Aiden Smith got his first drum kit before most kids start kindergarten. From that point on music became his thing but he wasn’t the only musically inclined in the Smith household. His brother, Connor also had skills to bring to the table. With that, the wheels started turning and today they’re part of the foundation that makes Groundstate. A band that came for my inner 16-year-old in her ‘Invader Zim’ tee with a Fruitopia in one hand and an Incubus CD in the other. They’re here to revitalize a style of rock and we talked about that, as well as working together without any sibling rivalries, their latest single “Floating Away,” and more like what it was like to work with producer extraordinaire, Jim Wirt
Kendra: When it came to being involved in music, were one of you in the school band first or something like that, and then the other saw and said, hey…I wanna do that too?
Aiden: Well, we both loved music from an early age, thanks to our dad playing his CDs in the car for us when we were little kids. Growing up listening to everything from Incubus and the first few Linkin Park CDs to stuff like Seal and Moby, I think we quickly both developed an appreciation for lots of different types of music and just the power of music in general to convey different emotions. Then when I was about four I was given my first drum kit and it kind of just went from there.
Kendra: Whenever siblings are working this closely together I think, couldn’t be me…I love my brothers but we can’t even get through a board game without some sort of fight. Do you have an internal switch you can flip when it comes to music that makes you focus on the writing and recording and not so much the little things we tend to do that can rub our siblings the wrong way?
Aiden: Yes and no. Right now, at this point in our career and having been in a band together for nine years, we’ve gotten good at being able to separate personal stuff from band stuff and have learned how to treat each other the way we would if we were in the same band but weren’t brothers. It definitely wasn’t always that way, though. We used to bicker constantly, verbal fights at every single band practice that sometimes came to blows. We used to literally be like the brothers from Oasis haha! We’ve mellowed out now and we get a lot more done so it’s a win-win.
Kendra: So your sound immediately took me back to the good ol’ days of Hot Topic, right in the center of my high school experience when I was borrowing my friend’s Taproot albums. This style of rock was everywhere in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s but has since sort of left the mainstream. Of course, the tides are always changing so what made you say, trends be damned – we’re keeping this style alive and well for a new generation?
Aiden: It’s just the kind of music that we’ve always loved the most. Bands like Taproot, A Perfect Circle, Onesidezero, Hoobastank, all had something in common to us, and it was the ability to weave beautiful melodies and harmonies into heavy, aggressive music. When Connor and I started writing music, that’s just the kind of stuff that came out and it’s become a huge part of who we are. When we try to translate our messages and emotions into music, it comes out as heavy rock that has as much melody as it does aggression and energy.
Kendra: Which, you are with two albums already out in the world and a new single this year, but it’s been a minute since your last album. It dropped in the before times AKA 2019 and in between then and now A LOT has happened. Did any of the chaos of the world at hand inspire your 2023 single “Floating Away?”
Aiden: For sure. We wanted to come back in a BIG way after the whole Covid thing and just really deliver a record for our fans that was the best, most passionate album we could possibly put together. We used those years to grow and refine our sound, polish the rough edges, and experiment with new sounds and styles that we hadn’t had the courage to explore in the past. The result was the record I think we’ve always wanted to make. Third time’s a charm.
Kendra: With that, you’re also gearing up for another release this year. Are we talking LP, EP? And you’re working on that with Jim Wirt, who’s worked with the likes of Incubus and Hoobastank. Was there anything non-music related he said that you took to heart that you’ll utilize from here on out?
Aiden: We’ve got a whole new record, baby. We’re so stoked to put it out this year and just let the fans have at it. I think it’s going to really broaden our appeal and gain us a lot of new followers. Working with Jim has been amazing. I can hardly consider it working, but I guess it technically is because through all of the drinking and fucking around we somehow always magically end up with perfectly produced and recorded songs hahaha.
Jim is literally one of my best friends in the world, he calls me almost every day just to catch up and he’s taught us so, so much about music and everything that comes with it. We’ve got a lot of love for that guy. I know the Centershift guys feel the same way, as does pretty much every band that Jim has ever worked with. He’s family, for sure.
Kendra: Time for a side note – So Easter is my favorite holiday. Don’t ask me what the holiday is actually about because it’s only my favorite. After all, I love Spring and the candy is top-notch. With that, if you were to receive an Easter basket, what sweet treat and album on vinyl would you hope was in said basket?
Aiden: I’d like to end up with a bunch of Cadbury Creme Eggs and ‘Clumsy’ by Our Lady Peace on LP. I’ve got the CD but that’s one I’d love to have on vinyl. Pretty sure Connor has the vinyl, so Connor, feel free to take this as your cue to try and cram that record into my Easter basket. Connor loves Peeps and Black Licorice jelly beans, and I’m pretty sure he’d love some good old Barry Manilow in his basket.
Kendra: Lastly, with “Floating Away” out now and more on the way, what else can people expect as we continue into Spring and soon into Summer?
Aiden: People can expect us to keep putting out some kickass music, at regular increments, for the rest of our natural-born lives. And even after that, you might get a few posthumous releases. This music is our life, and we’re just getting started. Anyone who’s on board with us now should strap in for the next 70 or so years and rock out with us the whole way. We’re never stopping, no matter what. And that is a promise.