Exposed Vocals: So tell us your story. Where did you grow up? What made you decide to become an artist?
Smyff: I grew up in Southern Illinois, near a very small town. My older brother Sean would be in bands as a vocalist before I even thought about playing Music, I would really watch one of his former Drummers every band practice and I was just amazed and intrigued at the art of playing Drums. At that point I decided I wanted to be an artist and start learning to play Drums, my parents bought me my first Ludwig Drum Set at 13, and I’ve been playing ever since.
Exposed Vocals: How did you come up with that name? What was your inspiration behind it?
Smyff: A lot of people know me as Smyff, from a very young age my father used to call me that, kind of in a joking way at first, and then as a nickname, because I never had one. As I got older and more known Musically I used it as a joke one time and everyone started calling me Smyff. My inspiration behind it was not having a nickname *laughs* The rest, as they say is history.
Exposed Vocals: What do you think about online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free? Why?
Smyff: I am okay with online music sharing, I feel it is very important in this generation because everything is connected and is heavily based on the internet. With online Music sharing, thousands of fans can hear your Music within a week. I have given Music away free before, mainly if a fan is really passionate about my Music but they are low on funds, I’ll toss a CD their way.
Exposed Vocals: Since everyone was a start-up once, can you give any smaller or local bands or artists looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?
Smyff: Just keep playing Music, contact your local bars and venues and see if you can get into an open mic night or a new band night, just play for fun and let the rest happen, really get your craft down before contacting these places, practice makes perfect. You could also hold a family/friends get together and really play your hearts out.
Exposed Vocals: Do you ever make mistakes during performances? How do you handle that?
Smyff: I am sure every artist has at one point or another, so to answer that simply, yes. The more you keep playing, the more you are able to cover it up to where only really you notice. If you messed up and only you notice and no fans or bandmates notice it, I feel like you did a good job of covering it up.
Exposed Vocals: Do you tour? Anything interesting happen on tour that you think our readers would enjoy hearing about?
Smyff: We do tour yes, after the release of our debut album “Gasping for Air” we are going on tour again. I would say the one time that I had a lot of trouble getting into a specific bar because I was underage at the time, we spent about 3 hours driving not knowing if I could play or not, so I was constantly in the back of the vehicle just hoping I would be able to play, I was very nervous and just running through the songs in my head and tapping on my legs trying to remember the songs, when my Mom told me to “stop tapping so much you’re making me nervous!”
Exposed Vocals: Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration? What is your usual songwriting process?
Smyff: I gather songwriting inspiration from my favorite bands, as well as myself. I pretty much tap on everything and everything to come up with new beats, and when I am at my Drumset, that is where I start to really fine tune those beats, then I start jamming with my Guitarist 0xLong using those beats, then Sean just starts singing, that is when great things happen.
Exposed Vocals: Do you have a band website? What online platforms do you use to share your music?
Smyff: We do at www.fatalhavoc.com, I also have my own official website at www.smyffdrummer.com, where you can find out more about me, Fatal Havoc, and more. We use Facebook, Jango, AudioMack, Reverbnation, YouTube, and a lot more.
Exposed Vocals: What are some really embarrassing songs that we might find on your mp3 player?
Smyff: I don’t really have any embarrassing songs, as I believe that everyone likes different kinds of Music, I have only Music that inspires me.
Exposed Vocals: If you were given half a million dollars and a year off, what would you do? How would you spend it?
Smyff: I would go somewhere Tropical and just relax, I’d take a couple of my close friends and just hang out and have fun, I would even buy the next version of the Smyff-Mobile, and start driving where ever I could, jamming The Smiths or Modest Mouse!
Exposed Vocals: Any planned studio upgrades? What are you working with now?
Smyff: We are currently at the legendary Gravity Studio’s in Chicago IL, where The Smashing Pumpkins, Rise Against, Veruca Salt, and more have recorded. I am getting ready to go back for another session with Fatal Havoc and could not be more happy with how the Music is sounding, it is very professional and everyone that works there (Shout out to Doug and Sam!) are professional, and very hard working.
Exposed Vocals: How do you find ways to promote your music? What works best for you?
Smyff: Word of mouth is a big one, I would say Social Media is another one, now we have all of this technology, and everything is connected. Online is a big part of Music promotion today and will be for years to come, I think every Artist/Band should use the internet for promotion.
Exposed Vocals: If you could perform anywhere and with any artists (Dead or Alive) where and who would it be with? Why?
Smyff: I would say System of a Down, they are one of my biggest inspirations and I would love to perform with them, the other I would say is The Smiths, if they were still a band. Both bands have helped me to write better Music and I list them very highly on my inspiration list.
Exposed Vocals: So, what’s next? Any new upcoming projects that you want to talk about?
Smyff: After the release of “Gasping for Air”, we are making a professional Music video for “Sickness of the Mind” and then we are going on tour in support of the album, most importantly having fun and just doing what we love.
Exposed Vocals: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
Smyff: I believe I would be working with bands, promotion, maybe even doing a little bit of managing as well, I would still be working with Music if for some reason I wasn’t able to create Music.
Exposed Vocals: Do you remember buying your first album? Who was it? What was going through your head?
Smyff: I didn’t buy my first album per say, my older brother Sean bought me a Bowling for Soup album, “A Hangover You Don’t Deserve” for my birthday when I was a kid still, and before I was into playing Music. I would say that also inspired me. I thought “they are very proficient with their instruments, and they all blend it together so well. Another was when my father showed me “Back in Black” by AC/DC, when I first started playing Drums, it was the first song I learned how to play. I still to this day play it!
Exposed Vocals: How do you juggle the rest of your responsibilities while trying to stay ahead in your music life?
Smyff: Just multi-tasking, it can be tough sometimes but you just have to push forward and keep doing what you love, I’ll always make Music, and if I’m not at my Drums, you’ll see me tapping on something or coming up with a new beat.
Exposed Vocals: What should fans look forward to in 2015?
Smyff: Fans should look forward to the new Fatal Havoc album “Gasping for Air”, the “Sickness of the Mind” official Music video, and our next tour, which I’m very excited about. They should also look forward to Smyff Gear, which is coming very soon, and is highly anticipated.
Exposed Vocals: Do you have any Sponsors? What do you like best about them?
Smyff: I am currently Sponsored by Saluda Cymbals and TightScrew. What I love about Saluda Cymbals is they offer fully custom cymbals. I use the Earthworks set, but they are darkened, so they have that really good hard rock sound. They look and sound professional, and I cannot tell you how many times I have had fans (and even my bandmates) come up and just be really shocked about how they look and sound. People can’t get enough of them, and no matter how much I hit them, they can take it, they are extremely durable and I couldn’t be happier to be Sponsored by them. TightScrew is great as well because they offer non-loosening tension rods that fit a lot of major brand of Drums including Ludwig, Pearl, and more. You don’t have to keep tuning and tightening your Drum Tension Rods between every song and show. I’m very excited to be working with both companies and I highly recommend them to any Drummer looking for professional gear at the best prices.