Only twenty years old, this charismatic Lithuanian can rock the house! He has the recipe for success; handsome, blonde, blue eyes, focused, driven, intelligent, stage presence and most importantly plays several instruments, writes his own lyrics and can sing. I first saw David Smash perform live at The Blue Rooster, a popular music venue and restaurant in downtown Sarasota. Little did I know, I would be involved in helping produce the first music video, ‘State of Sunshine,’ off his just released CD; titled ‘State of Sunshine.
It won’t be long before he is discovered and taken on the road to success. He already has notoriety in his hometown of Lithuania. Fascinated by his determination and abilities, I invited David to my office; Creative Minds Exposed at the HuB to get inside his head and see what brings this fresh face to our small city of Sarasota, FL.
But before you delve in, you have an opportunity to see David Smash perform live at three venues this Sunday 5/26, 4p-6p at Blu Que Island Grille on Siesta Key at his video release party where you can win a guitar lesson by David himself and get a signed CD. His CD release party hosted by WSLR; the radio station he walked into when he first arrived in SRQ on May 31st and on June 1st at Jackie Z Style Co. and Tavern on Main the same evening. With a schedule like that, he will need your support, believe me you will thank me for informing you -Facebook.com/official.david.smash for details.
Dayle: Where did you come up with the name State of Sunshine, the title of your just released CD?
David: When I first got here I saw a lot of Florida license plates that say, “Sunshine State.” I decided to write a song about my first experiences here, but “Sunshine State” doesn’t rhyme as well; and it has double meanings: State of Sunshine, it’s like state of mind. There is a song on the album called “State of Sunshine” too.
Dayle: You grew up in Lithuania, how do you get from Lithuania to the states?
David: In Lithuania I was an awesome musician and I had a band and we played everywhere; I was a, uh, national star; well, not “star,” but I was well-known in Lithuania because I was in several T.V. shows and my songs were on radio stations – this musician, Steve Arvey, saw my videos on YouTube contacted me on Facebook, saying “Why don’t you come over and play with us?” I said, “No kidding, huh?” Soon enough I sold my stuff packed my suitcase and came here.
Dayle: Steve Arvey is the reason you came to Sarasota? When he contacted you, did you take him seriously?
David: We just started talking, and I go, “Do you have any, shops where I could get a cheap instrument?” He goes, “No, you can play my guitar;” “What about an amp, where am I going to get an amp?” and he goes “I’ll give you one,” and, “Do you have any cheap motels, a place where I could stay?” and he goes, “Oh, my friend has a house in Sarasota, he has a spare bedroom, you can stay there for a couple of months.” [laughs]
Dayle: That’s an interesting story and a big risk.
David: Life is a big risk, but, if you want to win, you gotta put something up front.
Dayle: What did your parents think? Were you living by yourself at that time?
David: I was nineteen living with my Mom, Dad, and two sisters. We had this big house and I had my studio there where I used to rehearse with my band. I was on, Lithuania’s Got Talent, Eurovision and played at big festivals – I was opening for International acts when they used to come to Lithuania. I was doing well in Lithuania, but it’s a small country, only three million people, the size of the state of Maine. Everybody speaks Lithuanian, so nobody appreciates as much as I would like them to appreciate the music that I was playing.
David: So, I always had this idea, to move somewhere, maybe to Germany or England after I graduated high school, and somehow, it was this guy Steve Arvey who help decide my current path.
Dayle: Your parents couldn’t have been too thrilled with you saying, “Hey, someone in the United States wants to house me,” what did they say to you?
David: Well, they were always supportive; ever since I started playing music, they were not like, “Oh, being a musician is not a profession, you need to become a lawyer or-” no – they were always supportive. They helped me to buy my first guitar and they supported my wish to go to music school, and to have a band, they knew it was going to happen sooner or later, even – when the bird is old enough, he has to leave the nest; and I was nineteen; well maybe it’s an American understanding, nineteen is just a baby.
David: What they taught me, and all the lessons that I had about life, I was ready. Of course they were nervous about how I was going to be, but they had faith in that – and they still do, “Okay, go for it, yeah.”
Dayle: What age did you start, and why did you ever pick up an instrument? How did all that come about?
