.M. 519-885-4970 - Kitchener-Waterloo Record


"Not Sure, But A Little More Certain"

By Patrick Finch

“I thought when I grew up I’d know what life was about and I’d know exactly what I should be doing and Not Sure Not Sure is my statement on getting older and realizing that your destiny is really out of your hands,” says singer-songwriter Craig Smith, on the cusp of releasing his long-awaited debut record. “Things change so much, so fast. I think the theme of this record came about after having some life experience. I’ve got two little girls at home and I was amazed at the complete innocence and sense of wonder and I started to wonder why that goes away as we get older. So I never really want to grow up. I know it’s clichéé, but fuck the man! Making music keeps me young.”

Craig Smith has spent the past year in the grips of his new record, Not Sure Not Sure, holed up in his home studio cranking out song after song, searching for that perfect melody, (in the sort of binge writing that his little brother, Ian Smith of the Miniatures, is known for).

“I wrote about seventy songs,” he says. “I just kept writing. I’m not easy to please! I also played all the instruments on some of the songs and it’s a huge job recording and producing yourself. It can take you off the deep end because you get so wrapped up in all aspects of the process of the recording. It becomes hard to step back and listen objectively to see if it’s got the shit or not. This stuff can really take a lot of time. I didn’t call the record Not Sure Not Sure for nothing!”

Smith can relax and be certain, because his relentless self-editing has paid off. His baker’s dozen of Crazy Horse-plays-Flaming Lips urban-country rock is a triumph of melody, volume, and conviction. His confident, Farrar-esque yowl turns tunes like “Shine Like War” and “Pretty/Unpretty” from easy-going rockers to inflammatory rally-cries, while his stellar Gretsch chops permeate all the songs with skree-ing, ragged glory. This approach does much to soften the impact of some pretty heavy crises of love and life that appear throughout his lyrics.
“I think that as a songwriter you’ve got to dig deep inside yourself to find that thing that makes you tick, and sometimes it’s not pretty. I laid myself pretty bare at times with the words, but I didn’t want to censor myself. If you filter your thoughts when you’re writing a song, then you’re not getting to the source. My favourite songwriters, like Neil Young and Jeff Tweedy, have made careers out of being ‘out there’! Sometimes if you throw some nice words behind a good beat and some fuzzed out guitars, it’s not so bad.”

Smith’s relative absence from any live “scene” betrays his overwhelming talent as both a player and a writer. Some dudes just have to make sure that it’s perfect before they can go show it off. Not to mention that he made these songs mostly by himself, (less several appearances by his brother Ian and Nick Skalkos from the Miniatures, Bob Egan, and others), and that means putting a band together to properly present the songs. Luckily, Smith’s got a pretty rock solid network of players around him.
“I’m rehearsing with my band, The Saints, for our show at the Jane Bond. It’s the first show I’ve properly done to support this new CD, so I’m really excited about it. My brother Ian and Nick from the Miniatures are a part of it and it’s rocking pretty hard now. I’m looking forward to doing more shows with them. Nick is absolutely the best drummer I’ve ever seen play so I was really fortunate to get him.”

Despite having just released a record named for an indecisive state of mind, Smith seems pretty content. Like maybe he’s figured some things out by muscling his way through this album. That’s really what great albums do; teach us something about ourselves. If he wasn’t sure before, he seems to be now.

“People change when they get older and not necessarily for the better,” Smith warns. “There are so many expectations that it’s easy to lose that drive. Life is hard so do the things that make you happy. If you’re not sure, neither am I.” - Echo Magazine


"Not Sure, But A Little More Certain"

By Patrick Finch

“I thought when I grew up I’d know what life was about and I’d know exactly what I should be doing and Not Sure Not Sure is my statement on getting older and realizing that your destiny is really out of your hands,” says singer-songwriter Craig Smith, on the cusp of releasing his long-awaited debut record. “Things change so much, so fast. I think the theme of this record came about after having some life experience. I’ve got two little girls at home and I was amazed at the complete innocence and sense of wonder and I started to wonder why that goes away as we get older. So I never really want to grow up. I know it’s clichéé, but fuck the man! Making music keeps me young.”

Craig Smith has spent the past year in the grips of his new record, Not Sure Not Sure, holed up in his home studio cranking out song after song, searching for that perfect melody, (in the sort of binge writing that his little brother, Ian Smith of the Miniatures, is known for).

“I wrote about seventy songs,” he says. “I just kept writing. I’m not easy to please! I also played all the instruments on some of the songs and it’s a huge job recording and producing yourself. It can take you off the deep end because you get so wrapped up in all aspects of the process of the recording. It becomes hard to step back and listen objectively to see if it’s got the shit or not. This stuff can really take a lot of time. I didn’t call the record Not Sure Not Sure for nothing!”

