Band of the Day: Smiling Assassin

Just the band, going by their photo, that you don’t want giving you advice about fireworks…

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

Josh Rogerson (Guitar): we’re based in a Yorkshire town called Hull in the UK.

How did you meet?

Casey Stead (Bass): I’ve known George (vocals) for years. We first met at a jam night in Brid when we were just teenagers. We kept in touch, and when I started putting on DIY gigs at The Adelphi in Hull, I was amazed to see that he’d travel from Driffield for them. I’d usually swing him in on the guestlist, because I admired his dedication! I’d seen his old band once or twice at festivals, and when he told me he was starting a new band with Josh, I was keen to get involved.

They’d met studying music at college. I think I first met Josh at Raine Club?? I could be wrong. We’d known each other’s faces for years and stopped to chat occasionally, so it’s been great getting to know him properly through playing together. Robbie (drums) came along later after we’d tried a couple of drummers and nothing had worked out. George DJs at Spiders Nightclub and first met Robbie there by chance. Come to think of it, it seems like all of us met at some kind of music venue! Robbie tried out for the band and it was soon obvious that everything just clicked.

3. How long have you been playing as a band? JR – we’ve been playing in the current lineup of the band for just over a year or so.

Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?

CS: It’s a term that George liked the sound of. It’s basically a backstabber. Someone who’s all nice to your face, but employs sneaky tactics to bring you down and surpass you.

What are your influences?

JR: The band’s influences in general range from Ska and reggae, through punk and grunge, right up to thrash and death metal. My own personal influences count the 70’s British two tone movement and the old 80’s hardcore punk bands such as Black Flag and Circle Jerks.

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

CS: It’s definitely crossover hardcore. There are elements of all of the influences Josh has mentioned, with plenty of twists and turns. George is a really creative songwriter. Right when you think you see where a tune is heading, something comes straight up and subverts your expectations. I think what makes us really unique is the underlying social commentary. I’ve said before that, lyrically, a lot of modern hardcore is very insular. And so the aggressive tone can seem a little pointless, or even false, without any real context. But George’s lyrics are so clever, and very direct in tackling a variety of issues. It gives some real weight to the material. It’s aggressive because he’s aggravated… that’s the key to that “context” a lot of contemporary hardcore lacks.

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Do you have any particular lyrical themes?

JR: The lyrical themes of our songs consist of upfront and blatant reviews on growing problems that people in the UK face, such as the no holds barred social commentary on issues such as mental health in our first single “Coping”, and the problems within the news industry featured in the song “News Corp. Monopoly”.

What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?

CS: Blink and you’ll miss it! We honestly love just smashing through the set. We don’t tend to pad it out with banter, unless there’s a golden opportunity. Something pretty special about our live set is the use of samples. We use the same samples that we have on the album, and Robbie triggers them from behind the kit at just the right moments. Nailing those sections is loads of fun! We’ve been gigging for around a year, and have only played 7 shows. Mainly in our hometown. We’ve been selective with what we play, as we’ve focussed on the album and really hitting hard when we do come out to play!

What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?

JR: That has definitely got to be the Halloween house party last year in which, our good friend Beaumont, who put on the house party decided to crowd surf in his living room filled with people whilst we were playing a set.

10. What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?

CS: It’s pretty simple for me. I play an Ibanez SR300DX bass through an Ashdown 220 Touring combo amp. The amp is dual tube and the distortion is fucking gorgeous once the gain is cranked. Once it’s dialled in nicely, there’s no need for anything else! I do carry a standard ProCo RAT 2 pedal around, just in case we have to share a backline or something.

Josh plays a heavily modded Tokia SG through a Metal Muff pedal, straight into a Laney amp head and Orange 2×12 cab. Robbie recently invested in a Pearl Demon Drive Double Kick, which he has called his “dream pedal”. Other than that, I have no idea what he plays! The sample pad I mentioned before is cool as fuck though. Our setup is somewhat basic, but the point is that’s how we like it. We get the most out of what we use, and George really knows his gear, so can’t help but have a little play with the dials!

What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?

JR: Well, as it happens, a close friend of the band and artist named “Endoflevelbaddie” has just done a collab with us and is releasing a remix of our “Plight of the Millennial” album. Find the band on our social media under Smiling Assassin to find out more. This is really gonna set us apart from other bands in the genre.

What are your plans for 2020, into 2021?

CS: We’ve just been asked to play the Alternative Stage of a Summer festival. It’s a pre-recorded 20 minute set, which they’ll be streaming through social media in a couple of weeks. The Covid-19 situation put a halt to our touring plans in support of the album…. so for now, we’re jumping at opportunities like that. Thankfully, we’re being asked to get involved with all kinds of things. The record was really well received, so it’s kind of carrying itself. We’re writing the next album already, so in 2021 we’ll be unleashing that too and finally hitting the road!

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If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!

JR: I’d personally love to be supporting a band like Body Count, purely because they’ve created an awesome mix of genres and I think we would complement them on a bill. As for bands I’d pick to support us, I’d pick The Fuckin’ Glorious, another great Yorkshire punk band. They’re just good old fashioned in your face punk.

From previous Band of the Day Muscular Child: Dave Grohl, Mick Jagger, Prince – Who would you kiss, who would you marry and who would you kill?

CS: Dave Grohl has that whole “good guy” aura. It’s even become a meme. So I’d marry Dave Grohl. Not to mention, he’s an absolute idol. And if I married Prince, I’d be a princess?? So yeah, I’d kiss Prince. He’s a true sex symbol, so there’s some major bragging rights there. I’m assuming he’d be alive again? Would I kiss his corpse? That’s not so much to brag about…. And I’d have to kill Mick Jagger. It would have the upside of knocking one more old-timer off the festival headline slots!! Watch your back, old man.

From another BotD, Vanity: If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

JR: I’d have to go back and be really clichéd by telling my younger self to not smoke. I’d have saved a lot of money by now”.

And from Charly&Faust: What’s your underwear colour?

CS: Grey. Can’t beat grey boxers!

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