David: I’ve always wanted to sing and be on stage, ever since I was in second grade, I wanted to play the violin but somehow I ended up in swimming school, so I became a competitive swimmer. The wish to play music was still there, so we were in Germany with my parents when I was thirteen and we were walking in this flea market, saw this guitar for twenty Euros; and bought it. When we came back home, I turned fourteen, I just started playing that guitar and I just thought – I’m going to learn a couple Beatles songs and grow longer hair to look cool, and I’ll be cool.
David: I was playing and getting better and better and more advanced compared to other teenage guitar players and, I decided to educate myself even more; go to music school, a music gymnasium, put a band together, you get it.
Dayle: You play several different instruments and you sing.
David: I play guitar, bass, piano, harmonica, drums, and xylophone.
Dayle: The xylophone?
David: When I went to music school, they had no guitar classes available, so I had to go to drums, and when you take drum classes, the xylophone is necessary, to understand the sheet music, notation. Because drums – they don’t have any key, it’s not melodic, so when you’re taking classes in the drums section, you’ve got to understand how melody works, so the xylophone is necessary.
Dayle: One of my favorite instruments that you play is the harmonica, how did that come about?
David: Different blues players, they play a harmonica, and I wanted to play too, so I went to this music school when I was sixteen or so, and I bought a harmonica, it took me one week to figure out how to play it, that’s it. [laughs]
Dayle: What musicians influenced your harmonica playing?
David: Influencers were bands such as, Chicago blues, like Little Walter, Johnny Shy, and Sunny Boy Williamson, and Lightnin’ Hopkins.
Dayle: What’s your favorite instrument to play?
David: I like them all. If I was able, I would be practicing each instrument, I mean, every day, all of them. That’s what I used to do in Lithuania: play three or fours hours on guitar and then an hour or two hours on drums, then an hour on piano, then you got to stay in shape, and I used record all the instruments by myself, so you’ve got to maintain the quality of playing. But right now I’m only playing and practicing guitar, I’d say it’s the best instrument that I can understand and express [the music] without thinking of how to express the music is guitar.
Dayle: You self-taught yourself the guitar, too?
David: Well, not all of them. I self-taught on guitar, bass, and harmonica; piano, drums, xylophone, and classical piano was taught in school.
Dayle: At what point did you see yourself a musician?
David: I think it’s not the right term, but when you say “musician,” people often typecast long, greasy hair, a whole bunch of pointless necklaces, and then dirty pants, he’s smoking weed and whatever. So I’m not that kind of musician. But you can call me a musician.
Dayle: What terminology do you prefer?
David: Travelling poet and cold thinker. [laughs]
Dayle: You also write your own lyrics. Where does your inspiration come from and do you remember the first song you wrote?
David: Well, the first song that I wrote was actually instrumental. The first seven songs that I recorded – I don’t know, well, it represented my, life experience, you know; I had very little of life experience when I was, fifteen, but you can come up with or you can fantasize; it’s not necessarily you have to write something from your past, you can –it’s like writing movie script, you know? All of the events and character names I fake. [laughs]
David: But, people will still like the stories. So that’s what I did earlier; I still do that, in certain songs, I use my imagination to come up with events, or whatever.
Dayle: Everything that you write isn’t really based on your life experiences, but possibly other people’s experiences, and/or a fantasy you might have, something that grabs somebody’s interest?
David: Well, fantasy might be inspired by some kind of movie; some songs are made by describing real events that happened.
Dayle: On your new album; is there a specific song that you just love? I’m sure you love them all, but is there one in particular that stands out to you?
David: Well – it’s not the time – it’s not the twenty-first century. I kind of only would be playing, Big Band jazz, like Dean Martin, or Bobby Darin; but I still play the rock and rock n’ roll, all that, and because people understand that style a little better because it takes a certain level of musical education to appreciate a certain style of music, and not all the styles of music are deep enough. So – in the album, there are a couple of songs that resonate with old times, when people appreciated a more complex, more difficult type of music, which is, you know, “No Sugar in My Tea;” it’s like slow, standard rhythm jazz, or, there is a song, which is also jazz, it that has that, Chet Atkins swing to it, or song number twelve, “By My Side.” Those, they’re not as, let’s say, fast and energetic; don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting melancholic all the time, but we’ve got to keep the balance. I like those sometimes slower songs that gets you into that state of philosophy, when you start thinking; you know that feeling when you watch the sunset, when you watch the stars or a fire burning, and then you just doze off somewhere-? Those songs kind of give you that feeling, you know. Compared to, like, AC/DC. [laughs]
Dayle: Who produced your new CD?
