[T]he brilliantly roaring rock of Rett Smith’s debut EP, Tularosa, makes it hard to believe that just three years ago, he had never even sung in public. Yet he has emerged with an assured debut that confidently blends country, blues, rock, garage, and more. And it’s no surprise that Smith works so well in so many various genres, because his offstage experiences are just as varied—and exciting. From late nights in Arizona to heartbreak in New York, Smith has lived. Read below for the stories behind Tularosa‘s tracks, as told by the man himself.
“One Block Bar”
I wrote this song earlier this year when I was living on the Bowery in New York City. I was quite literally going back and forth to my local watering hole on the block I lived and kept meeting all types of people that weren’t ever able to venture past the door. New York to me is really that way, everyone creates their own little pocket of life and going outside it becomes more and more difficult. “One Block Bar” really chronicles those imaginary borders we all seem to create no matter where we are.
“Warmest Winter” was written while I was out in Los Angeles and really living hard. I was burning the candle at both ends and beginning to miss the purity of mind that being out in the mountains brings. I’m personally always running towards or away to where I’m from. “Warmest Winter” is a letter to myself. “I might watch what I say if I could see my breath” is very telling for where I was at the time.
“Never Knew” is a culmination of all of what I’ve felt in the last few years traveling and trying to find out who I really am. I wanted to make sure the rhythm progression was moving straight ahead and reflected the journey we all are on. I tracked the guitar solo in a state of pure aggression. I love that this record is tracked live so it captures the emotion that was in the room.
“Lucky Strike” is the oldest song that is on this record. I wrote it in the middle of the night in Arizona and don’t think a single thing has changed from when the original ink was put to paper. I had to create this character of a man so I could try to change the path I was personally on. I’m very proud of this song as it captures the real meaning of “Tularosa,” which is love, longing and the eternal struggle that is within all of us.
“Eyes of Me”
“Eyes of Me” was written when I had just broken up with a beautiful woman in New York. We were totally inseparable and then boom, it was gone just as quickly as it came. I had the idea of a dirty, vicious guitar riff to counter the still seemingly loving lyrics. I enjoy the process of writing vulnerable lyrics over such an aggressive tone on guitar. I relate it to pushing away those we love the most.
“Two Headed Dog”
This song is a cover and my tribute to the great Roky Erikson. He pretty much invented psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll and is a rightful legend. He embodies everything about Texas music that I love and is the embodiment of truth. I’ve never even played another man’s song live so the idea of doing a cover is one I don’t take lightly. It is a complete honor to play Roky’s song and it’s great that he is finally getting the recognition he has always deserved.