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Kat’s Band Of The Day: Gideon Smith & The Dixie Damned
Kat fills us in on today’s band of the day, Gideon Smith & The Dixie Damned.
Gideon Smith & The Dixie Damned hail from North Carolina in the USA, having formed in 1997. They have a great mix of southern rock, classic rock, blues and soulful stoner/doom, and are a band with many musical layers. They are lead by frontman Gideon Smith, who comes across very much like a true Southern gentleman and who possesses a great bluesy baritone which reminds you of such vocalists as Glenn Danzig, Jim Morrison and Ian Astbury. He’s a vocalist who sings in his own style despite the obvious influences and has an impressive depth and richness to this vocals which he uses to full capacity.
The band have just had their latest album ’30 Weight’ via long-running American label Small Stone Records. This album is a powerful recording, full of diversity and emotion with some great covers of Saint Vitus and the notorious GG Allin thrown in as well. It runs from more laid-back, mellow parts to full-on hard rockin’ Sabbat- esque doom parts and everything inbetween. There is definetly a dark streak running throughout Gideon’s outlaw musical veins and embedded deep within his soul. Essentially, what Gideon and his band are creating is great, timeless music best served with a few cold ones, the volume cranked high and imagining yourself in some darkened, deserted old Western graveyard surrounded by undead skeletal animals roaming the dusty plains with only howls echoing in the distance for company.
We sent some questions to frontman Gideon Smith (his real name) to find out more.
Can you give us a quick background history on the band?
“I started Gideon Smith & The Dixie Damned in 1997. We did the first self-titled EP in two days in 1998. I got a distro deal with Game Two Records and then signed to Small Stone in 1999. We recorded the ‘Southern Gentlemen’ album in 2000. We played a lot of killer shows for the new album and I was going at it like a man with a mission. We appeared on some compilation CDs and had a song on ‘The Sopranos’ television show. Tragedy struck in 2002 when Boo, my drummer and one of the best friends I ever had, passed away. It took a good while to get the music going again and of course to deal with the loss personally. Even though I began playing again a few months later to throw myself into my music, it took a while to really get back on the ball. Many adventures and line up changes later, I did the ”South Side of the Moon’ album for Small Stone as the second full length released in 2008. ‘South Side…’ was a monumental monster of a record, and it gave me an incredible new start to get back to the people who had waited for more and to turn new listeners on to my music. Last year a disc came out with other artists covering my songs, I was really honoured. Now this year, I did the third album 30 Weight, and it’s rolling wicked and strong.”
What does the band name mean and represent?
“The name Dixie Damned is more of a vibe than a group name. It is the introduction to the vibe of the music, the sign on the doorway leading to the sound. That sound could be bluesy, southern, dark, mysterious, ghostly, otherworldly, supernatural, mystical, shamanistic, etc. It represents the eclectic themes of the music. It all came together like that when I started it in 1997. I was determined to just be me, be Gid, and follow what I had to do and never look back. The band name is like a cool extension, a vibe. The musicians who have played with me, and I have had many line up changes in all these years, are people who could get in sync with the vibe.”
Who are some of your vocal influences?
“My style comes from the blues influenced singers I grew up on – Jim Morrison, Ian Astbury, David Allan Coe, Gregg Allman, Ronnie Van Zant – singers like that. Mostly vocalists that were baritone blues or soulful 60s-type singers. Sometimes I sing a little rougher, but in general, like most singers, you follow what inspired you when you started, and then your own style becomes a blend of your influences. That’s what came naturally to me, so that’s what I do. I always tell people to sing in a style that’s natural to them, not a strain, and that’s the kind of singer they’re supposed to be. Once I found my own style, singing is always fun and it flows the way it should. Also, singers that inspired me as far as work ethic, iron-in-the-blood-type stuff were people like Henry Rollins and Phil Anselmo – the intensity. I might listen to and discover inspiration from many kinds of music different than my own, but when you pick up a mic and it flows clearly from your spirit, that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.”