“I’m here in Cali right now and it’s going great. I’m just toking up, gettin’ nice, writing music hanging out in the sunset” Jay Smiles Schmidt, Bassist of The Movement tells me before a thoughtful pause, “I should have made the move a long time ago”.
In that moment, from my own time recently spent along the Pacific Ocean, it was an easy escape in my mind to the cloudless and care-free essence of Southern California. I felt the familiar sense of San Diego through Jay’s voice over the phone, “There’s nothing like it at all, I love it out here. Being a musician, any sort of artist, you need this environment to produce your proper thoughts, clearly. It’s great.”
Over two months ago, MusicBailout caught up with Jay when the news broke that Jordan Miller, Lead Singer of The Movement would be leaving the band. At the time, there was a lot of confusion amongst not just the fans and friends, but an obvious distress within the band itself existed. We didn’t publish anything at that time. More recently, and if you follow Jay Smiles on Twitter and or/ Instagram (If not, you should, highly entertaining), you would know that he has moved to California and is full of energy, continuously flowing with encouraging words and pictures that new music is on it’s way. Jay was great enough reconnect and update MusicBailout with all the exciting news coming out of the West with The Movement, Smiles Project and in life.
“Just touring and really being all over, California and places like Colorado and the Islands, these places all stick out in my head. We’ve been touring so much, now I’m finally here. I’m at the Movement Compound out here in Valley Center, California, that’s what we’re calling it and it’s what we were just talking about, putting yourself in a free environment. It’s on the top of a mountain, it’s all scenery. We have an in-house studio and I’m going to be living here full time. It’s all about moving forward and we have a lot of good stuff going on.”
This is thrilling news for not only the many fans but the band itself who was faced with such uncertainty in an instant back in early spring. With constant touring, pouring their hearts out on stage night after night, city after city, the amount of fans, friends and industry contacts The Movement touched while building presence for a new record was immense. This is a band that jumped over 20,000 Facebook likes in a quick year and a half, have hit #1 on iTunes charts, sold out shows, played festivals, and were set to potentially not only influence the music scene itself, but truly impact the world, it’s listeners and how people live their lives. They did that for me and that’s why I believed.
The Movement is not just one of my favorites, but as a group, I’ve always felt they could honestly take on the world charts. Between the instrumental versatility and the lyrical consciousness, plus formidable stage presence and obvious good time they have as friends, The Movement speaks truth through their music and it’s always been something I personally connect with. They truly play(ed) a vital role in changing my own life through their music, I’m aware of this being true for many others as well, as this is what music is for, inspiration And The Movement is full of it. When the highly anticipated One More Night dropped this spring, it was not just the fans but the whole music arena felt alive with excitement.
That well deserved momentum halted on 4/20/2012, a day of usual celebration, with the news that Jordan Miller, lead singer, would be leaving the band. Drama ensued, it was a mass frenzy of phones calls, tweets, Facebook updates and every other communicative effort by many to try and decipher what had happened. In this world where passion is undervalued and results far too measured, people tend to judge, react rashly and jump to conclusions. Onlookers were confused, and rightly so because the band itself was extremely distraught. However, anyone who says The Movement is no longer, lead singer change or not, than in fact does not know the definition of the word, movement. Nothing is the end all, be all. Life flows on in constant motion, with continuous change all around us. There is no final result, our livelihood should be measured by our present selves and not based on assumptions or expectations uncontrollable into the future. The Movement moves on, “I’m not going to have one person stop my career. I have so much love and so many friends; I consider my fans my friends, they support me and that’s how I make my living. If it wasn’t for them than, damn I got nothing. It’s just all about the music and everything comes after that, people lose sight of that really quickly.” Jay says to open up our hour long discussion.
Despite the last few months of uncertainty, the clarity Jay speaks with today is telling of how ambiguity has transformed with time into solid plans for the future. Talking more about his new home, The Movement Compound, he goes on to officially state, “The Movement, they’re all going to be staying with me here. It’s Johnny Bowling (Keys), Gary Jackson (Drums), Joshua Swain (lead singer) and myself”, confirming the mentions that have been flying across the interweb for weeks about Swain’s possible return. “It’s going to be crazy! Josh is coming out here from South Carolina, he’s such a good dude, he’ll be out here August 1st, everything should be great and we’re starting a new Movement record with Joshua.”
