Richard Smith

 

Richard Smith is captivating audiences with his originality, distinct lyrical style and edgy rock production, on full display in his new radio single ‘Story’. We wanted to find out what drives this dedicated pop rock artist to push the limits of the genre.

You can generally tell when an artist is ready for the next stage of their career. It shows up in timing and tonal certainties, and there's a sense of conviction that just can't be faked. Richard Smith's catchy new track ‘Story’ has that audible conviction, but its sheer inventiveness and mainstream digestibility fulfill the other half of the equation that determines who gets radio time and who goes home unheard. It also doesn't hurt that the critics have raved about his award-winning work: ‘This compact but dense collection of rock Americana riches is unrelentingly emphatic and persuasive due to its smooth-as-silk diction and entertaining narratives.’ Independent reporter Alexis Adams recently caught up with Richard Smith to talk about his new single and the passion for home-grown rock that gave rise to it.

ALEXIS: As an artist on the rise, what is one thing you are most excited about and one thing you are most afraid of happening in your career?
RICHARD SMITH: For the first time after thirty years of working as a factory worker and a nurse I felt really excited that my music was recognized by The Akademia Team. I almost give up my music because nobody would not recognize it in Australia. Particularly when the Australian record companies would not sign me up as an Australian artiste, saying that my music is not in their agenda. Yet I believed my music was much greater than they thought. I never thought that I should go to American companies especially because of my financial situation. Also I had to put my priority at the time on looking after my children particularly after my first wife asked for divorce in 1991. Today I am scared of my new career without a band. The band was disbanded look ago. Therefore, how can I create another band as good as that ? Also it is not easy to find another musician like Charli as good as the one I used to work with In addition I am scared of performing on stage because I have not performed for many years. Yet, I still have that passion for music in my gut. I am very ambitious man and a hard worker and I believe that I can perform again.

ALEXIS: Your song ’Smiths Story’ is receiving a positive listener response on radio. What was your initial reaction when you first heard your song playing on radio?
RICHARD SMITH: I was honestly excited and surprised to hear my songs on the radio in Los Angeles for first time. I was jumping up and down and screaming in the kitchen. Not easy to believe that my song has been recognized and played after so long on radio, especially in America, England and Australia. I thought that was not real, it is only a dream. I asked my wife to pinch me, hit me until I could believe that it is true. Then I recognized it was my voice and my song. To believe that lots of other people on the continent are listening to my song brought tears in my eyes. It is like a dream and I am still trying to process when I won the best album in America. When the Akademia said that I won the Best Rock Americana album in America, I thought it was a scam? The first day I ignored the Email. My wife also said that she could not believe that The Akademia send that email to you. It is a dream to recognize my music in America, in Hollywood. I am still trying to pinch my arm that is true. I am hoping that my song 'Story' will be the top of the US Billboard this year.

ALEXIS: What was the inspiration behind your debut radio single?
RICHARD SMITH: I remember years ago in South Australia I was driving to work when I heard music in my head. I couldn't get that music out of my brain so I pulled over and I parked my car on the side street. Then I quickly grabbed a pen and paper and wrote some beautiful lyrics on the paper. I could not write the notes because I am a bit illiterate musically. I never had a music lesson in my life. So once I got home I wrote those lyrics and then I called to see Charlie Holoubek who had a great music band. He was also a great music teacher to me. So I went to Charlie's studio with my new lyrics and my music. He played it with his guitar in front of me. So I sang the music and he kindly wrote it down. Then we went with Charlie and his band, and my beautiful music and lyrics to a recording Studio in Adelaide, South Australia. I always used Charlie and his bands because I was very comfortable with them as they had the same roots in American music as me. Once the beautiful music was recorded and I heard it, I decided to put new lyrics to it. That became the song 'Story'. Then I recorded the lyrics with other songs I had. Being a very dramatic song, I thought it would be good for the end of a scene in a rock drama musical like 'West Side story, 'Jailhouse Rock' ' or 'The Red Shoes'. The idea behind my album 'Smith's Story' is a musical drama story with scenes in a film. One day I hope that all those songs from the album will be in the a new rock musical film, if I get successful with it. That is my life time dream.