Smith can relax and be certain, because his relentless self-editing has paid off. His baker’s dozen of Crazy Horse-plays-Flaming Lips urban-country rock is a triumph of melody, volume, and conviction. His confident, Farrar-esque yowl turns tunes like “Shine Like War” and “Pretty/Unpretty” from easy-going rockers to inflammatory rally-cries, while his stellar Gretsch chops permeate all the songs with skree-ing, ragged glory. This approach does much to soften the impact of some pretty heavy crises of love and life that appear throughout his lyrics.
“I think that as a songwriter you’ve got to dig deep inside yourself to find that thing that makes you tick, and sometimes it’s not pretty. I laid myself pretty bare at times with the words, but I didn’t want to censor myself. If you filter your thoughts when you’re writing a song, then you’re not getting to the source. My favourite songwriters, like Neil Young and Jeff Tweedy, have made careers out of being ‘out there’! Sometimes if you throw some nice words behind a good beat and some fuzzed out guitars, it’s not so bad.”

Smith’s relative absence from any live “scene” betrays his overwhelming talent as both a player and a writer. Some dudes just have to make sure that it’s perfect before they can go show it off. Not to mention that he made these songs mostly by himself, (less several appearances by his brother Ian and Nick Skalkos from the Miniatures, Bob Egan, and others), and that means putting a band together to properly present the songs. Luckily, Smith’s got a pretty rock solid network of players around him.
“I’m rehearsing with my band, The Saints, for our show at the Jane Bond. It’s the first show I’ve properly done to support this new CD, so I’m really excited about it. My brother Ian and Nick from the Miniatures are a part of it and it’s rocking pretty hard now. I’m looking forward to doing more shows with them. Nick is absolutely the best drummer I’ve ever seen play so I was really fortunate to get him.”

Despite having just released a record named for an indecisive state of mind, Smith seems pretty content. Like maybe he’s figured some things out by muscling his way through this album. That’s really what great albums do; teach us something about ourselves. If he wasn’t sure before, he seems to be now.

“People change when they get older and not necessarily for the better,” Smith warns. “There are so many expectations that it’s easy to lose that drive. Life is hard so do the things that make you happy. If you’re not sure, neither am I.” - Echo Magazine


Discography

-'HEAVY EARLY' Release date of April 5, 2011 on the Indie label Busted Flat Records (Universal Music Canada).
- Craig Smith EP (European release) May, 2011
-Debut cd titled Not Sure Not Sure - release date August, 2007.
-Significant radio play internationally for such songs as'Getaway Car' and 'Song For Ghosts' on CBC Radio One, Radio 2, Radio 3. (National shows, such as Definitely Not the Opera).
-Feature artist on CBC's 'Fresh Air'
-FM Radio song airplay: 'Not Sure, Not Sure,' 'Wishbone,' 'Getaway Car', Song For Ghosts
-National Candian College radio airplay (eg. University of Toronto CIUT 89.5 & CJIQ, Kitchener, ON)
-International radio airplay (UK, Germany)

Photos

Bio

CRAIG SMITH


Craig Smith possesses warmth and an honesty that permeates everything he touches, everyone he meets, every song he sings.
Smith first made his mark in 2007 as a solo recording artist, with his debut album Not Sure Not Sure, a musical statement of self-awareness that made the Toronto Star Anti-Hit List.  On his sophomore album, HEAVY EARLY (2011), Smith coaxes his familiar Gretsch guitar in and out of corners of his mind, yielding twelve intensely personal narratives. Set to a melodic, often joyous swagger of loud rock and roll woven with deliberate acoustic songs, HEAVY EARLY creates a classic, two-sider vinyl album kind-of-flow.

Currently working on his much-anticipated third album (2014), Smith continues to tour and clear an authentic path that cleverly walks the line between the roots of rock and country and the melody of pop. In addition to performing as a solo artist, Smith keeps a full schedule recording and producing other singer/songwriters.

In addition to getting out on the road and playing live as a solo performer, as well as his band MACHINE, Craig Smith continues to record and produce other artists.

Since the release of Not Sure Not Sure, Craig has shared the stage with an eclectic mix of established and up-and-coming artists, such as Fred Eaglesmith, Jason Collett, Danny Michel, Zeus, Matthew Barber, Lindi Ortega, Bahamas, The Warped 45s, and Drive-By-Truckers. He tours as a solo artist and with his band.

_______________________________

Jeff Woods, Explore Music/Q107


Band Members