Biography according to Jay
I’ve been playing music since a very early age and started playing the violin when I was five. That was the first time I was on stage as well with my grandfather who was an entertainer.
I kept playing the violin until I was about twelve even though I hated it. Then I found the guitar and I found my passion. I started a band and did mostly covers like Nirvana, Bush and Silverchair before I developed into writing my own kind of music, or trying to at first. I have been in a band since I was thirteen years old and recorded my first demo cassette then. If you don’t know what that is it’s an analog form of listening to music. They were called cassettes. :)
All the way up until I was asked to be involved in a certain program, I was still playing with the same guys I was playing with since I was thirteen in a band called Von Benzo. After winning Idol we recorded our second album.
I almost chopped my little finger off once about a year ago, which has sort of hindered my piano playing. However, I wasn’t that good to begin with so not much lost there. I could have learned. I can play a melody on the piano but that’s about it, a couple of cords here and there.
I should be able to play the violin even if it was twenty years ago and I play the guitar. I dabble in bass playing, because it’s a lot harder than people think. I can play some drums but it doesn’t really sound so good. It sounds like someone is banging on the drums.
The rest of it is in my head…
I was deep into metal for a long time. The blues was always sort of in the periphery but I never really felt I had the weight behind me to actually do it. I think it is something you grow into like a pair of boots.
I don’t listen so much to grunge anymore. My newfound love is country music actually and blues and if I was to say who I like, it would be Blake Shelton, Josh Thompson, Shawn Mullins, Hank Williams, Gary Clark Jr, Muddy Waters, Johnny Hooker, Ry Cooder, Rolling Stones and Nina Simone is brilliant.
Steely Dan is a really good band. Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, the list is endless.
My band history
My first couple of bands, that was just sort of going thru emotions and learning how to play. Sections of my memory have been lost along the way.
I remember a band called Ekai’s gate, and then we started a band called El Mago. At first we were a grunge band who ended up as a metal band. After a while, since I didn’t play the guitar in that band I wanted to start playing again. Stop playing metal and go back to regular rock n’ roll like when we started out. So that’s where Von Benzo was hatched. We were actually going to call the band Camel Toe at first but there was a band called Camel Toe so we chose Von Benzo. The story goes as we met this guy at a party and his name was Lorenzo von Benzo, so we stole the name from him.
Jay Smith and The Reservoir Dogs followed for my latest full album King Of Man.
Up until now I felt sort of lost. One very defining moment in my musical career was to get into the mindset that I was going to do this TV-show, and to be able to do that, you have to go in with an open mind and an open heart. Once I did that I found that I did enjoy other types of music as well and it wasn’t only rock n’ roll that did it for me anymore. That’s when I decided that I wanted to go a different way and at least try to play the blues and country. This is for me a journey thru all kinds of ways to incorporate blues and country with either pop music or rock or jazz.
Right now I’m playing around with an acoustic sound, which fits me better when Im out doing gigs. It’s a tough market out there and it’s hard to maintain a proper band. I just came up with the idea of having it sound more like what I do when I play live, and that is mostly acoustic performed. So I talked things over with my record label and they paired me up with this guy called Mattias Tell, who is really good at what he does. We’ve recorded seven singles as of now and there is more coming. I hope you’ll like it. :)