Whether or not the next passion piece record is labeled, “The Movement” or not (there has not been a decision in the camp), that’s exactly what the word movement means: Progress, development, a direction and appropriately defined as, “a change of position or location of troops”. In this case, The Movement troop has already experienced a change position prior to Miller’s departure, when original Co-founder Josh Swain left the band to focus on family several years ago, obviously, a trying moment and a difficult decision to accept by each member of the band at the time, including Josh himself. Through the years however, The Movement persevered and not only survived but prospered, and with Josh’s encouragement each step of the way.
“It’s cool because we just put out One More Night and it was a blast recording that. As far as going to Atlanta, we loved that, I love that record. It’s much more mature obviously, One More Night is, more of a Jordan style album. This is going to be way more energetic. Just Josh, as far as songs Cold Outside, Sweet Summertime, all that beach vibe feel is Joshua. I love the dude, he’s super humble and great with the crowd, he’s awesome. So we’re really excited to get this new record recorded. As of right now, it’s The Movement. Jordan quit the band. We didn’t choose that to
happen at all, he just came out and quit the band and gave us two hour notice. Pretty much, when Josh quit, Jordan preserved us the last 2-3 years and now Jordan decides to go solo and now Joshua is going to sustain us. Josh made up the name The Movement too, it’s only proper.”
Perhaps not everyone was ready for this movement, however, with the departure of Jordan, the actuality of struggles he faces become real. Each word in every song on One More Night becomes magnified; suddenly the impetuous announcement doesn’t seem so abrupt anymore. When songs on One More Night essentially tell the story leading to the decision, it’s clear that Jordan had evolved himself, personally and deeply which contrasts from what we all know of The Movement sound, the surf rock positive party fun tunes we expect. No open letters or interviews can really explain the decision more than actually listening to One More Night and in my opinion, it makes the album that much more powerful. The validity through and through cannot be denied and it’s special to feel that. It’s also extraordinary to understand the evolution of a band as people and that this group of guys has grown through change to become something new, over and over again already. This is evidence enough that they will continue to do that with Josh Swain back in action. This Movement, is very much alive.
“I mean this has been a blessing in disguise really. It’s truly been a blessing. We all wished Jordan the best on his career and everything and that’s just what he wants to do, he wants to do his own music, that’s totally cool. It was the whole situation how it went down though.” As much as we all want to know what exactly went down, I wasn’t planning on focusing on Miller’s departure, however it is the impetus for growth, new music and this conversation particularly and Jay was candid enough to dive into it:
“I’m just going to come out and say it because I don’t hold back anything, it’s just how it goes but a lot of his decision has to do with how we as a band decided to part ways with our Manager, Marshall Lowe. There was a lot of shady business going down between Jordan and Marshall, that we didn’t need to know about. As far as Jordan getting a lot more money than what we were getting paid and it’s like, come on we’re a band, we’re family. I really wish Jordan would have stuck by the decision that we agreed on. He agreed in private with us and on the conversation with Marshall when we cut ties. And we did that because every time we would ask homeboy a question he would give us the same answer, for some reason or another he would get us to believe at the end of the conversation that he was right or doing the right thing but nothing was happening. It was like what’s up with this or what’s up with that, but he wasn’t working with us. We got slowly fed up with it and we realized we’re going nowhere with this guy.
In talking with some other management leads and possibilities, people kept giving us 311 Manager, Adam Raspler’s name saying that he might be interested. All of a sudden we’re invited onto the 311 Cruise and we’re like fuck yeah, it’s on. Marshall was fired a day before that happened so I’m sure he called up Jordan during all that. It was just really shady how everything went down. So basically, what happened was Marshall came at Jordan with some sort of deal, he’s a promoter and if Jordan takes the heat, he’s going to continue to put money in Jordan’s pocket. Super negative energy, I never want to work with Marshall Lowe again. I’m so glad we don’t have any ties with him anymore. So, I mean it’s all about the positive energy and The Movement again.
I can just say positivity. All around. That’s what’s going to make us or break us in everyone’s life. You just got to stay positive and give off that energy. There was always a dark cloud over Jordan, he’s his own person I don’t know what to say, he doesn’t really fit in that clique, he just doesn’t. I mean listen to the songs, “When the Feeling Goes Away” and “One More Night”, as an artist that’s what came out of him, lyrically. It’s frustrating because there’s a lot of back and forth now like this is mine or whatever, talking about the album. It’s like I don’t think so, all those nights we were ALL in the studio together writing all those songs. We were a family. It’s just crazy how someone can be so forgetful but hey, like I said I wish him the best, right now I couldn’t see us working together any time soon. I mean, myself and the guys, we just have no tolerance. I have a son, Gary has 2 sons, Johnny is way deep into a relationship, so is Joshua and myself as well, we don’t have time for nonsense like that.”
Jay speaks without anger, but with sincere frustration and genuine loss of a friend. He tells of the hours before what turned out to be their last show in Spartanburg, South Carolina when Jordan quit, “he said “I want to go home, I need to get help, get healthy” and we all know he had a couple shows booked with Glove, it was obvious what was happening” After news broke, a battle on the social media front led to Jordan posting the following on The Movement’s Facebook:
“Hey fans, just wanted to formally apologize for all of this craziness. I love this band. From the day Josh and I started, I have loved it, but this was a decision I had to make for myself to make me happy. I know this hurts a lot of people and it makes me ill to think about letting fans and my brothers down. I just need some time off to re-group and get healthy to the point where I am truly happy and able to continue what we started. I'm sorry for the timing but hope you all can understand. I am so grateful for everything! I love our fans and I love the Movement. Please accept my apologies and thank you for all your support!! See you guys soon!
Jay continuing, “I finally responded to an e-mail he wrote, because he’s looking for some sort of reaction, out of me, out of anybody in the band and nobody is giving him any thing. He’s chomping at the bit bugging out and he decides to write an email to everybody, but didn’t include Joshua. I wrote back, “Dude, don’t insult our friends and fans, they’re way smart they know what’s going on they know what happened.” Everyone is coming to me asking about Jordan in rehab or going to get help like he said, and now he’s playing solo shows.
With all of this said, I want the readers to be clear that there is no objective behind this explicit conversation with Jay beyond the fact that this is how he’s expressed how things occurred. In order to include fans and move forward together with The Movement, it’s fundamental to understand, from the center of the crew, what happened. If you know J Smiles, acting in a blunt fashion is how J Smiles always is. Joshua Swain regains the reigns as The Movement’s front-man, bringing his style, influence, voice and mind to the studio and stage. Re-focusing toward to future, I ask Jay about how he sees the project working out as far as recording in California and the process for creating new material, and in that classic Smiles blunt fashion, replies, “Dude, let me just light this L real quick, it’s almost out and I’ll just answer that question… (Silence, followed by a snap and deep breath)… Thanks man, my blunt was going out on me. Alright, back in business”. Fantastic.
“So the process, it’s going down like this...How I envision it, this is how me and Josh envision it. Josh is coming out the the Compound on August 1st and between us we’re going to get a lot of the basic ideas down on guitar. My brother Larry, he’s an engineer at the studio at the Compound so he’s going to be recording our ideas for the first couple weeks. We’ll record these ideas then we’re going to fly the rest of the guys in, Johnny and Gary. The way Josh wants to work is to record our band practices and our jams, he writes really well on the fly. Before, he and Jordan would just write to a beat machine so we’ll mix it up and we’ll play as a band, jam out and we’ll record it, Josh will have a mic set up and just go live. His influence live with the rhythm when he feels it is incredible, he can start just spraying versus and singing some crazy melodies and harmonies over our music. That’s how we’re going to get a lot of it done, I believe.”
Listening to prior tunes before One More Night, Jay expects the sounds to be more similar to earlier Movement songs, however it’s obvious the sound will metamorphose into its own new thing, accounting for each musicians maturity and current musical influence. Smiles expands, “The album is going to be more jammy, almost psychedelic sounding but it’s still going to be tied into that great beach vibe, Josh has a unique style. It’s going to be killer, we’re all really excited”. He shares that he learned much of the guitar initially by mimicking Jerry Garcia and in his drumming as well he declares, “I’m a big Dead Head”. Also mentioning Tim Mahoney, 311 guitarist as a musical influence, “Tim from 311 is all that wavy psychedelic feel and a lot of my strumming lately is inspired by the Avett Brothers stuff, I love those guys”. The enthusiasm Jay holds is reassuring that new tunes are something surely to look forward to, he continues, “They’ll probably be some intimate tracks too, I’m sure where they’ll be written real basic with me and Josh, Johnny will add his flair to it, then Gary will add his flavor with his shakers at the end”.
