Melbournian punk quartet The Smith Street Band have come a long way since forming five years ago. “Our very first show in Sydney was at Newtown cemetery believe it or not. It was a semi-acoustic show and we played to, like, 20 people,” reminisces drummer Chris Cowburn. Now they’re playing to crowds of thousands at big festivals like Falls, touring internationally and regularly selling out gigs.
While the crazy success isn’t something the band set out to achieve, Cowburn knew the band was onto something pretty special from the get go.
“I loved Wil Wagner’s [frontman] songwriting style then and the way he performs. Still do, obviously. In that sense, we were up and away.”
Although the band are living out their dreams, they’re not getting complacent or letting anybody get in the way of becoming bigger and better. Their latest EP Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams is testament to that, inspired by an unfortunate incident on tour last year.
“Basically Jules, the guitarist from The Bennies, was pretty seriously injured by a violent fan,” says Cowburn. “We all went through a rough patch, questioning ourselves and what we were doing. Our music essentially nearly caused somebody to lose their arm. But we all stuck by each other and that’s the theme of the EP – camaraderie, inclusiveness and looking out for each other.”
It appears nothing is going to stop The Smith Street Band from bringing their raucous fun and sweaty energy to this upcoming Australian tour. Not even those new liquor licensing and lockout laws.
“It’s just a bummer,” comments Cowburn and admits he does feel a difference between the Sydney and Melbourne scene. “I think Melbourne does tend to support live music more than Sydney does, there’s more small music focused pubs in Melbourne. I feel like those sort of places struggle in Sydney, if they exist at all.”
Though he assures it’s not the fans that are the problem. “It’s still the same vibe and it’s not going to stop us coming,” he says, but he hopes those pubs can find a way to survive in Sydney. “I still like playing small shows to be honest. Festivals and bigger shows are really cool, but some of my favourite shows have been when there’s a hundred people and people are clambering on the stage. It’s so sweaty and the walls are heaving and people are singing louder than the band – that’s when you really get some magic.” (MT)
Mar 29, Metro Theatre, 624 George St, Sydney. $25, (02) 9550 3666, metrotheatre.com.au
BY MELODY TEH