ALEXIS: It is often said that great art arises from difficult experience. Is there something in your life experience thus far that you would describe as the ‘catalyst’ or ‘fuel’ for your desire to create music?
RICHARD SMITH: I used to sing in a garage band in my backyard in the late 1970s. I was composing my songs and singing with my teenage friends who were creating their own songs. However, in 1979 the band collapsed and I got married soon after and had children. But I still had that passion for creating my songs so I decided to use my Long Service pay to pay for recording studios so I could give them to the Australian companies to listen to my music. I wanted to record my songs because I really wanted to have a musical artists career. I didn't have much time to record each song because it was too expensive for me in the recording studio including the band and backing up voices. I had to look after my family with my nursing income which was not great!!!. The only good thing was I had the passion to sing my songs quickly rather than record many tracks in each song, It was usually one take with quickly added sound effects or backing voices as needed. I was always thinking that this song will be good in my musical rock film. This created that 'fuel' for my dreams and my music. I always thought my songs were great because I wanted those songs to be perfect. However, I had to stop my recordings because my-ex-wife left me with my children and lots of bills and the mortgage. The Australian recording studios such as Mushroom, Festival and Sony did not want my music, because they believed it was not on their agenda. But deep down I had still the passion in my heart and soul for my music . It just needed help and recognition which now with The Akademia's help I can achieve my lifelong dreams.

ALEXIS: How would you characterize yourself as an artist/musician? (Ex. Down-to-earth, serious, fun-loving, complicated…)
RICHARD SMITH: I am a down-to-earth artist, preferring and enjoying my music. I love to make people happy when they listen to my music, I also like to have some privacy because I want to tend to distance myself from all the scandals. I would rather focus on things that actually help me concentrate on my music while having some fun times with my family and friends who always were my inspiration. I am aware of the fact that people are just humans and that money doesn't make them any better, although if I did not have financial issues in the past I could have followed my dream and made more music. I am a serious and at the same time a fun-loving artiste. For example, I am serious that I want to make a very good musical rock drama film as good as 'West Side Story' with both serious and fun songs from my album 'Smiths Story' in the near future. The serious songs such as ' Working in the Work Force' prove that I was upset about the clashes between rich and poor while another song, like 'Party' is just fun. Also to understand myself as being a poor to middle class child, both happy and sad I turned to the blues, gospel, country and Rock n roll. It helped me to express my feelings at that time. I've never been really rich in my life . Therefore, as an artist, it depends on my serious or fun side to be more successful, become a little bit richer financially and to have less stress.

 

ALEXIS: What has your experience been like working with the other people on your team?
RICHARD SMITH: I was very lucky of meeting Charlie Holoubek and his bands when I went to the first recording studios in 1981 in Adelaide . I did record most of my songs with Charlie between 1981-to 1991. Charlie was a great musician, organizer and teacher who did help me. He played a range of music from rhythm and blues to rock and modern jazz and having fun with contemporary New Orleans music. So when I met him and asked him to help me to record my songs, he could understand what I want to do with my music and where it was coming from. We are still friends after 35 years. Also I met Bill Harrison at his own recording studio as a studio engineer. He helped me to create my songs when I was young. He allowed me to mix my songs in the studio between 1982 to 1984 such as ' I Got the Power', 'Persian Love', 'I Need Love', and 'Working in the Workforce'. I was very lucky to have great talents helping me at that time. In my nursing career, I was also getting along with my team. You might know that nursing is a stressful job because you have the life of those people in your hand. but still we had time in our break to have fun and tell jokes. My wife and I moved to Queensland in 2007 from South Australia and still after 9 years we are in contact with our nursing colleagues in South Australia. Believe it or not the first person who bought my song was my nursing work mate. She has been one of my best friends for over 25 years. I am a reliable person, also stable. I stayed with my job the same Hospital for 25 years. Of course there are always disagreements between people, but I believe we have to talk about it, think about it, find the truth, and solve the problem.

