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Hailing from the small town of Parkersburg, West Virginia, Jesse Smith has lived the all too familiar "ups" and "downs" of the music business for the last 20 years. As a founding member of the seminal Christian metal-core band Zao, Jesse went on to sell thousands of records, tour the world with some of the biggest names in metal, and influence the sound of countless major heavy acts.
Zao was praised in many circles as ground-breaking innovators but often times riddled with criticism and controversy.
"Sometimes it was hard dealing with the pressures of the christian music world," he recalls. "We were sometimes the hero but often times the villain. After leaving Zao in 2004, I wasn’t sure if I would play music again, but through encouragement and guidance from my friends Mathew Holmes (Kingsfoil/Bobby Church/The Underwater) & Brandon Zano (This is a Shakedown/Dozen Dead Roses/Ragers) I began to find solace again in the one thing that brought me true happiness, which was a love for making music."
Spending 2013 and 2014 writing and recording, Jesse found the niche that truly represented Jesse Smith as he is today. He found himself in the studio with Zano, recording his debut EP. Smith’s debut EP showcases a post-classic alt rock sound and is a mixture of Jesse's wide range of influences. With extremely personal lyrics laid on a sonic landscape of unique vocal hooks, infectious grooves and intricate guitar work, listeners will be left with an unexpected sound from Jesse Smith.
"Over the years I have struggled to find my place as a songwriter," explains Jesse. "I'm a fan of heavy music, but I've always been into all types of stuff. When I began writing these songs, I just wrote from the heart, with no preconceived notions of what they would turn out to be."
Smith and his live band - drummer Brandon Joy, bassist Ralph Moyers, and guitarists Breyer White and Dakota Walker, also had the opportunity to hone their chops and test new material live as they took to the stage at renowned festivals like Milwaukee’s Summerfest and Delaware’s Dewey Beach Music Festival, as well as headlining and support gigs throughout the East Coast and Midwest.
Many a great lesson is learned through inner turmoil; Jesse came away from his struggle with personal demons with new perspective on life, one that allowed him to open himself up to help and guidance from others, and to mend past relationships gone awry. That same perspective brought his new music to a different level.
"It’s been an amazing experience creating music and art with so many dear friends,” Smith says. “These songs are straight-up what I was looking to do. When I began, I wasn’t sure who I was, but now I know. "
Jesse Smith & the Holy Ghost’s debut full length was recorded during the tail end of 2014 and the spring of 2015. The group of studio musicians, worked through Ohio’s minus-15-degree winter at Michael Seifert’s Ante Up Audio (Dave Matthews Band, Tori Amos, Fountains of Wayne) with Brandon Zano producing and engineering. With tours running through the end of 2015 and a release date set for July 8th, 2016. The future is bright.