In the last of our Cornbury interviews, we bring you our chat with Eddy Smith and the 507, who are not, despite their name, made up of 508 members, but one of them is actually named Eddy. Now based in London, they come from as far as Kent, the US, Ireland, and Surrey (or is it Sussex?). Lisa sat down and had a chat with the band.
Hi! I’m Lisa from Essentially Pop! Who are you?
We’re Eddy Smith and the 507!
So who’s Eddy Smith?
There actually is one!
This doesn’t work [as audio not video] does it!
I actually had to change my name to fit with the band!
So what did you change it from?
Hang on – it’s Eddy Smith and the how many?
But there’s not 507 of you…
Not that you can see…
Oh okay! I could actually say that…so who knows, there could possibly be 500 and…8 of you!
Very large band!
Yes, so you couldn’t do Eurovision then could you, because there’s more than 6 of you.
Too many of us. Next year…
Sad times! You’ll have to reduce your numbers.
We’re at the Cornbury Festival, you’ve been on stage already…describe to our listeners the sort of music you play!
We’re like a blues/soul kind of crossover. We’ve sort of been compared to early Joe Cocker, Van Morrison, stuff like that.
So where do you all come from?
We’re a multi-national band. I’m [Eddy] from England, Josh is from Ireland, Will is from America, and Ricky is from Kent. [Also in England – Ricky]
[I was born right near Gatwick Airport, so sort of on the border of Sussex and Surrey – Eddy]
[Nobody cares Eddy – rest of the band]
But we all live in London.
Okay! So it’s all completely irrelevant, you all come from London now!
So you’ve played Cornbury today, where else can people see you? Have you got…
You mean gig-wise?
No randomly just walking down the street!
London! In Tesco, generally in the reduced section!
Our next gig is the 18th of July, our double EP launch will be at 229 The Venue, Great Portland Street, London.
What’s your double EP called?
It’s called, ‘A Little Too Late’. We have parts 1 and 2.
We have so many shows around London, and you can find details about those on our website. We’re also going on tour in January with the Robert J. Hunter Band.
So how long have you guys been together?
Six years! And we’ve only just released our first record now!
We needed to find our sound, and we had to hone our craft a little bit, we couldn’t just throw out a record straight away. We were all quite young.
I’ll ask you one more question – what question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview but nobody ever does?
This is our first interview so…
Do you have a dream question?
Would you like a beer?
I often just fantasise about ranting about music! I’d love an interviewer to say, “what’s the hardest thing about being an unsigned band?”
What IS the hardest thing about being an unsigned band?
It’s the number of roles you have to play, just to give yourself the best chance, you can’t just focus on making music, which is what we should be doing. Instead you have to do everything. In the past we’ve been our own booking agents, our own producers, our own promoters; we’ve had to do every job under the sun, and still there’s not enough time to do everything that you need to do; there’s no direction or guidance.
You’re still unsigned?
So how are you releasing your double EP?
We’re doing it ourselves.
But you’ve got a distributor? Who’s your distributor?
It is good though, because if you learn every aspect of the business then that is what the record labels are looking for, they want a finished product, they don’t do development anymore – it costs too much – and they’d rather you just turn up and get a distribution contract…
…be a polished thing…
Yeah! Even though you’re doing it all now, and it’s horrible, you’ll still be doing it when you’re signed anyway.
It’s good that we’re a cottage industry, we are getting better at doing it ourselves, even though we’re still making mistakes at certain aspects. And they can be time consuming, and costly, and set us back a wee bit, so if we had support from, not particularly a label, but somebody who was in the industry to guide us not to make the same mistakes, that would be ideal. But it’s good in the respect that we have full creative control over all our work.
If we had someone there to help it would free us up, to concentrate on the music.
We specialise in unsigned artists, so my advice would be – and you probably are already – read read read and get as much information about what to do as you possibly can. Which brings me to – what is the hardest thing about what you do? What do you find the most difficult, because as musical artists, you’re probably not business thinkers, at the same time – is the admin the hardest, is the bookkeeping the hardest…
The admin. And the knowing how best to spend your time. You ask yourself, what should I do now. I spent eight hours trying to get magazine coverage…do people still read magazines? I don’t know? Is my time better spent doing something completely different that I don’t even know about? And it’s that uncertainty, that insecurity, that makes it really difficult.
What about social media?
I’m not very good at social media, but I’m learning as I go.
There’s another 507 members of the band – someone else can do it! It doesn’t have to be *your* job!
Ah well you see they’ve got a union…
Anyone else got a question they’d like to ask?
What about the songwriting process? Is it a democracy, or does one of you do it and then brings it to the band…
I normally turn it up with what I consider a finished song – I’m not a drummer or a guitarist or a bass player – so I come with a song and these guys put their expertise on it, and we arrange it together. But sometimes that can affect the songwriting. We play a song, ‘Little Too Late’, and Rick basically ended up writing, although I already had the song completed, this kind of riff that became a prominent feature in the song, it changed the feel of the sound of it. It’s a collaborative process.
It always varies, there’s no form, there’s no way you do it, we just go in, and the songs come out the other end.
So where do you get your influences, your ideas for your songs?
You write about what’s in your head, you write about life experiences…
We’re all fans of different genres, we all have the common goal to make music of the blues/soul style, but we bring in our own elements.
Do you have an established fanbase that comes to every gig?
I was going to say my Mum and Dad but they’re not even fans. They’re just there to heckle.
Our fans are really supportive; we know so many bands in London, and everyone’s going to each other’s gigs, and when we started playing at the Spiritual Bar in Camden, we sort of ingratiated ourselves into this little community, which has grown and grown. Everybody has their own little pocket of people they bring to other people’s gigs. London is a big hub for our gigs; and then when we’ve played in America, we’ve got people who are there all the time.
Wait! You’ve played in America! Where have you played?
Denver, Austin, during SXSW…
How did you get onto SXSW? Did you apply to do it?
Not officially, the whole town is doing music during the event…
So you just went there?
No we had gigs lined up before we went…It was Will our bass player, who isn’t with us right now, who got us in. We did some good shows there, our music goes down quite well there, it’s quite Americana influenced.
So you foresee more gigs in the US then?
Yes next year!
Favourite brand of instruments and why!
Hammond B3 Organ – I just love how it sounds!
Is that the one they use on Whiter Shade Of Pale?
That’s a really nice sound!
I’m all about my Gibson!
I love a Gibson! Have you been to the Gibson HQ in London? I went to a gig there and [drooling sounds] all the guitars on the walls, it’s fairly lush. And everyone who plays there, has to play one of their Gibsons, you need to get onto it.
I play drums, but my favourite instrument is the electric saxophone. I went to a jazz gig in Kingston, West London, and there was a 17 year old kid playing one, and he was so cool. I can’t play one, I just want to hear people playing it. It’s a letters and numbers thing…
Can you play recorder? Because if you can play recorder you can play saxophone…
No! I can only play drums.
What’s your favourite brand of drum then?
Gretsch or Ludwig. Ludwig if I can ever afford them.
What about you?
Fender! Fender all the way!
Because I want an endorsement!
Okay then – Eddy Smith and the 507 would love some endorsements from Gibson, Ludwig, Fender, and Hammond please!
Thank you for chatting with us!
Find out more about Eddy Smith and the 507 on their official website.