What began as a side-project has become an out-project and an up-project for Matt Smith.
And should become a growing concern in the indie rock world.
He’d originally started his Chicago-based psych-folk trio Thompson Springs, which also features drummer Jake Bicknase and bassist Andy Goitia, as a way to express himself outside of the local Madison, WI act he was merely a member of, called The Sharrows.
Now it’s his sole focus and they are far from local.
“We were in school together, in that band, just learning our way,” he says from a stop in Portland. “And I’m just taking a step further with this career.”
Very much so.
Last August, they released their second EP Fond Regards — a spacious, spacey, spaced-out, spiffy and spliffy five-song, gnarled-roots, lo-fi rock record that sounds like Galaxie 500 one moment, Sonic Youth the next and My Morning Jacket before you know what hit you.
It’s louder, noisier and fuller than it has every right to be, and grooves so relentlessly in an almost unassuming way.
And it is, Smith says, the meshing of early influences with what he listens to now.
“I grew up more on blues music and now I listen to more indie, atmospheric music like Kurt Vile and War on Drugs,” he says. “Those two things are quite similar because the early blues stuff is really droney and kind of almost creepy in a way. It’s heavy and it creates a droney atmospheric sound.”
He also professes a love for Dylan and, on the other end of the spectrum, equally as up-and-coming Saskatchewan act Kacy & Clayton, who just recorded an album with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame.
Actually, the theme of Vile and Wilco, and their presence in the Thompson Springs talent pool is a common one, with Rob Laakso from the Violators recording their first EP, Artifacts, and mixing the second, while Pat Sansone from Wilco produced and played on Graffiti Rose, the final track on Fond Regards.
That latter relationship continues, as Sansone just finished recording the trio’s full-length debut down in Nashville.
“It’s cool to see how he works and his process because he’s been on so many great albums,” Smith says of the man who joined Tweedy and Co. in 2004.
He expects that record to be released early next year, but basically he describes it as “a bit more acoustic-y, but full acoustic, and there’s some keyboards” provided by drummer Bicknase.
“We produced the songs rather than just playing them live and we spent time with them working out different parts,” Smith says.
Fans who see them on this current tour — their first real foray across the border which hits The Palomino in Calgary Thursday, Oct. 25 — will get a sneak preview as they’re inserting three or four new tunes into their set.
So. Go out. And get up. And upper.
Thompson Springs perform Thursday, Oct. 25 at The Palomino.