David: Well, “produced,” this term is often misinterpreted by different people, and how they understand [the] word “producing.” All the songs and all the uh, timing and where’s the chorus, and arrangement; it was all my ideas, you say I produced. But it was made and recorded in Howling Dog Studios, in Palmetto. If you read that CD, it’s gonna say the producers are Del Couch and Gary Shank.
Dayle: What will you do different on your next CD?
David: I would do all the instruments myself, again. Well, you see, when I first came over, and they approached me, we decided to record an album, I wasn’t confident in my drum-playing, because I haven’t been practicing; so, we had a drummer, uh, don’t get me wrong, he’s a great drummer – Kenny Crowley, and it sounds great, but, no one can understand what’s happening in your head, no one can step inside. I would probably record every instrument myself and I would have somebody to play, let’s say, violin and have some backup vocals and maybe some brass, and a horn section.
Dayle: I understand when you say that no one can get inside your head because it’s true, you can interpret something, but no one’s ever going to feel the same way, and when you have a song within your mind, how you want it to go, and you’re capable of doing it, why not do them all yourself!
Dayle: You’re a one-man band, and I use the term “band” very loosely, you’re an entertainer, and you’re very good and very passionate, people enjoy watching you when you perform live, even if it’s not the genre of music they are used to hearing. People who aren’t exposed to, let’s say, country music, they don’t know that they like country because they haven’t heard a song they like that hit them yet.
David: That’s the thing with audience, customers, and consumers; no one ever in history ever asked for a phone; no one ever asked for a car, nobody ever asked for computers and they don’t know what they want, so presentation is everything, and if you can, engage them, invite them to participate in the performance, they will feel how honest you are and how open you are, and definitely they’re going to love it.
Dayle: You get up there, and you’re just fun to watch, you are in a zone. When you’re on stage performing, what goes through your mind when you look out at the audience surrounding you?
David: Some of the performers, they are shy, at the beginning, just singing in front of somebody, in front of even their family members, and it takes them some time to overcome that, even if they don’t overcome it, they still are a little shy to express their real emotions, so they try to practice in front of the mirror, and fake different movements with the microphone, and stage movements, and they still are very stiff; my ideal of being loose onstage, expressing myself, came from watching Ray Charles, because he was blind, he never saw himself. Ray was never shy about the way he expressed his emotions with his body; if you watch him, his interviews or watch him laugh it doesn’t look awkward, because it’s honest. I don’t think of myself if I would see myself from the side, there is no me. You can do whatever you want and it will all fit to the music.
Dayle: How has your exploration of Sarasota been since you’ve gotten here, as far as performing and encountering people who are in the same industry as you; what do you think of the Sarasota scene, and how is it for a musician to grow? Have you been able to grow?
David: I’m like a cactus; I’ll go into any conditions, even the desert. I haven’t seen the rest of the US; I’ve only been to Kentucky for a few days, a small town. Sarasota, the first thing that I did was comparing it to what I come from. And, well, it’s – it’s different. It’s summer all the time, and it’s more of the seasonal town, where people come and go; I met a lot of great musicians, national and international acts, they are easier to get tickets to their shows because they actually perform in Tampa Bay Area, and plenty of different music, like country music festivals or blues music festivals and you can get to see those. Where I come from in Lithuania, we had only one major country music festival, maybe one blues festival, and that’s it; right here, you have plenty of those, stuff is happening all the time, just gotta make sure you follow what’s going on.
Dayle: Do you feel like you’ve grown since you’ve been here the first time, as a talent?
David: They say men grow until they’re twenty-five, so I’m still growing. [laughs] I practice, and I hear different music, and I come up with different ideas; I’d say I am. I’m still often impressed by certain details of American lifestyle and habits and traditions, but I’m not as overwhelmed. I’m still excited about it, when I first got here even the person waiting to meet me, saying “Hey, how are ya?” – People don’t do that, [laughing] where I come from. Many strangers did that, “Hey, how are you?” And they smile and they wave and – I don’t know, my jaw dropped. [laughs] So now [my] jaw is not dropping anymore. Now I’m also saying, “I’m doing good, and how are you?” [laughs]
Dayle: How did decide on your album cover?
