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Just Another Motorcityblog Band Interview with The Smiths United

But it's not just another band interview because it's with one of our best local tribute bands, The Smiths United. I see The Smiths United every chance I get and it is not just because they play songs by my favorite band of all time, The Smiths, it is that they play them with such authenticity and heart. They are also some of the most individually talented players I've seen play together. You can see what I mean if you come see them this Saturday at the Magic Stick. It's their first time playing the Magic Stick so it's guaranteed to be another memorable night.

Here's some Q&A with the Smiths United singer Chris George:

MCB: Who is in the band?

CG:  Chris George, vocals/ Jon Epstein - guitar/ Mike Miller - guitar/ Gordy Elwart - drums/
Max Prokop - bass/ Paul Epstein - keys

MCB: When did you form and why?
CG: We formed back in 2010. Each of us were looking for something new and different to do musically. We'd all been in original bands or cover bands and wanted to stretch out in to other areas of music. I think all of us were worn out with what we were currently involved in and just wanted to try something that would be a breath of fresh air and a project that would be challenging.

MCB: Why a tribute band?
CG: That's a hard one to answer. For me, it was a way to play music that I had always loved since I was a teenager. My high school band played tons of Smiths covers. I guess (for me) this was a way to relive some of my youth while sharing my enjoyment of these songs with other people that had the same musical leanings as myself.

MCB: How do you make make each Smiths United show different from the last?
CG: We try to mix it up for every show. When we can, we try different opening tribute bands or we'll find a way to make it a whole night of retro alternative rock. For the last couple years, we've played with nothing but alternative tributes and it seems to be working really well. People get sick of seeing the same show over and over again. I think by adding new songs and by changing the lineup for the shows, people might stay interested in what we're doing. Also, we try to change the set list as often as possible. We always have to play the "hits" but we do our best to add some deep cuts or lesser known songs for every show. Some shows have been very Smiths heavy and others have leaned more towards solo Morrissey material. I think its good to always be changing and manipulating the set to what the show calls for.

MCB: What's your current favorite Smiths and Morrissey song to play live?
CG: Hard call. I'd probably go Last Night I Dreamt and November Spawned A Monster. Ask me again next month and it'll change. It always does.

MCB: Favorite local venue and why?
CG: For us, it's been The Magic Bag. It's been a comfortable home like atmosphere for us there and we always seem to draw well there. I think it's the central location and the fact that a lot of people that enjoy The Smiths live in that general vicinity.

MCB: What’s another local band you think people should see? 
CG: Check out Playground Twist (ed. yes, please do!) They're playing with us at The Magic Stick this Saturday night.

MCB: What do you like most about Detroit?
CG: I like the fact that there's a strong resurgence going on for the city, creatively and financially.  It seems like some of the stigma is fading more and more with each passing year. I also really like that so many movies are being filmed here. I'd like to see Detroit become more of a central hub for film making in general.

MCB: What’s the furthest you have travelled for a gig?
CG: The furthest we've gone for a gig is Holland, Mi. for a show at The Park Theater. We'll be back there again in October for Groovewalk, a really cool festival they have every year. We'll be playing there with Playground Twist too.

MCB: Where’s the best place for people to go hear more from you?

MCB: What makes being in a band worth it for you?
CG: The enjoyment of the music and knowing that we're playing songs that people love to hear live. I feel like there's a strong connection between us and the audience. We're performing songs that they probably couldn't hear unless they saw another tribute band playing them. With Morrissey's latest problems touring, I think we give people an outlet to enjoy their favorite songs in a live setting. Obviously, we're not the original and we don't claim to be. But, it's fun to play dress up sometimes and have fun with people that love those songs.

MCB: You will know the band is successful when…..
CG: I'm pretty happy with where we're at right now. There is a good ebb and flow to what we do as a tribute band. We play, then we take a few months off and come back again with something a little different. As far as success goes, I measure in how good we can pull it off live. In that aspect, I think we're the best we've ever been. Ever since adding Mike Miller to the band, we've really been able to tackle the songs and add the layers that were missing before. I don't measure success on how many people come to the shows or what not. I judge by how good we sound as a group and I think we're about the best we've ever sounded right now. Hopefully audiences agree......

MCB: Most embarrassing moment so far…
CG: My microphone cable coming unplugged during the first song at the Magic Bag last year. I just couldn't get that thing plugged back in for the life of me. I missed half the first verse of the first song in the set. I think it's happened to most singers at some point. But yeah, that embarrassed me slightly.