Dallas Smith is a veteran of the stage, but he is a
newcomer to the US country scene. He's had a highly successful
career as front man for the Canadian rock band Default, whose first
record The Fallout achieved platinum album certification and
spawned the smash hit single "Wasting My Time." That band was
together from 1999 until the last year, when the members split
amicably to pursue different projects.
For Smith, his project is country. He recently released his
US debut single "Tippin' Point," written by Florida Georgia Line's Brian
Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, along with Jaren Johnston. There is a full
length album on it's way. He already has a critically acclaimed country
album in his native Canada, which garnered him five CCMA award
nominations in 2013. Smith toured with Bob Seger in Canada this year and
is currently opening for Florida Georgia Line's "Here's to the Good
Pretty impressive for this country rookie. It appears his
past success as a post-grunge rocker was not a fluke. This chameleon of
an artist may well be on his way to the same level of success in his
I spoke with Dallas before the Florida Georgia Line show in
Reading PA and learned a lot more about this personable Canadian singer.
It's a pleasant surprise how remarkably calm and soft spoken he is,
considering he performs on stage in front of thousands of people.
I was intrigued to see how his performance would go. Well,
I found out a few hours after we met. Not having a full album yet and
being the first of the three shows for the evening, he had a short set,
which was the only disappointment. Smith has great vocals, high energy
and got the audience going.
He ended his set with his single "Tippin' Point," which is
very FGL-esque since they did write it. Smith had the audience singing
along and ready for the rest of the party to come. Luckily Smith
reappeared at the end of Colt Ford's set to sing along to "Dirt Road
Anthem." That was a nice surprise and I do believe he stole that show!
It was great. I look forward to hearing more.
Here's what Dallas had to say:
For your fans of
Default I need to ask, any chance of a reunion?
We did a charity show earlier this year in Alberta, but no
shows on the horizon. I'm pretty busy with this and to be honest all the
other guys are quite busy doing what they're doing as well.
So they're all doing
different projects? I wondered if it was just you, if you were the
catalyst or who the catalyst may have been.
We all just came to an agreement that we'd been doing that
for a long time, everybody had their aspirations to go do different
things. And yeah once that record cycle was finished it was not a
goodbye but it was a let's just go and do other things and see where
they take us. We can address things as we go. Never say never but from
this moment here I'm pretty busy.
Is it amicable?
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Everybody's good. To be honest, we spent so
much time together that I think breaking at that point saved a lot of
friendships. You get stuck with the guys for that long things become
very tense. It's the perfect time to call it a day and move on.
Is anyone in the band
doing what you're doing with country?
No, none of the others guys were into the country music
when I was playing it on the bus. Danny [Craig], the drummer for
Default, he's producing lots of stuff now. The other guys are off doing
their own things as well so.
So how do you go from
post-grunge front man to country music? How does that evolution occur?
It was a slow one. The household I grew up in was a lot of
classic rock and 80's female country. A lot of Reba [McEntire] and the
Judds. There was Garth [Brooks] kicking around and Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson,
but my mom was mainly playing that. My dad wasn't into country. When I
was in my late teens/early twenties, being in a rock band was the cool
thing to do obviously. There was not a huge country market out in
Vancouver because we were so close to the Seattle scene. That was a
major influence on my friends. We did the rock band thing for over 12
years. It was around the time that artists like Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts came in. It was a lot more guitar driven. It caught my ear as the
perfect storm between the great voice, the great country vocals,
storytelling lyrics and that rock influence in country. That's when I
started going: Hey this is the perfect storm of what I grew up with. And
yeah I started singing along with Keith Urban when I was on the back of
It became more
mainstream too, so the market was there for you I guess?
Now that you're
touring solo, is there a big difference for you working with a band
versus working solo on stage?
Well we treat this project as a band as well. I guess with
a rock band you can be more anonymous. With this you have to be a little
more involved on stage. You have to be more interactive as a singer.