David: Well, first I – gee, I looked at different books, like “Thousand Best Album Covers,” just to get an idea, even went to a couple malls to look at CDs, how they take pictures and what kind of music style, then I thought, “Oh, okay,” “forget about it. Just do something unconventional,” because what you see in country or blues, there is a guy with guitar and a hat by a brick wall, leaning dropping his vision somewhere in nowhere; who cares? Guitar is only an instrument. You can pick up any other instrument, and who needs a brick wall? Get rid of it, tear it down; who needs a wall in music? And hat? C’mon, take off your hat. [laughs]
David: I thought – Siesta Key, I like the colors of the sunset, it’s red and it’s like fire, it’s very passionate, and – not to make it look like it’s too romantic, to drop in some action, I decided to jump out of the water, and you can see water almost as wings almost, and you can see that sun flaming star over my shoulders, even Elvis had a song, [singing] “Every man has a flaming star over his shoulders.” David: So that also resonates with that, too.
Dayle: Well, it’s a really great cover, the colors are absolutely amazing.
Dayle: The photographer who captured your cover is Ineta McParland. How did you meet?
David: Somebody asked me, “Oh, I hear a bit of an accent, where are you from?” “I’m from Lithuania,” as soon as you say that, they start thinking of other Lithuanians that they know. Somebody mentioned her mother has a jewelry store downtown, and her daughter Ineta is a photographer.
Dayle: From the point of knowing that you’re going to make a CD to the end point of it being in your hands, how long does that take?
David: Oh my God, it took – it took a year.
David: Well, when I first came over, I went to every jam session to meet musicians, and I started getting gigs and then, driving around town you see words “studio” or “radio station” and you get in. I saw this WSLR, and I walked in, “Hi, I’m David Smash, I’m a musician and I moved here a week ago.” “Is that right? So what do you play,” “Here’s my CD that I burned for my phone, for music, of songs that I recorded. And if you listen” – David Beat is the head of WSLR, and they have some kind of act I was opening for, somebody saw me playing, told somebody, “You got to see David Smash.” I was playing somewhere else and these guys approached me, “Hi,” “we have a recording studio, we have producers, and we would like to talk some business with you.” I said, “Okay; well, let’s meet somewhere.” Went to a restaurant, and I figured they’d be paying so I got chocolate cake [laughs] and all this stuff; anyways, they offered me a contract, to work with them, to record a CD, and they were going to promote me. I got there one or two months after being here.
Dayle: One year after being in Sarasota you’ve got a CD. Do you feel like “Wow, I am a musician, I have a CD?”
David: I don’t know it feels the same; [laughing] only I have a CD! When people listen to it, that’s when I get a feeling, just to have a CD sitting on a counter or laptop – there’s no difference. But when you know somebody listens to it or they appreciate, and they learn to sing along, that feels very rewarding. Every profession, whatever you do, there are tokens; you collect along your career that proves that you are what you are. You want to be a lawyer; you gotta have a cool suitcase, shiny shoes, and know how to lie. [laughs]
David: Anyways, to be a musician, you gotta know how to play [an] instrument. You know, how to perform, and have a CD, and – yeah, that’s one of those, one of those, ah, pillars that holds everything.
David: Right now, this adventure, time travel, it’s a concept; even David Smash, my real name is Boleneviks Marshinvitz. I wanted to become David Smash; to all those artists that I admired when I was a teenager, like Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash; and every detail I was admiring; Johnny Cash used to come up on stage, and, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” “Wow,” you know, “it sounds so cool! I need a cool name too!” I want to be part of it, I want to go to the land where they played, be part of that history, that story, part of the American culture. What is American culture? America was built by immigrants. Well, no, first it was built by slave owners who wanted to be free; [laughing] but later, it was built by immigrants.
David: Yeah, so I just want to be a part of that culture, where I’m working. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger; comes from Austria, works in a fish factory; then, he promotes body building, becomes a movie star, then a governor, and he goes into politics. That’s where I’m headed; the legend of David Smash.
Dayle: How do you want them to describe your music?
David: Well – just let them describe in the most honest way that they can understand it, and let them tell what they felt, and what their ideas are; I don’t want to tell them what to think. Everybody has a different approach to different things. So, let them keep it open to interpretation.
Connect with David Smash on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter and see how you can purchase his CD and view his music video ‘State of Sunshine.’ Clasico Bar & Cafe a location in the music video is hosting David Smash Live with a CD signing in June, stay in touch to find out dates.
A special thank you to Caitlyn Durfee who spent a couple days with me interning before heading to college. Her passion is editing and I wish her the best of luck.