The can­did front­man of The Smith Street Band freely draws on his per­sonal tribu­la­tions as a source of in­spi­ra­tion for his punk-rock cre­ativ­ity

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - NEWS - SALLY COATES

IF you’re not fa­mil­iar with The Smith Street Band, you need to be. Fronted by Wil Wag­ner, their songs are full of emo­tional truths, dark con­fes­sions and painful ex­pe­ri­ences pre­sented in a way that is both re­lat­able and up­lift­ing – and you know what they say, a bur­den shared is a bur­den halved.

But with garage punk vibes and a strong, harsh Aus­tralian ac­cent through­out ev­ery song, Wil ad­mits they’re not ev­ery­one’s cup of tea.

“I feel like peo­ple ei­ther don’t get us at all or they have ev­ery al­bum, and talk­ing to peo­ple who re­ally do ‘get’ the band feels very spe­cial,” he says.

“I can talk to some­one for 10 sec­onds and it feels like we may as well have gone to high school to­gether.

“You can pick up con­ver­sa­tions with strangers so eas­ily. It’s tough but it’s worth it.”

The rea­son it’s tough is be­cause Wil’s songs are so per­sonal and ev­ery show the band plays is an act of vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

“It is emo­tion­ally drain­ing to play a show but it’s also the most in­cred­i­ble thing ever,” he says.

“There are times when we’re on tour over­seas and we’re play­ing to eight peo­ple in Nashville, I’m like ‘yeah, I wish I didn’t have to tell these eight peo­ple about the five worst things that have ever hap­pened to me’.

“So it can be tough but the re­wards I’ve got­ten out of it out­weigh any neg­a­tives ten­fold.”

Never shy about his bat­tle with men­tal health and tough times, now that the band is such a suc­cess there’s a risk the mu­si­cal in­spi­ra­tion could dry up.

But Wil doesn’t be­lieve he’ll ever be to­tally OK.

“There is a slightly frus­trat­ing thing in me that says ‘come on, I’ve got ev­ery­thing I’ve ever wanted, why am I still such a mis­er­able bas­tard?’,” he says with a laugh.

“I used to re­ally buy into that tor­tured artist thing but now I’ve grown out of it a bit.

“Now I re­ally try to go out there and find songs in happy things, mun­dane things, sim­ple things.

“I have been working on new stuff lately that’s re­ally pos­i­tive and up­beat but be­cause of the way the chem­i­cals work in my brain, I’ll prob­a­bly always have weeks where I’m not feel­ing so good, un­for­tu­nately.

“But you know I’d rather be happy and writ­ing less good records than mis­er­able and writ­ing awe­some records.”

Cur­rently, Wil and The Smith Street Band are on tour, play­ing sold-out shows across Aus­tralia, but once the tour is done it’ll be into his home/ record­ing stu­dio in the sticks where he can record new mu­sic es­sen­tially 24/7.

“We’re in the slow process of build­ing a record­ing stu­dio on this prop­erty we got about an hour and a bit out­side of Mel­bourne,” he says.

“With me liv­ing here I can ba­si­cally walk in and turn on a com­puter and record at an al­bum-level qual­ity at re­ally any time of the day.

“That’ll be amazing for me be­cause I write a lot and have lots of ideas. I can now re­ally use that in­spi­ra­tion when it strikes and in 30 sec­onds be record­ing. So I think with that we’ll have a lot more mu­sic and a lot more al­bums in the fu­ture.”

The Smith Street Band play at the Coolan­gatta Ho­tel this Satur­day. Go to oztix.com.au

Catch Aussie punk out­fit The Smith Street Band at the Coolan­gatta Ho­tel on Satur­day.

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