ALEXIS: Did you come from a musical background? Are there other musicians in your family?
RICHARD SMITH: Not really. My mum was the only singer in in our family. She was always singing when she cooked or did her house work. She loved musicals and she sang the 'My Fair Lady' or 'Calamity Jane' songs such as 'Secret Love'. (I recorded the in my 'Smith's Story'). From this I began to love Musicals at an early age. She also took me to the cinema to see movies like 'The Sound of Music 'or even 'Summer Holiday' by Cliff Richard. Most of my music as a child was religious music at Sunday school.

ALEXIS: What do you find most rewarding about being an artist? What do you find most challenging?
RICHARD SMITH: I could do my own songs in the way I wanted. I could make my own albums and hoping as well to make a musical movie around my songs for the world to watch. But the most challenging thing is that nobody was able to recognize my talent until The Akademia team listened to my music and were the first who really recognized my music as artistic. But my dream of turning my music into a rock musical movie or Broadway remains until I have more success which I hope will be soon with the help of The Akademia team.

ALEXIS: Who are your role models in music?
RICHARD SMITH: I love Elvis' songs when he was young, particularly his rock and roll and his blues. I could understand him and his songs because he had the roots of blues, rhythm and blues, gospel and country together. I did love those American roots when I was a teenager. I did buy lots of blues, country, musicals, soul and I still do listen to blue singers like Billie Holiday, B.B, King, Bessi Smith, Robert Johnson, Bobby Bland, Louis Jordan, etc. I was also very influenced by artists such as Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats , Domino, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Muddy Waters . But the most important influences were John Lennon in the Beatles and Elvis. They helped me to start singing by listening to them and how they sang and then developing my own style. I don't like to copy other artists styles. But The Beatles also taught me how to create my songs and how to make a good album by listening and seeing it particularly the Beatle albums such as 'Rubber Soul' and 'Revolver'. I began to think of making my own albums once I saw theirs.

ALEXIS: Describe your best or most memorable performance.
RICHARD SMITH: I went to the Australian' X-factor in 2010. It was the first and last time having a huge audiences listen to me. So excited and the same time stressed.

ALEXIS: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists out there who are unsure and need guidance?
RICHARD SMITH: Never give up but also work hard to perfect their style. It took me 30 years to be recognized as an artist yet I did not give up especially when I was injured in 2005 when I suffered a severe brain injury as a result of a home invasion where I was hit with a hammer and suffered a stroke. I was in a coma for about 5 days and specialists did not believe that I would survive. The neurosurgeon told my wife Bassi that I would not survive or if I did I would be a vegetable for rest of my life. Bassi said that she did not believe them for even one second. She said that they don't know what they are taking about. Richard will be OK soon. I was mute, illiterate and paralyzed on the right side of my body. I had to start learning again from A B C & 1 2 3. Even my speech pathologist in Gold Coast Hospital told me that I can never go to University and if I did I would fail and lose my self confidence. That speech pathologist sent a letter to my doctor and said that I was not realistic. But I survivedand went to Griffith University and I graduated in 2014 . More amazingly I did most of my subjects with distinctions and also I went to Cambridge University in UK in 2014 to do history and achieved an A in that subject. Now this year 2016 I won the Best Rock Americana Album, 'Smith's Story' in Hollywood I went to Hollywood to the Gala where The Akademia executives presented me with The Akamedia Music Award for 2016. Bassi, my wife was always there for me, supporting me all the way. Due to my severe brain injury my driving licence was suspended . Now I can drive again. Yet Bassi was still is taking me to University and my other appointments and activities everyday. Both Bassi and I are hard workers and socialise with other people. I said that Bassi never gave up on me and she was there for me 24/7. So don't give up on your dreams particular of your music. Make it real.

ALEXIS: What's next for you as an artist? Is there a new single in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
RICHARD SMITH: I have a few singles in the works. For example, 'Party'. It is a fun song I composed after going to some parties or hosting parties in my own home which I enjoy. When I was younger I used to meet girls at parties. That's why I enjoy them as well as those who attend them. So when I releasethis song I hope that they will enjoy it. I also have another single 'I Got the Power'. It is a very strong song in a original rock Blues jazz vein. My friends love this. I hope this will go on top of the Billboard.

ALEXIS: That's wonderful! Thank you so much for letting us get to know you a little better. We wish you the best of luck and continued success.

http://richardsmith.rocks

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