An Interview with The Smoking Aces
Formed in early 2012, Melbourne band The Smoking Aces are already creating buzz on the Melbourne music scene.
After landing a spot in the grand final of Melbourne's Fresh Battle of the Bands, The Smoking Aces will be going places no matter the results.
The band's dirty blues rock is inspired by artists like The Black Keys and Deep Purple. Their first EP, which is simply titled "The First EP", grabs the listener by the hand, taking them on a road trip that encounters plenty of worthy pitstops along the way.
Highlights include "The Chill Song", which is mysterious and captivating. It is calming and serves as a respite from the high energy of songs like "The Roman Emperor" and "The Kramer", which will be sure to get you grooving.
With strong anthemic vocals, heavy riffs and tunes to suit your mood, The Smoking Aces have what you need.
I spoke with vocalist Thomas Felauer, lead guitarist Mitchell Heeler, rhythm guitarist Eric Matthews, drummer Ishan Varma and bassist Zachary Pellizzer.
Whose decision was it to enter the Triple J UnEarthed competition?
Ishan: He is basically our manager.
Eric: Triple J was awesome. Within a couple of weeks we were charting in the top 100 and top 50, which was mind-blowing. We were up there for a while, which was really cool and crazy. We are going to change some songs around, to get more recognised and maybe a few gigs out of it.
How did you enter the Triple J UnEarthed competition?
Eric: You just upload a song, but make sure it's not too inappropriate.
Were there some problems with that?
Eric: Our song "The Rejection" is a bit rude if you look at the lyrics. You get pulled up for that kind of stuff, but "The Rejection" was on a whole other level, so it just wasn't allowed at all. The other ones weren't as bad. So you just upload a song and plug it, in a sense. You post on your page and if people like it they can rate it and review it and if you get enough it goes to the charts.
How has support been from friends and family?
Eric: Family has been really helpful.
Mitchell: We even have friends who do the artwork for us. It seems like everyone wants to help out.
How did you get the EP recorded?
Tom: Eric's guitar teacher has a room in his house, all set up with a computer and all the software on it.
Eric: Ishan will lay down a drumbeat, Mitch and I will lay down a riff over that, Zach will come in with the bass later on. So, while that's going on Tom and I will brainstorm ideas.
Where do the lyrics come from?
Tom: Mainly Eric and myself.
Eric: As for where they come from, some are influenced by what's going on in the outside in real life and personal experiences and the others are just whatever sounds cool. Like "The Kramer", which is just complete nonsense.
Tom: Yeah, that one was mine.
What was it like playing your first gig?
Eric: Awesome! It was a Battle of the Bands competition. It felt really nerve-wracking, but then when we hit the first note, it felt really comfortable.
Mitchell: Really good. Although Zach wasn't there, so we had no bass player at our first gig. We still did pretty good, I had heaps of fun.
Ishan: It was so much fun.
What is your advice for other up-and-coming bands?
Zach: Write some original music.
Mitchell: There are no bad ideas.
Eric: You can't burn yourself out, though. The songs can become boring and you can get drained from them. You need to find a good balance, one where you are still improving. Also, try to network with as many bands as possible. Any opportunity to meet a band you should take, because you don't know where it could take you.
Zach: We got so many gigs from that.
Is there anything you wish you had known before starting out?
Eric: Not really. Maybe marketing. We really just jumped into it. After we formed, three weeks later we were recording our first EP. In hindsight, it would have been better if we spent more time working on it and perfected it even more.
What is next for The Smoking Aces?
Tom: Writing more music and playing more gigs.
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