Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Born out of laziness in my parents living room" - Interview with Smut

Ale Campos looks worried. She just finished listing several reasons why Testökra may no longer be a band anymore. A few people are waiting in front of Sweat Records for Darsombra/Holly Hunt to take the stage, talking about this and that. There's some noise coming from a block or so south of where we're standing, black sunglasses, beanie and gold hair. She knows it's time to spill the heart wrenching news that the band and tour has fallen apart, but after not even 2 minutes and with a smile as big as NE 2nd, she tells us the tour is back on and has been converted into: Smut / Rat Bastard Tour 2014.

Several weeks after getting back into Miami I sent Ale some questions, curious about the journey with Rat, but also interested to find out more about her new one-piece act, Smut.

With Clang Quartet in NC

Bogdan: First off, how did the project, Smut, take form? What was your reasoning and inspiration to go solo?

Ale: The idea of Smut has kind of always been present in the back of my mind. I've always wanted to do a project where I'm completely in control of everything and I can record all the instruments myself. About less than half of the songs I play now were ideas I had for Testökra songs. At the time we were working on a bunch of new songs, I felt it was better to finish them rather than push them aside and forget about them. It gave me an excuse to play the guitar again, which I was excited about. Smut was officially a thing in the summer of 2013. Born out of laziness in my parents living room.

B: Your first release is Matter That Soils or Blackens, it has 10 songs and ended up on a tape.  Describe your creative process. No lyrics are present on your bandcamp, what do you sing about, what's your message?

A: I started off writing 3 songs last summer, became overwhelmed, and kinda left it at that. Playing in 3 bands and working full time at Guitar Center took a toll on me...musically. I'd say about the time I quit GC, when I was "funemployed", I began to polish up the songs a bit. Every now and then I'd come up with simple riffs and record them on my phone so I could come back to them later, but for the most part I just stuck to those three. I also started planning Testökra tour which kind of fell through last minute, so I decided to make it Smut tour instead. That gave me the motivation I needed because I had about two months to write 6 new songs, record them and put them out on tape. I came back to those riffs I had recorded and added things here and there. When it came to lyrics, there about as simple as my music. I don't like sharing them for that reason, they're just silly. To be honest, I don't think my songs even have a message other than catharsis. I write songs to let go.

B: What are your musical influences behind Smut as a band and sound? Usually when someone starts a solo project, it's because other musicians around may not share the same tastes and/or beliefs, is this the case with Smut?

A: I'm not really sure who my influences would be as a band. I write and record all the instruments and usually play as a two piece with Alex Nunez on drums. Musically, I'd say I'm influenced by Ty Segall, Babes in Toyland and the Reatards. I know a lot of musicians who are into the same bands as I am, I just prefer working alone. It's just easier and I can go at my own pace.

B: While you were on tour I noticed that in some cities you had a drummer backing you. Who were they, and was there a place that you enjoyed the most?

A: Since I couldn't bring a drummer with me on tour (too short notice for anyone to join) I decided I would just play alone...just me and my guitar. It occurred to me as we were leaving Florida, that I could ask whatever drummer that happened to be at the venue to join me on stage. The only two who I knew and I could ask beforehand were my good friends James Lyter (Male Bondage) and Ryan Morris (FKMT). Everyone else kinda had to wing it. James and I practiced about an hour before the show in Indianapolis and Ryan and I practiced while playing in Greenville, then we played his house in Columbia the following day. It was excellent. Also in Minneapolis, I played with Susan from Permanent Makeup.
There were so many places I really loved, it's difficult to say which city won my heart over. Columbia will always be special to me, everyone is incredibly polite and cool in Indianapolis, and of course Austin was rad. To be honest, I like all the cities I visited except Cleveland due to the sketchiness. I'm thankful to Rat for asking if he could come on tour with Testökra and helping book everything and deal with all the crazy changes. He was definitely my tour dad.

With James (Male Bondage) in Indianapolis

With Ryan (FKMT) in Columbia
B: What plans does Smut have for the future? And what about your personal plans?

A: I think I'm just gonna keep Smut a secret like I have been for the past year. Believe it or not, I'm a very shy person, so the less face I have to show the better. And yes, I'm aware I play in a bunch of bands, but for the most I'm tucked away behind a drum kit or hiding behind a curtain of hair while playing bass with Wastelands. I don't like being in the spotlight, it scares me. I plan on hopefully starting a new project with my best friend, Carolyn. Currently, I play drums in Bleeth and Desistance and bass in my hands are kind of full.

B: Touring with Rat...

A: Well, I know for a fact Rat doesn't plan on touring with anyone ever least that's what he told me when we got back home, hahaha. BUT if he does decide to take you on tour I suggest having a valid driver's license and going with him to get the rental car so your name can be on the rental agreement. Or else he won't let you drive....and I believe he has narcolepsy. I mostly kept to myself and didn't argue with him because arguing is stupid. We talked about Churchill's a lot, shared band stories....I asked him if he was ever once in love and he said "Yeah, that was the dumbest shit I've ever done". It was nice to know that even Rat, the toughest dude I know who doesn't take shit from anyone was once in love.

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