As you read this, musician Tony Smiley is down in Hollywood, Calif., as one of the six national finalists in the 2010 Boss Loop Station National Championship.
For those who don’t know, the company Boss makes guitar effect pedals, which guitarists sometimes use to make all kinds of strange sounds, like chorus, reverb, distortion and flanger. There are lots of different brands of these pedals and there’s literally thousands of possible combinations in which one could hook them up to your instrument. Some are more advanced than others, and believe me, it can get complicated.
But some people, like Tony Smiley, seem to have this issue under control. Tony is so efficient with his one-man-band set-up that his recent video for his song “Anywhere Else” was chosen as one of the top six finalists for this weekend’s Loop Station world championship.
So by the time Tony shows up at Double Mountain for his Halloween show on Sunday, Oct. 31, he may just be the National Loop Pedal Champion.
Maybe then he can come over and help me hook up my stereo.
Interview with Tony Smiley
1. How did you find out about the Loop Pedal Contest and what did you have to do to become a finalist?
I had just gotten a video made by my friend John Waller of “Uncage the Soul Productions” and was putting it up online. So I decided to search for other loopers on YouTube, just to see what else was out there, and I saw a few videos that had the title of “Boss Loop Contest 2010.” Which totally sparked my interest, so I looked it up and entered my video. Lo and behold, I got chosen as one of the top six in the nation!
2. OK, when you walk into just about any guitar/music store, there's usually a wall, or floor, full of pedal choices. How on earth do you decide what you need?
Well that’s like asking my 5-year-old what kind of candy he “needs.” If I go to a store, I usually have something in mind, I try it out and buy and leave. If don’t go in with a plan, well I am usually there for the remainder of the day! When it comes down to it I “need” ALL OF IT! Ha!
3. I read the list of judges for the contest. Pretty exciting to have Andy Summers (guitarist for The Police) sitting on the panel. I guess you'll get to meet these guys. What criteria will these judges be looking for?
Oh yeah, I am super excited about meeting Andy Summers, I love The Police! As far as the criteria goes, they will be looking at: (i) Creativity/Imagination /Uniqueness (ii) Skill in exploiting the potential of BOSS RC-series Loop Stations (iii) Musical expression/interpretation
4. For your shows, you use the term “beatboxing.” What is that?
Beatboxing is basically turning your mouth into a live drumset. And using the sounds from your mouth to create a drum beat.
5. You've obviously practiced enough to handle several instruments. What was your first instrument, and what finally gave you the idea to put them all together into this one-man show?
My first instrument was drums. I wanted to play the drums ever since I can remember. I was 8 years old when my parents brought home my first drumset from a garage sale. It was an old junker Ludwig set. And I loved it!
Then at about 13, I had got into some trouble and got myself grounded from my drums, so I dug up my dad’s old acoustic guitar and started writing songs. Through out the years I played different instruments in many different groups. But they always ended up not working out.
So when they came up with the technology to loop, I thought ‘that’s it, I’m just gonna do it my self.’ And it has been a blast! I can't really get into a fight with the drummer or have to bail the keyboard player out of jail. Well I guess I could, but that would be a whole different set of issues. But basically, this band will never break up!
6. You live in Portland, but you have a Hood River connection?
Yeah buddy, Hood River is my hometown! I graduated, barely, from HRVHS in '92. Go Eagles! The first band I was ever in, “SERF,” used to hold our own shows at the grange hall back in the early ’90s. Those shows were so much fun! Just a bunch of kids rockin’ out and getting to be weird. Kevin (the Bird) Younkins, who runs the sound at most of my shows, was also in that band.
7. Talk a bit about what kind of show we can expect for Halloween — and will the band be in costume?
Costume? Yes! What kind of show? . . . BOO!