That makes a difference.
Was that hard to
Yeah, it was something I had to grow into. I feel like
every time I get on stage in these situations I'm learning. Watching the
FGL [Florida Georgia Line] guys and Colt and what they do. It's a lot
different than with the rock bands I toured with.
How did your musical
I have a bit of a strange story, lots of music around the
house. My mom was in a choir. My dad played guitar and sang around the
house. I guess when I hit five or six years old, my mom said I just shut
up and I got really shy about singing. Nobody heard me sing until I was
about 20 or 21. I used to sing in the car. I'd sing in the shower. I'd
sing along to stuff. But I never sang in front of anybody. I used to
watch the Default guys play in a different band. I'd go hang out with
them on Friday nights and go jam in the garage and stuff like that. It
finally came to the point where I wanted to get over the fear of singing
in front of people, so I sang a couple songs with the guys on Friday
nights. Within a year of that we had a US record deal. Then a year and a
half after that we sold a million records in the US. So I went from not
singing in front of anybody to having a US platinum record in two and a
half years. It was kind of a different story than most. It happened
fast. I was thrown to the dogs. I thrive in this situation. As a solo
act I come out and get thrown on the FGL tour. Sink or swim, got to find
I was going to ask if
you have musicians in your family and you said your mom was in a choir.
Singing everywhere. My first memory of my sister singing
all the time. My sister has a great voice as well.
Older or younger
Does she sing as a
No, no, she's just a mom and lives up with her boyfriend
and a couple kids. With a pretty voice.
Did your parents ever
No, but my mom was in singing competitions and stuff like
Have your parents
ever come on tour?
They've come out. My dad's come out a few times on the road
and ridden on the bus with us. Not with this project but others. I
opened for Bob Seger in Canada earlier this year. My parents came out
for that show. People come out when they can.
How was the Bob Seger
We did four or five shows. We did Edmonton, Saskatoon,
Calgary, Regina, I think and Winnipeg. Four or five. They were
fantastic. That was the classic rock my dad was playing. Never in a
million years did I picture myself being in a situation opening up for
Bob Seger and there I was.
How'd that happen?
I really don't know. Through management, through booking
agencies. Somebody that thought I'd fit well with Bob and we got the
So what did you play
on that tour? It was just a few months ago?
Well, we released my debut country record in Canada last
year, the spring of last year. We had five singles up in Canada, [on]
Canadian radio. This is my first venture down in the US. We played a lot
of that record and a couple of the Default songs sort of to bridge the
gap. We did the songs from the country record and countried up some of
the Default songs. The shows went great and the reception was really
So do you live in
I live in Vancouver, yup.
Any plans on moving
down to the US? Do Canadian country artists do that?
Yeah, they usually all move to Nashville. I've got a
nine-year-old boy. Me and his mom aren't together anymore. I've
remarried and she's remarried. I'm very, very involved in his life, so I
don't plan on making any permanent move away.
Has he ever come on
No. He's gone to a few local shows, but the bus, or the
van, or wherever we are traveling, is usually not age appropriate for
him. He's going to be nine early next year, so I can probably start
taking him to a few things.
Does he ask or show
Yeah, but he usually doesn't stand there and watch the
show. He's usually hanging out with out with the other kids.
Does he show any
He's got really good pitch. He sings along in the car with
me a bit, but he's a sports kid.
Did you play sports
I played baseball. I tried soccer for a year, but I was
terrible at it. Baseball. Being Canadian, we played hockey.
Do you follow sports?
So "Tippin Point" was
written by Florida Georgia Line guys Brian and Tyler?
Brian and Tyler and Jaren Johnston from The Cadillac Three.
We have the same producer Joey Moi. While I was putting the record
together, this song got dropped on our lap. I was asked if I wanted to
use it. There you go.
So it will be in the
It shall be yeah.
Is your new album
We've got four or five songs done. We're getting there.
