Chicago’s Smith Westerns have been one of the media’s favorite buzzbands this year, touring constantly in support of their acclaimed new album Dye it Blonde. Playing to sold out crowds everywhere from local venues to SXSW can be wild, but the young band seems to take it all in stride. Their 2009 debut fused 70’s glam with garage rock, an ambitious and enthralling venture for a bunch of kids who couldn’t buy a beer by the time of its release.
The foursome formed in 2007 as an experiment by Max Kakacek and Cullen Omori, fellow students at Chicago’s Northside College Preparatory School. The pair had garnered an interest in ’60s garage rock via compilations like Nuggets and Back from the Grave, and as they began picking up guitar technique, they drafted Cameron Omori, Cullen’s brother, to play bass. With the three members rotating on drums, Smith Westerns was born. The band’s loyal cult following was formed playing house shows and parties, but soon the band was steady enough to be booked into some of Chicago’s better rock clubs, including Schuba’s and the Empty Bottle. 2008 saw the addition of a full-time drummer in Hal James, and a signing to local label HoZac records.
Following the release of their 2009 debut and a tour with Nobunny, Smith Westerns released a split single on Fat Possum with The Magic Kids, a release that showcased a more polished sound that led to the slick, jangle-pop rock of their full length debut, Dye it Blonde. See their garage rock tunes take life with an intimate live performance at the KEXP studios below: