THE GREAT AFFAIRS – Ten & 2 (Q&A)
The Great Affairs is a rock ‘n’ roll band.
And they made a rock ‘n’ roll record.
You get it all: classic rock, power pop, roots rock, Southern Rock…
When you think you are hearing Cheap Trick, The J. Geils Band, The Bottle Rockets and Bad Company at the same time, you are probably a good listener.
More important, if you are looking for a Saturday-Night-Record, I have found you one.
Denny Smith explains.
The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?
Well, I’ve seen the better part of the Continental United States, made a ridiculous amount of great friends I wouldn’t have otherwise ever even met, and gotten to share all of the above with a bunch of guys that I now consider family…those are all wins in my book that have been brought to me. It has also laid at my feet a few truly heartbreaking disappointments and close-calls, but I could be mopping a hospital floor or working in a machine shop instead of sitting here answering these questions for you, so I like to believe it’s all worked out as planned, because I’m generally a pretty happy guy.
I think as I really got into the guts of the machine, that I kinda knew it wasn’t going to be the dream I had as a kid. I just periodically remind myself to stop before I fall out of love with it, so it hasn’t managed to bring me to my knees yet I guess.
Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?
I have a very vivid memory of being at my grandparents’ house and finding a little metal 45RPM carrying case that had belonged to my mom when she was a kid. I looted all the CCR and Beatles singles I could get my hands on and dragged them home to my portable record-player, which up until that point had been used to play nothing but Planet Of The Apes, GI Joe, and Space: 1999 book & record sets. I wore out a 7” of “Can’t Buy Me Love”… I just couldn’t get enough of it. From there, I dove into my parent’s VERY limited LP collection and spent entirely too many hours in from the of their old console stereo system with those giant headphones pressed to my ears. It was right around that time when I started begging for a guitar, a plea my grandmother kindly obliged by giving me an old acoustic that I could barely wrangle sound out of because my hands weren’t strong enough to press the strings to the fretboard. Sadly I don’t have that guitar anymore…but I still have those book & record sets.
Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?
There are so many of these but the obvious ones that spring to mind are Elvis Costello’s “Man Out Of Time”, and I can’t even tell you why…there’s just something in that tune that nails me to the floor when it comes on. Maybe it’s that bizarre, frantic intro, and the sudden shift into the song proper that catches me off guard…whatever it is, I’m hooked and in for the full 5 minutes and 29 seconds(I had to look that up) whenever it hits my ear.
Two “Honorable Mentions” that occasionally slip into the #1 spot are “Crazy” from The Afghan Whigs, simply because it gets under my skin, and maybe because I’ve seen the story he’s telling play out in real time, so it hits home. It doesn’t hurt that that arrangement and groove are so hypnotic either.
Lastly, even though you only asked for one(sorry) would be Del Amitri’s “Driving With The Brakes On”, just because it breaks my heart each and every time I hear it. Justin Currie can do no wrong in my book.
Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?
Any time I hear a group of folks I’ve never met before that night singing along to something I wrote on an acoustic guitar in my spare bedroom, I chalk it up to magic. That happening every now and then can make up for so many disappointments, flat tires, crappy hotel rooms, empty clubs, warm beers, and long miles on no sleep, that it might be the only thing keeping me going sometimes. Thankfully, I can recall several of these moments. It always makes me smile when I see it happen for another artist too because you can feel that connection, like the whole room, finds a mystery frequency that we can all operate on in complete bliss for a few fleeting seconds. I wish the world felt like that all the time.
What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?
My address, because I could finally afford to buy a few acres in the country, and I wouldn’t have to mow the hill behind my current house that is almost surely going to kill me one day. Seriously.
What’s up for the rest of the year?
Our #1 order of business is to stay out promoting ‘Ten & 2’ for a good, long while. Kenny is close to wrapping up a solo EP, and I’ve got another batch of tunes kicking around that might turn into a new solo record for me too, but they’re going to be more in the Pop/Singer-Songwriter vein… still plenty of guitars, of course, but less of the riff-y Blues-based stuff that we sometimes do with the band. I’m sure we’ll start throwing around new ideas soon though and look towards another TGA record down the road a bit.