by Philippe Archambeau
Website: http://www.michaelbsmith.com









What were your main influences while growing up ?

Michael B Smith : So many people man. I love so many types of music. My original heroes were Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, and like everyone else. I was blown away by the Beatles. I grew up loving Merle Haggard, old blues players like Robert Johnson. In the ‘70’s I was into Alice Cooper, Kiss and then when the Allman Brothers Band came along I knew I had found my favorite band of all time.
Still are, as well as my dear friends The Marshall Tuclker Band. I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd at their last concert here in Greenville, SC the night before the plane crash, and met everyone.
That was all thanks to Artimus Pyle, whom I already knew. Skynyrd was a big influence.
All of the Southern rockers, Charlie Daniels, Wet Willie. Guitar wise my major influences were Dickey Betts, Toy Caldwell and these days Warren Haynes.

When did you start playing guitar ? Was it your first instrument ?

Michael B Smith : Yes, guitar was my first instrument. I played bass for a while but wasn’t very good at it. I started playing guitar when I was a little kid, but didn’t really get serious until about 1980. I got out with a band called Buffalo Hut Coalition in 1982, playing every weekend for several years, and learned a lot real fast.

Can you tell us about your last album SOUTHERN LIGHTS recording process ?

Michael B Smith :Sure. We recorded at Mill Kids Studios in Huntsville, Alabama. The Crawlers, a really hot Alabama band was the main band. I asked some other friends to come in and thankfully they all accepted my invitation. Bonnie Bramlett, who was with Delaney 7 Bonnie in the 60’s and 70’s sang on several songs including a duet I wrote specifically for her. She is the bomb. She still sounds great. Bonnie was once with The Allmans, and she sang backup with Little Feat (Dixie Chicken), Ike and Tina Turner, Delbert McClinton, everybody! Tommy Crain is all over the album. The was Charlie Daniels’ lead guitarist for over 15 years, including “The Devil went Down to Georgia.” Tommy played guitar, acoustic, Dobro and pedal steel on the album. Pete Carr was a member of Hour Glass in the ‘60s with Duane and Gregg Allman, and later became a Muscle Shoals swamper playing on tons of records by Bob Seger, Rod Stewart and more. John Wyker was hal of a duo called Sailcat who scored a hit in 1972 called “Motorcycle Mama.” Lots of great players!

We really loved your album from the very first listening. What about playing european festivals next year ?

Michael B Smith : Thank you so much. I am working on coming over in June to do some small coffee houses, doing acoustic solo with my friend Hays Clark, who works with me on Gritz Magazine. Then I hope in the fall maybe I can bring my band over, or come with Rebel Storm.

Can you tell us a bit about your lyrics topics ?

Michael B Smith :“Into the Light” was written after I nearly died in the hospital in 1998. I am so blessed by God to be alive! “Buddha in a Swimming Pool” was about my friend, musician Col. Bruce Hampton. “I Don’t Want to Say Goodbye,” I wrote just for Bonnie and I to sing. I’m very proud of that one. “Gemini Soul” features five guitarists, and is an instrumental written for my wife. She is a Gemini, and a professional astrologer. Tony Heatherly, who played bass with The Toy Caldwell Band and is currently with the Marshall Tucker Band, wrote “Ride On My Friend” for Toy. I was honored to record it with me and Tommy Crain tearfully playing dual leads head to head in the studio, both of us missing Toy. Wyker wrote “Hooker’s Boogie” in memory of John Lee Hooker. “Life Behind the Mask” is a rocker featuring Ray Brand on slide, and was chosen for the compilation “Stars and Bars” coming from Z Roxx Records in England next month.

Are you already working on the next album ?

Michael B Smith : Yes. A couple. I am going to do a duet album with Nashville’s Lee Bogan, a great country rock guitarist/singer/songwriter. I am also working on songs for a record I intend to record in Florida with some of the guys from Ghostriders (Steve Grisham, Barry Rapp) and hopefully Dickey Betts, Tommy Crain, Dan Toler, several others. It’ll be an all out Southern Rock album for sure.

Which kind of music do you generally listen to ?

Michael B Smith : Everything. My daughter turned me on to Outkast and Christina Aguilera. Mostly I play old and new Southern rock albums. My favorite album ever was Layla by Derek & The Dominos. I love to listen to Delaney & Bonnie, Paul Thorn, Molly Hatchet, Ghost Riders, Rebel Storm, W.I.N.D., Nocturn...I love Kate Bush, David Bowie, Edgar and Johnny Winter, AC/DC...wow...on and on. Garth Brooks, Jimmy Wayne, Martina McBride, Montgomery Gentry...

How did you react while seeing new kinds of music coming, such as techno, rap?? Do you like it ?

Michael B Smith : I appreciate it, but am not a fan of techno. Rap, some. I like Kid Rock a lot. Generally, I am not a fan of hip hop. I do like the poet Saul Williams a lot, who has a great rap album called “Amythest Rock Star,” and a movie called “Slam.” But that’s because of his imagery. Generally speaking, I don’t listen to rap or techno.

Have you already opened a concert for a great band if no, do you hope it and for who ?

Michael B Smith : Many times. Molly Hatchet, Marshall Tucker, Charlie Daniels, Southern Rock Allstars. I have become friends with a lot of these guys through Gritz and am lucky. I really like jamming with them onstage too. I get invited out to jam a lot and love it more than anything ! I’d like to do a show with Skynyrd, and really want to do some European shows with friends like Flatman, W.I.N.D., Nocturn, Lizard, and others.

Imagine you have the opportunity of starting the band of your dreams. Who would be part of that super band ?

Michael B Smith : Living souls, I imagine you are speaking of... Well. Guitars: Dickey Betts, Tommy Crain, Chris Hicks, Me!....Bass Bill Majkut of Smokin Gun...Drums, Jakson Spires and Paul Riddle..Sax Edgar Winter...Hammond Organ/Vocal Gregg Allman...Piano/Keys Johnny Neel...Fiddle Charlie Daniels...Flute Jerry Eubanks...That’s my Southern rock band. Now ask me about my “classic rock” lineup! LOL.

What do you hope and wish for the future for GRITZ, your magazine and how buy it ?

Michael B Smith : To continue its success and be as big as Rolling Stone. To expose great music, old and new from all over the world...Order subscriptions in the Gritz. Online store at http://www.gritz.net.. Also available through Z Roxx in Europe and soon in record stores throughout Europe.

Last question, which is a traditional one. If you had to last your life on a desert island, which albums would you take
with you

Michael B Smith : First, a GREAT cd player with a LOT of batteries!
Layla and Other Love Songs Derek and The Dominos
Dreams Box Set Allman Bros Band
Where We All Belong Marshall Tucker Band
This Womans Work Kate Bush
Sound and Vision David Bowie
Abot 50 of my live show bootlegs of Skynyrd, Hatchet, ABB, Charlie Daniels, etc
Road work Edgar Winters White Trash
Still alive and Well Johny Winter
Green Grass and High Tides The Outlaws
Best of Delaney & Bonnie
Southern Lights Me! (I love hearing the guest artists!)

About 50 of my live show bootlegs of Skynyrd, Hatchet, ABB, Charlie Daniels, etc
Road work Edgar Winters White Trash
Still alive and Well Johny Winter
Green Grass and High Tides The Outlaws
Best of Delaney & Bonnie
Southern Lights Me! (I love hearing the guest artists!)


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