Noting how the individual talents in the band would seem to integrate well with the jam-record style in writing songs, I mention how I’ve been listening to Gary on his personal project, DJ Gary Dread. “Gary is killing it right now with his solo project, his CD is dope.” I remember seeing pictures and reading comments while The Movement being on the road about how Jackson is constantly working on something from the back of the van and mention it to Jay, “Dude, its all he does, he has his headphones on and he will always be writing. When no one’s around, because he does it so much (laughing), when we’re not in the bus or whatever he’ll just be singing and recording, then here and there. Next thing you know, he has a record that everyone loves, and I love it! It’s incredibly inspiring to see my boy, a drummer just big fucking crash and banging, he’s murderous on the drums you know? But wow, he just has so much spirit and he’s so blessed that kid, he’s really coming out, it’s great I love it”.
I ask about Smiles Project, Jay’s personal outlet and if he’s pursuing this at all or what’s that to be come, will songs be his own or used for fresh Movement material, “Oh yeah, I’m focusing a lot more on Smiles Project too. I have so many people behind me as far as support, telling me to play and I just have to, I can’t let all this go to waste. I don’t stop, I’m always playing, I have the guitar in my hand right now. I have this crazy view, it’s insane I don’t have any neighbors and I’m on top of a mountain, it’s not even a hill! I can wake up everyday and be inspired by just looking outside and want to record right away.”
Returning to action to take place at The Compound outside San Diego, an area that’s loaded with bands on the rise and talented musicians all over, we discussed the opportunities to work with other artists and producers who may find themselves hanging around the nine bedroom, balcony and pool mansion in Southern California. As far as production goes, Philadelphonic Studios producer known for working with G. Love, Slightly Stoopid and The Expendables, as well as with The Movement on Set Sail could return to work on the upcoming album in some aspect as well. Jay explains the relationship with Chris D, “he was our old manager also and a great friend of ours and the family. He’s going to hopefully come out and put all his gear up here in the studio, so he wants to record there while we’re around. It’s like a double whammy. A double bonus, we’ll have Chris D in the house when he’s home and I’ll be able to record with my brother there also, it’s great for everybody” DiBeneditto played a critical role early on when DJ Riggles left the original Movement line-up, he brought in Jackson to fill the sound who then brought friend and lifelong bandmate, Jay Smiles Schmidt in to form The Movement, who later also added John Bowling on keys.
As far as artists to be featured guests on the upcoming album, Jay is open to a lot of talented musicians and being in the atmosphere he is, at The Compound, it feels like it’s such a creative environment and a cultivating scenario where musicians will want to spend there time and hang out, as friends that some special things will come together to end up on the record. “Yeah, me and you are feeling the same energy because that’s exactly how I’m thinking things will work, that people will come together around us. That comes with being humble and being nice and talking to your friends and just being friendly, the encouragement out there is real. I don’t have anybody in particular lined up but I have people that I think I would love to be on it. One I can say I would love to have involved is JP (Kennedy, Guitar/Lead Vocals) from The Green. Obviously they’re on Warped Tour right now killing it but they’ll be back in Hawaii in August. And I’ll be back and forth from Hawaii too with my girlfriend who’s from there. I hope BW (Brad Watanabe, Bassist/Producer of The Green) is great too, I’m a big fan of. Ooklah the Moc with him from Hawaii, they’re insane! BW is one of my inspirations and any time I go out there The Green shows me much love so to include them somehow would be awesome. Obviously G. Love could possibly be on the record again, and also I want to say that G.Love is one of my biggest inspirations and always will be, from 5th grade to now and we would love to have him on.”
The Green is one of the greatest acts currently around and personally and appropriately brings back a favorite memory I shared with Jay. The first time I saw The Movement live was a Tuesday night in Teaneck, NJ, over an hour away from where I lived, on a work night in the winter, maybe 2 years ago. I went to see The Movement who opened for Iration who I also knew and I was treated to also discovering The Green. Ever since, they have powered through non-stop touring across the states and righteously grown in talent as well as fanbase, it’s amazing to see how touring together can create real and lasting relationships. Jay says, “That’s one of the coolest tours that I can remember, the first time meeting The Green and seeing them in NYC with snow on the ground, all of them in sandals seeing snow for the first time! The looked frozen! (laughing)”
Back to The Movement and working with Josh, I took a few questions from Twitter followers who were interested in a few particular questions directed toward the song selection, what would be played and if Jay would be adding his vocals to any tracks. “My voice and Joshua’s voice match up a lot better than me and Jordan’s voice so I think so. I could hit some lower harmonies for Josh and then I can also hit some highs, not as high as Josh he blows me out of the water but I can definitely give it more umgh and make it more round in a live setting, like a big beach ball kind of! As far as songs to be played, it hasn’t really been discussed yet, Jordan has a deeper voice than Josh. Some of the songs Josh would maybe play, but only for the fans though, we would have to rehearse for sure, I don’t think they would be his first pick to do that prior material. Maybe we’ll run a poll with the fans to engage and see what they want.”
