Focus: Alex Smith | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Who are you?
I’m Alex, bit of a jack of all trades musician with a simple home studio, making some tunes!

What is it you do?
Musically, I like to do a little bit of everything. I play guitar and sing in pop-punk trio Set Your Sights, I play the drums in a grunge two-piece called Murdock22, and I occasionally knock out acoustic tunes with friends as well. Historically I’ve played in a bunch of different styles, from instrumental metal through to punk rock Disney covers, I’ve not done any solo stuff before though so this is a bit of a step into the unknown for me. The style of music here is much more mellow than people may be used to hearing from me, but I’m definitely enjoying it. Upsides of being stuck in the house on evenings and weekends at the moment, more musical productivity! Another little fun thing I’m doing at the moment is “quick covers” with guests, where each week I’ll learn and record all the instruments for a song, and have a guest record the vocals. I’m having a load of fun doing those, and people seem to be quite enjoying them as well which is always a bonus!

How long have you been doing it?
I’ve been playing in bands since I was 16, so that’s (breaking out the calculator…) 18 years, since what I guess you might call the “glory days” of the Teesside music scene in the early 2000s, with my band at the time (Cantarte) playing what seemed like almost weekly shows at the town hall with eight or so other local bands on the bill and a couple of hundred people showing up to support them. I may have rose-tinted reminiscing glasses on there, but it definitely felt great to be part of the scene at that time. I’ve been in bands almost permanently since then, although my current band Set Your Sights has certainly been the longest-running of those. We’ve been going for a good 5-6 years now, had a couple of albums out and been on a couple of short-run UK tours, which has been great fun.

What inspires you?
For me, music is a bit of an escape. I have a pretty high-pressure job and I find that playing shows, even just practising with the band or sitting in my studio at home making noises has a really therapeutic effect, helping to keep me relaxed and take my mind off things when the pressures of the “real world” may be building up. For me the main thing you’ve got to have in music is the love of what you’re doing, I’m never a fan of seeing bands or artists whose sole purpose seems to be to “make it”. That always seems a bit back to front to me. Do it because you enjoy it, and hopefully, others will too. On that front, I’m really enjoying music in general at the moment, both on the creating side and as a listener. The number of new opportunities to collaborate are really exciting. There’s so much new and interesting music coming out of even completely unexpected sources right now, it’s a bit of a silver lining around what’s really not a great time in general in the world at the moment.

Tell us about your music.
This release is the first solo material I’ve put out, and it’s definitely much more mellow than most of the other material I’ve put out over the years in bands. Set Your Sights play what has often been compared to early 2000s pop-punk. We try to put on a really fun, high energy live show with big choruses and especially big outros full of “whoas”, as you do! Other bands I’ve been in have tended to always be about going for big, powerful sounds, heavy riffs and big beats. This new solo single, Sure You Know Anyway, on the other hand, is really stripped back, just acoustic guitar, piano and drums, and a really simple message.

What have you got coming up in the future?
I’ve been thinking for a while of taking my acoustic guitar out into the pubs locally and playing a few solo shows, although I’ll admit that thought has been sitting and stirring for a while now! While I love playing with bands, playing on my own is something completely new to me so it’ll be an interesting experience when (if) I do go for it. My kids sure seem to like it when I play for them in the kitchen at least, so you never know…

Where can people find out more about you?
People can find me on Facebook at and you can also find my band Set Your Sights at

My new single “Sure You Know Anyway” is out on June 6th and you can find all the links to it here.

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