Interview with vocalist/guitarist Wil Wagner | By John B. Moore
The Smith Street Band has had a remarkable run in a pretty short period of time in their native Australia. Thanks to their high-profile tour with Frank Turner, playing FEST, and a recent signing to Asian Man Records (who will put out their two latest albums), the band is prepping to take over the US. If their latest record is any indication, we should be flying the Australian flag over the White House by Christmas.
The band’s sound has been classified as everything from folk punk and pop punk to pub rock, but their latest, the EP Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams, is simply punk rock without the unnecessary qualifiers. The album and its title track came out of a specific incident on a recent tour, which is not surprising when you realize just how much time these guys spend on the road.
What can you tell me about Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams? Did it really come out of your experiences on tour?
The most recent big Australian tour we did was with Bomb The Music Industry and our mates The Bennies and the EP was all written around that time. The song “Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams” is about an incident at a show we were playing in a storage shed where a punter attacked and seriously injured Jules from The Bennies. It was horrible and scary and something that none of us had ever imagined would happen at a show, let alone one of ours. We are quite vocally anti-violence. But when Jules was on the ground he yelled at the guy who hurt him “don’t fuck with our dreams” and that quickly became a bit of a mantra for the rest of the tour. As fucked as the incident was, it’s kind of the aftermath that’s the story of the EP. I was so disillusioned and for a while there I actually wanted to quit. We were calling and canceling shows and then calling back an hour later saying we’d do them and stuff. It was really overwhelming. But the amount of support and love that we, especially Jules (who has since been dubbed King Jules), got really affirmed what we are doing and kind of proved that we could get through anything. We ended up galvanized and great friends and we said we’d never let anyone or anything fuck with our dreams again!
Is the EP being released in the US as well?
Yes, as are both our albums! With our new best friend Mike Park at Asian Man Records.
How did you first get to know Mike?
We were looking for a label in the US and they were top of the list. We spoke to Jeff from Bomb The Music Industry a lot about US labels. We have pretty similar ideals, and he said Asian Man was the way to go. And Bosma, our manager/merch guy/best friend, is in love with Mike and gets so excited every time we talk about it. The first time I saw the Asian Man Records logo on a Smith Street Band record was one of my prouder moments in life thus far. Also, they put out Shinobu. Enough said.
Have you started thinking about your next full-length yet?
We would have recorded one when we recorded the EP, we just didn’t have time between the tours! We get home in December and will hopefully then bunker down and write and record our next album. We are already jamming three songs and we may chuck them out occasionally on this tour.
Speaking of that tour, you guys toured the US with Frank Turner this fall and winter. Have you worked with him before?
We did a short run in Australia with him and have kept in contact since. Him and the Sleeping Souls guys are all really lovely, talented dudes and they tour very fucking hard, so it’s good to learn from them.