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‘Saw’ actress and friend prepare for WV

By Staff | Sep 29, 2009

Desert country act Smith & Pyle began on a whim.

During a road trip to the Coachella Music Festival, Shawnee Smith and close friend Missi Pyle, both actresses, began joking and decided to form their own band.

What’s followed is best described, the two say, as fate.

Before ever signing to a label, or even harmonizing together, the duo were invited to record their debut album, “It’s Okay to be Happy,” in Joshua Tree, California, at Rancho de la Luna. Founding member of Masters of Reality Chris Goss, who has helmed albums by Queens of Stone Age, The Cult, Screaming Trees, The Duke Spirit and Stone Temple Pilots, produced the LP.

The pair brings its fresh act to the Fairplain Yacht Club in Ripley on Oct. 24, right after the premiere of  “Saw VI,” which features Smith, and to Tomahawks in Charleston, Oct. 31.

Graffiti: Did you hit it off musically at first? Did you share common interests and influences?

Smith: Something just got ignited. We went to Coachella on a whim that first week we were shooting the TV pilot and something was just sparked. That night at Coachella, we fell into these characters of Smith & Pyle, and fell into a band.

We played these characters all night and it was funny because my friend who invited us (to Coachella) was a big producer at Universal and he said, “Do you want a record deal?” and we said, “We don’t want a record deal from the man, we play for ourselves (laughter) … The next thing we knew, we were recording a record with Chris Goss and all these amazing musicians. And the ball just got rolling.

Pyle: I was truly amazed. I didn’t really believe it was going anywhere and then Shawnee said, “You want to meet at Joshua Tree?” … and I was like, “Oh my God, are we really doing this?” and we hadn’t even sang together yet.

Graffiti: Wait, you hadn’t even performed together yet?

Pyle: No, we had not performed together, but we had acted together. All of it always just felt like it fell into place so smoothly like it was almost meant to be.

Smith: The first place we harmonized was poolside behind Gram Parsons’ memorial at the Joshua Tree. Who gets to say that?

Graffiti: The characters, Smith & Pyle, how much of those is made up, is a persona, and how much is really yourselves?

Smith: They couldn’t have been close at all because I can’t speak (laughter).

Pyle: I don’t know what happened, things changed drastically once we started recording.

Smith: We played our music for anyone and everyone. We completely sold out. We haven’t taken a record deal yet though.

Pyle: If one’s offered …

Graffiti: So are you going to tour after this West Virginia show?

Pyle: At the moment we’re just coming to West Virginia. Shawnee is with child, so we’re not making a huge tour at the moment. We’re planning on doing a bigger tour next spring, so we really just wanted to do something around the release of our album, and we’re not sure what’s happening with that. We’re out in Hollywood and things change every day.

Graffiti: So what’s next for the band?

Pyle: We’re going out to Joshua Tree this weekend to write some more music.

We have a TV show we’re pitching, and that’s kind of taken a few different forms at the moment, so we’re really hoping to do something with that, and formally release the album, and Shawnee’s going to give birth, hopefully not on stage in West Virginia.

Graffiti: I’m sure that would be a first.

Smith: I can’t decide if that would be rock and roll or not.

Pyle: What if you light yourself on fire and puke? (laughs)

Contact Justin at jmcintosh@graffitiwv.com