There aren’t many artists around with Waiting For Smith’s inspiring story. Having started as a ski instructor in the French Alps, Harry Lloyd went through a rollercoaster of a journey before realising that music is where his heart belongs. I had the good fortune of chatting to Harry, and I can honestly say that he’s one of the easiest going people I’ve met. We spoke about all sorts, including his debut EP, getting airtime on US radio, worldwide tours and how he started his musical career…
There is one question that is standing out in my mind that I’m just dying to know… Who is Smith?!
*laughs* Yeah it’s a good one. So, Smith was the first drummer who basically never showed up…
Oh wow, so you were literally waiting for Smith?
I was literally waiting for Smith! It started as a joke, like when was he going to show? And then I thought I’d just base my whole life on it. *laughs* Everybody needs a bit of lightness, and I did the classic thing of going through magazines and endless ideas of things that inspire me. Then I thought, the thing that represents me best is something that’s a little bit of a joke, like don’t take anything too seriously!
Ah ok, so you’ve really taken your personality into consideration with your artist name?
Yeah, it feels right. The original idea was that I wanted to leave Waiting For Smith wherever I went, like on bills or anything. I signed a napkin Waiting For Smith and it was this idea that this person has just been waiting at the bar, but you don’t know who they are, so you’re like, “Who is this person?”
It started off as such a fun thing for myself, to keep myself entertained, but I thought it looked really nice in handwriting. It’s a personal thing that you can’t replicate so nobody else has it. I’ve even just had some t-shirts made with the logo on!
So you’ve recently had a festival cancelled because of Covid-19, right? Do you have any other festivals lined up for a crazy festival season?
Not crazy, there’s only a few really because so many have cancelled in different places. All the festivals in Holland have cancelled. I had to cancel Latitude because I didn’t feel so good, which is a bummer! I’ve got two others in the UK – EA festival, which is a new one, being a mixture of loads of things across the arts, and then Wilderness festival in August which is really good. It’s in Oxfordshire, and it’s great – it’s one of my biggest festivals yet, and I’m playing on the second stage.
I’m really excited about playing festivals, but also slightly shitting myself… There’s a huge potential of lots of people turning up! I’m not sure what would be scarier to be honest – playing to 10 people, or to 5000! With a smaller crowd, it feels more like an interview than a gig!
Have you ever been to USA? Have you gigged over there at all?
Yeah, I had a couple last year just before the first lockdown. Actually, the year before… this pandemic has just warped time, you just can’t pin when things have happened!
It must have been a few months before the first lockdown. I was in LA, San Francisco and Nashville. I did some recording over there, and then a couple of shows. I was planning another trip to LA just before the rules came in for travelling to America.
I’m going to go back out there the beginning of next year because there’s an agent out there who wants to organise me a tour! They’re the first person to step out and say, “Yep, I believe in you enough. Let’s put together 20 dates and see what happens!”
It’s so exciting. You put together so many shows, and try out so many things playing to like one man and their blind dog…
Yeah, and that’s if you’re lucky sometimes!
Yeah exactly! If the dog gives a shit! But then you start to get that moment where people do turn up to shows, and that’s what we’re hoping for! We’re looking at radio too – there’s a few things happening in America. It’s a big leap for me, but it’s exciting.
For those that haven’t heard of you before, talk to us about your transition from skiing instructor to artist…
So, my full-time job was a skiing instructor in the French Alps. I worked really hard & trained to go out and do that. It was a great opportunity to learn French. I was really attracted to the language side of things, and they had a course at the ski school I worked for. They even sent me to Russia to learn Russian. It was so awesome as it was kind of like my university!
I did this for a couple of years, but I had a sense that I wanted to pursue music. However, I wasn’t sure how to start it. Music is so big, that you end up thinking “Where do I begin?” So, you try doing your own thing like local gigs, local radio, etc. I was doing all of this but wasn’t sure where else to go with it. On my fourth season on The Alps, I was finishing off some avalanche training which teaches you safety on the mountain. Ironically, during this training, I broke my back!
I believe with disaster, you can make something good out of it. I had a year in bed, and during that year, I learned to play guitar which was one of the great things. A guy called Darren taught me once a week, and because I had all the time in the world, I played a lot of guitar! I did also watch a lot of Suits and Peaky Blinders! During the whole time, I kept thinking “Once I’m over this, what can I do to make me happy?” – of which the answer was always music.
