Beginning his career in 1996 with Gideon Smith and the Dixie Damned, Gideon, along with friends Otis Hughes and Boo Duckworth brought forward his version of classic rock and blues, North Carolina style. After three GSDD albums, his most recent release is a four-song EP for his newest gig, the doom metal Cemetery Crows. I had some questions for Gideon, and he was more than gracious about talking with me. - Angela Domaingue, Wild Thing (Greece)
Anyone that is a lifelong music fanatic discovers certain artists that do more than merely provide some moments of entertainment for them throughout the years. You occasionally locate and identify the rarest ones that propel you into a seemingly transcendental state where your mind is opened to an elevated consciousness and you just know you should garner and gleam from them all that you can, while you can. I intended to do exactly that when I inquired of Gideon Smith if he would be a willing participant in an interview and he graciously conceded. For those of you already familiar with Gideon then you know he is a multi-faceted artist in every sense of the word and one that is able to articulate and share mind-expanding ideas..not to mention he has made kick-ass music in the highly regarded Gideon Smith & The Dixie Damned as well as his newest project, the Doom-driven Cemetery Crows.
North Carolina’s Gideon Smith is a true one- off. With his band Gideon Smith & the Dixie Damned he has been playing a bluesy mixture of southern rock, doom metal, stoner and psychedelia. It’s a well of timeless gothic Americana and outlaw class, helped by Gideon’s deep, soulful vocals (they invite constant comparisons to Danzig and Ian Astbury). His songs have ended up on the soundtrack to The Sopranos and Sons of Anarchy among others and his work has been recognised by Classic Rock Magazine. His songs have been covered by a number of underground bands (most notably for the tribute album “F.T.W.”) and he is also the author of the book “Way of the Outlaw Spirit”. His newest album is 30 Weight on Small Stone Records, arguably the single best rock label in the U.S. at the moment. The man himself has the details, starting with his influences when he was first starting out:
(Interview by Dimitris Kontogiannis)
Sunday, 7 October 2012
20 questions w/ Gideon Smith
Well, there are a number of people or bands I would dearly love to get on the blog to talk us and by chance, Gideon Smith was one of those people. It's strange that I say that, given that he only came to my attention this year, however his music kinda resonates with me. It is as if he is telling stories through his music and to me his lyrics are very poetic. Yes crushingly heavy music is something which I am passionate about, however the art of story telling through music is also very cool as well and is something which is appealing to me. It just so happens that Gideon Smith's music has a strong rock influence there too. 30 Weight was my first introduction to Gideon Smith's music and it truly is a phenomenal record, which is why I wanted to talk to this extraordinary musician. Too my surprise Gideon agreed. So here is my interview with one of my favourite new artists I have discovered. So Enjoy.
"Southern sensibility and a hybrid hard rock heritage that can only be found and nurtured below the Mason Dixon line is the hallmark of Gideon Smith and The Dixie Damned, live Friday at Snug Harbor in Charlotte.Smith’s dark, bluesy, gothic metal rock with a psychedelic country core and deep South attitude takes a daring yet dignified stand. Based in Charlotte, he sees his music as developmental, undaunted by stereotypical expectations with influences that are all over the map, but he said, “That’s what makes it fun and keeps it different.“I believe all my music is 60’s and 70’s rock or roots-influenced, so it’s hard rock with psych and blues, country, metal overtones. I feel very fortunate that I’m not painted into a corner artistically, so that I can go from doom metal to outlaw country to psychedelia, etc. – just sing and play what comes out, true to my heart.”Three albums, released by Small Stone Records, illustrate the variations in sound. The first album – “Southern Gentlemen” (2001 ) was more of a swampy bayou album, Smith said.“The second album – ‘South Side of the Moon’ (2008) was a space rock album, while ‘30 Weight’ is more of a desert road rock album. I believe this one is darker, but in a fun way, not a dark, depressing kind of sound, more an exciting kind of darker thrill, a little harder-edged but with a touch of psychedelia and a desert feel.”His influences, attitudes and the art all play out live where Smith will be joined by his band, currently featuring Tom Brook, guitar; Tim Murray, guitar; Jose, bass and Rob, drums.“My shows are different from most bands,” he said, “because I consider my performances to be rituals that spread around the hall, is received, complimented and built to a higher experience with the listeners.“The live shows are a celebration for anyone who comes to enjoy the music. Join me and the guys in a fantastic night. We’re all here, and we want to see you too.”
