Lucas Smith: records, riffs, and recording
"If it weren't for the local music scene, I don't know if I'd still be playing music."
I nod my head to words I can barely hear. The music is loud and it is raw and it is real. For most of us, this is what we have grown up on, I started going to local shows when I was sixteen. Since that first show, I have believed that every town needs local music. There is beauty in standing around with your friends while some band makes loud noise. It really makes one feel as if they are a part of something. For Lucas Smith local music has been everything. He started going when he was 14. These were the days of Pinky’s and OT’s, a bit before my time. Now, years later, he is more involved than ever. Audio-engineer, guitarist, gear junky, vinyl collector, and all around good guy, Lucas happily answered a few of my questions for my first All my friends play music.
AH: You come from a very creative family, how have they have played a part in your love and pursuit of music?
LS: They have been very supportive of me playing music. No matter what style I was into, they supported and encouraged me. My dad is an amazing guitar player and he got me started playing guitar. He taught me things here and there and would show me how to play songs I wanted to learn. Now my family and I share a lot of the same taste in music.
AH: I have always been interested in the writing process for musicians, can you tell me some of your methods?
LS: Most of the time the songs I write come from sitting in my bedroom, messing around on the guitar. Sometimes I’ll be lying in bed and a riff will come to me, so I’ll have to get up and figure it out. I’ll play a riff that sounds cool and build around that.
AH: This year you accomplished a lot as an audio engineer. How did you get started with recording?
LS: I moved to Nashville and went to a school called Dark Horse Institute where I got my degree in audio engineering. I got to learn from amazing engineers and work with all kind of great gear and record some amazing musicians. It was an awesome experience. I try to make the band I'm recording sound like they do live. I like recording all kinds of music, but my favorite is any rock music.
AH: I am a friend and supporter of your band, Headwires. I know all of you really well, but for those who may not; can you explain how the band got started? What is the relationship between the members like?
LS: Headwires started with Dakota (singer, guitarist of Headwires). He started the band when he was around 17 years old. It has had many different lineups. Dakota messaged me and asked me to be in the band with a complete new lineup with a lot of great musicians. We’re all very close. It’s a lot like a family.
AH: I feel strongly that supporting local creativity is critical in any community. In your opinion what makes the music community important?
LS: A lot of my best friends are in bands. The local music scene here is very close. Whenever a touring band comes through they always love what is going on here. When you play for people who genuinely love what you’re doing, that’s when you know every bit of that is worth it. If it weren't for the local music scene, I don't know if I'd still be playing music. When I was young I was inspired by Chris Dupree and his bands Redline Crisis and The Eventide. I wanted to be doing what they were doing.
AH: One thing I have always found intriguing about you is your interest in such contrasting genres. I feel like your love for ballads, as well as heavy sounds, contribute in other areas of your life. How does your variety in taste contribute to your work as an audio engineer?
LS: I love all kinds of music. I like a lot of singer/songwriter and country acoustic stuff as well as super heavy music. It definitely helps me as an audio engineer to listen different stuff.
AH: We need to talk about vinyl; I understand you have been collecting for a while now. What are some of your most treasured records?
LS: I love vinyl. I've been collecting since I was about 16 years old. My most treasured records are “Come Now Sleep” by As Cities Burn, “High On Tulsa Heat” and “In The Throes” autographed by John Moreland. “Southeastern” autographed by Jason Isbell.
AH: What are your top 3 favorite places to find records?
LS: 1.) Seasick Records in Birmingham, AL 2.) Grimey’s in Nashville, TN 3.) Criminal Records in Atlanta, GA
AH: I hear gear talk about 85% of the time I am with you and our friends. For those of us who have little knowledge about gear, could you explain to us the allure?
LS: It’s just fun. It’s exciting to find new pedals and create new tones. It can inspire new songs. If I like the tone on someones record, I try to find out what they use. I do a lot of research on what gear my favorite bands are using. I buy a lot of gear from Reverb.com and Ebay. I almost always buy used gear. My guitar is a Jazzmaster copy built by my friend and our bass player, Jesse McClendon. It is definitely my favorite piece of gear I have. It is my dream guitar and I couldn’t be happier with it.