Now I would like to introduce you to GIDEON SMITH AND THE DIXIE DAMNED who hail from North Carolina USA and are a band that I have been aware of since the late 1990's (they have been around and active since 1997) but never heard properly until last year, I really liked this bands great mix of southern rock, classic rock, blues, soulful stoner/doomrock, they are a band with many musical layers and are lead by frontman Gideon Smith who comes across very much like a true southern gentleman from my experience and who possesses a great bluesy baritone singing voice which just conjures up such vocalists as Glenn Danzig, Jim Morrison, Ian Astbury etc. It is always a pleasure to come across such a vocalist who sings in such a way and whilst obviously drawing from some clear influences Gideon very much has his own style of singing and has an impressive depth and richness to this vocals which he uses to full capacity.
The band have just had their latest album "3O Weight" released recently by equally long running American label Small Stone records who have been dealing in all things rawkin' and heavy since the 1990's aswell. This album is a great powerful recording, full of diversity and emotion and they also throw in some great covers of Saint Vitus and the notorious GG Allin aswell. This album has everything from more laid back mellow style parts to full on hardrawkin' Sabbath esque Doom parts and everything inbetween and I can't recommend it enough to anyone who is a fan of good hard heavy and rockin' music and there is definetly a dark streak running throughout Gideons outlaw musical veins and embedded deep within his soul...at times coming across like some swampy southern fried hybrid of Samhain, early Black Sabbath, classic Danzig and a more doomier The Cult and Circus of Power for want of comparisions, I could also throw in some comparisons to newer bands such as Five Horse Johnson, Sixty Watt Shaman, Dixie Witch but with a darker outlaw country rock 'n' roll twist but essentially what Gideon and his band are creating is just great timeless music that could have easily been recorded in a decade now gone by. This album would be best paired with a few cold ones with the volume cranked high and just imagining yourself in some darkened deserted old western graveyard surrounded by undead skeletal animals roaming the dusty plains with only the sound of undead howls echoing in the distance for company.
so pick up this album and get on your iron horse and ride on!!
I sent some questions to Gideon and here is what he had to say:-
Hails, please give a quick background history on band and who does what?
G: "Hail Kat how are you? I started Gideon Smith & The Dixie Damned in 1997. We did the first self titled ep in 1998. We did the ep in two days and it was an explosive time in my life, great fun days. I got a distro deal with Game Two Records and then signed to Small Stone in 1999. We recorded the Southern Gentlemen album in 2000. We played a lot of killer shows for the new album and I was going at it like a man with a mission. We appeared on some compilation cds and had a song on the Sopranos television show. Tragedy struck in 2002 when Boo, my drummer and one of the best friends I ever had passed away. It took a good while to get the music going again and of course to deal with the loss personally. Even though I began playing again a few months later to throw myself into my music, it took awhile to really get back on the ball. Many adventures and line up changes later, I did the South Side of the Moon album for Small Stone as the second full length released in 2008. South Side was a monumental monster of a record, and it gave me an incredible new start to get back to the people who had waited for more and to turn new listeners on to my music. Last year a disc came out with other artists covering my songs, I was really honoured. Now this year, I did the third album 30 Weight, and it's rolling wicked and strong. As for who does what: I sing and play guitar, and my band members have most recently been Phil Durr, an incredible guitarist, Eric Hoegemyer, who is a brilliant drummer and multi talented instrumentalist. Sue Lott sang background vocals on the song'Ride with Me'. We had few other guests too. All great players and good friends."
You have just had your 3rd album "30 Weight" released, please tell the readers a lil about this album and what they can expect from it? Are you happy with how it turned out?
G: "I think this album is a little darker in that it's definitely a 'night time' album, something you would listen to laying down in the dark and that will take you a lot of places, or one you could crank up in your car and burn the night away. It has a bigger punch than the other albums, an edge that is a little more striking. I’m really happy with the new album. I think 30 Weight is a dark hard rock album, but still very diverse. It’s faithful to the sound people would expect but also has an sonic edge to it that makes it mysterious and interesting. It’s an uninhibited soundtrack and encouragement to engage in Dionysian revelry. When I started, people called my music psychedelic biker rock. In 2011 they still call it that, and so the new album is in the same tradition. When some people describe it as being easily recorded in the sixties, seventies or now, that kind sums it up. It’s a hard rock album influenced by the classic traditions. It’s the most focused and maybe the most powerful record yet, with a lot of mystery and magic laid within the songs.”
