Interview with, Jay Smith, Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar and Harmonica, - Southern Crudder:
Let’s start off with the basics. Tell us who you are, where you are from, old friends, favorite drinks, entertainer, who inspires you to greatness, family, hometown, song, book, we will find you in your spare time doing… what? - What’s up? I'm Jay and I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After a few years of being born. I moved with my mom and dad to the State of Washington I lived in a town, south of Seattle for about ten years. I then moved to Wichita, Kansas after my freshman year of high school. I then finished up high school and went to College at Wichita State University and graduated with a business degree in marketing and a minor in entrepreneurship. Three days after I graduated college I moved to broken bow, in McCurtain County, Oklahoma. I have two hometowns one would be Haysville, Kansas which is where I went to high school and college most of all my buddies are up there. My other hometown would be broken bow, which is where I would go to during the summer to visit my two brothers and hit broken bow lake up. Most of the music I listened to or was inspired by was Chris Ledoux, Hank Williams Jr., Garth Brooks (Mostly his early stuff!), Waylon Jennings, John Anderson, and a lot of Southern Rock. (Lynard Skynard, Credence Clearwater, Kansas and so on). Most of my friends that I grew up with have what they call “Grown Up” have kids, Married and so on. I guess I haven’t come close to that stage yet. I never got serious in playing music until my last year of college then when I moved back to Oklahoma, BOOM!! Southern Crudder appeared.
How did you get started? When? Why?
I started playing music because I got something to say and it seems as more time goes on Im still listening to the old stuff. Today’s country just aint got that good ol’ sound anymore, So I guess Im trying to do something about it. I started playing guitar by myself, a lot of my friends didn’t have the patience to learn, they mostly just wanted to hear me play. As soon as I moved to Oklahoma out of college I started hanging out with Chad and we would play almost every day just having fun and drinking a lot of beer. “Sean” chad's cousin started to play with us and after about 7 months of beer, whiskey, and cheating girlfriends we decided to start a band “Southern Crudder” from then on, we played off and on for about 1 ½ years as a three piece. We had many different guys that would try to come on as the fourth member but usually after about a month or two it would fall through. Then Came Casey! The Fourth member. At the time Sean played drums and he moved to bass. No offense but Casey was a lot better drummer and Sean can basically play anything that’s in front of him.
What are some of the toughest challenges you’ve faced to this point?
Biggest challenge I’ve faced in playing music and trying to make it was; Money of course, and giving up my day job and sacrifice a steady paycheck. I gave up one of my biggest loves, which is business. My brother and I started a restaurant “Abendigo’s Grill & Patio” and it was a dream come true there’s not a lot compared to starting your own business and making it a success. But the day came when I had to choose between the restaurant and music, and there is only one thing I love more than the restaurant business and that’s music. So as of July 2005 I decided to give it all up to play full time. It’s definitely hard right now but the more and more where on the road the better it’s getting.
Songwriting, do you write most of the songs, or do you write with others? If so, who? What inspires you to write? What was your first original song preformed by you? What qualities/abilities do you feel make a good songwriter? Is there a magic combination of things that make a song “good” versus just “taking up air”?
All of our Songwriting is done by Chad or I. Sometimes I will write alone or Chad will write alone. But mostly we will write together, our styles of writing are similar so it is a lot easier to work with each other. Being a good songwriter is nothing special just tell the truth or something you have experienced in your life, cause believe me you’re not the only one that has been through the bad times or the good. Personally when I write the best is when Im really happy or sad or even depressed. You really seem to write what feel and the energy comes through the song. A lot of people will write and think every line has to rhyme to sound good. Usually that makes the song even worse.
In playing cover songs, do you find there is a magic mix for the fans, or the venues?
Our band picks our covers carefully, we are an original band and have a lot of original songs, but most people have never even heard of them before and they don’t want to listen to it, “depends where ya play”. So our cover songs are of course what everyone has heard and it keeps everyone drinking and dancing. After a few cover songs we’ll throw in a couple of originals and then back to some more covers, that usually will keep them interested throughout the night.
How should cover songs be used by a new band starting out?
Pick your covers that represent something close to your style of music and make sure the majority of the crowd is going to recognize it.
How would you define the music you create?
Our style depends on our mood, when we write our music it may be bluesy, Rock, Country, Red dirt just depends. We try to be original and not sound like everyone else.
Do you play both acoustic and full band gigs? Which do you prefer, and why?
We play both types of gigs if it’s a larger venue I like full band but if is smaller and maybe on weekday I like acoustic.
Would you take a couple of songs and tell us how, why, when, etc you wrote them? How about some you co wrote… just a couple, do you mind sharing with us the songs and how, why, when, etc.. That they were co wrote and who with… what else was going on at the time?
I wrote a song called “Insane” it came to me very easy for some reason. I ran into an old girlfriend and it did nothing but bring back bad memories. So I thought of how she made me feel sometimes; which was insane or going crazy. The song talks about how I felt when she cheated on me and I wanted to kick the crap out of something but later on in the song I do the same back to her and she pretty much goes insane herself. I think every one has been in that situation where someone has hurt u and your angrier than hurt. Another song called “Adios to Mexico” was written by Chad and I. The hardest part of the song was finding a destination in Mexico to write about. So we got on the Internet and found a lot of different places but none of them seemed to gel with us. So about 45 min later we said; lets just go to Mexico! Simple enough. The song is about getting out your hometown or from work and just getting away to relax and do the things most people would do in Mexico.
