Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts is an American rock band from Nashville founded and fronted by former Biters leader Tuk Smith, originally from Atlanta, now living in Nashville. The band released their debut single “What Kinda Love” on January 10, 2020 and were also added as an opening act for The Stadium Tour with Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe on the same day.
Then came the onset of Covid 19. “When the pandemic hit, it was like hitting the reset button on my music career”recalls Tuk, “everything got taken away…album campaign, stadium tour, record deal. The world was in lockdown, and the only way to escape was to throw myself into writing. My thoughts began exploring the past, and the inspiration for the songs just came in tidal waves.”
The new collection is a rock ‘n roll silver lining that came out of the solitude and reflection of the pandemic. Ballad Of A Misspent Youth is the new single (and subsequent album of the same name) released summer of 2022 on Tuk’s new record label MRG, through Virgin Music.
Tuk explains, “I decided to make a rock and roll record for me and what I like because there was no label, there was no committee involved…just me and my stories. I wanted to create a setting and an authentic feeling about everything. I reunited with long time friend Dan Dixon and recorded these songs in his garage studio, and there is a purity to the work that came from all the circumstances of that time.”
Growing up as an outsider in rural Georgia, Tuk found solace in hardcore punk acts like Black Flag and The Exploited. From there, Smith branched out into exploring seventies New York bands like The Dead Boys and New York Dolls, which lead him across the sea where he embraced first-wave British acts like The Buzzcocks and the Clash. Smith wasn’t just a casual fan of these acts, he was obsessed with them and traced their lineage with fervent dedication. “I was always into the Clash growing up and Mick Jones’ favorite band was Mott The Hoople, so through the years I ended up developing a love of the first wave of British glam, power pop and things like that,” he explains.
Soon Smith was forming his own acts, touring relentlessly and building a following with his high-energy live shows, including his tour of duty as lead singer for the Biters, who he fronted for nearly a decade. He offers “Then after being on the road for years, I had a reckoning about where I was at and the future ahead. …I realized the only way to achieve something meaningful was to be a good songwriter…that clicked. I went on a musical diet where I stripped the obscure stuff away, and I really started focusing on the greats. When I started clicking that it was just about the songs, things changed. I had already put my 10,000 hours in the van to play in the dive clubs, but then I put my 10,000 hours into figuring out how to write. I also started working with other songwriters. I humbled myself… it was an education, like going to school.”
Tuk elaborates, “I wanted to kind of branch out musically and do different things, and I figured to go solo would be better. My manager actually suggested I call my new band “The Restless Hearts” and that’s what he would call me all the time. It was the title of a Biters song that people loved and I’d seen a few restless hearts tattoos at our shows along the way… and so Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts was born. I was in a period where I changed everything including the way I lived my daily life. I experimented with different ways to tap into positive/creative energy…it was an evolving overall process (and still is).”
Tuk summarizes, “Things used to be about debauchery, and now they’re more about dedication. I mean, I was always driven, but I was sometimes focusing on the wrong things. Now I focus on the music and the craftsmanship of writing and producing and performing.“
JARED JAMES NICHOLS:
You can’t teach the blues. It’s not something that can be codified in music books or learned on YouTube. It goes much deeper than that and it comes from the inside. It’s about the way the guitar strings are bent and the sound gets transmuted directly from a player’s soul. It’s simple at the end of the day. Either you’ve got it, or you don’t. JARED JAMES NICHOLS has definitely got it. The Wisconsin-born, Los Angeles-based singer, writer and guitarist’s new EP Old Glory & The Wild Revival channels blues grit and gusto through bombastic arena-size rock ‘n’ roll. It’s raw, raucous and righteously real.
As soon as he got his first guitar at 14-years-old, the stage immediately called to Jared. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he grew up minutes away from The Alpine Valley Resort—where Stevie Ray Vaughan performed his last show. However, no divine coincidence could truly foreshadow just how adept at the six-string he would eventually become. He personally traces the beginning of his story back to a blues jam that his mother brought him to. “Two weeks after I got an electric guitar, I was on stage with all of these old cats from Chicago playing the blues,” he recalls with a smile. “The music immediately resonated with me. It was all about the feeling and the soul behind it. None of these guys were music nerds. They were true blues guys playing what they felt. That power and reality struck a chord in me.”
Soon, he found himself practicing for twelve hours every day. Hitting up the local jams, he ended up sharing the stage with legends including Buddy Guy, “Honeyboy” Edwards, and “Big Jim” Johnson as well as opening for Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Derek Trucks. By his 21st birthday, he had logged over 500 gigs. After a short stint at Berklee School of Music in Boston, he headed out to Los Angeles where he garnered numerous accolades at the world-renowned Musicians Institute, winning the 2010 Jerry Horton guitar contest, the 2011 Les Paul tribute contest, and the 2011 “Outstanding Guitarist” award.
2012 saw him release his debut EP, Live at the Viper Room, gaining the notice of both Guitar World and Guitar Player and inking a deal with Sony/MTV’s Hype Music Publishing. However, everything simply laid the groundwork for Old Glory & The Wild Revival. Teaming up with Aerosmith engineer Warren Huart, Jared began working on the five-song set in early 2013. Honing his voice as a guitarist, songs like the first single “Let It Go” speak through a delta-style soul with the right amount of rock bravado. “That one is a blues rock song about love and give and take,” he reveals. “It’s got its own style and it opens the door to what I’m doing”.
Elsewhere on the EP, “Blackfoot” charges forward with a riff as sharp as a tomahawk and a whole lot of spirit punctuated by Jessica Childress of The Voice’s backing harmonies. “In Wisconsin, I was surrounded by Indian reservations and culture,” he continues. “I’d do casino and reservation tours as a kid. When I wrote the song, I was reading about all of these badass tribes. I love that spirit and vibe inherent in Native American culture. The Blackfoot were truly bad motherfuckers. That lick is what I feel their culture represented.”
On stage, it truly comes to life. Jared’s presence becomes amplified with guitar in hand. Audiences have experienced that everywhere from his performances at NAMM and SXSW to the iconic Sturgis Buffalo Chip Festival where he will play alongside ZZ Top and Kid Rock and the Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary in Milwaukee this summer. Ultimately, he lives up to that idea of Revival in the EP’s title. “I want people to get excited,” he concludes. “I want them to feel like anything is possible in this music. I want them to know great blues rock exists. If I can give someone the same inspiration I was blessed with, I’ve done something right.”