Be there to connect with the vibe, the energy and the Southern sanctified sound of Gideon Smith and The Dixie Damned, live with guest Murdercycle Friday at Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Charlotte. Call 704-333-9799 or check snugrock.com for show info. Visit gideonsmith.net for more on the music.
Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/2012/08/02/4160745/southern-style-rock-groups-come.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy
an INTERVIEW with Southern gentleman : GIDEON SMITH
Thursday, 5 January 2012
GIDEON SMITH AND THE DIXIE DAMNED INTERVIEW.
Now I would like to introduce you to GIDEON SMITH AND THE DIXIE DAMNED who hail from North Carolina USA and are a band that I have been aware of since the late 1990's (they have been around and active since 1997) but never heard properly until last year, I really liked this bands great mix of southern rock, classic rock, blues, soulful stoner/doomrock, they are a band with many musical layers and are lead by frontman Gideon Smith who comes across very much like a true southern gentleman from my experience and who possesses a great bluesy baritone singing voice which just conjures up such vocalists as Glenn Danzig, Jim Morrison, Ian Astbury etc. It is always a pleasure to come across such a vocalist who sings in such a way and whilst obviously drawing from some clear influences Gideon very much has his own style of singing and has an impressive depth and richness to this vocals which he uses to full capacity.
The band have just had their latest album "3O Weight" released recently by equally long running American label Small Stone records who have been dealing in all things rawkin' and heavy since the 1990's aswell. This album is a great powerful recording, full of diversity and emotion and they also throw in some great covers of Saint Vitus and the notorious GG Allin aswell. This album has everything from more laid back mellow style parts to full on hardrawkin' Sabbath esque Doom parts and everything inbetween and I can't recommend it enough to anyone who is a fan of good hard heavy and rockin' music and there is definetly a dark streak running throughout Gideons outlaw musical veins and embedded deep within his soul...at times coming across like some swampy southern fried hybrid of Samhain, early Black Sabbath, classic Danzig and a more doomier The Cult and Circus of Power for want of comparisions, I could also throw in some comparisons to newer bands such as Five Horse Johnson, Sixty Watt Shaman, Dixie Witch but with a darker outlaw country rock 'n' roll twist but essentially what Gideon and his band are creating is just great timeless music that could have easily been recorded in a decade now gone by. This album would be best paired with a few cold ones with the volume cranked high and just imagining yourself in some darkened deserted old western graveyard surrounded by undead skeletal animals roaming the dusty plains with only the sound of undead howls echoing in the distance for company. so pick up this album and get on your iron horse and ride on!!
I sent some questions to Gideon and here is what he had to say.. (Thanks to Kat)
Gideon Smith & The Dixie Damned hail from North Carolina in the USA, having formed in 1997. They have a great mix of southern rock, classic rock, blues and soulful stoner/doom, and are a band with many musical layers. They are lead by frontman Gideon Smith, who comes across very much like a true Southern gentleman and who possesses a great bluesy baritone which reminds you of such vocalists as Glenn Danzig, Jim Morrison and Ian Astbury. He's a vocalist who sings in his own style despite the obvious influences and has an impressive depth and richness to this vocals which he uses to full capacity.
The band have just had their latest album '30 Weight' via long-running American label Small Stone Records. This album is a powerful recording, full of diversity and emotion with some great covers of Saint Vitus and the notorious GG Allin thrown in as well. It runs from more laid-back, mellow parts to full-on hard rockin' Sabbat- esque doom parts and everything inbetween. There is definetly a dark streak running throughout Gideon's outlaw musical veins and embedded deep within his soul. Essentially, what Gideon and his band are creating is great, timeless music best served with a few cold ones, the volume cranked high and imagining yourself in some darkened, deserted old Western graveyard surrounded by undead skeletal animals roaming the dusty plains with only howls echoing in the distance for company.
We sent some questions to frontman Gideon Smith (his real name) to find out more.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
A Sunday Conversation with Gideon Smith
First time we heard Gideon Smith's latest offering, South Side of the Moon, we were blown away here at the Ripple office. I mean, open the windows and let some air in to clear the acrid smoke, blown away. Coming at us with a massive, meaty, mix of stoner rock, big time '70's inspired riffery, and seasonings from the deep south, in a big 'ol southern gothic way, this was a meaty platter dense enough for us to sink our teeth into. "Dixie Damned," as he likes to call it. We just couldn't wait to fire up the Bar-B-Q and invite Mr. Smith to come sit a spell on the Ripple couch and tell us all about what makes him tick.
