Songwriter Jake Smith wants his music to make you feel something. The White Buffalo will release the new album Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights via Thirty Tigers this Friday, October 6th. He recently took the time to chat with us about the new music, his fans, and craft beer. Check out what he had to say!
You are gearing up to release your new album Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights on October 6, how have fans been responding to the new songs along the road?
We’ve only been playing a few off the new album, but they’ve been very well received. Luckily my fans are open to whatever subject or emotion I try to get across in songs.
It has already received a lot of praise in the media, that must feel pretty special?
Oh yeah. I hadn’t heard, but it’s nice hear now.
Favorite lyric/song from this album.
“If I lost my eyes would you stay with me. Would you take me by the hand tell me what you see. Fill my head with colors for my dreams. If I lost my eyes.”
You’ve played alongside a variety of artists — Any bands along the way that you’ve really clicked with?
Our most recent tour with Flogging Molly was amazing. We all clicked partially due to our mutual affinity for Irish whiskey.
You have an impressive fan following online. What is it that keeps your fans engaged the most?
I approach social media with some personal inside content, but still like to keep a little mystery. I think that because most of my work is quite dark that to show the lighter more human side helps people connect on a different level.
What else can fans look forward to from you in 2017?
We’ll be touring, bringing the music to the people. We start in November and continue well into 2018. I never thought I’d say this, but there’s also a Christmas song in the works.
Now for the Food Questions! Do you like to cook at home, or prefer to eat out?
I probably eat out more than I cook at home, but I love both. I really enjoy cooking for others, being creative.
Which four things are always in your home refrigerator?
Milk, Eggs, OJ, and Avocado
What food is your food vice? You know, one you sneak in a little extra of when no one is looking.
I’m not really a sweets guy, but milk chocolate covered seafoam/honeycomb is difficult to have any self-control with.
How does food play a part when touring or being in new places?
I have a pretty decisive system using Yelp on the road. Pictures, star rating, and number of reviews. I don’t bother with the actual written reviews. There’s too much emotion in them. The band always comments that I find the best places in town and they trust me completely with their dining needs.
Is there anywhere you have wanted to travel or a restaurant you have always wanted to dine in that you have not yet?
I love Mexican food, but I’ve never been to Mexico City, which I’d love to explore.
We hear you are a craft beer connoisseur and have partnered with Lagunitas recently. Tell us a little about that!
Lagunitas has been a huge ally for us and music in general. Providing beer on tour and supporting some touring. We’ve had the owner’s band open for us on many occasions and it’s a real joy to work with them.
What’s your favorite craft beer?
At the moment my go to is Golden Roads, Wolf Pup. It’s a crisp session IPA that has a lot of hoppy flavor with not a lot of alcohol. The perfect dad beer. On the road, I’ve also been enjoying 12th of Never by Lagunitas. A hoppy pale that’s very manageable.
Do you brew any of your own beer?
I don’t brew my own beer, but I have collaborated with Oscar Blues Brewery for a limited release and most recently with Anchorage Brewing Co.
Finally for Battered and Brewed, If you could eat or have a drink with one person dead or alive, who would it be and what would you have?
Beer and hotdogs with Charles Bukowski
ABOUT THE WHITE BUFFALO:
I’ve always taken great pleasure in being difficult to categorize,” says the White Buffalo’s big-voiced frontman, Jake Smith. Since releasing his first album in 2002, Smith has explored the grey area between genres, carving out a sound rooted in dark folk, countrified soul, cinematic storytelling and roadhouse-worthy rock. He keeps things unclassifiable on the White Buffalo’s sixth album, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights, the most hard-hitting, electrified album of his career.
Although recorded in Smith’s hometown of Los Angeles, where he grew up listening to the country twang of George Jones and the pissed-off punk of Bad Religion, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights looks to the passion and punch of White Buffalo’s live shows for inspiration. Smith has been a road warrior for more than a decade, doubling as his own tour manager along the way. Gig after gig, he’s built a cult following without a major label’s support, boosting his band’s international visibility with more than a dozen TV-worthy songs — including the Emmy-nominated “Come Join the Murder” — that were featured on shows like Sons of Anarchy and Californication.
“I’m kind of an island,” he says proudly. “We tour on our own and have built our own fanbase, so the idea with this album was to capture that live feel — the passion that we produce in a stage setting — in a studio performance.”
Island or not, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights finds Smith reaching far beyond his own experience for a string of detailed, character-driven songs. Many of these tunes explore the gloomy, dangerous corners of America, spinning stories of sinners, crooks, bad decisions and broken hearts. On “Border Town/Bury Me in Baja,” a drug dealer awaits his death at the hands of the Mexican mafia. “Avalon,” a desperate, driving anthem worthy of Bruce Springsteen, finds its protagonist “wishing he could flip a switch [and] turn his life around.” “Nightstalker Blues” — an amped-up blast of harmonica-filled, guitar-fueled roots rock — revolves around the story of serial killer Richard Ramirez, whose murder spree haunted southern California during the mid-Eighties.
As the album’s own title promises, though, this is a record about balance. A record about life’s ups and downs. “I wanted to hit all the emotional spots,” explains Smith, whose voice — a booming, rumbling baritone, with a slight quaver that can sound ominous one minute and warmhearted the next — takes a tender turn during love songs like “Observatory” and “If I Lost My Eyes.”
Together, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights offers up the White Buffalo’s strongest material to date, doubling down on Smith’s strengths while pushing his sound into new territory. Stripped-down folk. Electrified swamp-soul. Heartland rock. Bluesy boogie-woogie. It’s all here, tied together by the super-sized vocals and articulate songwriting of a bandleader whose work is sometimes moody, sometimes menacing, but always melodic
“My hope is that this album will touch people,” he says. “Make people feel. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The darkest darks, and the lightest lights.”
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