In their decade plus together, Smile Empty Soul has certainly been through a lot. From months straight on the road to numerous line-up changes along the way, the band has pretty much seen it all. That said, the group seems to have adjusted comfortably into being a three-piece in recent years after experimenting with a fourth band member in 2006 and 2007. After nearly three years since their previous release Vultures, SES are getting set to release their fourth studio album Consciousness at the end of August. As per usual, the group has a ton of tour dates lined up for the rest of 2009 and well into 2010. Recently we caught up with frontman Sean Danielsen for a very quick interview on what’s going on with SES these days.
Smile Empty Soul has been together now for over a decade. How did the band members initially meet?
Sean: We all met in the local band scene in Santa Clarita, California back in 1998, then in 2006 Jake Kilmer replaced our old drummer but Ryan had already known Jake since they were both like 11 or something.
Some would consider Smile Empty Soul a post-grunge band. Who would you say were your most significant musical influences growing up?
Sean: I would say the grunge scene was a huge influence on all of us; I was listening to ”Dirt” by Alice In Chains earlier today in fact.
Your new album Consciousness is due out towards the end of the summer. How do you feel about the album now that it’s complete?
Sean: I love our new record, I’m so proud and feel like it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. I can’t wait to hear what other people think of it.
How does Consciousness compare to your three previous studio albums? What would you say is different about it?
Sean: Consciousness is the most mature record we’ve made in so many ways. I feel like anyone who likes Smile Empty Soul already will love the new album but it also has something that I hope will pull a lot of new people in.
I have read that the band self-produced Consciousness. Is this true? If so, why did you decide to not hire a producer and do it on your own?
Sean: Actually the record was produced by Eddie Wohl, who’s amazing and really brought a lot to the table.
Now the release date of Consciousness has been pushed back a few times to where it now is scheduled to be released August 25th. What are the reasons for the delays?
Sean: The album took a long time to mix, and when it comes to the mix, it has to be right.
What was the writing and recording process like for Consciousness? When did you start making the album and how many songs did you write/record?
Sean: We went into the studio to start cutting drums in November of 2008, and finished the last touches of the recording process at the end of January 2009. We tracked 17 songs that we chose from twenty something we had written over the last year and a half. The writing and recording process was really laid back and relaxed, it was a great experience.
The band was a four-piece for quite a while but upon the departure of Mike Booth, you’ve remained a three-piece. Why did you decide not to replace Mike?
Sean: Adding Mike was kind of an experiment. He joined in 2006 and was in the band for a year, but in the end the personal and musical chemistry just works better with me, Ryan and Jake.
What are your touring plans like for the rest of the year? What do you have scheduled so far?
Sean: We’re hitting the road in late July with Saliva.
What else does Smile Empty Soul have planned for the rest of 2009 and in to 2010?
Sean: We should be on the road and doing whatever it takes to make this record a success.