Matt Smith's World
(New Millennium)


Sometimes you can tell from looking at a CD cover that an album is going to be a gas and I got that same kind of vibe from the cover art of the 2011 CD from Matt Smith’s World. Best described as a mix of funky blues and jazz, Matt Smith's World features some rock solid guitar work from the Austin, Texas based Smith, who gets some fine support from a solid band of players including Ernie Durawa on drums, Joe Morales (sax) and Aaron Lack (steel drums). Guitar watchers are being bowled over by the diverse amounts of music in play on Matt Smith's World with some esteemed critics noting various influences that seep into the all original fare, including the fiery global jazz-rock of Santana, the swampy R&B grooves of Sly Stone, the deep folk-ish voice of Fred Neil and the urbane jazz/blues of Boz Scaggs. In addition to the blusier numbers, there are some interesting torch song type rock tracks as well as an excellent CD closing guitar-based Gypsy Jazz style instrumental track entitled "Hot Club Of Brooklyn". Blues and roots rock fans who enjoy say, Robbie Robertson or even Bruce Springsteen’s music will enjoy Smith’s outstanding electric guitar and vocals as well as his intriguing and quite unique approach to songwriting. Oh yeah, plus you also get that very cool cover art and packaging when you pick up the CD. presents an interview with

mwe3: Can you say something about where you’re from originally as I heard you were living in NYC for a while and then you moved to Austin. How would you compare the two places and how do you feel Austin (and NYC for that matter) has impacted your musical style and how did that in turn lead to the making of the Matt Smith’s World CD?

MATT SMITH: I cut my teeth in Upstate New York in the Albany / Saratoga region, moved to NYC in 1994 and lived and worked there till summer 2009 when I moved to Austin. NYC was a great training ground for me. I got my butt kicked in a lot of very important good ways. I immersed myself in the myriad forms of music that surrounded me. There were so many great musicians there. It was immensely inspiring. I learned about coming at music from a deeper place, that it doesn't come from me, but through me. My parents had the good sense to retire to Austin 25 years ago, so I had spent a lot of time there and formed a band called The Monstas, which as its members were many members of my current band. Austin is a much more laid back place. I like it a lot! The music scene here is the best in the world in my opinion. It's a great community and the locals make a point of supporting live music. I produce music in my studio, Lost Oasis, and play with my band whenever possible.

mwe3: Where and when was the CD written and then recorded and who plays with you on the album? There’s a pretty eclectic bunch of musicians on the album yet the chemistry is great. What kind of sound were you going for on the new album?

MS: Most of the songs were written in Austin in 2010. It was recorded in the studio I share with Cary Bialac, Lost Oasis and mixed by Stuart Sullivan in deep south Austin. The sound of this band is unique.

Ernie Durawa is a legendary texas hall of fame drummer, Joe Morales on saxes, flute is as good as it gets. Aaron Lack is a virtuoso Steel Pan player who also plays amazing percussion and sings great. Mark Epstein is also an old friend from NYC who I reconnected with. Mark co-wrote with me and is a killer bassist. Davis Webb is a top call top shelf keyboardist who rounds out the sound, which is unique. LZ Love provided the background vocals.

This is my 10th album. I was going for the sound of the bands I grew up getting excited about as a young musician. Santana, early Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Frank Zappa, Loggins and Messina, Paul Simon. Basically West Coast early 70's.

mwe3: Your guitar work is amazing on the album. Can you remember your early introduction to the guitar? Who inspired you to play and how has your style of guitar playing and song writing evolved and grown over the years?

MS: There were always instruments around my house growing up. I learned to play on a 1916 Dyer harp guitar, which I thought was normal till I brought it to school one day. An ancient upright piano with a sustain pedal was a pivotal influence as well. I've been playing since I was 10 years old and began writing songs immediately. Through friends I was was turned on to Duane Allman, Leo Kottke, Jerry Garcia, Richie Blackmore, Andre Segovia... so many others! Guitar Player magazine and programs like Midnight Special and Rock Concert turned me on to Mahavishnu Orchestra, Marshall Tucker and those influences are what this CD was all about! The single biggest influence on my guitar playing has to be the great guitarists I've had the honor and privilege of working with the last 23 years at the National Guitar Workshop.

