Local Musician Check-in: Adam Smith

Posted on March 26, 2014 by


For Adam Smith, music is life. On any given day of the week, you are likely to catch this curly-headed man taking in a show at the Tea Bazaar, DJing a dance party at Mono Loco, or opening for a national act at The Jefferson with one of his many projects. Given all the musical outings, it’s hard to believe Adam has time to write and rehearse. But if the new material his latest band Y’all can be heard playing these days is any indication, he certainly finds the time for that, as well.

For those unfamiliar with the back story, little over a month ago, the Charlottesville music scene was shaken to its very core, when long-time Invisible Hand bassist Thomas Dean announced he would be resigning from his eminent post to pursue his long-dormant project Order (now called New Boss). Not one to indulge in drama, the weeks following saw Smith assembling new members, rehearsing new material, and wishing Dean nothing but the best. From the ashes of Invisible Hand has risen a phoenix named Y’all, who promise to reach “new heights of sonic chaos.”

This week, I was fortunate enough to chat with Smith about influences, inspirations, and what’s next for Y’all.

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Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? If not Cville, when did you come here?

I was born in Texas, and I agreed to move to VA when I was ten only if my parents could find a public library and a Taco Bell. They found both, and now I am here. But I didn’t actually move to C’ville ’til I was 16. Before that, I lived in the boonies of Nelson County, carving sticks and building rock forts with a dirt spoon.

What musical projects are you currently involved with?

I play with Invisible Hand, Y’all, Great Dads, and The Plait currently, but I also have been know to DJ with Thomas Dean as Nasty, sit in with Naughty Cod, Articulate Chewbacca, Double Complete Rainbow, The Turds, and Billy Bimbo’s Dumbass Blues Band featuring Boogie Nelson.

When and why did you start playing music/singing? What instruments do you play?

I started playing bass out of shear boredom when I was 11. Living in the middle of nowhere will inspire you to do some crazy things (like pick up an instrument), and when you don’t have any friends to tell you that you suck you end up being amazing at everything you put your mind to. I don’t even remember being terrible at music because I had no one to tell me that.

Most influential artist as a child? Teen? Adult?

As a child I had a three cassette tapes: Chicago 17, Yes 90125, and The Blues Brothers. While I don’t credit any of these with having a resounding effect on my musical stylings, I do maintain that “Owner of a Lonely Heart” is a great song. Around the age of six my parents purchased a CD player and Sgt Pepper’s. My dad handed me a pair of headphones and told me that I must listen to the entire album or else I was grounded. That changed my life.

It was then nothing but The Beatles for the next five years; I became borderline obsessed and kind of a dick about it. My sister would try and show me some other stuff, but I was always quick to dismiss it claiming that The Beatles would kick Ace of Base’s asses if it came down to it (which they totally would).

However, after I picked up an instrument, I somehow managed to come across a VHS copy of Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii, which absolutely blew my mind and showed me that music can be as weird and far out as your mind can go. And this defined the next 15 years….

When did you write your first song? What was it about?

I think I wrote my first song shortly after picking up the guitar. Pretty sure it was about a girl that I had an undying crush on. Typical! The next song I wrote must’ve been the one about the trash man.

What influences your writing?

Grey days, nostalgia, altered states, girls, boys, dissatisfaction, alienation, food.

What aspects of life excite you and stir your affections, fuel your passions?

Traveling. One of the greatest reasons to be in a band is that it allows you to travel and actually have a purpose at your destination. Also, food. I don’t care what I eat as long as I eat. I could eat forever. I also get really excited by seeing live music. There comes a point, when watching someone truly amazing, where I helplessly start grinning, and I must look like an asshole, but it’s so hard to wipe the smile from my face. It usually only happens when I truly feel intimidated or jealous of someone’s musical prowess, when I get that feeling I usually make an “irish goodbye,” retreat home and proceed to one up whoever just kicked my ass secretly in the confines of my room.


When did you play your first gig? What emotions and thoughts ran through your head after finishing?

I played my first gig with my parent’s band at the Montebello Apple Butter Festival. It was not glamorous, aside from the free apple butter. I’m pretty sure I thought, “Can’t wait to go home and finish beating Zelda.”

Do you get pumped or nervous pre-show?

Never nervous but I do seem to go into a dazed stupor right as I take the stage. The most awkward moment is the first few seconds when I look out into the crowd and usually the thoughts going through my head are something like, “Why are these people looking at me..? Is there apple butter on my face? Is there something I forgot to do? Oh yea…1-2-shoe-pie… derp.”

What does a day in the life of a modern-day songwriter look like from your perspective?

Wake up, whenever life gets in touch with me. Drink coffee. Write for 10 minutes about one thing. Play one scale on my guitar for 20 minutes. Meditate for 30. Eat a bagel. Sit outside and think about things that are not important. Write a list of unimportant things. Rip it up and start again. Feel totally uninspired, go to pub. At pub, jot down observations. Wallow in mediocrity. Talk to someone, realize halfway through conversation we do not agree. Make the irish goodbye and walk home.

What do you want people to take from hearing your music? As a fan, what do you also want people to take from experiencing your live show?

I want them to have that shit-eating grin that I get when I see/hear something exciting. I want them to feel the excitement, have fun, forget the drama in their lives, meet someone interesting at the show, go home with them and live happily ever after.

What does the not-so-distant future hold for you and your musical endeavors?1780648_665914943466549_1375974934_n

The Hand is going through a lineup change. Thomas Dean is resigning his bass duties to pursue his own project, New Boss. I couldn’t be happier and more supportive of his decision to do so. He is my bro. We are bros. Nothing can come between us. No drama. Drama is for thespians.

This is also an exciting prospect for Invisible Hand because it allows us to change forms, and who knows, maybe become something totally different. Jon is switching to bass, which somehow makes perfect sense, and Christian Smith from The Naked Gods will be joining in as second guitarist. Christian is one of my favorite guitarists of all time and I’m frothing at the mouth over what we will come up with together. We are currently calling this new Hand incarnation Y’all.

Also, this summer we will be releasing a cassette tape on Gnar Tapes from Portland, OR. Look alive, World!

Lastly… Describe yourself in 10 words.

Don’t need ten… Magick.