It’s fair to say that Steve Smyth is going to do more in 2010 than most musicians do in their life time. He already has an impressive resume that I touched upon in a post a few weeks ago, and now it sounds like he’ll be building that resume up even more in 2010. This year is going to be a multi-faceted year for one of metal’s most versatile guitar players.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been emailing Smyth and getting the scoop on what the future has in store for him. Aside from teaching guitar and pulling double-duty as lead axe man in Forbidden and The EssenEss Project, he’s working on a hush-hush metal project featuring Mikkel Sandager of Mercenary. I also ask Smyth where he stands with Nevermore, now that they’re back down to one guitar player and looking to tour.
Many people remember the news that broke when you had to leave Nevermore a few years back due to some health issues. It’s great to see that you’ve apparently been quite busy since then. Fill us in a bit on all the projects you’ve been working on lately.
Thanks man! I feel much better now; it’s been just over 3 years now since the illness hit, and I am now on my way to being 3 years post kidney transplant. This was a heavy thing to go through. I was born with only one, didn’t know it, and lived a very busy life, and the diet and lifestyle that can sometimes goes with the lifestyle we live out there as metal musicians, didn’t exactly make it any easier on my body. I was in 3 bands effectively at the same time (Nevermore, Dragonlord, and my instrumental project, The EssenEss Project), and was trying to accomplish recording 3 bands at the same time. This was 2005. It took a lot out of me, but we got a lot done that year. Little did I know the failure had started a year of so before then. There were signs and all, but I didn’t realize that’s what was going on. It took a badly sprained knee, and blood test while in the hospital, to finally realize that I was going into failure. More on that later.
I am currently with Forbidden now, and we’re writing a new album with them, really good heavy, progressive, thrashy metal, Forbidden style! It feels really good to be playing thrash metal again, something I have missed, and I am looking forward to working further with the guys very soon on finishing the writing process for this album, and recording in early 2010. We released 2 songs already, Adapt or Die, and Hopenosis, and got a great reception for each upon their release, which I am really happy about! And those out there who liked what they heard, haven’t heard the rest of the songs we have yet, but trust me, it’s going to be heavy, and it’s going to be Forbidden!
I am currently living in the UK, and have put together a new band over here, with a great lineup. which I will be announcing soon enough. I basically was writing songs from the time I fell ill to now, and have about 10 songs in various stages right now, and with my friend and guitar player, Jamie Hunt ( guitar, ex-Biomechanical), we have put together a lineup that I feel will surely devastate, once we get all of these songs in place! I am working on this in addition to Forbidden, and the cloest I can peg the style, is that it’s in more of a progressive thrash metal vein, 7 string oriented, but with some different influences in there as well! I am really looking forward to getting this moving along in 2010, in between my commitments to Forbidden.
I also am writing another album for The EssenEss Project, with my bandmate in this, bassist Steve Hoffman. We released our debut album, on my own label, Two Louder Music, in late 2007, and got a pretty good reception, then toured briefly on it, and got a good reception, and figured, what the hell, let’s do another! This was a project Steve H. and I were doing back in the early 90’s in the Bay Area, with Atma Anur on drums, and we did a 4 song EP that saw limited release back then. So, we chose a song or 2 from those sessions, and a later lineup, and decided to complete the album, starting in 2004, and finishing in early 2007. The odd thing was, I was able to complete the album as a result of my illness! So, a lot of the song titles are reflections on what I was going through, and the music reflects this as well, I feel perfectly. To hear about some songs from the album, check out our myspace: www.myspace.com/theessenessproject.
The music for this next album is going to be a reflection of where Steve H. and I are now musically, and we have a lot of ideas, but the biggest thing we’re focusing on is the song, as we did on the debut. The difference being, there’s been a lot of time past between the writing sessions for that album, the recording of it, the release, to now. We’ve got a lot to say this time, and I have talked to a number of people about doing special guest sessions for this as well, as there are a lot of musicians I would really like to jam with, and this allows us to meet on a common ground, and get some jamming happening! We’ve already started writing, but it’s early days, so I would figure we’re going to write through the early part of 2010, then shoot to record starting in summer. That’s the plan for now.
What’s the metal scene in the U.K. like compared to the metal scene in the U.S.? Have you had to make any adjustments?
The scene in the UK is pretty good right now, there’s a lot of great bands out there, that are heavy, progressive and also innovative as well. A few faves of mine are bands like Tesseract and Savage Messiah, among others. I didn’t really have to make any adjustments really; I have had friends there for years that I have met through my touring life, so the adjustment was not that big.
You mentioned that there are a lot of musicians you’d like to jam with. Can you tell me a few of these people, or is it top-secret?
Well, I just issued a press release the day after Christmas announcing the lineup for this new band I have built over in the UK- currently, it stands as: Jamie Hunt (guitar), Adrian Lambert (bass), Mikkel Sandager (vocals), Morten Sorensen (drums), and myself rounding out the lineup. I have written almost an album of material on my own, and in the last year or so, began writing with Jamie, getting more songs happening with him, and throwing around or out some of my older ideas, and finding and jamming with the rhythm section throughout last year. Mikkel only became available in the middle of November, after he left his band of the last 10 years, Mercenary, from Denmark. I am very proud and stoked to be working with a group of high powered and caliber musicians like these guys, and am looking forward to getting this music out this year! But we need a name first, so we’re working on that now! Ha! Ha!
Finally, I have to ask: Nevermore is touring next year and they’re back down to one guitar player since Chris Broderick joined Megadeth. Has there been any talks or have you given any thought about filling-in as the second guitar player?
I guess it’s that question that’s probably going to be asked in one form or another for a while longer, but the answer is, and always will be, the same as it was nearly 2 years ago, when I announced I was leaving. My answer is definitely no. I have way too much positive going on in my life right now to take a step back into the past of anything I was involved in before. I’m working with Forbidden now on a new album of kick ass material, have a new band I’m almost ready to unleash to the metal world, and also my instrumental band The EssenEss Project is writing our second album, and preparing to record later this year, along with the new Forbidden and new UK band. Forward march!