Will this US record
have some of your Canadian songs?
It's possible there might be a few songs off that record
from last year. We're not sure yet, but probably there might be a couple
Do you play any
Guitar, but mainly singing is my thing.
What inspires you
Listening to music that's not my own. Just a feeling I get
from certain songs that drives me. As far as performing and being a
musician a singer, it's the live stuff. Being on stage. That's where I
get my thing. Studio's cool, traveling I hate, being on stage... that's
where I get my thing.
Who are your favorite
I've always been a huge Keith Urban fan. I really don't
have a lot of time to be listening to outside stuff to be honest. I
listen to the radio, country radio, I love the songs that I hear, but as
far as the new stuff that comes out the only one I've gotten really is
the Keith Urban record.
Is there anyone you'd
like to collaborate with?
That's a tough one.
No surprises like
Florida Georgia Line with Nelly?
No, no Nelly, but who knows?
What's been your most
With the Default guys we went out and played for all the
guys in Afghanistan. The way the Kandahar base works, it's just a board
walk. It's just a wooden walkway that goes all the way around. There's a
TGI Fridays and a little French bistro and every country's got their own
little thing around there. In the middle there's a stage in the corner.
Canada's got their floor hockey rink, basketball, volleyball. All the
troops are out there watching the show. It was dark and we're watching
the planes take off. You could see the afterburners. Shit's going on,
missions were happening while we were playing. I have to say as far as a
snapshot of being on stage, that was pretty surreal.
Wow, I'll say. There
were troops from all different countries?
Yeah. Dutch, French, Czech republic, yeah the whole
coalition. The Canadians the and the Czechs, they were intense with that
hockey game. There were no seats around the hockey rink, so they would
pull up the personnel transports and tanks and stuff and rolled them
right up. Three guys are actually sitting on the tanks. Whenever
somebody scored you found out the tank has a horn.
Wow, that's so cool.
Pretty amazing yeah.
Did you take
Yeah I got pictures of that.
What type of venue do
They've all got their things, but I think being a rock man
the up close clubs. With people within arms' reach that's where I am
most comfortable. But these hockey arenas... how is that not fun, as
Or an arena with
What's your favorite
city you performed in?
I don't know. We just did New York. Spent three nights in
New York. Not much beats that. We did some stuff in Australia, a little
bit in Europe. Yeah, I'd have to say New York.
Do you have a
favorite thing to do on your down time in a new city? If you even have
We had a few days off in New York City. We got there early
and my wife flew out. She's seven months pregnant, so it's kind of our
last time together away from home before we hunker down and have a baby.
So I try to bring her out as much as I can. On a normal tour, I try to
get out as much as possible. Get some fresh air instead of sitting in a
room like this all day.
Do you have any
I try to golf as much as I can. Besides that I just watch
sports. That's it.
Do you hunt? They
hunt in Canada right?
Yeah, we have some of the best hunting. Me personally I've
never gone out. Well I've done the prairie dogs and things like that.
But as far as going out, my parents didn't do that. My son's stepdad,
he's a big outdoors guy, so my kid just went out on his first hunting
trip and got a deer. That was a pretty big deal for him. We fished a lot
when we were growing up. Lots of outdoor stuff. My brother in law, he's
a guide so he does a lot of hunting trips up in Alberta. He actually has
been a guide for Rascal Flatts. It's kind of a random thing.
Is he a guide on his
No, I believe he is hired on by a company. I'd love to go.
I think if I have any down time, I am going to start. That's the thing.
I spent my entire twenties just touring on the road, so anything I've
wanted to do was skipped right over. I think I'd start off with a duck
hunt with my brother in law or something. Start there and work my way
Where do you see
yourself in ten years?
Happy and healthy no matter what I'm doing. We'll see where
this takes me. I just want to be happy.
INTERVIEW WITH DALLAS SMITH!
DALLAS SMITH'S NEW SINGLE "TIPPIN' POINT!"
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