Smile More – Interview

UK metallers, SMILE MORE have just dropped their savage new single and video, Thank You For Having Me .  The single has caused ripples on the scene. We checked in with the band to find out more about their beginnings:

What is the full band line-up, who sings and who plays which instrument?

            Dale on Bass. Ollie on Vocals with Johnny providing backing vocals where necessary. Chris and Johnny on Guitars, they tend to alternate between lead and rhythm. We did have Reuben on Drums however he recently left and we are currently hunting for a drummer.

 How and when did the band form?

            The first iteration of the band formed in 2018 under the name of ‘Tokyo Psycho’ after probably a beer too many in third year of university. Feeling that name to be too 2000’s emo which was not the output of the band we eventually settled on the folky carnival of heavy metal, hard rock and oxymoronic metaphorical storytelling that is ‘SMILE MORE’.

Tell us anything interesting about your hometown.

            We are all Bristol based now. Being densely packed and student central Bristol has always been a boiling pot of polarising ethnicities, cultures and ideas. With the constant influx of young people, the culture always seems to be progressing forward and this often reflects in the city. In June 2020 we toppled the Colston statue and renamed the Colston Hall to the Beacon. Around this time a sculpture of a young person with a peace sign appeared in front of the Bristol Cathedral. The city is covered in ever-changing spray-painted wall art which shows political ideologies, philosophies and the important of artful expression in our culture. Like a river this expression is constantly moving to prevent staleness and festering. Just don’t drink from the actual river in Bristol that has long since gone stale.

When and how did the band really start gelling and solidifying?

            Honestly, I think it was post-covid. Prior to the pandemic we were gigging and exploring, just throwing everything at the wall and seeing if it stuck. It was satisfying and exciting, but ultimately aimless and messy. We resonated in a space of self-expression and were moving constantly without much reflection.
            The art sat dormant whilst lockdowns prevented any meaningful practice, however once the restrictions had started to dissipate, we realised the thing we used to have felt new and unfamiliar again, forcing us to think deeper about strategy, aim, direction and aesthetics. It was around this time our writing style also began to diversify and it all just felt homogenous and unified.

Who are your musical influences?

            We as a group cast a fairly wide net of influences on the project as a whole. We have incorporated elements of Avatar, System of a Down, Tool, Black Sabbath and Mudvayne in our general sound, techniques and stagecraft although our songs can draw from further afield at times. ‘SIMP’ draws from the earlier works of Akira Yamoaka for inspiration on the chilling soundscape crafted whilst using Tool-esque instrumentation and time signatures. ‘Happy Bus’ is a cover of an Irish folk song by Mad Dog Mcrea which has further influenced our songwriting. We have unreleased tracks that we play live that can be Primus or Devin Townsend inspired. ‘Thank You For Having Me’ itself predominantly draws from System of a Down, Korn and Avatar.

Where did the name of the band come from?

            It was our first drummer that gets the credit for the name. We agonised for a long while when the project was new over what it would be called. Tokyo Psycho didn’t really match the output. There was other more ‘sophisticated’ ideas that referenced like lucid dreaming, comatose and intoxication but they all felt too tidy and pristine, they all sounded more progressive metal; which at the time we were actively trying to steer away from. Amongst all this music snobbery our drummer at the time simply stated, ‘One of the best ways to fight against oppression is to SMILE MORE.’ and it just fit. It conjured visions of a 1984-esque dystopia where self-expression is an act of resistance.

How far back does your history with each other (the band members) extend? Are you friends from school or any family relations?

            We knew each other studying music at BIMM Bristol university. We formed the band there and forged a close friendship. Even if this project were to fail we would still be friends.

In your opinion, how is your band different from all the other bands out there?

I think our main draw for crowds is our veneer of profound excitement, happiness and joy which is undercut by narrative concepts of a distinctly human variety. We’ve always been fascinated by theatre and the power it has to convey challenging ideas. The songs are varied, some anecdotal about real experiences such as being threatened by a cab driver in Yeovil,, but in the same set there’ll be a song like ‘Thank You for Having Me’ that speaks of a very really very profound lived experience, before finally we go completely abstract and sing about abusive puppets. Our image, our bravado and our intention all feed into the idea of a set as a whole show where we weave the thread for the crowd. It’s basically our mantra at this point.

If a deaf person were to ask you to describe the sound of your music, how would you describe it?

            Staring at him with a wide tortured Smile before violently shaking him. Loud. Raucous. Violent. Chilling with a dark sense of Humour.

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