For accomplished songwriter/guitarist Rett Smith, getting ink is similar to creating music. In essence, the creator of the "band" Saents said, "tattoos inspire me the same way any work of art or artist inspires me. They inspire a thought or movement I wouldn’t of had otherwise." Expanding on that, he said, "Seeing a great tattoo is no different to me than going to museums like MoMa or The Met and being transported through the art being shown there."
With the blues/rock act's debut, self-titled EP, you'll find yourself transported a bit. Smith formed Saents with drummer Daniel Sousa as an eclectic sound that you can't pigeonhole into any one genre. But, I'll say this. The music is dark, vulnerable, and raw to the core - all with influences of spots he's lived in or passed through. (He's from New Mexico, but has lived in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles and Nashville.)
Smith assembles a bunch of musicians to make up the band. He's an accomplished solo artist and guitarist (check out Oscuro and Tularosa) in his own right, but always wanted to be a part of something bigger. I chatted with Smith recently, and asked him to expand on that a bit.
You had a solo career before this individually. Describe the dynamic of working with a full band now.
Saents has become a conduit more for creative freedom as opposed to a band or solo-career. I always felt that playing under my own name was limiting, not in a bad way necessarily, but I felt a responsibility to do almost everything. Although Saents is in a way still a solo-project, I’m now much more open to the process evolving.
These songs are new to us but tell me how long you’ve lived with them and how they’ve evolved.
All of these songs were written very closely to the time they were recorded and released. I write almost constantly and really like the pressure of recording while not being completely comfortable with every little part of the arrangement. When there’s an edge and tension of not knowing what is going to happen is in the studio, the best results seem to be able to come through.
When did you decide to make it an EP versus a full length? How is that process in determining how to share your body of work?
At the moment, I really like recording and releasing EPs and having them come out more frequently. Because Saents is still so new I think it makes sense to have this approach and let people discover the music and grow along with us. I have the next two EPs recorded and can’t wait to get them out. We should have songs being released pretty steadily over the next few months.
I hear ya. Full lengths seem to be dying but do you plan on making one down the road?
They do seem to be dying out, which is kind of sad. That being said, as an artist I feel it’s important to create bodies of work that tell more of a complete story than what a single or even an EP can tell. I definitely have a plan for the full length and will begin recording sometime in the fall. The wheels are turnin’.
Talk to me about your tattoos .
I’ve taken a slow and steady approach of getting tattooed and have been lucky to always work with really amazing artists. Adrian Gallegos at High Voltage in LA did my first tattoo, which is a tribute to mother Betsy, and since have been getting mostly traditional work as the inspiration comes.
Are they all important or do you just get some throwaway fun ones.
At the moment, they are all important and represent some heavy shit, but I’m getting the urge to let go and have a little more fun with some new ideas.
Do you favor a specific artist?
My newest tattoo is a black and grey scorpion by Lizzie Duggan. Her vision and detail is really mind blowing! I’m hoping to get tattooed by her as much as I can in the next couple months.