So you recently released your debut EP, Hopelessness of Love. Talk to me about the writing process behind this EP!
So, it was actually really quick! Last year (2020), I wrote a song with a guy called Jan Schröder in Amsterdam called ‘Lost In Your Light’. I filmed a video with some friends, just went to the woods. I find that certain people are able to complete your thought process, and Jan was one of those guys. I kind of had this idea for this song and started playing these chords. I took the idea to Jan, and over the session, we came up with this idea of hopeless love. That basically set the subject! With everybody spending so much time at home, spending more time with people that we’re not used to, we’re having to figure out how we spend so much time with this person.
For a lot of people, this probably went two ways… either “I love this person!” or “I can’t stand this person!”
Me and Jan wanted to really explore this in all different aspects. ‘Best Side For You‘ was the last one that came about, and that’s all about being the best version of yourself for the other person if you love them enough. ‘Little Old Book‘ is about self-acceptance, and when you achieve that then things start to become easier! The whole subject of the EP is really about the ups and downs of relationships.
Do you have any plans for the next six months off the back of this EP?
So yeah, a couple of things! Another EP which I’ve almost finished, which is really exciting. I think it’s going to be seven tracks, but it might be a double EP where I release seven tracks this year and seven next year. The subject of the EP is about mental health and exploring that entirely. It’s with a different producer, a guy called Dane Etteridge who is amazing and has written with some incredible people. It’s very different – a ramp up in terms of being less mellow and more explosive!
Off the back of that, I hope to do a couple of things. One is to go to South Africa as I’ve interest there! Obviously, the US tour too, and potentially one in India.
So Waiting For Smith goes worldwide?
Yeah, that’s the idea! I’ve got interest in these places so I’m really following where the belief is!
Talk to me about your craziest gig story!
Well, I feel like I’ve got two. There’s one that’s basically the craziest thing I’ve ever witnessed as an audience member, which actually got me into music! I was 10 years old; I went to see The Rolling Stones because I’d just formed my first band and so my dad took me because he thought that if I’m starting a band, I need to see how it’s done. They stepped up on stage, and I remember thinking “Whoa, these guys are pretty old?!”
The security guard saw me and my friend were really enjoying it, and so he lifted me up in front of the whole of Wembley. I even high-fived Ronnie Wood, in front of a crowd of like 80,000! They were all going mental, and I remember that feeling like it was yesterday. I think that was definitely one of the reasons that I wanted to do music. To see people having that much of a good time, so exciting.
As an artist, one of my most uncomfortable experiences was when I was added to the bill of a gig with two other punk groups. At the time, I was doing piano ballads with a little bit of a drum beat behind it… like a chilled-out version of The Eagles!
The guy before us was wearing a gas mask, running around, and going wild! I thought that we need to make a point of the fact that we’re doing something very different. I stepped up on stage, and went, ‘Hey guys, I obviously don’t have my gas mask tonight. Must have forgot it! The next act is going to be even more crazy than the last one, so I want you to take a break and just imagine that you’re sitting down listening to some Elton John.’ I got everyone to grab some candles, and wave them back and forth and turned to my band to say, “It’s ok guys, I don’t think we’re going to die!” The audience calmed down from the previous artist, and it was pretty good in the end!
What would you say is your favourite song to perform live?
I released a song on YouTube recently called ‘Lightness In You’ – just before the lockdown happened, I played this a lot at gigs. It’s upbeat, and it’s really rock’n’roll in some way. It’s just really fun to play, and people move to it, having a good time. I love when people feel good at gigs, and you can see that they’re having a good time.
So, thank you so much for taking the time to chat to me Harry, it’s been such a pleasure! To finish off… If you could move to any country in the world, where would it be and why?
I actually moved to Amsterdam recently, and I’m really happy here. I love it! I think in my far-out thoughts, if I wasn’t thinking musically, I’d choose Tibet. I’ve always been obsessed with a lot of the philosophy that comes out of there, and the ways of thinking over there.
It’s been a super easy chat! I want to say good luck in everything you’re doing. Thanks for taking the time for the interview!