Dallas Smith about to hit tipping point of success

Over a decade of success with hits like Wasting My Time, Dallas Smith, the lead singer for Default, felt just as the song title suggests.

“I was in arenas, playing where many guys would want to be. I was miserable. I hated it,” said Smith, who was on tour at the time with Three Days Grace.

Appreciative of the opportunity but sick of what was going on with rock radio, he started talking with his producer Joey Moi about switching things up. From rock to country doesn’t seem like a natural jump, but for Smith it was.

“I was worried about catching flak for making the switch but I didn’t. We went down to Nashville and worked with the right people and if those guys accept you to come in and write with them then most people follow suit,” said Smith.

Smith admits he isn’t much one for talking, but put a microphone in his hand and he will knock your socks off. In fact, it took about a case of beer and one of his favourite songs for Smith to work up the courage to sing in front of his friends for the first time at a party.

Before that only his shower walls and maybe his cat had heard him bellow a note. It wasn’t soon after that party Smith became the lead singer of the band Default, which shot to fame within a year, selling more than one million records in the U.S.

Used to writing with a band, solo songwriting was a 180 degree change from what the former grunge rocker did.

“For me, as I have gotten older, I really appreciate the story that is being told through country music and lyrics are more important, if not the most important thing,” said Smith, who adds a spark of rock to his style of energetic country.

It is not something he is unfamiliar with though. Spending his pre-Default days toiling as a sheet metal worker, Smith had grown up listening to a staple of ‘90s and early 2000 country superstars. His mom filled the family home with sounds of The Judds, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks and Brooks & Dunn among others. With a natural drawl in his voice, he jumped right into the genre just as his well received album of the same name states.

“I love the fact that in country, the focus is on your voice and on the lyrics,” he said. “No matter what you’re singing about and how you’re dressed, the song is the most important. And, it’s perfectly suited to my type of voice.”

Canadians feel the same way. Smith has two gold singles in Jumped Right In and Tippin Point, which made its American country debut last October.  The infectious party anthem was penned by Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, along with Jaren Johnston and produced by Moi.

The album Jumped Right In earned a Juno Award nomination for Country Album of the Year and five 2013 Canadian Country Music Association award nominations.

A new EP Tippin Point is about to be released, contained with songs that are upbeat and Smith hopes will become staples of the summer. Smith has already played 25 dates with Florida Georgia Line last year in the U.S. and he will pick right back up with them when they kick off their Canadian dates in Abbotsford on April 9, followed with a stop at the South Okanagan Events Centre on April 10.

“I had met them through my producer who worked with them too. I have gotten to know them really well, and it is nice of them to think of me when they are writing a song but also that they liked what I did with the song enough that they have taken me on tour. It is a big pat on the back from one of the biggest country acts out there,” said Smith. “I can’t wait to see how crazy the Canadian fans get for these guys.”

One of the biggest surprises for the devout Vancouver Canucks fan in these past whirlwind years is all the love he has received on Twitter.

“A lot of the Canadian hockey players grew up in small towns where country music was a big part of their life and I am finding out guys like Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche) and Bob Mackenzie (editor of Hockey News) have been giving me shoutouts. I haven’t actually met them, but Matt and I message each other once in awhile and I think he is actually coming to the show in Abbotsford because his team has a few days off.”

Florida Georgia Line with opening acts Dallas Smith and Chris Lane are performing at the SOEC on April 10.

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