Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Jake Smith Of The White Buffalo

Artwork for ‘Year For The Dark Horse.’ Courtesy of Prime PR.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Three months into 2023 and The White Buffalo has emerged as a name to look out for, with a new album out via Snakefarm Records (‘Year Of The Dark Horse’), extensive touring on the East Coast and an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” all to boot.

Also known as Jake Smith, the Emmy-nominated, Oregon-born and Southern California-bred musician enlisted the assistance of bassist, keyboard player and guitarist Christopher Hoffee and drummer Matt Lynott to back him up both in the studio and on the road.

The 12-track ‘Year of The Dark Horse’ was recorded at Neon Cross Studio in Nashville with producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Brothers Osbourne, Fidlar). Most recently, videos have been put out for “Donna,” “52 Card Pickup” and “Life Goes On,” directed by Pete Macomber (“Wish It Was True,” “How The West Was Won,” “The Getaway,” “Avalon”), as part of a companion art film based on the album, the aptly named “The White Buffalo: Year Of The Dark Horse.”

The rest of 2023 shows no signs of letting up, as The White Buffalo will open for Bruce Springsteen in Europe on Sunday, May 21 at Circo Massimo in Rome, Italy and will also perform at Bospop Festival in Weert in The Netherlands on Saturday, July 8.

The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with Smith about ‘Year Of The Dark Horse’ and more.

Music Bugle – What was it like getting to perform on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”?

Jake Smith – It was amazing. We were on tour at the time. Played the night before, got about two hours sleep to catch an early morning flight to Los Angeles. You get there and basically wait around ’til you are rushed to stage and play for 3-ish minutes. It’s scary, but it is exhilarating.

Music Bugle – How did you decide on “The White Buffalo” as your act’s name?

Jake Smith – To sell t-shirts.. ha… My name is Jake Smith, which is not terribly mystical or thought-provoking. I wanted something with a little more gravitas that could take different shapes. Something with a little mystery…

Music Bugle – Of your newest songs, has there been one that you’ve seen people react to the most?

Jake Smith – Live, we’ve been doing “Love Song #3,” with me just singing. For the first time, I’m  floating around stage, like a big dumb ape, mic in hand, with no guitar. It’s a new moment and I cherish it every night. I can feel the audience go from, “What the fuck” to “Oh, this feels nice.”

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

Jake Smith – Frankly, I don’t listen to much music. I do a lot of murder/true crime podcasts. I just finished “Root of Evil.” Pretty dark that one is. I did just discover this kind of throwback/experimental/folkish artist named Twain, who is super cool.

Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep going?

Jake Smith – Hang in there!! – with that cat hanging from the tree. It’s a classic.

Music Bugle – You’ve got quite an exciting tour lined up this year, including a show where you open up for Bruce Springsteen in Europe. Did you ever imagine that happening?

Jake Smith – It’s one of those bucket list things that wasn’t even actually on your bucket list because you couldn’t ever conceive it actually happening.

Music Bugle – What do you see as the next step for The White Buffalo?

Jake Smith – “Year of the Dark Horse” just came out a few months ago, so we still got lot of worldwide touring to do. I started to write a bit of late and will continue trying to reach and hit people in the heart with songs.

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?

Jake Smith – I love Baja, Mexico. Maybe my favorite place on Earth. Good waves, good friends and good Mexican food. It’s hard to top.

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?

Jake Smith – I come from the pre-social media era, so I feel I’m always kind of catching up and by no means an authority. I do it how I see fit. Sometimes, I’m very active and other times, I need a break. I think it’s a necessity in this modern age to keep fans informed and connected. At the same time, as an artist or creative or generally, as a person, there’s this idea of self-worth based on these “likes” and “comments,” which I think is detrimental and dangerous.

Music Bugle – What’s a movie that you can watch over and over and never get tired of?

Jake Smith – “The Big Lebowski.” The Dude Abides.  

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