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Chris Smither - The Triste Interview

Chris Smither (credit) Chris Smither has been playing his own brand of folk-blues for over three decades. Initial success in the early 70's was followed by a reversal of fortune later in the decade when his record company folded and Smither struggled with alcoholism. Fortunately, Smither conquered his demons and in the 90's made a series of acclaimed albums and played to a steadily increasing audience. 2003 saw the release of his latest album, the critically acclaimed "Train Home" and Triste caught up with him on a hot night in Manchester as he toured in support of the record.

Triste: What were your general thoughts when you came to record your new album in terms of songs, theme, production etc? What kind of things did you want to put across this time?

Chris Smither: Well, I basically don't go writing songs until it's time to start a new record. I need that kind of pressure. So I started writing the songs. Really it amounts to whatever comes out - that goes on the record. I don't really have whole concept in advance. Having said that the songs do tend to come out reflecting whatever frame of mind I'm in. They change. I can always tell when the songs were written. When someone asks what period a song comes from I can always tell them the album because they fit into a whole category of song. They are all recognizably Chris Smither songs, but to me there are these little changes that happen and I'm never sure what I'm aiming for. On this record there's a couple of them that have Jazz progressions where I'm using a II - V - I progressions rather than a I - IV - V progression. That's new for me; it's nothing spectacular but it's something I'll always remember.

Triste: There's quite a philosophical bent to the songs on the album. I assume this is quite typical of yourself?

Chris Smither: Yes it's typical, yeh. I get caught up in big ideas. (laughs) But I also get caught up in small ones too like "Lola". I always come back to the big ones though - the problems of good and evil and existence and non-existence.



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