What got you hooked on rock & roll as a kid?  Listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Those powerful vocals of Ronnie Van Zant drew me in.

What was the first concert you ever attended and what strikes you about it today? Jakyl opening for ZZ Top! I was 17 years old and the energy of that show was overwhelming!

What was your first public performance? how did it go?  Well my dad (Oliver Smith) was a southern gospel bluegrass singer and performed in different churches so I would say my first performance was more than likely with him at one of those churches. As far as the first real performance that I remember; I was in the 5th grade and performed Lee Greenwoods “God Bless the USA” for a school program. There is a video of that out there somewhere …lol

Musicians are funny about their instruments, sometimes even superstitious — tell us about your relationship with guitars over the years; what is your stand by go-to 6-string today?  I’ve never really considered myself a guitar player. I’m more of a vocalist but a good guitar is key in having a good performance. I played a Taylor guitar for a while and I beat it to hell playing the honky tonks in Nashville. When it was time for a new one I went with the Seagull that I currently play. It is a great sounding guitar without the hefty price tag.

How does the song-writing process work for you? has it evolved over time or do you have a tried & true formula you try to stick with?  I haven’t really been writing that much the last few years. Just a line or two here and there but when I was writing consistently it was just a matter of what I was feeling mostly. Occasionally someone would say something that would spark an Idea and I would use my corny sense of humor to write something like “Nothing but your snuggie on”

Do you have any advice (cheap tricks) for your artists looking to connect more with the audience when playing live?  Be true to who you are as a musician and you are going to connect with someone or a group of people. Don’t be surprised if someone asks you to sing something that just doesn’t fit you and if you can bare to sing it then sing it and get right back to what you love. They will appreciate you for it.

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened at one of your shows?  The craziest thing that ever happened at one of my shows other than having the drummer bring a dancing Zombie Doll on stage would have to be being interrupted by Jermaine Jackson while playing at Legends Corner in Nashville so he could promote a tv show that he was filming.

Given your experience as a finalist on CMT’s Can You Duet in 2008 , what advice would you give to a young artists looking to take a shot on a similar live contest like American Idol or The Voice?  I would say if you’re gonna go for one of shows just be prepared to take some criticism and don’t let a “no” answer stop you from moving forward with your career. Sometimes being true to who you are isn’t always what they are looking for so you just have to keep on keeping on.

Some artists hate the question but who do folks liken you too most and how do you feel about it? You know it’s been a while since someone has compared me to another artist but I use to get Billy Dean a lot when I was in Nashville. I’ll take that as a compliment.

What are you working on and what’s your view of 2018 from here?  Right now I’m just working on being a better performer and trying to gig as much as possible. I’m working with a group of great players and we call ourselves the Douglas Fine Line. I would like to play more with these guys this year and get into some bigger venues and festivals. Right now I’m just working on being a better performer and trying to gig as much as possible.



ImageIs there an album or song that got you hooked on rock & roll as a kid? 

Yes, I remember hearing “Don’t Be Cruel” by Elvis on the Juke Box at YMCA summer camp and I noticed all the girls loved it.  Later, when I got a guitar and started to learn folk songs I saw the effect guitars had on girls.  By the time the Beatles came along I already knew the basic chords.  I was too shy to meet girls any other way.  But music turned out to be the best way.  As far as an album that shaped my life I would have to say “Freewheelin’” by Bob Dylan because it got my whole generation writing songs.  As far as life-shaping events go, I’d guess I’d have to say seeing the Beatles for the first time on Ed Sullivan.  It blew my mind, it blew all our minds.  You had to be there.

What was the first complete tune you learned to play and sing at the same time?

That would be “Tom Dooley” by the Kingston Trio.  I can still remember how proud I was to get up on stage at a coffee house and play it.  I learned the 3 basic chords of life and I found out later it fit 90% of all the songs on the radio.

With the revival of Americana and roots music is it difficult to resist the temptation to return to your folk roots and put out KIHN FOLK?

Oh, you wicked, wicked man.  The “Kihn” puns just won’t die!  The only times I didn’t use the “KIHN” puns for GKB album titles- “Glass House Rock” and “With the Naked Eye” both albums stiffed, so we went right back to the KIHN formula for success.  I try to hide ‘em, but my folk roots stand out like Nicki Minaj’s hair color.

How did you get your first break in the music biz, or was it a confluence of events?

