Read All About Him – Drew Smith

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For some odd reason I have been doing a lot of interviews lately. I hear about these really cool artists and feel this strong urge to not just mechanically ramble on about their works, but genuinely put the artists’ personal views and insight into perspective. But I digress…

Having played in the Athens music scene for years, I’ve known about Drew for quite some time now. We ran in similar circles and I was vaguely familiar with his material, but not quite fanatic. However, when I first heard his solo electronic/ambient project Chartreuse, I was floored at how talented he is and how he tastefully weaved together very relaxing and droning melodies so as to almost emulate the peaceful and serene calm of REM sleep.

Drew is also an active member in a heavy post grunge band called Chrissakes. I was really interested as to how he balances both groups and figure out exactly what makes him tick.

Initially I wanted to interview you about electronic music and focus on how changes within the electronic scene have impacted your work as Chartreuse. However, you said you don’t listen to much electronic music. What have you been listening to lately?

Lots of stuff, especially Neurosis, Acid Mothers Temple, older top forty country hits, Sven Libaek, Nick Drake.  The new Black Cobra album is awesome.

Considering you’re involved in two completely different music projects (ambient/instrumental with Chartreuse and post grunge/heavy alternative with Chrissakes), do you feel a conscious desire to split up your songwriting duties and approach for both projects?

Very much so.  I have ideas for Chartreuse that just don’t work in Chrissakes and vice versa.  I usually don’t allow for much bleed over and I purposely separate both projects because I don’t feel like playing one type of music all the time.  The structure in Chartreuse is very loose whereas Chrissakes is way more structured and consistent.  Since I’m the sole member of Chartreuse, I pretty much have to do everything by myself – getting shows, setting up gear, recording, etc.  Chrissakes allows me to accomplish things I just couldn’t do alone.  Both projects are a blast and they have their positives and negatives.

How long have you been involved in Athens’ music scene? Do you have any particularly fond memories about it?

I’ve been playing music here since 2003 when I came to attend school at UGA.  The first two years of college were awesome and I made a ton of musically-inclined friends then.  My favorite memories involve the house shows at a place called the Chi House.  I was there all the time.  Tight Pockets (now 13 Roses tattoo shop) and the Caledonia Lounge were my other favorite venues.  As much as I still like the Caledonia Lounge, it’s the only one of those venues that’s still kicking.  I wish house shows would make a comeback.

What do you personally feel is unique about the Athenian music scene and culture as compared to other scenes?

I can’t really put my finger on what I think makes Athens different.  I haven’t been an active member of other music scenes so I can’t make a good comparison.  I like that there are so many places to play.  I like the opportunities here.  Sometimes there isn’t a lot of breathing room and the musical culture gets a little incestuous, which makes for a lot of predictability and similar-sounding bands.  But for every bad act around here there seems to be a good one.  I think that ratio is pretty nice.

Do you feel that Athens as a town is artistically and geographically isolated?

Yes and no.  In terms of Georgia, the only other place that seems to have a decent music scene at all is Atlanta.  Savannah and other towns have some good bands but they seem to somehow lack a strong musical culture.  Athens seems to be its own weird oasis to me.  I know some people who moved here specifically for the music scene, plus there are people who come and go from Athens all the time, so I don’t think Athens is very artistically isolated. Geographically, more so.

Any last words?

I just finished doing a split cassette tape with my friend Jess (myspace.com/imarriedanastronaut).  There are only 37 copies in existence, so go to myspace.com/chartreusesounds and message me if you want to buy one.  I don’t have any upcoming shows for a while due to other commitments, but I’m trying to play again in December.  I’m also playing drums in a new psych rock band called YaalH’ush.  Our second show ever is Oct. 19th at Go Bar, so come out.  Thanks!

Chrissakes will be performing at Ben Bikes in Athens on Oct. 25. For more about both Chrissakes and Chartreuse, check out:

www.myspace.com/chartreusesounds

www.myspace.com/chrissakesband

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One response to “Read All About Him – Drew Smith

  1. Chartreuse is really incredible – thanks for interviewing Drew!

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