You have been in a working relationship with SS for a while now, how did you hook up with them originally? What labelmates would you recommend to readers? How can people get hold of your previous albums? Are they still available?
G: "In 1999, the main man Scott had heard my first ep and he gave me a call one day and offered me a deal. I was really excited to work with them and I've been with them ever since, yeah they signed me again just last year so it's been over ten years. As for what artists I'd recommend, there are many cool bands on there. I'd say check them all out. As for my older records, or should I say cds, they are available on Small Stone's website and through the distro websites. Yes the albums are still out there but the eps are out of print now. I'm proud my work with Small Stone, it’s a great label.”
What does the band name mean and represent?
G: "The name Dixie Damned is more of a vibe than a group name. It is the introduction to the vibe of the music, the sign on the doorway leading to the sound. That sound could be bluesy, southern, dark, mysterious, ghostly, otherworldly, supernatural, mystical, shamanistic, etc. It represents the eclectic themes of the music. My name, yeah that’s my real name, so it all came together like that when I started it in 1997. I was determined to just be me, be Gid, and follow what I had to do and never look back. The band name is like a cool extension, a vibe. The musicians who have played with me, and I have had many line up changes in all these years, are people who could get in sync with the vibe."
One of my fave songs by you guys is "Indian Larry" who was he? And why did you dedicate a song to this person?!
G: "Thank you very much. Indian Larry was a bike builder, a stuntman, an iconic figure in the world of custom bike building. I had followed his work through the years and always thought he was a cool guy. Indian Larry died after he had an accident while performing a stunt at an event in North Carolina. I was not there but when I heard he passed away I was really sad to hear the news. So the song is a salute to his legacy. I did not know him personally. I'm a fan of his work and I thought he was a very cool individual, an iconic figure."
What bands would you say fuel and shape the sound of GS & TDD? How would you prefer to describe your music? I would say you have a great mix of southern rock, classic rock, blues, soulful stoner/doomrock going on.
G: "I think you described it pretty well! What a listener hears within the music is how it speaks to them and that’s what it should be. As for what bands fuel and shape the sound by being my influences, I would say The Cult, The Doors, Black Sabbath, Steppenwolf, The Allman Brothers, Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Pentagram, Hendrix, Vitus,
Iron Butterfly, Blue Cheer, Sisters of Mercy, Exile on Main street-era Stones, there you go."
Who are some of your vocal influences?
G: "My style comes from the blues influenced singers I grew up on like Jim Morrison, IanAstbury, David Allan Coe, Gregg Allman, singers like that. Ronnie Van Zant. Mostly vocalists that were baritone blues or soulful sixties type singers. Sometimes I sing a little rougher but in general like most singers you follow what inspired you when you started and then your own style becomes a blend of your influences. That's what came naturally to me so that's what I do. I always tell people to sing in a style that’s natural to them, not a strain, and that’s the kind of singer they're supposed to be. Once I found my own style,singing's always fun and it flows the way it should. Also singers that inspired me as far as work ethic, iron in the blood type stuff were people like Henry Rollins and Phil Anselmo, the intensity. I might listen to and discover inspiration from many kinds of music different than my own, but when you pick up a mic and it flows clearly from your spirit, that's what you’re supposed to be doing."
You did a very unique cover of "I Bleed Black" why this Vitus song? I also really dig theGG Allin cover...why did you choose that song?