Matt Kaufman and Allan Mason were two law students in Baltimore when I was still in high school playing gigs at local coffee houses with names like “The Foghorn” and the “Crack of Doom.”  Allan later invited me out to California and let me crash on his floor.  Allan wound up working for A&M Records and Matthew started Beserkley Records.  When I first came to California I used to play on Telegraph Ave for spare change.  I did pretty good, too!  About 40$ a day!

What is, hands down, your favorite Greg Kihn record and why?

My all time favorite Greg Kihn song is The Breakup Song because it’s always fun to play, has a great guitar riff, and the lyrics “Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh translate into every known language.  That’s why today I can walk down the street in, say, Lithuania or Tasmania and people will point at me and shout, “There goes that uh-uh guy!” 

You have found a new home today on radio in San Francisco; is it strange being on the other end of the mic or was radio always something you could see yourself doing?

You know, my ego is so freakin’ huge I don’t care which side of the mic I’m on, as long as the mic is ON!  Radio is a wonderful way to communicate with hundreds of thousands of people every hour.  I love it!  Plus I can do the show in my underpants and nobody would ever know!  They can’t see me!

If you had a classic fake radio DJ name what would it be? any suggestions?

When I was a kid growing up in Baltimore, DJ’s had names like Fat Daddy and Commander Hot Rod.  Maybe I should change my on-air name to Beef Jerky or Greasy Cheeks or Dash Riprock.

As a horror writer now with several acclaimed books out, have you ever considered writing tunes to accompany your novels on the expanding digital landscape or in your audio books?

Actually I started out trying to do just that.  The result was the “Horror Show” CD in 1997.  It was supposed to serve as the soundtrack for the novel “Horror Show” and possibly a movie score but I only got 2 songs finished before I drifted off in another direction.  The 2 songs were “Horror Show” which you can see on You Tube, and “Vampira” which has no video.  Eventually I’ll make the movie of “Horror Show” and write the rest of the soundtrack.  By the way, let me be the first to announce the release of my new novel RUBBER SOUL published by Premier Digital Publishing in the spring of 2013.  It takes place in Liverpool in the early 60’s and has the Beatles as the main characters in a murder mystery.  It follows their meteoric rise to fame and culminates with assassination attempts in Manila in 1966 after snubbing the Marcos Family.  As far as I know it’s the first historically accurate truly fictional BEATLES NOVEL.  I hope you check it out when it’s released in early 2013.  I guarantee it’s like nothing you’ve read before.

ImageWhat are your fondest memories from touring with the Rolling Stones?

Hanging out backstage with the Stones.  Mick was very nice and gave me packs of cigarettes (Marlboro Box) whenever I asked, but the guy I most enjoyed talking with was Charlie.  He is a very interesting man- knows about history and is an expert of the Civil War believe it or not.  He’s got jazz roots.  Keith and Ron just played guitars and never said much.  Bill Graham introduced me and that did the trick.  I was one of the inner sanctum after that.  I’m sure Jerry Hall, Mick’s wife at the time, was checking me out.  Or maybe it was the drugs…  I’ve forgotten.  I’ll never forget the rush of walking out on stage in front of 90,000 people!

What are Greg Kihn’s “Ten Commandments of Touring”? 

1.    Never get separated from the band in a foreign country.

2.    Never leave the hotel with a chick who says she’ll take you to the airport in the morning.

3.    Never drink in the hotel bar alone, nothing good can happen.

4.    You’re better off smoking a joint alone in your room and watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island than going to a local club with some chicks you just met.

5.    When singing the National Anthem, start low and sing fast.

6.    Never drink from the mini-bar in your room.

7.    Never poop in the lavatory on the tour bus, peeing is OK, but defecation is not welcome.

8.    Never drink the other band’s beer, steal their women, or smoke their stash, it’s bad karma.

9.    Always treat the roadies with respect; they can really make you look bad if they want.  Remember, they have their own secret credo from which they never vary- (I’ll tell you but don’t say you heard it from me.)  The Roadie’s Credo- “If it’s wet, drink it, if it’s dry, smoke it, if it moves fuck it, if it doesn’t move, put it in the truck.”

10.  Pace yourself, it’s a long tour.

Visit Greg online at


1.0 – What was your favorite musical artist or band growing up and what was the first tune that really clicked with you as a kid?

The music that I started with my grandparents and parents – listening to their music on the radio – Elvis Presley, Bread, America, Jim Croce.

2.0 – When did you decide to make a real go of it as a musician and what was your initial game plan if any back then?

