We understand you have the Great Wide Underground Goes West Tour coming up. How do you feel about leaving the South for a bit?
I’m excited about it. We did it last year. We went to a bunch of places I have never been before. It was really great, just rejuvenating to get to new places in front of new people. I don’t have a big commercial mainstream hit. My career has always been built by getting out, meeting people and playing shows.
It looks like you have a pretty busy schedule, how hard is it to maintain your health and your energy for that many shows, nearly every night in such a short amount of time?
It’s not that bad, just don’t stay up all night drinking. Get to bed early, get some sleep, don’t be afraid to sleep in. I’m just used to it.
You have released 10 albums, 9 of which have been independently. What is it like working for yourself in the music industry. What are the pros and cons of working as an independent artist?
I would have given you a different answer at different points in my career because there have been times it has been really frustrating. All of my albums I have made independently. Some I have made and went out and found a label to help me distribute it. I have financed all my records myself, ultimately where I am now, I am glad it has happened this way. Creatively it has allowed me to really grow at my own pace and evolve without anyone over me saying, “you need to do this.” I feel like in a lot of ways art in general has gotten backwards. It’s a lot of, with mainstream country music, just telling people what they want to hear. We have all the data that says we like to hear this, they like these types of song, so let’s do this. I just don’t think that is what art is. I think art is really about an artist struggling and figuring out what they want to say. And then you have to put it out in the world and hope it resonates with people. I frankly, don’t think it’s possible being signed to a major and being developed in the way most artists are being developed in country music, I don’t think it’s really possible to do what I do.
In your musical career, you have worked with a number of musicians, of those who has influenced you the most?
My band, those are the musicians I’m closest too and we feed off of one another. Especially, this time around when I have been writing the record to be able to go in and play with my band and flesh out the song and experiment with things. That’s really huge. I guess of all of them, my keyboard player Lee, I made most my records even my early records at his studio, 10 min from my house. He’s a classically trained pianist and engineer and producer, so I have really just learned a tremendous amount from him over the years.
Are there any NEW musicians out there topping the charts today, that you would like to work with?
I’ve just never thought about things like that. I’ve never really thought Oh, I wish I could work with someone. I’ve gotten to play shows with a lot of cool people who have been really awesome to me. It’s just not one of those things I think about that much.
You are Georgia born and bred, if you had to pick any other state to live in where would that be?
That’s a good question. Probably Colorado. I like Colorado a lot. Every time I go man this would be cool (to live here.) Just because there is so much to offer there.
As an independent artist, you must really appreciate your fans for their support. What is it like when you meet the those diehard fans on the road? What are those one or two songs they always respond to?
21, is a really big one. It’s kind of funny because it was one of the first songs ever recorded. I was still teaching high school. When I made my first three records I was still teaching high school and just doing this as a hobby. I had no idea that it would spread the way it has.
When I meet fans, wherever it is, I always ask them what has been their favorite show or how did you hear my music. The cool thing about that answer is always, everybody has a story. Everybody tells me where they were and who they were with when they first hear my music. It’s usually with a friend, or someone who is in the military overseas, someone played them some music. They always remember it and it always connects with someone important to them. I think that is probably the most rewarding thing about how my career has unfolded. People don’t just say, we heard it on the radio. It’s always something very personal and that ‘s appropriate, because that’s how the songs are to me.
One of the things I appreciate most about my career, I’m not famous, I’m not rich, but I feel very fulfilled being able to go about making music this way.
Speaking of songs, let’s talk about “Fuck The Po Po.” You wrote that one a long time ago. There is a lot of controversy surrounding law enforcement right now. What’s the story behind that sound and how does the audience react to it when it’s played?
They still react the same way, I preface it a little differently now, but they react the same way. The song speaks for itself. It’s a true story. I got arrested one night for nothing, really because I was taking up for my wife. (He says the other part of the story is that he had some cash in his pocket from a gig, they took it). I was mad, eventually all the charges were dropped. Because I hadn’t broken any laws, but I was upset. I wrote that song. It was my way of dealing with it. (Corey says the song was funny, and he never thought he’d be singing it all over the country, he would be getting requests for it or that he’d be getting asked about it in interviews, it was funny and at the time it was really just for his friends and family).
With all the stuff that’s been going on, There have been nights I haven’t played it. Just paying attention to the news and saying ok, this does not feel right tonight. There was probably about an 8 month period I didn’t play it. It just didn’t seem funny. But lately it has been and I just preface it the right way.
It’s been a little while since we’ve heard some new Corey music. You are out there on the road, playing the good stuff, but should we expect anything new anytime soon?
I am going to have at least some of it done by the end of the year. I’ve worked and worked and worked. I think I can have at least 3 or 4 songs by the end of the year. And have an official release by March.
And now, let’s talk about food!!!
On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the reason you wake up in the morning, how important is food in your life?
10, It’s got to at least be a 10 you can’t live without food.
You are on the road a lot, are there any restaurants out there you cannot miss if you are passing through town?
There’s a lot of them. I prefer local places you can’t get anywhere else. One of the great things about this country is every region has certain things they do really well. Especially, In the South, BBQ is a really big one. I’ve learned the ins & outs of all the different types BBQ depending on where you are in the country. (Corey then went in to detail on all those different types of BBQ, we’d say he is quite the BBQ connoisseur)
What 3 things are always in your refrigerator?
Grapefruit juice, because I like grapefruit juice in the morning and sometimes with Vodka, Texas Pete because they are my sponsors and I like hot sauce on everything, club soda, again to go with the vodka sometimes. Everything else is for the kids, but I’m thinking about just for me.
Name that one guilty unhealthy pleasure?
Hand cut french fries. (Corey said he also loves gourmet burgers, but if the restaurant does not have fresh made fries, he goes somewhere else, because the fries just make the burger pop)
If you were stranded on an island and could only have one drink and one food item, what would those be?
If I were on an island, I’d probably give up the vodka it would probably not be the healthiest and say water, I like water, Food… I don’t think the hand cut fries would cut it nutritionally… It would have to be some sort of steak. I could prepare it in some different ways. I could smoke it, cook it over open flames…
What is your favorite childhood cereal?
Fruity Pebbles, That was my favorite part of going the grocery store. My mom would say, alright, go pick out your cereal and I’d be good for 30 minutes.
Thanksgiving is around the corner. What is one Thanksgiving tradition you have?
I have a big family, most of my family lives close by. For years we went to both sets of grandparents. In particular, my grandma that lived in Jefferson. Big family and she had a little bitty house and we would all just pack in there. My grandmother she was the best cook, I think that’s why I appreciate food so much now. She was southern, not well off, but she took pride in the way she made food.
She passed away several years ago, now most of the Thanksgivings are at our house.
Favorite Thanksgiving dessert?
Pumpkin pie, I love pumpkin pie and we do it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. With Cool Whip on it.
And lastly, for Battered and Brewed, if you could sit down for dinner with any one person dead or alive who would that be?
Paul Simon. I feel like I could just pick his brain apart. I have a ton of questions I would ask him. He probably wouldn’t want to sit down to dinner with me again after but…
Click through to Corey’s instagram to check out this recipe for Texas Pete pretzels!
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For more information on Corey Smith and complete list of tour dates visit www.coreysmith.com