New York’s saviors of blues rock, The Howlin’ Souls have been making waves since their formation in 2012 and not stopping the locomotive anytime soon. With comparisons to legendary artists as The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and John Mayall, their love for classic blues, R&B and Motown is evident in their latest single, “Anyway You Take It,” off their self-titled debut EP. The epic sound the band produces is slowly but surely taking with nation by storm as they prepare for the long journey in taking their music directly to the people. We caught up with lead vocalist and guitarist Peter Smith to talk about his adventure into music, the origins of the Howlin’ Souls and the upcoming shows slated for this summer in New York and Los Angeles.
Can you tell us about the origins of The Howlin’ Souls? Where did the musical adventure begin?
When I moved to New York, I met Nate (Lang), he’s the drummer. We were in a band together that broke up. Nate and I stuck together and started a new band and met Rob (Sokolowsky). We went through a few incarnations and finally we got Scott (Sepe). We played in a band and that band broke up and nothing happened. Then I joined another band and that band broke up. Then I had all these songs and called Nate and Rob and we needed a lead guitar player and found Scott on Craig’s List. Then we went straight into recording.
For The Howlin’ Souls, are you the main songwriter or is it collaborative?
So I write the songs and usually send them to Nate. Nate will help me with the lyrics. I’ll have the chorus or an idea of the melody and then Nate will improve on it. It’s collaboration that way. Rob comes in and adds his part and then Scott comes in and adds his part. So everybody contributes their own parts. Also, when I write a song it always ends up different. Like we did this song called “Anyway You Take It” that’s on the EP, I wrote it like a Keith Richards fast song but when the band played it, it sounded like “Miss You,” like a disco song. So it’s always changing, and when I play with the band, it ends up different.
The song “Anyway You Take It” is great single off the EP. What is this song about?
When I wrote it, “Anyway You Take It,” is about whatever you want to be, you can be you and its okay. People are too judgmental, maybe. Like all these isms going around. To me, it’s alright to be who you are as long as you’re not hurting other people. So that was kind of the idea to “Anyway You Take It.” The first words have nothing to do that. It was a collage of images from New York City.
You worked with the legendary Fritz Lang on this EP. Did he give you any advice on your work?
He gave me a lot of advice. I sat down and mixed the record with him, side by side. He showed me how to do it and any questions I had about compressors, reverb and all this stuff. He was very generous and I’d like to thank him for all his hard work and time put in.
Were there any challenges in making your first self-titled EP?
Yes, lots. We had 12 songs recorded. We recorded a full length album but are releasing it as EP’s and singles. We recorded a few times. It had taken a while.
How long did it take?
It’s been a few years since the first recording. We kind of recorded maybe once a year at a session. But off this first one, they are mainly newer songs. We’ll eventually release everything. We have a new single coming out soon called “Viva La Revolution.”
Is that that political song, by any chance?
Yes it is.
Are you guys into that or is that something that comes out?
I wouldn’t say we’re a political band but that song is more about what’s going on. The idea was that. There’s always a revolution but the revolution never fixes the problem.
They say being in a band is like a being in a family. How do you handle disagreements with the direction of a song, an album or the band?
It’s true, but we’ve known each other for so long that we’re past all that. We all have thick skin so we can be honest with each other and get through it and not take offense to it. There’s been other bands that I’ve been in where you have to walk on egg shells around people. With this band, it’s more open.
What has been your greatest rock star moment, so far?
I was on tour on the Lynard Skynard cruise, with my band Band of Thieves. It was a cruise ship and Lynard Skynard was the headliner with eight other bands. We were kind of a little popular in New York and people kind of knew us here and there but when I got off the boat, people wanted my autograph.
That must have been fun for you.
Well, that was just a taste of it.
Is there any advice you have for new bands just starting out?
Make sure you really want to do it. You don’t make any money at first and it’s hard to make money still. Even nowadays, no one really pays for music. I would say record some songs and try to get them played. Just record them at home and if it works, it works right away. Don’t waste your time if it’s not working. I think that’s good advice.
What is next for The Howlin’ Souls?
We’re doing a video for you the song “Free and Young.” That will be out soon. We’re shooting and editing, so however long that takes. The “Viva La Revolution” single is also coming out. Then we have a New York show at Pianos Bar on July 8th and a show at The Resident on August 8th.