On the surface, Jake Smith may seem like the name of a guy you used to know in high school, a guy who lives on the same street as you, but, today, we’re not talking about just any Jake Smith. We’re speaking about Jake Smith aka The White Buffalo, the ever-talented singer, songwriter, guitarist and storyteller. Oh, did we mention he’s also an Emmy nominee? With five album releases and three EPs, The White Buffalo has etched out a place within the space of enlightening singer-songwriters who couldn’t care less about what the mainstream thinks, or what people are listening to. Smith is confident in his abilities and only seeks to engage listeners through truth-telling and imagination.
You’ll absorb all of this and more on The White Buffalo’s brand new, sixth studio album, On The Widow’s Walk, which dropped on April 17th. This just might be Smith’s best work to date, and we don’t say that just because he’s promoting it, but rather because On The Widow’s Walk is a collaborative album recorded with the legendary Shooter Jennings as producer, piano, and keyboard player. It wasn’t as if he and Shooter went way back either. Despite their longtime mutual respect, they only met shortly before they started working together and, after one day of chatting and drinking, Smith and Jennings were so enthused that they set out to record together.
Speaking of drinking, we decided to forgo the typical Q&A and, instead, spoke with The White Buffalo in our latest 190 Proof interview about his drinks of choice, a memorable (or unmemorable) alcohol-related stage incident, and of course, his worst ever hangover.
Describe your worst hangover, ever.
Jake Smith: “After a shot’s challenge in college with Southern Comfort being the leading lady, 38 in total. Woke up naked, face-up, in Jesus Christ pose. Can’t even smell Southern Comfort to this day.”
How long can you hold a Keg Stand?
“My Keg stand days are over… Not to say I haven’t logged a few lifetime. Was never a big fan though. I have however been reintroduced to shotgunning beers. I’d say I’m competitive.”
Do you like to write music with some drink in you? If yes, what?
“For the most part, I like to keep a clear head when writing. That being said you never know when creative inspiration will arrive. Many beginnings lyrics and melodies have come with a little booze on board.”
If you had to name your band after an alcohol/specific drink brand, what would you call yourselves? You can combine names/mix & match if you want!
“The White Russian Buffalo. An homage to Lebowski.”
Best (or worst) drunk band story? Go!
“Years and years ago. I once had a backing band where I was the most sober one of the bunch. Called them the Hangmen. They used to bring their own cooler filled with beer and liquor and put it on stage. At one particular gig in north county, San Diego, the drummer passed out and amazingly continued playing and the guitar player pissed his pants. Not the tightest gig to say the least.”
Best (or worst) booze-related on-stage fiasco?
“Super early in my career, during my couch surfing years, I double booked two shows in one day. The early show was some corporate private with an open bar and no one giving two shits about me. I ended up hiding my discomfort in shots of Tequila. I did not fare well at the second show at a club in Long Beach. Falling, blacked out, off the stage.”
What’s the worst (or best) dive bar where you’ve ever gone drinking?
“I love dive bars. There’s a tiny five to six-seat bar in Spokane, Washington called The Riff. That one is good fun. I’m not sure if it still exists. Fingers crossed.”
If the world was coming to an end what would be your drink of choice to watch it all burn?
“Tequila is my fast and furious drink. I’m a Reposado man. I like them smooth but still with a little burn. That a good pairing with the end of the world.”
What was your drink of choice when starting out, and what is it now?
“When I was young and broke and just started drinking you could get a 40 oz of King Cobra for 0.99 cents. It was terrible but would do the trick. Now I drink what I call dad beers. Beers in the less than 6 percent ABV range. Hoppy pale ales, Pilsners, and Kölsch.”
Best drink to get you obliterated?
“I had a few mind erasers the other day. It had probably been a 20-year hiatus without one. Things were a little foggy after a few. It will be another 20 until I revisit.”
How long does it take you to detox when coming off the road?
“It takes two to three days to acclimate from tour/travel life. It’s not exactly detoxing from booze but just that lifestyle of travel, performance, party. It’s hard work. Every day is Saturday night. That cycle makes reality and the calendar start to blur a bit. Kids will put you in check pretty quick.”
What’s your worst/best puke story?
“When I was in school at one of my first parties I projectile vomited after doing a five to six beer capacity beer bong. Shot a tube of puke all over the yard and some on my shirt. I was oddly wearing two t-shirts and just stripped off the top layer and threw it on the roof and went back to business as usual.”
What’s your favourite “guilty pleasure” drink? (ex: Pina Coladas)
“Maybe my favourite thing, all-time, is a swim-up bar and a Pina Colada. Throw in a water slide and call it a vacation.”