Smith Street Band by request
The Smith Street Band will perform at The Phoenix on February 17.
The Smith Street Band's promise to play upon request has been well and truly tested by a group of persistent teens from Port Macquarie.
On their website, the Melbourne four-piece states: "If you want us to play anywhere/time we will (do our best to)" - a claim taken quite literally by the dedicated fans.
Drummer Chris Cowburn says the band had been planning to enjoy a rare four-day break between gigs on the Young Drunks tour before being convinced to add a last-minute show.
"We had this smallish group of kids from Port Macquarie hit us up on Facebook," he says. "It grew to be about 15 of them saying 'Come to Port Macquarie … you can play at this place'. So, yeah, we sorted it out and organised the show and now there's an all-ages show in Port Macquarie."
While the band had originally hoped to do a lot of all-ages shows, Cowburn says the reality had proven quite difficult. "Unfortunately, all-ages shows tend to be really hard to organise," he says. "I guess when you get into your liquor licensing and all of that stuff … it can be really tough. We've added as many all-ages shows as we could, but we'd like to be doing more."
Cowburn says gigs in general are becoming harder to organise as live music venues continue to shut down across the country - even the venue that inspired the band's name, the Birmingham Hotel on Smith Street in Fitzroy.
"That's where [front man Wil Wagner] wrote a lot of [debut album] No One Gets Lost Anymore. That's where it all began, where we all met each other and started to jam," he says. "It's around that kind of Fitzroy area that was synonymous with live music in Melbourne.
"It's the classic kind of old thing, people are moving into these areas because they love the culture and the heart of the area … but once they're actually living there they can't cope with it and they complain and all of the artists get kicked out. It's kind of the way of the world but it's a bit of a bummer."
As ambassadors for SLAM - Save Live Australia's Music - Cowburn says the issue is one the band is passionate about. ''It's one of the things we think about a lot consciously, to be able to find more and more venues to play at when they're closing down, especially for the new artists coming up."
The Smith Street Band must have managed to find a few venues, however, given that they're midway through a 19-date Australian tour, their second since the release of album number 2, Sunshine and Technology.
Last year they also spent six weeks touring China and the US, and scored spots among the Pyramid Rock Festival and Melbourne Big Day Out line-ups.
Cowburn hopes 2012 was a sign of big things to come for the band.
"I think we're all pretty proud of [the album] and the way it sounded,'' he says. ''Then the touring we did off the back of that was just mind-blowing and overwhelming in a good way.
"I just can't speak highly enough about the feeling you get when there's that many people singing the words to an album that came out last week.
"In terms of last year, I can pretty confidently say that was one of the best years of my life personally and I'm sure the other guys would say a pretty similar thing."
The Smith Street Band
WHEN: Sunday, February 17
WHERE: The Phoenix