G: "I always loved Vitus. I am a huge doom metal fan, even if my music is not pure doom metal it is one of the influences in my writing. I always wanted to cover "I Bleed Black" and this album was the chance I had to do it. If you really love a song and have the chance to record it or play it at a show, like most bands or music fans in general, you'd jump at the chance to play one of your favourites. It's a tremendous amount of fun to kick one of your favourite songs around and have at it. I had no intention other than to pay tribute to a band I love very much. Playing the song live you can always play it like the original. If you are going to record your own version of it, it's good to do your own take on it to make it interesting for the listener. I wanted it to be faithful to the original and at the same time do something cool in my own way. I am glad you dig it and hope fans of the original enjoy my version too. I love Vitus so it was my honor to respectfully play my own version. As for the Allin song, I had heard his original acoustic version which is more rough and raw. When we sat down to record it, we went for a traditional outlaw country style version to make it sound like old classic country with the lap steel guitar and more ghostly vocal approach. What I said about the Vitus song could also be applied to the Allin song, which is that they’re both great songs were covered on this album out of love and appreciation for the originals. I met Allin a few times in the early 90’s when he came through North Carolina. Honestly he was a very mellow, soft spoken guy. I never saw him act any other way the few times I met him in person. I never saw him perform. When I met him he was sitting on the couch or front porch of my friend's house and he was one of the guys. So in my mind and memory, he was a guy I met who was a laid back mellow person. I separate that from his legacy of mayhem because of my own experiences being around him. I knew he was a crazy guy, but I never saw him act up. He was always a pretty mellow guy when I met him. He was a unique individual for sure. I can’t endorse or deny everything he said or did because I am my own man with my own music and life's history, but he was a good guy when I met him. That's how I judge people, with my own eyes and experiences."
Do you play live often? What can ppl expect from a live show by you guys? Do you think you will ever hit Europe to tour?
G: "In the year before the new album, I played only a few acoustic shows which were very successful and a lot of fun. Those shows were a real pleasure. I hadn't played shows with the heavy band line up in awhile. So now I am working with a new line up and ready to get out there again and tear it up. As for what to expect I approach every show as a sonic ritual manifesting, and look at each one as if it's a high celebration. The people who come are there because they are drawn to be there for that celebration. When I get onstage, it's my stage, the venue is my house, and you are a guest in my house. I treat my guests very well and it's like passing a torch around as it builds. The performance is our time together. I never look at it as a band and crowd, product commercial, whatever. The shows are when I pull the songs that were captured in the air by a microphone and put on a recording, back out into the air again, and it circles the room where they visit the listener in a more active form. There are no plans for Europe right now, but I hope one day soon.”
Lyrically what main themes do you touch upon?
G: "My songs are about universal themes of the experience of life. Passion, love, freedom, power, frustration, finding positive inspiration, lust, fury, dreams. Being in touch with beauty. Prevailing over the hard times of life. Any songwriter gets out what they need to get out. They are tales from the great adventures of being who you are. Maps of heroes, footprints on your journey, tales of the good and the bad, sharing experiences. My songs are like shaking hands with somebody. They are a strong handshake and an eye to eye connection. There’s a nod and a recognition to each one from me to you. Each of my songs say ‘Come on inside…’ and wave to you with an invitation. What’s behind that door depends on who you are.”
What connection do you have with ANTiSEEN? Were you a roadie for them at one point?
G: "I met those guys around 1989 or 1990. I had seen them play, because we are from the same city in North Carolina. In 1990 started to I hang out with Clayton, Joe Young and Thomas O Keefe, various band members, mutual friends over the years. I sang back ups on a few of the records, and I appreciated them letting me do that. I helped out at many shows and some recording sessions. We had a lot of fun for sure. I really love that series of vinyl records that came out during those years. Antiseen is a powerhouse of a band and there are many good memories of the intense live gigs, recording sessions and hanging out socially that I will always remember. We had loads of fun. Those were good days.”
What have you got in the pipeline for rest of 2011 and into 2012?
G: "One piece of recent news is that I started working with Seventh Circle Artwork
in London who make custom band jewelry for bands like the aforementioned Saint Vitus, Kirk from Crowbar, Candlemass, and others. They are making some rings and pendants for my music now too, with an awesome iron cross design. I was honoured they asked me and the rings look really bad ass. Back onstage soon and recording soon. I have been writing like crazy and feel like I'm pulling back arrow after arrow to release with fierce determination at the bull's eye of my mission in life. Bringing down the hammer with more focus and drive than I have ever had. To get a feel crank up the new album and let it storm you away for a taste of things to come.”