So, many of you may know that Dallas Smith was the front man of Canadian rock band Default before he made the jump to a solo country artist. Well Mr. Smith has just released his 2nd “Country” album LIFTED Today and boy does it ROCK! I had a chance to listen to the album over the last couple days and have to say, this is an album full of good time country with some great stories along with a dash of inspiration. We had a chance to chat with Dallas today in Toronto before he hit the stage at his CD Launch party at Boots & Bourbon .
Sound Check: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us,lets start off with LIFTED it drops today, maybe tell us a bit about how this album came together?
Dallas: This album is a combination of 6 new songs along with the 6 songs that were on the Tippin’ Point EP. The 6 new songs were created and recorded over the last 6 months. I am very excited to expand my sound and try new things. I am really using these 6 songs to create a much more dynamic catalouge of songs to give me the ammunition to create a more dynamic live show as well.
Sound Check: First single “Wastin’ Gas” is being pumped over the air waves south of the border on Sirius XM The Highway how does that help a Canadian artist in promoting your music down south?
Dallas: Sirius XM The Highway has been a huge support . John Marks.. has been great to me. Tippin Point did really really well down there and kind of opened up the doors. Luckily John has been supportive of Wastin’ Gas and its given me opportunity to meet some people down there and play some festivals this year. We will be playing a whole lot more festivals next year that’s for sure. We have a lot of big festivals with more exposure so that will be good. And then the Tippin Point Tour in Canada and some big Canadian festivals throughout the summer, but I am spending a bunch of time in the US trying to get some Canadian country heard down there.
Sound Check: On the new album who did you work with on the writing of the 6 new songs?
Dallas: Well, Criag Wiseman’s publishing company Big Loud Shirt, were the main push. Craig was just named the most published writer in the last 100 years in any genera, so when you have a guy like that believing in what you can do its pretty amazing. There were a lot of the writers in that building, the songs that are coming through are great along with the opportunity to work with them, those guys trust my voice and trust me with those songs is quite the honor. That building really is full of talented and amazing song writers and I am very blessed to be there and have them believe in me.
Sound Check: Cheap Seats is my personal favorite off LIFTED without a doubt.
Dallas: Got some energy to it doesn’t it?
Sound Check: Sure does love it great story too. So the new tour starts up in January “Tippin’ Point” and your splitting the opening duties between Sundy Best and Charlie Worsham how did you hook up with such great talent from the US?
Dallas: Well, just the same as I need a break to go down and get heard in the US, there are a lot of great American acts that haven’t been heard North of the boarder. Some management & booking agent connections also helped but I really like their music and I was looking for some new faces to bring up and open up the tour for me.
Sound Check: Well I listen to a pile of different music thanks to radio north and south of the boarder but I have to say I am pretty excited with Sunday Best hitting the Ontario leg of the tour.
Dallas: Those guys are going to come out with just the 2 of them and open up the big show and just kill it. Its going to be neat to watch and I really think the girls are just going to eat those guys up.
Sound Check: Opening for Florida Georgia Line earlier this year on the west coast and some dates in the Dakotas, how has that helped with getting you a bit more exposure?
Dallas: Anytime you can have one of the biggest country music duos in the last 10 years, and have them wave the flag for ya and to take ya out its been a huge benefit for sure. I learned a lot from those guys. On how they interact on stage and how they really put on a show. They are damn good at what they do, they really are . It seems from the show that they put on and how they are on stage that they have been doing this for 10 years.
Sound Check: To think they were song writers that thought, lets give this performance thing a shot is unreal.
Dallas: They are naturally gifted that way. There is no doubt great guys.
Sound Check: So a month or 2 ago you had a chance to work with Canadian music icon Tom Cochrane for a CMT Special to air later this year. Maybe tell us a bit about that?
Dallas: Ya, the management company I was working with at that point had just taken Tom on as well and they started talking about it. And to be honest I don’t really know where it came from, it kinda just came from management up above. They threw out the idea and it was pitched to me and of course that was an instant yes absolutely. To get to sing those songs and get to do what I do with those songs it was really really cool.
I got a chance to talk to Tom on the phone a couple times and he is such a great guy and a real music lover. The world needs more guys like Tom Cochrane. It was really an honor and it was great to hear his voice on my songs. It was fun singing his but to hear his voice on mine was equally as cool. That was one of my favorite moments of the year to get up and do that with him.
Sound Check: I am really looking forward to seeing that should be cool.
Dallas: I haven’t seen the finished product yet but i was there so I kinda know what happened. I think it should look good and sound great.
Sound Check: Well I guess that was the first “Crossroads” type show that CMT has done and I personally hope that this isn’t a one and done kind of show.
Dallas: I hope so to, I really do agree its such a great way to hear those songs in such a different way, Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Some people just have natural chemistry and some don’t. Tom was a great guy to work with.