Song writing always seemed to be the whole point of it for me. I always played a lot and sought out new chords and would write with them. I like to think there's a clear arc over the course of my recorded output that's reflective of my life situation and my environment at the time. I've had some interesting environments!

mwe3: There’s some amazing guitars on the Matt Smith’s World CD. What guitars are featured mostly on the new album and can you say something about your interest in all forms of fretboard instruments like mandocello, uke, saz and charango too? No wonder there’s such an array of exotic sounds on the album!

MS: Thank you! All my life I've been fascinated by stringed instruments. It started small. I need a lap steel. I need a mandolin. I should have a banjo. My collection is quite large now and I get more comfortable with them as the years go by. Each instrument brings something to the others, a certain technique, a certain tuning, that's very inspiring. I always use the correct tuning for each instrument and study the masters.

On the CD I use a lot of guitars. My Fret King Matt-matic with the ATD automatic tuning device. an array of Hamer guitars, a James Trussart steelcaster, Hammertone octave 12, 1968 Martin D-18, 1952 J-45, Ovation Mandolin...

mwe3: Can you say something about your guitar / gear endorsements? What companies are you working with these days and are there any new upcoming guitar /gear endorsements pending?

MS: I'm a very lucky man to have been blessed to have a great relationship with great companies! I now have or have had endorsements with:

Gear: D'Addario strings, Planet Waves cables, Pigtronix effects, Tony Bruno Custom Amps, Trace Elliot, Sans Amp.

Guitars: Fret King guitars, Ovation guitars, Takamine guitars and Hamer guitars.

mwe3: How about that cool Hammertone 12 string guitar? It’s got a great sound. I’ve seen some similar guitars like that rare 1960’s Vox Starstream XII 12 String with those wild built in effects. Can you compare the Hammertone with the Vox and what other weird and strange guitars and guitar sounds are you fond of collecting and recording?

MS: Ed Gerhard is a brilliant guitarist who turned me on to the Hammertone. I think you can't get them anymore, It’s an electric solid body octave 12, meaning it's tuned an octave higher than a normal 12. It's one of my secret weapons, It's a little twinkle machine.

Some of my other more exotic instruments are Turkish instruments the Saz and the Cumbus, South American Tiple, a Kantele (zither), a 1934 National Trojan and a 1931 Dobro, a 1930's Gretsch Hawaiian, an Indian slide instrument with 21 strings called a Mohan Veena, (V.M. Bhatt), Banjo uke, I could go on.

mwe3: When you recorded the CD did you use a lot of overdubs or was it cut live mostly? Also can you say something about the mixing and mastering of the album and how you feel that impacted the sound. The CD sounds amazing, there’s very little distortion and it’s a very clean sounding CD in my opinion.

MS: I always demo each song and work off that. I'll often cut bass and drums live, then overdub. Stuart Sullivan is a genius who mixes at Wire Studios in South Austin. As a producer who averages 5-6 CD’S a year, I need my team. I'd heard about Stuart and we hit it off. His work is stellar. If I'm not mixing one of my productions, he is! Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova rounds out the production team. He's mastered most of what's been recorded in Austin over the last 20 years.

mwe3: What musicians guitarists do you still listen to and admire?

MS: My ears are always open to everything. I love music. I love passion and authenticity. We have great radio in Austin, the best I've heard. I mostly listen when I'm driving and I'm always discovering great new artists. It's a whole new game now, really DIY!

Recordings have become promotional tools for artists and everybody has to make new ones. I always check out friends’ recommendations, and from interviews like this! Seems like with the collapse of the traditional music business the playing field has been leveled somewhat. Even established artists are putting out refreshing interesting music. Mediocre doesn’t cut it anymore.

mwe3: What about interests and hobbies outside of the music business do you have and can you say something regarding your upcoming plans for 2012 and beyond?

MS: I try and keep myself healthy these days. I love my job. When I'm not making music, or producing or teaching, I go to music stores. I'm 52 and still filled with wonder at life. I feel my best work is still in front of me. A work in progress. More albums, more tours, more writing, more producing, more teaching. That's Matt Smith's World!

Thanks to Matt Smith @


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