When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkle, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I looked at music, what it could sound like, how it could make me feel? What have been your musical epiphany moments?
Hail to you guys, and thank you for your time and the interview. Thanks also, for your thoughts on the latest album. I am pleased to know you enjoyed it. I agree with you, everybody loved KISS when we were turned onto them back then. I think turning points for me where when I first heard the “Love” album by the Cult when I was young and it was barely out. I remember listening to it at my friend’s house as if we had this rare secret thing. Hearing the Doors LP’s for the first time, Led Zeppelin, Allman Bros, Skynyrd, Black Sabbath, Sisters of Mercy, Hank Williams Sr., Danzig, Vitus, hearing old Misfits 7”s for the first time. I get off on the power of the magic in the music. And really, the first time I got to play shows and do it all on my own. Standing up behind a mic stand, looking out, it’s a feeling you never forget and it’s always awesome. Every time I get to do a new record, or play a show, it renews that again a thousand fold, it’s like an expanding epiphany. I never take it for granted but instead welcome it as an exploding gift of audio bliss.
Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?
It’s often never the same. I tend to write riffs first, but sometimes I write words and then music. Or I sing ideas and then pick up a guitar. There is no real pattern that always applies to the songwriting. It can come in all kinds of ways.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
I am very fortunate in that I never have writer’s block, or lack of drive or motivation. The inner engine of my musical force never stops. I think what keeps any artist going are new experiences, and reflections on the experience, that brings the inspiration for more songs. Stay alive and keep your head up and you’ll keep feeling alive enough to write song after song.
Genres are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?
I would say it’s up to what the listener finds there. It’s interesting how many people can hear the same record and describe it differently. To me that’s a really good thing as opposed to being quickly ‘it’s this, or it’s that’. Since I refused to ever paint myself into a corner artistically, I think “Dixie Damned” is just an extension of a vibe more than a band or said style. I just do what makes me happy. As for ways to describe it: Passion, love, power, fury, lust, peace, frustration, beauty.
What is your musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?
My songs come from within. As they come out and are captured like photographs as a moment in time and soul, then they are made into an experience which can be repeated
by listening or performing them again. As they are heard, my intention is only that they are ‘real’ and then the listener can take what they find there. Being real, true and from your spirit, then I think songs become universal themes. If I had an intention, it would simply be to take people places that lay hidden within themselves they need to go. Or places they struggle to go but can’t get there on their own. I would hope my songs take people places inside themselves that they long for: I like to grab their wrist and pull them the final step into what they desire.
The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated?
The first key is unwavering tenacity, and keeping your inspiration bright so your heart doesn’t become empty. We all have to face it if you stay on the path long enough. You’re right it is brutal. Yeah it’s a terrible business; you just keep in it because you love the music. You do it for the music and the people who care about your music. Hopefully you have as much fun as you can and the ride is a good one, and you find it more rewarding than bad. It all depends on the band and their attitude, and then what adventures you may have. You make sure you work with good
people you can trust on all levels, and stay determined and keep your attitude sharp and bright. I have kept doing it also: because I’m honored to know there are people out there who wait on new records or hope for a show they can go to.
The great appreciation for them, that makes me want to keep going. Any uphill battles along the way are just challenges not problems. There is music on the horizon, always rising. Inspiration and magic is what keeps it alive.
Do you have a particular sound in your head that you try to bring out? Or is the creation process random and spontaneous? Or both, or neither?
It’s all at the same time. So, none of it is out of place whether it comes about by a plan or randomly. Of course, a lot of what you do is spontaneous, that’s creativity as it arrives. Always stay true to your vision of what you do and who you are.
Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?
Honestly the next ten years are nothing to me but more time for more music. I hope to keep shaking the trends and doing my part to crumble the weak hypocritical forces that try and keep rock and roll down. Where I will be or what I will have done ten years from now, I will leave that to the great mystery of tomorrow.
What makes a great song?
It’s all about the heart of it all. People love a good song and get psyched to hear it again. It’s like a gift you never tire of, the song’s timeless. Trends come and go and if the song remains, then you know it’s real.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Cds because I have to, because times have forced me to accept it. Vinyl is my long love.
Thanks for joining us Gideon. It's time to go pick up some Blackened Voodoo beer to go with the crawdads we got simmering and the cheesebread cooking. I'll bring the music. You may have heard it before, it's called Dixie Damned.