Neal Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame in 2011 for his role as drummer in the Alice Cooper Group. Besides working with Alice Cooper, Neal has also played with The Plasmatics and, Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult. Media Mikes had a chance to speak with Neal recently about his career in the music business and his new solo album titled “Kill$mith Two”
Adam Lawton: What initial sparked your interest in becoming a solo artist?
Neal Smith: The original Alice Cooper band broke up in the 70’s. After that I played in a few different bands as well as doing an album with The Plasmatics and Buck Dharma. When I was working with Buck I co-wrote the song “Born to Rock” which got play on MTV. Through the 80’s I got interested in real estate and ended up getting my real estate license in the state of Connecticut. I kept writing over this time and worked on a couple projects. One of the projects was to play some shows in Texas with Mike Bruce and Glen Buxton from the Alice Cooper band. We brought in Richie Scarlett to play as well. Sadly 6 days after the project wrapped up Glen passed away. It was around this time that I decided to finish up a lot of things I had sitting on the back burner. In 1999 I released my first solo album. The album was originally recorded in 1975 and titled “Platinum God”. I got a great response to that album and afterwards put together a group with some friends called “Cinematic”. We were doing shows in New York City and while there I saw bands like Kings X, Pigface and Tapping the Vein. These bands were playing this really hard edge industrial metal. I liked the power of the material and wanted to come up with something that had the early rebellious image of Alice Cooper along with the macabre side. In 2008 we released the first Kill$mith album titled “Sexual Savior”. I was really inspired by all these newer bands that were beyond grunge. We just released “Kill$mith Two” a couple months ago.
AL: What do you think was the hardest part of transitioning from drummer to solo artist?
NS: I have always written. Even before the Alice Cooper Group I was a stand up singer in a band. I have always sung a little bit. I have always been very comfortable in any position even though drums are my forte. It was more of a new challenge. I jumped in over my head and learned everything I could. I had some great teachers and inspiration. Things weren’t difficult but there were some challenges. I think the biggest challenge though for me is coming up with songs that I like. I am the type of writer that writes when I am inspired. I can go for months or even years without being inspired to write a song. However when I am inspired the ideas come like a tsunami. The new album features 12 really solid songs. I don’t think there is any filler on this album. Alice Cooper and producer Bob Ezrin heard the demo for a song on the new album titled “Evil Voodoo Moon” and re-wrote it for Alice’s album “Welcome to my Nightmare 2”. The song is actually the first single off that album titled “I’ll Bite Your Face Off”.
AL: How would you describe/classify the “Kill$mith Two” album?
NS: I would say it’s definitely in the super hard rock/metal category. This album has more melodic choruses than the previous album. The new album may not be for everybody but it gave me the chance to experiment with some writing on my own and create the “Kill$mith” character. I wanted both “Kill$mith” albums to have a much darker and more macabre edge which is something I feel I was very successful at.
AL: What can you tell us about the new video you just put out?
NS: I wanted to pick a song off the album that was a musician’s song. There are a lot of great players on the album and one of those was Pete Hickey. He did an amazing solo on “Squeeze like a Python” and I wanted to feature a song that was one of the better songs that I really liked. I like to play for musicians and I think this song does that. The video is very sexy and hot. There is a fantasy element that is woven in between the verses of the song. We sort of took a classic approach to making the video. I think everyone did a great job. After having the video up for close to a week now we have received 3,000 hits. I have been amazed by the response.
AL: Can you tell us what the touring plans will be for the group?
NS: We will definitely be doing more videos. That right now is really our thrust to get the word out about the band. There has been some interest in the band going to Europe to play however nothing has been confirmed. As soon as dates start to be set up they will be posted on my website www.nealsmithrocks.com