Playing music since 2001, The Smile Ease has been around the block when it comes to Alaska’s music scene. They’ve been around a lot of other places too.
The local pop band is one of the few groups who frequently tour around the state; some of their recent locations include Indian, Seward, Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska. Besides touring around the state regularly, The Smile Ease also toured around the west coast of the lower 48 last April. Hitting cities such as Seattle, Portland, Chico, Boise, Denver, Albuquerque, Tucson and Phoenix, the band has made a name for themselves in more than just Alaska.
“We try to get around everywhere at least once a year,” Marc Bourdon said, who plays bass.
All four members of the band have day jobs to report to, but it doesn’t hinder their ability to tour. Bourdon thinks part of it is how far in advance the band plans their shows, as well as how the shows are scheduled.
“We try to plan stuff out pretty far in advance. Most of the time it’s a workable drive and shows are on the weekend. In Homer we just drove down after work,” he said.
The Smile Ease has played shows with several artists and groups, including Mountain Goats, CAKE, Tiny Daggers and Alaska Thunder Funk. Ra Ra Riot out of Syracuse, NY will be the next addition to their resume when the group plays the Beartooth Theatre Pub on Thursday, May 6 for First Tap. The Smile Ease is proud to be opening for them.
In addition to touring and opening for Ra Ra Riot, the pop band is also in the process of recording a new album. Unlike their first album, released in 2007 and self-titled “Smile Ease,” the new and currently unnamed album will be more upbeat.
“It’s going to be more pop-oriented, kind of the new pop that we write,” Paul Jacks said, who mostly plays the piano and keyboard, “It’s going to be dancier too.”
The album is slated to be released this coming fall. The band’s first album is available for purchase on iTunes.
Since its original formation in the summer of 2001, The Smile Ease has had a track record of going through band members. Jacks is the only original member of the band still playing with the group. Derek Mangrobang, guitar and occasional vocals, is proud of his position in the line-up.
“I’m the 22nd member. There’s been one revolving person and he’s managed to go through quite a few people,” he said jokingly.
Jacks attributes the band’s surprising amount of member turn-over to life and circumstances that get in the way. The band has never suffered for the continual change-up, however.
“That kind of ties into the complexity of the group dynamic,” Jacks said, “You’re going to have some people that have to leave or have things going on. There’s been a lot of stories and things that kind of brings us to where we are now, with a really good strong and powerful line-up that’s very creative.”