Two new Elliott Smith reissues are on the way next month, so now is as good a time as any to point to a rare, recently-unearthed interview from a pivotal time in the late singer-songwriter’s career. Dead Melodies posted this Q&A and music video feature with Smith’s first post-High School rock band, Heatmiser, which they believe was filmed on January 1, 1996 in Portland, Oregon.
Though I’m not entirely sure their date is correct, the year is what makes this most compelling: Smith had already released two solo albums on indie labels, at this point, while Heatmiser were prepping their Virgin Records debut, Mic City Sons (an album that was ultimately released on Caroline Records). As subsequent interviews suggest, Smith’s solo success was causing some tensions between he and co-frontman Neil Gust during this time, which contributed to the band’s demise. None of those tensions are apparent in this interview, however, as all three bandmates appear in good spirits throughout the clips featured.
“I liked Kiss and the Beatles,” Smith says of his earliest music idols, “and wanted to be in Kiss and the Beatles.” That’s just one of a couple quotes we could pull from this extraordinary video. Here’s Elliott on his income from songwriting at the time: “I’ve gotten two checks from [licensing company] BMI. One was for, like, 12 dollars and one was, this recent one, for, like, 7 dollars and 80 cents or something.”
“But even that’s, like, more than I’d really expect,” drummer Tony Lash adds.
Watch it here.