Stockyard Sessions: Shane Smith on Why the Last Five Years Have Been Much Better than His First 10 as a Musician

Shane Smith and his fiddle player have been making music for 15 years and his band, Shane Smith and the Saints, have been together for 13 or 14.

In that time period, they’ve overcome theft, fires, dramatic vocal changes, and more, but it all lead them to present times, where there are now opportunities aplenty.

The Texas-based group, who have more than 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify, recently headlined Fort Worth’s Syndicate Smokehouse and we caught up with Shane Smith right before that show.

TCC: If you had to describe the last 15 years, how would you describe it?

SS: Pure chaos. Unorganized, throwing darts at the wall. Blowing out tires, blowing out trailer axels, just non-stop. And honestly, we all just kind of block it out of our memory collectively as a band, we’ve just been through so much stuff together.

TCC: If you had to pin down some of those turning points, those big ups and downs, what would some of those be?

SS: Essentially everything just hit a really bad down spiral for us in like late 2019. We had a team member that we caught stealing money from us, and we didn’t have money at the time to steal, just very bad timing for that. We got audited by the IRS that year, we just didn’t have our stuff together, didn’t have records to show how much money we were losing at the time. And then, our bus fire happened in November 2019 and we essentially lost all of our gear. And by gear, I even mean like our car keys. We got with new management immediately after that out of Denver called 7S Management and then a new booking agency after that and little stuff started going well for us and it never stopped. Every month was good news and from our perspective, really good news. Whether it was a festival that wanted us to to come play or it was getting music featured on Yellowstone for the first time.

TCC: How has your music changed and evolved over time?

SS: I think we started off as a much more traditional Texas Country sound. A little more country. And over the years, you tour with bands from all over the world and you listen to all kinds of music, you meet all kinds of people, you go to all kinds of places and that changes who you are as a person, I don’t care who you are, you are influenced by who you surround yourself with. I think our sound has opened up to be a much broader sound and more of an indie rock band than just a country band.

TCC: I was listening to a podcast you were on and you mentioned that there was a voice struggle that has changed the way you sing too…

SS: Yeah, 100 percent. My voice now sounds way different than it did when we first started. If you listen to our first album and hear my voice from our first album to this one, I sound like an old man now. It’s gotten way deeper, way rougher, and it’s because I just did a ton of damage on it from the years of 200something shows a year type of touring. My voice couldn’t keep up. And then I got with this vocal therapist and she showed me how to train it back and take care of it, and it’s landed me in this good spot now where I can keep it really consistent.

TCC: There’s a lot of songs on (your new album Norther), that had to take some time…

SS: A couple of them we released during COVID like Fire in the Ocean and Hummingbird, so our fans had really soaked those songs in for a year or two and then we just kept adding to that. And they all sound a little different, if you go down the list, it’s a very wide range of stuff.

TCC: What’s next, what can fans look forward to?

SS: I think right now it’s just trying to keep up and keep touring and taking cool opportunities, we’ve got a lot coming up later this year, a lot of it we haven’t gotten to announce yet and so everything’s looking good. Already working on new music again, hopefully we’ll have even more new music to come in the not-so-distant future.

Parts of this interview have been condensed for clarity. You can follow Shane Smith and the Saints on social media here and listen to their music here.