What are the expectations for any releases, without anything recorded yet, do you think you’ll put out a single soon once recording starts? “We’re going to drop a single as quick as we can. Our number one goal would be that. Oh yeah and for Smiles Project, I’m just going to spew my guts out. Dude, I’m not in it for the money, I just want everybody to hear my music, love my music, I’m just an artist so there should be plenty of fresh vibes coming real soon!”
We finished our conversation with a few quick hits:
(Two of my favorite shows all time, and which I know Jay watches)
Sons of Anarchy of Breaking Bad?
Breaking Bad! Yeah man, great question, I love it! My girlfriend would say SOA but I’m definitely down with Breaking Bad.
After a conversation about Aaron Paul’s role (Jesse) in the show and Bryan Cranston’s (Walt) pencil art as well, we discuss HBO’s The Wire, the greatest show in the history of television, and based on my recommendation, Smiles is now catching up and watching for the first time. Tweet him about it, no spoilers!
As an advocate and daily subscriber to smoking herb, what are your favorite strains blazing in California?
Awesome! (laughing) I’d have to say Pineapple Kush, definitely and I’ve been on and love the Triple X OG and Dragons Breath, those three strains. If you live in California, my brother AKA @thereallarrylux (Twitter) runs Greenz Direct, it’s a delivery service and if you have all the proper documentation than it’s guaranteed overnight, you’ll have it by sunrise the next morning. It’s been a lifesaver for me, I love the service and it’s just say it was time to move out here!
As a follow up, Smiles brings up a question that fans should want to know his thoughts on and asks himself, Where do I think the herb is better, California and Colorado?
I would have to say, I don’t want to get shit for it but I’ve only been out here a little bit so don’’t hold it against me but, Colorado. I like Colorado. It seems like people care about the earth so much more and people are doing this because they’re plants, and California is almost too much of a factory already. The
Everybody flocks to Cali, everybody wants to go to Cali and grow and do all this but really the people who are in Colorado are real mountain men, they’ve been living there it’s their land they’ve been doing it for longer and their just more quiet about it. And that’s why I believe they have a little bit more love for the actual flower, that’s how I feel. Yeah dude, I definitely just think it’s better in some sort of way.
True Story. I tell him about the Apple Pie flavored herb from 2010 that is special around these parts, “See that’s what I’m talking about. You just gave me goosebumps… but dude that’s amazing. I like my herb more dry, just spew out a big choker in a massive cloud. See I definitely, what I do I’m definitely a bong dude, and a blunt guy. I like waking up in the morning and you know, just completely ripping 3 smashers and just start recording and writing.”
We discuss growing up in NJ and the feeling moving West (I’ve made similar moves recently). Jay says, “I grew up surfing all Jersey Shore, no higher than LBI but all the way there to Cape May. It’s pretty cool coming from there and Philly and coming here, it’s just fucking great, music allows that. Music is great man, it’s the best. When you’re sad you want to go to a show and listen to music when you’re happy you want to go to a show and listen to music”
Thanks to Jay for everything, the time and insight and candidness, from MusicBailout, myself, all the fans and readers, it’s greatly appreciated. The projects are exciting and we all can’t wait to hear the fresh vibes.
Thank you so much I really appreciate that too. We’re friends, don’t be a stranger. Thank you to Music Bailout and for your interest in us and for wanting to know what’s going on. It’s all because of the fans, you guys make me. I want to work with everybody. Send me tracks, I want to work with as many artists as I possibly can, especially with artists better than me because I want to learn. I just want to play in every opportunity that I can. You only drive us to want to make more Smiles. That’s a good way to end up!
Please share the story of passionate people, dedicated artists and put yourself out there in a world of positivity, support and encouragement for one another, it’s a beautiful thing.
Jeff Possiel is a contributing writer/photographer for Music Bailout and Creator/Strategic Director of Headies Music.