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If you are a fan of the modern age of Heavy Metal then you certainly know Jesse Smith’s name. After making his name steering the wildly successful band Zao, he largely disappeared from the national scene, making only sporadic appearances under different monikers.
Thankfully, Smith returned a few years ago with Jesse Smith & the Holy Ghost and now it’s time to introduce it to the masses. Their self-titled record is released by Standby Records and we had to know more about what Smith has been up to, as well as his new record and future plans for this. Here’s what he had to tell us….
Interview by Mark Fisher
Hey Jesse! How are things going?
Good man! Staying busy. Hope you are well.
So, this album is a longtime coming. First off, how does it feel to finally put out your label debut?
It feels great. It has been a long time coming! I’ve been playing the how and when it’s going to come out game for a while now.
Jesse Smith & the Holy Ghost has a real “band” feel to it. Is this project intended to have a specific lineup or is it a more of a flexible thing?
When I started writing music again it was a solo effort, but in the last year we’ve solidified the band.
I found Standby Records to be an interesting choice to release it. They put out some great stuff, but they wouldn’t have been on my shortlist of guesses as to who would release it. What made them the right people to help you sort of “relaunch” yourself into the mainstream?
I’ve tried to do everything from the ground up. Build it right and be accountable, grateful, and present with it. It was a situation where I had to start over. I hadn’t played music in a long time. I had financed the whole thing and was just looking for a fair arrangement from someone to partner with.
I had worked out my own imprint on another label and when it came down to it I didn’t have the time and was running out of money.
I was introduced to Neil Sheehan and the guys at Standby by our management. It was a good fit for what we were both looking to do. Moving forward we are excited and they have been great!
I love how eclectic this album is and I’m curious how purposeful that was. Since you are obviously influenced by all sorts of music, were there certain things you wanted to try out, or try to incorporate, into the new music or is this just what sort of flowed out of you when writing?
Thank you. I’m glad you’re into it. Some of the songs were cut from different sessions over some time.
As your moving along your always writing, changing, while different things are coming to the table. Songs start feeling old to you even though no one has heard anything. I think it finally came to that spot of here is a good group of songs that represents the beginning phase of what we are doing. We have a lot of new songs getting kicked around. Can’t wait to get back in the studio!
“Killing Me Someone” is one of my favorite songs on the record. Would you mind telling our readers a little about that song and what inspired it?
That song is about a relationship. I played the duality card via “god and the devil.” I was feeling like my voice in the situation, at that time, was falling on deaf ears.
“Light Blind” is another of the highlights in my opinion. Would you mind talking a bit about how that song came to be as well?
Nice. I’m surprised you picked these two songs to talk about.
“Light Blind” is another one about a relationship. The idea of “Sin” which by definition is just missing the mark as well as the idea we are born “evil” and our exoteric need for a fix.
The fix starts inside.
You have done a lot of different things since you first came on the scene with Zao. Is there a song or two on the album that you feel perfectly captures who you are musically today? Maybe a song that you can listen to and say, “That’s Jesse Smith in 2016!”
“Center of the Universe”. That’s where it seems to be heading. We will probably always stick to the simpler song structures and stuff. That was one of the newest cuts that made the release.
When people hear this album what do you hope they take from it?
I hope they can enjoy it! It’s taken a long time to pull it all together. I’m thankful to get the opportunity to share music I’ve worked on. If anything maybe people can gain a sense of hope. My life has been chaotic. Mostly because of choices I have made. I’ve been able to come out on the other side with a sense of gratitude. I’m happy to be here.
We live in a world that is full of so many distractions. A world of order givers and order followers. I would challenge people to think for themselves, and know they have value whatever the circumstance, or who or what they are being told they are.
Since a lot of your musical history is tied to Christian ideals, do you feel that is a part of you still today or is that in the rearview mirror at this point?
Depends on what day of the week. Ha-ha. Love is the key man. Love, knowledge, and truth. What I believe doesn’t really matter. I know we are on a giant rock, coasting thru space and this reality, dimension, plane, or whatever you want to call it, it is fleeting.
I’m only responsible and accountable to myself to stay awakened. That’s when change happens.
Will Jesse Smith & the Holy Ghost be touring behind this album? If so, what can we expect in the not-so-distant future?
Yes! We will be on the road a good bit over the next few months. You can catch us on the road next month with He Is Legend.
As I write this, West Virginia has experienced some terrible flooding. Was Parkersburg affected by any of this? I hope that you and yours are unaffected by it all.
Parkersburg wasn’t hit that bad at all. But the South of the state has been ripped apart. Massive flooding, casualties, countless people displaced from losing their homes. It’s awful.
Thanks so much for your time. I absolutely love this album and wish you a lot of success with it! Do you have any parting thoughts you’d like to leave our reader’s with?
Thank you so much for taking the time to do the interview. Thank you for giving it a listen. I’m stoked you’re into it. Thanks again.