Most people know that Dallas Smith has transitioned from the lead singer of highly successful multi-Platinum Canadian rock band Default, to equally successful country artist, releasing his first album, Jumped Right In in May 2012. Jumped Right In garnered 5 singles, earned a Juno nomination for Country Album of the Year, and has gone Canadian Certified Gold.
In fall of 2013, Smith signed to US label, Republic Nashville and released his newest single, Tippin’ Point which was the ‘fastest selling Canadian Country single’ and went Gold in a record 13 weeks. Smith is currently gearing up for the Canadian portion of the tour with label mates, Florida Georgia Line. We caught up with him at his home in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland.
nMC: You’re about to start a Canadian tour with label mates Florida Georgia Line, any plans on adding US tour dates?
Dallas Smith: Yes we do, a lot of stuff hasn’t been announced yet but will start to show up on the website soon. We have 7 or 8 dates in the US in June. It’s exciting to get back into that market and kind of do what I do.
nMC: how are you received in the States?
DS: Pretty good. For me its always just about getting in front as many people and singing, I like to pride myself as a guy that can sing live (laughs) so its definitely the main challenge with this is to get my foot in the door – so I”m excited my foot’s in the door bigger.
nMC: is it difficult to get anywhere in the USA?
DS: Its always been a hard nut to crack down there. In Canada, if you have a really good song, it’s going to get played on the radio – the cream here rises to the top. In the USA its not the same. I’ve come across really great bands with some absolutely amazing records, and they never see the light of day – you have to have the right people pushing the buttons at the right time — a band really needs to build on a grass roots level and commit to touring down there and hope you get somewhere. How much time you commit down there is the only real control you have as an artist.
nMC: how are you anticipating the current tour with FLG?
DS: I’ve done 20 some dates down in the US with them already, so it should be fun getting back into it with them up here for the Canadian dates.
nMC: how was your reception down in the US with them?
DS: It was great. The reception was great. Nobody threw anything at me (laughs). It was fun. There’s not really any difference.. a crowd is a crowd.. the only difference in a crowd comes from whether it’s a university campus, a country band, a rock band etc as to whether it gets rowdy or not.
nMC: do you find that you’re a little more at ease on stage these days?
DS: Its different now. Yeah.. I am. I used to be a ‘hold on to the mic stand’ kind of guy. When I started playing country shows, I thought I’d have to be stuck behind a guitar all show, and it just didn’t feel normal to me because I’ve always been that interactive guy throughout my rock career.. so I started playing less guitar, and took the mic off the mic stand, and I think I’ve slowly evolved into the type of singer and artist I want to be on stage – it’s taken awhile to get there but it’s evolving now and I’m happy to be free of the mic stand and guitar for a couple of songs.
nMC: you seem less shy on stage these days..
DS: for sure.. that’s one thing I watched Florida Georgia Line do on stage in our last US tour together.. watching how they interacted with the crowd. It was a big comfort thing having that mic on the mic stand.. it was tough cause I really didn’t know what to do, I had been doing that for so long, I had to make a leap of faith and just do it, just figure it out..
nMC: kind of like a security blanket?
DS: for sure, it was my security blanket 100%. Once I got rid of it.. I had to figure out what to do with my other arm (laughs), it definitely is a lot more freeing and allows me to interact more and I feel like I’m better at what I do once I’ve gotten rid of that thing…
nMC: is it more fun? Cause you looked like you were having way more fun on stage.
DS: oh yeah, 100%. Best thing I ever did, get rid of that thing. Its also that I’m at a happier place in my life right now too.
nMC: we have a fan question – they want to know why is it that in every picture of you they see you aren’t smiling? Is that shyness?
DS: yeah I’ve changed that (laughs).. if you look now it’s different. Yeah it’s shyness. Honest. I was thinking about this the last few weeks. It was weird for me to just smile on command. I’m a very happy guy but I always felt that when I smiled on command I looked like an idiot.. we just had a baby girl and I’ve been sitting with her and just smiling at her. I think I’ve been practising smiling (laughs) Smiling in pictures is no problem now, and I think I learned it from her.
nMC: another fan wants to know why you ‘switched teams’ and do you really love the country music?
DS: I’m not on any team, I’m on my own team (laughs).. I”m not a rarity here. I grew up in a household that a good song was a good song, regardless of the genre. Switching teams… I was in the back of the tour bus (with Default), singing country tunes so I don’t feel like I switched teams in any respect. I was willing to make the jump and thankfully it worked for me. I was lucky enough to have the right songs at the right time, and have the right people in the new genre to believe in me. It happened in a very natural way. If its a calculated move, I think people can sense that, but if its something you want to do – I worked on Jumped Right In for almost two years before it was put out. That’s not something you go and do on a whim – put 2 yrs of your life into something that might not work out. So it definitely was a natural progression for me.
nMC: best and worst part of touring?
DS: The best.. when you put a lot of work into the studio and you get to see the audience connect, and sing that song back to you – that’s the best. Hands down. The worst – travel. I used to be keen on seeing new cities but I’ve seen most of them now, and I’m not 22 anymore, so I have to pace myself out a little better than I used to (laughs). Besides being away from the family, the travel can get pretty hard, especially the summer festivals where you have multiple fly dates in a row – it can get pretty hectic.
nMC: you’ve been doing this for nearly 14 yrs, what do you attribute your longevity to?
DS: I think I just followed what I wanted to do and its worked for me so far. I don’t think you can create longevity – if it happens it happens, and if it does, you’re lucky. If it stops now, I’ve had a good run, and I’m happy with what’s going on. I’m in a good place right now.