Who would you cite as your biggest musical influence? Who has influenced your life more than anyone else would? Do you have a mentor in the business? Who is the one you most wish to emulate in the business since of this profession?
I have two or three, which would be Chris ledoux, Hank Williams Jr., and most people cringe when I say Kenny Chesney. But probably the earliest was Hank Williams Jr. Hank Songs were simple, three chords and the truth. He wrote about what everyone wants to do or say in song. Hank Williams Jr. has no boundaries with styles of music its not just twangy country. Its in your face Country with southern rock and blues. Hank has worked with all different types of artist that aren’t even in the same category of style of music and that’s cool.
How important is creative freedom to you, both as a writer as an artist?
Without creative freedom there is no artist, If you let an artist be themselves then all music would be the same.
What do you feel your greatest reward has been as an artist thus far?
Meeting tons of new friends and still having my own music after all it’s said done. I love people thanking us for the songs we write, it has either helped them when they were down, or just putting them in a good mood.
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
DO your own thing; be original, and work as hard as you can to get your music heard. Have no enemies.
What were some of the toughest challenges that you faced when you first started out?
The biggest challenge at first was getting enough songs that sounded good to play a 3 or 4 hour gig it took us a while but we finally got there.
How do you feel that the music market in Texas or Kansas or Arkansas differs from Oklahoma; or Nashville?
Texas has their own music charts and that’s really the only way all these other artist are being heard. Nashville does their own thing and so does Texas Music. A lot great musicians are from Oklahoma! And some play the Nashville scene and some do the Red dirt Scene. In the end some body that is big in the Red dirt scene like Cross or Pat Green will play the Nashville Scene. After all aren’t we trying to take over Nashville and be heard!
What big things, plans etc are in the works that you could and would share with the readers on Payne County Line?
We really want to hit Stillwater, OKC, and some of the Kansas areas hard so look for us soon. Right now we are spreading into the Texas scene. So help us out and ask for us! Also our full CD should be coming in the springtime.
What makes your music stand out? What is your "edge"?
It just does. HAVE A LISTEN and let me know what you think
Who are some folks who helped you get started that you would like to recognize... say thanks too, etc? Family, friends, venues, etc?
My Parents for buying me my first guitar, and all my family and friends for listening in the early stages strumming the wrong chords while I sing. My Brother Chad always kept me motivated to hang in there and always gave us confidence in our original songs.
What were some of the places you played around Oklahoma starting out? Red Barn in Durant, Abendigos, Pure Country, All them places took us in to get us started and to get our word out. THANK YOU!
Do you want to share with us a “most memorable” time, and/or a... “No one could have a worse night than this” event?
Our Worst night was at Night Ryder’s in Antlers, Ok. For some reason we were on our high horse that night and decided to have too much fun. Well the problem was, we were having too much fun before we even got to the stage to perform. A bottle of Yager, a lot of beer and who know what else was all gone Quick. We got up on stage and the whole band was hammered, it sucked so bad on of our band members couldn’t even figure out how to tune his guitar and why it was sounding like crap, you really should have been there. But I guess it had to happen, since that day the band has swore to never get like that again we may drink a couple of beers while we play, then we will really drink after if any of us are in the mood.
How do you travel from gig to gig, and what’s that like?
We travel in a Van with a trailer, no complaints, but those long drives can really wear you out especially after a night with a kick ass crowd.
How do you perceive a band to be? Is it family, business, friends, etc??? How does one work through problems that come up?
My band is my new family and we fight just like brothers but there is a difference because it is a business. If something gets out of hand its solved right then or we just blow it off. Every Tuesday the band gets together to bring up problems or issues that way there solved when everyone is sober and it doesn’t have a chance to build up.
Where have you all played? What was your best show to date? Abendigos, Pure Country, Phil’s Big Rock Saloon, Red Barn, Cheyenne’s, Night Ryder’s, Carlotta’s Cantina, Crawfish Festival, (OK)—Dillon's, The Hangout, Mikes, Crosswire, Fat Jacks, Elks Lodge, there tons of others and tons more yet to come. Most of them are all fun but probably the funnest was with Cooder Graw or opening with Jason Boland at Pure Country.
Has the make up of the content of your music changed much over the years? If so, how?
Our originality has stayed the same, but our music and writing gets better and better every day. I think its simple the more practice the better you get.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? 10 years?
Doing the same thing but with more people!
What do you think has contributed the most to your success and longevity over the past years?
Staying focused on our goal and reminding myself why I do this. Plus taking care of myself. Most of the band runs everyday, watches what we eat, and try to keep the stress level down. Drinking can be an issue for bands so don’t abuse liquor it will catch up with you soon.
From all the things in life you have done so far, and accomplished, what is the one thing that was the greatest accomplishment, and why? Playing music for a living its what I love! What’s better than that?
Thanks McCurtain County for pushing me to keep on with my music, there has been a few that has supported us THANK YOU! - And To all the HATERS I have a song for you, don’t worry - hopefully you’ll hear it soon.