Nashville’s Hardest Working Husband-Wife Duo Headed to The Plains< < Back to
Coming just a couple of months off of a tour with none other than the Dixie Chicks, Nashville’s eclectic and hard-grinding husband-wife musical duo Smooth Hound Smith are headed to perform Friday, September 8 at the Eclipse Company Store and Craft Beer Hall. WOUB’s Emily Votaw had the chance to chat with Zack Smith, one half of the group, about how he met his wife and bandmate Caitlin Doyle; what it’s like to tour almost non-stop; and how they ended up being a part of the Dixie Chicks 2016-2017 U.S./Canada tour.
WOUB: Can you tell me about how you two met?
Zack Smith: We first met in LA playing around the music scene there; Caitlin was singing in a big swing band, and I was playing upright bass in a 4-piece bluegrass band. We had some mutual friends, and sometimes I would sit in with her band on bass if they needed a sub, but we were both too shy to talk to one another initially. There was definitely an undeniable chemistry when we met.
WOUB: Zack, I know that you have been described as being a “one-man band,” is that the way that you’ve always played music?
ZS: I haven’t. Like I mentioned previously, I was a bass player in a bluegrass group, and before that I was a drummer in rock groups. I started as a percussionist when I was young, and was on the drumline in marching band when I was in high school, so the foot drum thing came pretty naturally to me. Playing guitar is relatively new; I started taking it seriously in around 2010 or 2011 and really became captivated with the idea of playing a bass line and a lead part at the same time, so I fell in love with piedmont and finger style guitar. I put the whole thing together playing original songs with the foot drums for about a year before Caitlin and I got together.
WOUB: How did you guys end up logging such an incredible number of road hours? I know you’ve toured almost non-stop.
ZS: Really out of necessity. I lived in Nashville for a year by myself, trying to perform as a solo act, having varying degrees of success (mostly none, actually), then I moved back to LA to be with Caitlin. I knew I wanted to be with her, and I knew we had a special musical chemistry, as well.
Meanwhile, my dad had a small, really run-down and dilapidated home in Venice, CA that had been in our family since the 1940’s. Caitlin and I moved into the place with the intention of fixing it up because my dad had moved down south, to Orange County and sort of left it. We honed our craft as a duo there, but eventually he needed to sell it, so it kind of left us with no housing ties or obligations, and we took that as a sign to hit the road. We jumped on our computers and started making unsolicited contact with venues all over the country, getting some good-paying anchor dates to carry us through what was mostly three to four hour marathon sets in bars. We ended up going for two months, coast-to-coast on that tour before finally finding a rental place in Nashville. That was in 2012, and since then we’ve made our living touring around in our van based out of Nashville.
WOUB: How did you end up touring with the Dixie Chicks?
ZS: It really happened by chance. We had a show booked at a cool venue in LA called Hotel Cafe, and the talent buyer for that place was really good about playing the records of the bands he booked in the house music of his venues. He was playing our first album at Hotel Cafe’s sister bar, the now-defunct Room 5, in between performers on a songwriter’s night, and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks happened to be there for the show. She told us later that she kept using the Shazam app to see what the music was in the house, and it kept popping up as us! She reached out on Twitter, and we kind of started a dialogue and a relationship. She even ended up singing with us on a few songs on our second record we recorded in 2015. By the time the Chicks were ready to tour the US in the summer of 2016 for their first domestic shows in 10 years, we had an agent, so we asked him to submit us as an opening act, and we ended up landing a big chunk of the tour. Recently, they invited us back with a bigger band to open some shows in Canada, as well.
WOUB: Can you tell me about the work on your first album (self-titled) versus the work that you are putting into your next album, slated for release next year?
ZS: That’s hard to answer. Musical skills hopefully develop over time, so I think we’re better players now. I think I’ve been improving as a songwriter, as well. We really focused a lot on groove on our first record, and our second one is a little twangier, a little more country. Based on the demos we’ve done for our new one, I can say I’m really trying to get back to what I feel is my wheelhouse, musically, and that’s interlocking percussion parts, building grooves, and trying to create a deep musical pocket… that kind of thing. The new one is going to be very cool, and like all of our records, it’ll be varied; we can’t make a record where every song sounds the same.