In the beginning, when I was 15 years old, I started playing the drums because my father was a professional drummer and I had every instrument in my house. I loved experimenting with all the different instruments. 27 years ago, I played in 2 really awesome cover bands – Hung Jury and The Crave. And I really mastered my craft by playing other people’s music and thought it was time for me to write my own music, where I could say what I wanted to say and be what I wanted to be. And I am so thankful for the free lessons.

3.0 – How many records have you put out as COLD STATIC  and how do you feel the band & music evolved?

3 studio CDs and 1 live CD as Cold Static. It evolved from me writing my own life story and saying anything I want to say. And being myself and choosing my life for free.

4.0 – If you had to describe the band as a combination of main influences, who would they be?

I have absolutely never been influenced by anybody but, ut, I can tell you right now, my favorite bands today are: Godsmack, Disturbed, Mudvayne, Slipknot, Stone Sour, and Hell Yeah. And you will see a taste of all of those bands on the next CD that I am working on right now.

5.0 – How is the new record coming along and what can you tell us about it?

As I answered the last question, it’s gonna be a taste of the bands that I love, with a super twist of Cold Static.

6.0 – Do you put more pressure on yourself as a songwriter today than you did starting out, or is it easier now?

I am absolutely my worst critic. And my best song is gonna be the next one I write.

7.0 – How have you maintained an edge living ‘out of the way’ as it were on remote Anna Maria Island in Florida?

Because Anna Maria Island is my home, where I can be me. And my friends love me, but I love my fans too.

8.0 – Of all the COLD STATIC tracks you have released, which one has garnered the most attention, was it the song you expected?

“Bin Laden, We Will Get You” definitely has a place in my heart. Because we are Americans, and if you support terrorism, we will find you and you will pay. I never expected that song to have so much impact.

9.0 – How important is who you tour with, which was your favorite experience so far?

I love every single band I have toured with. Hands down, if you are playing music, I will be there to listen. Oh my God, that is a really hard question…..but, if I have to answer that, I love my hometown band, Neurotica, with lead singer, Kelly Sheaffer.

10.0 – You noted recently that bands “have to have the full package or forget it”….any practical advice for young artists with early signs of promise?

Yes, I believe you must have that total package – musicianship, looks, theatrics and performance – which all make for a great show. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a hot girl on your side.


1.0 – What (or who) got you hooked on rock & roll?

I discovered mom and dad’s record collection at an early age. They had at least 100 or more albums. I wore out my first Sears black and white suitcase turntable since I figured out how to use it .I must have been at least 5 years old when I was using it on a regular basis. I am pretty sure I fell in love with rock and roll when I heard Elvis Presley for the first time. I think it was “Love Me Tender” or “Jailhouse Rock”. I listened to a really wide variety of music. Elvis, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, The Godfather Soundtrack. I discovered The Beatles on my own. My Mom ,Dad and Grandma bought all my music when I was growing up. Every Sunday we would do the family thing and kill the afternoon at the shopping mall. The family would split up and I would get lost in the record store checking out all the music in the store until they dragged me out. Fortunately ,with another Beatles album under my arm.

2.0 – Does the inspiration come from the same place today as it did then?

A lot  of my inspiration has come in random creative spurts of twenty minutes to a few hours at a time. My biggest fear is to dry up creatively. I have always thought of my musical gift as an antenna. I keep my mind open to receiving the melody that finds me.

3.0 – What records did you play along with as a kid?  My favorite records to play along with were Elvis, The Beatles, The Monkees and lots of top forty radio hits of the day. I still go through phases of listening to songs over and over again to pick apart arrangements,lyrics and production value. I am still a student of hit songs.

4.0 – How has the Chicago rock scene changed since you and Zac started Gidgets Gaga in 1999?

The Chicago rock scene is has gotten better and worse in diffferent aspects. There are better venues to play in the city than ever before. Great sound systems and good sounding rooms, but with that gain their are more clubs that do not want to pay the talent. Couple that with cover bands and the sheer number of original bands and it can make it much more difficult to ferret out the cream of the crop. Great music can get buried by those factors. We have learned to branch out more now. We constantly create multiple income streams to make a living via music licensing,merchandise and the occasional ponzi scheme.

5.0 – Any new recordings in the works?

Ah, yes we are working on a new ep titled “The Night Is Young”. We are making a major label quality recording on our own without major label financial backing. And it is taking a long long time. I am really pleased with the results thus far. The end result will definitely be worth the wait for our fans.

