In recent years, The Smith Street Band has enjoyed enormous success. Since forming in 2010, the Melbourne-based band has released four albums and travelled the world performing their tunes.

Their new record More Scared of You Than You are of Me was released last month and included the band’s hit single Death to the Lads which came #21 in Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2016.

The Smith Street Band will be performing at this weekend’s GTM festival in Canberra and Curieux spoke to drummer, Chris Cowburn ahead of the performance.

So how was the first weekend of GTM?

“Yeah it was pretty sweet.

“The shows were incredible. We did Adelaide, we did Maitland and we did Townsville, all in three days which was pretty hectic going in travel and that side of things but the actual shows and festivals were so cool. Like up there with one of the best festivals we’ve ever been a part of.”

Are you excited to come to Canberra this weekend?

“So pumped. Yeah really, really can’t wait to get there.  We haven’t been to Canberra in a little while now.

“It’s always a little bit of an awkward one because you know your main touring circuit of Australia and it’s the biggest cities, I know Canberra is the capital of Australia but it always seems to get missed out for some reason or other it sucks.

“But yeah it’s great to get back there and do a festival and then hopefully we’ll be back and be able to do a headline show in the not too distant future.”


So you have just released your new record, More Scared of You Than You are of Me, I read it is powerful narrative by the lead singer Wil. So could you talk about the inspiration behind this and how the rest of the band is involved and contributes to the songwriting process?

“Lyrically it’s Wil. Musically, it’s a collaborative effort.

“So the narrative was pretty unintentional from Wil to be honest but it ended up just tracking basically his most recent relationship from the happy, lovely times of falling in love to it not going so well to breaking up to and then being single and meeting other people.

“Lyrically Wil writes 100% of the Smith Street songs so the rest of us don’t have any input into that side of things. That’s wholly and solely him, that’s the way it has always been in the band and I guess in terms of the lyrical message that we are putting out there it’s always been Wil’s voice and we sort of all feel that’s the way it should be.

 “Musically it’s quite different. We all quite have a bit of input musically. Usually it will be Wil bringing in some level of completed song and sometimes it’s barely anything – a couple of chords here and there you know melodies and what not and we all have our say anda play around with it until it builds up and becomes something more finished. Sometimes that can happen straight away and sometimes it takes a long time.”

So do you have a favourite song on the album?

“It’s really tricky, it’s been changing a lot. I really like “It Really Kills Me to Have to be Alive” the really slow, really, really sad song in the middle. That’s one of my favourites and maybe “Run Into the World” is another favourite. Both the slow, sad ones – I don’t know if that says something about my personality ‘haha’.”

Would you be able to summarise the journey of the Smith Street Band so far?

“I could sit here and tell for hours about how incredible it’s been. I guess to try and keep it brief, you start out – well this is my take on it anyway. I sort of started out as someone who loved music. Specifically like punk and rock music when I was teenager but I never really considered myself a musician, I never really wrote music. I mean I played drums but that’s not really writing music and I played in bands and stuff but never really gave it any consideration that it was something I could do as a career and tour the world and that sort of thing.

“So for that to even become like partially an opportunity and to have even smaller shows sell out and stuff and just have people interested in your music which happened to us three or four years ago that was enough – that was a dream fulfilled.

“And to look at where it is now, it’s so much farther, so much surpassed that, in such a large way that it’s now just pretty mind blowing to be able to say you know we sold out the Forum theatre in Melbourne. Any expectations I had are like years in the the past now and yeah it’s just mind blowing. I am so grateful to be able to do what we do”

So you guys are touring the album after GTM, what can crowds expect from that and are you excited about that?

Very, very excited. I guess one thing that comes with exceeding expectations and getting to venues that you thought you would never ever play comes with I guess with the fact that those spaces, they’re not just a bar that you jump on stage and you can just get up and play your instruments and that’s that. (Instead) you’re in this beautiful big theatre and it’s massive and of epic proportions and you have to put on a show to fill that space and connect with people I guess so this is sort our first foray into that world”

“There’s a lot more production value that has to go into it which kind of sounds like a little bit of a wank but you know it’s sort of it is something that is important to think about, especially doing stuff like playing these bigger venues, you have to charge more. So we want to be able to put on a show that’s worth people’s money.

“We’ve got some cool things planned and I don’t want to give away too much but we are all really excited for it and yeah we are really, really looking forward to it. I hope people are going to enjoy it.”


The Smith Street Band will be playing on the Triple J Stage at 3:25pm at this Sunday’s Groovin the Moo, held at the University of Canberra. 

Featured image by Badjonni