Artist To Watch: Smooth Hound Smith

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Zack Smith & Caitlin Doyle of Smooth Hound Smith, with A&R Manager Amilcar Dohrn-Melendez

With their dialed-in harmonies and unconventional instrumentation, Nashville-based band Smooth Hound Smith is on the rise. Need proof? They’re currently on the road, opening for the Dixie Chicks. We had the pleasure of hanging out with them at Guild HQ and learning a bit about what makes this incredible duo tick. Keep scrolling to see them in action!

GG: Tell us a bit about your background. How did both you get started with music? And how did you two start making music together?

SHS: Caitlin and I are both sort of “journeyman” musicians; we’ve played in a bunch of bands starting pretty young… We met because Caitlin was singing in a big band based in LA and I was predominantly an upright bass player at the time, and sat in with them for a few shows. We ended up chatting awhile later, right before I was planning a solo move to Nashville, but we stayed in touch, she came out and visited, and we’ve been pretty inseparable since then.

GG: Why did you guys decide to move to Nashville?

SHS: I had moved back to LA to be with Caitlin, and we got a bunch of material together- mostly covers, with some of my originals peppered in- but the house we were living in was purchased in order to be torn down and subsequently turned into condos, so we had to move. Seemed like an opportune time to hit the road for our first tour…we ended up staying in Nashville afterwards.

GG: Does your Guild influence your tone and your style of writing?

SHS: Absolutely 100%. The majority, if not all of our first record I wrote on my Guild M-20. The small-bodied, mahogany guitar has a really warm, vibrant tone that I found really complimented my finger style playing, plus it’s a very comfortable guitar to hold while sitting down, so I could play it anywhere.

GG: Tell us about your song writing process. Do you write melodies first, or words? Both at the same time?

SHS: I read once that Woody Guthrie kept a journal of random song titles he’d think up, so I kinda started keeping notes of fragmented lyrics and titles etc, and eventually, when I have enough, and a cool guitar riff or chord progression, I’ll start the puzzle of putting them together. That’s usually how it goes; the guitar comes first, then I put lyrics over the top. Occasionally I might find myself with a story-oriented song that kinda writes itself, but most of the time it takes a fair bit of crafting.

GG: What’s been your favorite gig to date?

SHS: That’s a very difficult question…we’re out right now on tour supporting the Dixie Chicks in arenas and amphitheaters all across America, so this has been a very special run so far. I’d say, though, the first time we played a big show in Nashville and sold it out, and everyone in the crowd knew our lyrics…there’s no feeling like that.

GG: Who are your biggest influences?

SHS: Way too many to name.  

GG: What do you do when you’re not gigging or playing music? Any other hobbies?

SHS: We pick vintage clothing from thrift stores while on the road, try to find good local restaurants…we travel a lot, and it’s all by van, so we try to stop and see the country when we can. Try to stay reasonably healthy…I used to be a surf instructor, so I really love the ocean, but unfortunately don’t get a ton of time to jump in it these days. 

GG: What’s in store next?

SHS:We’re having a big year! We finish our run with the Dixie Chicks, then a week after that we get married, then we do a handful of our own shows, then head to The UK for our first time to play some shows in October, then hopefully chill out and finish writing the rest of a new record towards the end of the year!

Learn more about the band on their website. Check out their music here.

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