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Nebraska Tried to Kill Them: How Smitten for Trash Survived Deadly Heat, Shrapnel, and a Broken Van

(EDITOR’S NOTEShortly before taking the stage at Timeless Babez on Sept. 12, singer-guitarist Jd Crossman and multi-instrumentalist Robin Killgore — who make up the folk-punk duo Smitten for Trash — were kind enough to speak with 1120 Press about their extensive touring schedule this past summer, the new album they're working on, and the near-disastrous but ultimately rewarding events they encountered and overcame while out west. It was a great talk and we’re thankful for their time. — Photos provided by band and by Matt Smith)

1120 Press: Over the last four months you’ve been on a couple of tours now, which have taken you from New York to as far out as Wyoming and all points in between. How many states have you played since May and what’s the experience been like?

Jd: I think we’ve been in 10 states in the last four months.

Robin: (counting off in the background) … Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Ohio, New York …

Jd: The first tour was awesome. It was kind of rainy in the beginning but we never had any van issues or anything. This last tour, it was a lot shorter, but it was full of disasters. We hit a heat wave in Nebraska (during which several days exceeded 100 degrees, killing livestock and forcing evacuations across the state at places such as nursing homes.)

We also have a saying now: ‘Nebraska tried to kill us.’ Like literally, we were going to die in Nebraska it was so hot. The van was just falling apart. Then after Nebraska, the van kept overheating and we thought it was just because of the temperature, but we’d blown the water pump, so we had to fix that in Colorado. And then I got metal in my eye when I was underneath the van working.

Robin: So, then he had to go for emergency surgery because I couldn’t dig it out.

Jd: Yeah, I ended up getting the whole job on the van done in time to go to the show that night, but we couldn’t get the metal out of my eye so I ended up in the hospital. I needed emergency surgery so we had to miss that show (in Colorado) obviously. But that was the only show we missed. We were going to cancel the rest of the tour because of my eye. It was all messed up. I had gel in it and everything. But then we were like: ‘Well, we’re already this far out, so…’ We ripped to Wyoming and we’re glad we did because it was awesome for us experience-wise. The people who hosted us made us feel really at home.

Robin: It was in an underground fallout-style diner with a dancefloor and a bunch of mirrors all over. It was very surreal. The weather was surreal too. We saw three rainbows on the way there, we went through the High Plains with these intense thunderstorms and winds, and there was a meteor that had struck by us that night, we found out later.

Jd: During the May tour, (which covered the Midwest), there was nothing that went wrong at all. Every show was amazing. This second tour though? It was filled with a lot of turmoil — but, it was so worth it.

1120: So how many miles have you racked up on the van since May?

Jd: 11,560. (laughs)

1120: You’re a mechanic though, right? So, thank God for that. Jd: Well, yeah. Right. As long as I can get my hands on parts. We were luckily in a city when the van broke down, but Ubers wouldn’t let dogs in the cars so we had to walk (to get the parts). We had to walk two miles each way and backpack the parts back to where the van was. It was brutal.

Robin: We had to walk two miles, uphill, both ways… (laughs)

1120: Musically speaking, what was your experience on the road, at the venues and with the people who came out to see you?

Robin: Incredible. People were really welcoming.

Jd: Yeah, it was awesome. We’ve been fortunate enough to gain so much exposure in such little time because of how amazing the scenes in each place were.

Robin: I do wish we could get to know people better, but there just isn’t any time. Everybody was so accommodating to us and amazing.

Jd: Looking forward, we want to go down south and make connections there sometime this upcoming year, hopefully.

1120: And you guys are now writing new material and going into the studio for a new album that will be coming out soon, right?

Jd: We have a full LP coming out in the beginning of 2024. Hopefully it will be sooner but I think it’s going to be January 2024. It’s going to have 10 tracks on it and it’s going to be heavy. It’s a lot heavier than any of the other stuff we’ve ever released. It’ll have some old tracks on it too. It might have more than 10, including bonus tracks.

1120: Where are you recording?

Jd: We’re recording at Watchmen Studios in Lockport with Doug White. He does an amazing job.

1120: How’s the writing going? And what’s your process like?

Jd: So, right now, we’re still in the midst of writing two more brand new songs for the album, but the writing process itself has been smooth. We brainstorm everything instrumentally. We just mess around a bit and let things just kind of form. But I will have lyrics and thoughts on how I want to portray them. And then Robin’s just an instrumental genius.

Robin: He’ll come to me with something and if it doesn’t feel right on the banjo, maybe I’ll play clarinet. I just started playing viola now too.

Jd: This album is going to sound very full. But not too full. What we’re doing now for tracking is Robin is playing bass lines on bass guitar over top of the tracks to give them some more depth.

1120: You guys have worked with Doug at Watchmen before. What do you like about working with him?

Jd: He’s just super great. He’s so patient.

Robin: Yeah, he’s just so easygoing and he just seems to psychically know all the time where to go with us. He just seems to know.

1120: Is there any theme or subject matter you guys are exploring on this album?

Jd: This one is sort of all over the place because it includes some older songs.

Robin: I think just going heavier with our sound on this one is what we’re trying to get the most out of.

Jd: Lyrically it jumps all over the place. We sing about addiction. We sing about being in the woods. Everything. It varies. But yeah, this will be our fourth release and this album, in terms of the sound and the number of tracks, is going to be the big one.

1120: We don’t want to keep you any longer since you are about to take the stage. Thanks so much for your time. Is there anything else you want to add that we haven’t touched on?

Jd: Hmmm… I don’t think so. Just, check us out if you want on Spotify and all the other platforms. And give us a follow on social media. We appreciate everyone’s support.


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