Indietracks interview #26: The Smittens

Less than a week to go, and we’re still on holiday in Sweden. Today we strolled around Stockholm’s beautiful Gamla Stan district, visited the Skansen heritage site and tried to go to a trendy bar with a table tennis table and French boules. Which was shut. We haven’t forgotten about you though, so here’s an interview we prepared earlier…

The Smittens are a DIY pop explosion!! Half of the Smittens couldn’t play their instruments when they first formed their band in 2002 but they didn’t let that worry them. They grew from their name, which existed before the musicians did, and a desire to fill the twee void in their home town of Burlington, Vermont, New England, USA.

The Smittens bring a warm fuzzi-wuzziness to the stage and like to emphasise the importance of all being friends. The sentence “Being nice is a political act” has featured in the notes of their first two albums. They are made up of The Dashing Smitten, The Charming Smitten, The Lady Smitten, The Littlest Smitten and The Greek One.

Their first album ‘Gentlefication Now!’ was released in 2004 on Dangerfive Records. Its follow up, ‘A Little Revolution!’ followed 18 months later on Dangerfive/North of January. The next album should be released in 2008. They have shared the stage at previous shows with the likes of Kimya Dawson, The Mountain Goats, Stars, Boyracer, The Besties and Bunnygrunt. Today, we’re joined by Colin!

Hello Colin, great name for a band – the names seem to be getting better and better! Tell us how you feel about music at the moment and the new crop of indiepop bands.

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be making indiepop music! There are so many fantastic new bands and labels popping up everywhere and our entire community seems to be rallying together – especially in the UK! That’s why we’re coming over – and we’re thrilled that folks have been so nice already with helping us to line up shows and share gear and stuff like that – the pre-arrival hospitality has already made us feel more than welcome! After reading up on many of the new bands (and older ones, too) and seeing flyers for past shows online, it will be so fun to see so many of them live! Indietracks should be extra fab because we’ll have the opportunity to hang out and meet new folks over the course of two days – a nice lil’ holiday in the middle of our tour!

Tell us about an unusual place you’ve played a gig in the past.

Well, this year we played at a Junior Iron Chef competition! It was a local eccentric event, in a huge indoor space with us playing in the corner and pausing between songs for the MC to make announcements about the goings-on. We even got to goof around with Champ – the mascot for our local minor league baseball team the Vermont Lake Monsters! It was pretty surreal! Hee – indiepop and sport combined – that sounds like so much fun!

Do you have any exciting plans for the rest of the year?

Well, our new album, The Coolest Thing About Love, is coming out here on July 29 so, after our UK tour (which may be the most exciting thing we’ve ever done!), we are heading down to Athens, Georgia for the Happy Happy Birthday To Me/Athens Popfest 2008. Happy Happy Birthday To Me is releasing the album and we’ll be celebrating the release with a Saturday show at the famous 40 Watt club during the festival there. After that, we are doing a hometown album celebration in Burlington and then in the fall we are planning to head out to the west coast for some dates. If we are lucky we will be able to coordinate some shows with Tullycraft and some of our other long-distance penpals – we’ve never done any shows on the West Coast before and we are going to make it happen this year on the heels of the new album release! It’s definitely gonna be a pretty busy year for us all-around.

Phew! With all this activity going on, have you had time to plan any surprises for the festival?

Well, we’ve been getting together and working on our festival set, and I think there will be a few surprises in there – it depends on what constitutes a surprise, but we are hopefully going to play some new material and we have a couple tricky tricks up our sleeves, too! David proposed one awesome surprise that we are going to try and pull off and Max and Dana have a couple other ideas as well, so at this point almost anything could happen! In general, though, our goal is to come out and play well and enjoy the other bands and people there – it’s like we’re heading into indiepop shangri-la or something! I bet we spend some late-night time singing and playing and taking turns trading songs with other folks there. If anyone wants us to play or sing anything – well, if it doesn’t happen during our set, well, we’ll sing it round a campfire! Full festival immersion – I think that’s our plan, but it’s not really a surprise, I guess.

The Smittens have very kindly donated Half My Heart Beats, a lovely tracks from their new album – click on the link below to hear it!

Next up: Matloob from the Roadside Poppies chats about Anglo-Danish relations, playing gigs in trees and his love for new Copenhagen indiepop! Unfortunately there’s no mentions of plans to hide in booze in bushes!