Sound Check: How did you make the transition from the Rock to Country music? What was the deciding factor?
Dallas: I had been talking about it for a long time. I grew up with a lot of great music in my house the main stays were Country and Classic Rock. But as I got older and was doing the Default thing I started to gravitate to Country Radio and it had to do with the voices. I don’t have a quirky voice I have a natural tone and I listen for that in other singers and I appreciate that in other singers. I wasn’t hearing that in rock. It was a combination of that and falling back in love with the genera, and of course the Guitars have the gain turned up a bit on these tracks. I have said this a thousand times, country radio and country music where it was going was the perfect storm of what I grew up with. The stuff that Dierks was doing along with Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts it had a lot more energy and the shows were full on rock shows.
I went down there with no expectations I wasn’t trying to be something I wasn’t I was just going to go down and make a record that I would enjoy listening to. Apparently that’s what a lot of people like to listen to to. Country with a bit of edge to it and that’s my sound and that’s what I do.
Sound Check: A lot of people say the progression of country music over the last 10 to 15 years with artists like Keith Urban & Rascal Flatts isnt Country anymore.
Dallas: Ya, but every generation says that about what was behind them.
Sound Check: Exactly, and so many people saying this isn’t Conway Twitty, Merle, Hank or Willie. And to be honest they were not the original country music so..
Dallas: If Garth Brooks the biggest country act of all time got put on Country radio back in the 50’s it wouldn’t have work either. That’s the great thing about this genre right now its really interesting you can stick a band like Zac Brown Band, a very traditional type of music with great musicians but still traditional and then the next song is Florida Georgia Line and they are very progressive with their stuff and its different. But they fit and it works. Its great to have that much variety and that much dynamic and that many interesting things coming at you from every direction in the format. I think that’s why Country Music is so big now because people grew up in house holds with all different types of influences. Not many grew up just on Alan Jackson there were always something else such as U2 and the Beatles something else is always there.
I think that is why Country music is becoming such a huge Genera, there really is something for everyone.
Sound Check: It has blown up.
Dallas: Its blown up huge, in even the 5 years that I have been involved its grown and its gotten bigger and bigger.
Sound Check: Does it risk a burn out phase?
Dallas: Everything is cyclical everything will run its course and it will change again, it will be something different and we can’t predict what that will be but someone will come up with something and who knows what it will be.
Sound Check: Boots and Hearts is there a chance we will see you with the boys from FGL this year?
Dallas: I am hoping so, that was the 2nd time I played that festival on Thursday night at the Kick Off Party. The folks running the Boots & Hearts festival are great people and work really hard to get the best acts. Our country does need more festivals that’s for sure.
Sound Check: We are looking at covering the majors this summer, Big Valley Jamboree, Cavendish, Dauphin, Boots & Hearts, Lucknow & Havelock and the recent Country In The Park to name a few because of the genre picking up these shows aren’t just Headliners its a full day of amazing music.
Dallas: Exactly, its invoked some enthusiasm back into watching live music. When I first started out in the music business in the early 2000’s there were a pile of Rock Festivals and big shows in the Amphitheaters and as that decade went on the there wasnt alot of people coming to live music anymore, in that Genera anyway. I don’t know if it was the economy or if it was just the genre dying a bit. Its really great to see, especially the young audience spending their hard earned money on going to watch live music and get the experience that comes with that. It was lost for a bit there and I am so so excited to see that back.
Sound Check: How tough do you find it to keep in touch with the family on tour ?
Dallas: I have 9 year old son and a 9 month old little girl and I have been able to carve out a great relationship with my son when he was little Facetime and Skype were not around. Over the years its become easier and easier maintaining that contact and relationship while I am gone for 2 or 3 weeks, but that’s another thing that has changed. I am not on the road for 4 months anymore I am home usually after 10-14 days so that makes it more manageable. We have learned that when I am home that I get to do a lot of things that most parents don’t get to do such as drop them off at school and go on field trips with them. I am going through this stage with our little girl where nothing really replaces that touch and I am excited to get home after this promo tour and the Grey Cup to settle into home life for 4 or 5 weeks and just spend time with the family
Sound Check: The Grey Cup must be exciting?
Dallas: Ya so we played Pacific Coliseum, played Rogers Arena where I watch my Canucks play and all the venues in the Vancouver area and now I get to check BC Place off the Bucket List so its pretty exciting and should be a great time.
Sound Check: Thanks for taking the time to chat today Dallas and best of luck tonight at your CD Launch at Boots & Bourbon.
Pick up Dallas Smiths latest album anywhere fine music is sold.
Also follow Dallas on Twitter – @DallasSmith
and Facebook. Tour dates for the Tippin’ Point tour are also listed below.
Corey Kelly / @CoreyKelly76
Would also like to thank Trish Cassling for some great shots from last nights Boots & Bourbon show.