Phoenix Music Online

imagePhoto Credit-Richard Booth


I thought I knew Derek Smith reasonably well, what with the whole social media world and being connected on a virtual level but, actually meeting the man himself (you know, the old school way of actually talking face to face) has meant that I found out so much more about this pretty badass dude from Carpentersville, Illinois.

I caught up with Derek in Ireland and where better to have our chat than in a good ole Irish pub. He greeted me with arms wide open for a massive bear hug and I knew from that moment, I liked this guy already.

We dived straight in and began speaking about the bands latest release ‘Paper Crown’

“All of our stuff comes from all life experiences, So a lot of us dealt with a lot of stuff in the 2 years prior to the studio time in 2015. Tim actually wrote the majority of Paper Crown. He just took our point of view, stuff like that and incorporated it into the songs. We all had our input on lyrics and stuff but it was all from our experiences in that 2 year period prior to recording. Typically Its Tim and myself who write the lyrics but on this album, he just kind of came to the table with a bunch of stuff and it was really good, so there was no point in changing it.”

“We have had everybody asked us why we put out an EP instead of a full length album this time around and to be honest, what with this tour that we’re on now and everything that we’ve done, it just seemed like the right time to put an EP out to get something new out there. Don’t get me wrong, we have got other new songs in our back pocket and stuff like that, but this collaboration of songs were a good bunch to put together and we wanted something for this tour for sure.” Added Derek.

Derek continued to talk about how Man The Mighty have evolved and how he has evolved as a player….

“Its evolved a SHIT LOAD haha. Its better musicianship kinda being on the road with life experiences and such and you want to become a better player all round. So with that, you get better music that is more complicated stuff. Tim likes his complicated riffs, so the more complicated the riffs, you’ve got to have a more complicated melodic line. You have got to keep it simple and hooky, so it definitely incorporates our personalties just as it does our personal growth as well. I’m a Jazz Bass player so I listen to everything from Classical to Jazz to Death Metal. I have a wide spectrum to be honest. I love everything from Joe Pass to Zeppelin to Pantera, who are my all time favourite band. Dimebag was my absolute guitar hero. There are so many between guitar wise and vocal wise like Aaron Lewis was a big one for me. Robert Plant….I’m just trying to think, you’ve got me on the spot now haha. There is just so many. I’ve been on a big Volbeat kick, when it first came out I didn’t like it at all and just one day, I was listening to the radio and they played the song like 5 times and i’m like, this is actually awesome. Mark and the guys, Creed, Bach, Mozart. There’s just this wide spectrum. A lot of Metal bands incorporate that Classical aspect in to what they do and we try to do that vocally as a lot of the stuff I do is in a minor key, I love the tonality of it. That sombre but depressed yet a kick in the face at the same time.”

imagePhoto Credit-Haylee Roebuck

“I don’t have one go to song, It changes…..I can be angry, listening to Slipknot and Pantera and it calms me down and theres other times when i’m on nothing but a Classical kick. You know what I mean. My mood changes, Its not one song or passage that I go to, its just how I’m feeling at the time.” Continues Derek.

“There is always challenges, thats for sure. Its just trying to strive to get to that next level to do better. Its a multitude of things to become the best we can. We’re always striving and as a band we just want to get to that next level, so continue pushing and continue doing shows as you’ve got to invest money to make money. The Creed show was a huge step for us and getting to work with Michael Elvis Baskette and Johnny K for that album, was just insane! I remember sitting in the studio and thinking we’re just a couple of guys from Carpentersville working with Michael Elvis Baskette and Johnny K who did disturbed and Sevendust. It was like…MIND BLOWN. Obviously, just getting the chance to come over here and tour Europe again, we’re just a band from Carpentersville and I’m sitting here talking with you in Ireland. Its crazy!”

”As for advice for others, its all about passion and its all about drive but you got to have that structure. You have to run it as a business as well as your passion. Band practice 3 to 4 times a week but have it structured, if you’re going to tour, get with a bigger band even if the bigger band is local. Help each other out and network. GET. OUT. THERE! You’re going to have to play shows to mom, dad and grandma but get out and do it. The more you get out, the bigger you’re going to be.” Adds Derek.

“We don’t have any plans to do a headline tour in Europe as yet but its fucking awesome playing here! The crowd, the people and just the environment is so intellectual and they appreciate music so much. The first time coming over here last year, we had people wearing our shirts and singing our songs, it was just, again…Mind blown. Its just awesome!”

Derek continues to add. “I would love to share a stage with Pantera, I would be on cloud nine. Nirvana was a big one, It seems that its the guys that have already passed on and you’ll never get the chance. Alice in Chains is one that I really wanna do, I’m a huge Alice in Chains fan. Those guys are sick. So, I would probably say Pantera, Nirvana or Alice in Chains. Obviously, we’ve had the pleasure and honour to share a stage with Tremonti, Creed and Alter Bridge. So, thats one off the bucket list!”

Picture the scene, A dinner reservation for 6 people, dead or alive… who would you choose?

“Dimebag Darrell would be one, just to pick his brain. Bach would be another one. King Henry VIII, I’m big into history and to get his perspective on that time period would be awesome. I have 3 more, shit! I’d pick you, how about that? haha I’ve got to have an easy one, right. My last two would be Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley.” Added Derek.

“On that note of spending time with people, If I could be anywhere in the world right now, it would be anywhere with my kid, I don’t have a favourite place, its makes it very simple. It would make it awesome to have my son here.” Adds Derek.

It’s getting closer to show time and Derek tells me what typically happens for him.

“I don’t have any pre-show rituals per se but I always have a Jack and coke, a regular coke and water with me on stage, so maybe that is classed as a ritual. I’ve grown accustomed to getting that at every show.”

As our chat comes to its close, I always have to end it with some ‘fun’ question, I guess thats my kind of ritual as a journalist. So I asked Derek what animal he would be and his parting words were….

“I’d be a T-Rex because fuck it, just because.”

Words by Haylee Roebuck

imagePhoto Credit- Richard Booth

Categories: Interviews

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