6.0 – How do you guys approach writing? (has it changed from when you started?) Songwriting is the most fun of the process.I am a stickler on the arrangements of our songs. Our arrangements sound decievingly simple but there is quite a bit of musicianship in them. I ‘d like to think we are getting better at writing.performing and recording.Some songs come really quickly while others need love and tweaking.

7.0 – What usually triggers a tune for you? a riff, a melody, a subject, a situation, a phrase someone says? Usually, it is all of the above. And most of the time the inspiration comes at the oddest times like when I’m on the can or in the shower. Sometimes Zac or Leslie will say something and I’ll end up using it as a lyric.

8.0 – Is there a quintessential gig story that is dear to the band’s lore? 
Best gig story ever! So we get a gig at a club on the southside of Chicago on a Wednesday night.I won’t mention the club. The important thing here is it could have happened at any club. I sort the details for the gig with (let’s call him) ‘Big Bird’ and score the band a great guarantee. The gig is set. We shake hands and speak a week before gig on the telephone. Handshakes still mean something to me, but as you will find out , it didn’t mean a thing to the booking agent. So far so good. We get to the gig with our gear and take an elevator up to the second floor  with all our gear. It’s decided right then and there we need roadies! We set up and rock the joint. This is the best part of the gig. We do what we do best for the 30-40 people who are at the club that night. What I did notice was a lot of drinking. This was a professional drinking crowd. All in all, its not a bad night but its not a great night. I’m talking more about the vibe of the club. The vibe doesn’t feel right to me. We play pretty well. I slip in some dirty jokes and we hit a few clinkers but no one seems to notice nor does anyone seem to care. I ‘m thinking the band may very well be winning the crowd over. Every club date is an adventure with bar staff, patrons and lets face it some outta hand drunks. Tonight, there are no tomatoes, no hecklers, no cuts and no bruises. Our four hour gig is over without incident. We do a little after the gig shot. Think we even did a little dance. Time to get paid for the night. The guarantee was a righteous booty, a real score for indie rockers writing and singing their own tunes. At least we didn’t have to play any covers! We’ve managed to avoid playing any covers by playing acoustic versions of all the songs as well as full on electric versions. But for, the record, we butcher other artists material at rehearsal for shits and kicks.

‘Big Bird’ is not at the club tonight. It’s his night off. I speak to the bar maid working behind the bar. She informs me the gig isn’t up! As in, we have to play till closing time if we wanna get paid. I am a bit tired but more irritated by this, but I put on an instant poker face. I think on my feet and have the bar maid call ‘Big Bird’ at home….feathers are ruffled as he was fast asleep, he informs the bar maid not to pay us unless we play till closing time. The problem with that was that is not what we agreed upon. The only two people who know the details of the gig are BB and myself. The bar maid hands me her cell phone and I hear  him rant – his redneck accent is straight out of the movie Deliverance. We’re all a little tired and my bandmates are restless and want to split . I catch the last thing ‘Bird’ hollers at me “Boy!.. you best let a dead dog lie! Or you’ll never play in this town again!” He slams the phone and hangs up on yours truly. So in a split second I think of what Joilet Jake (Belushi’s character from The Blues Brothers) would do at that very moment. What would JJ do? I pretend I’m still on the phone with him. The barmaid is 10 feet away she has no clue what I’m doing. I pull out my best Joilet Jake impersonation on BB: “We are so sorry about the misunderstanding about how long we were supposed to play.” Throw in some dramatic pauses for effect and continue a non existent conversation. I go on and thank him for letting us play such a cool club and  how everyone was so friendly. We have to book another gig. I catch the bar maids eye. I want to reel her in a bit to watch me work BB. I go on to say we’d love to come back and play and I m glad we sorted out the misunderstanding. I walk slowly toward the bar maid still on the phone and say “Big Bird, thanks again!” I hold my hand over the mouthpiece and tell the barmaid “Big Bird” says to go ahead and pay the band. I hang up the cell phone. She turns to the register and counts the money and hands it over to me. I put it in my pocket . I give the bar maid a wink , a smile and a thank you. Walk over to the guys and without missing a beat, I  smile and say “Lets get the hell outta here”! They know somethings up but I don’t have the time to fill’em in on what happened. My new problem is the bouncer standing at the elevator door. We have to get past him. Luckily, we’re a power trio,we travel light and I’m Mexican. We were packed and ready to head out in less than 5 minutes. “Big Bird” calls back – we’re at the elevator with all of our gear. The bouncer has to operate the elevator so we’re stuck. The bar maid is having a full on conniption fit. She knows she has been had. The bouncer has a little sidebar conversation with the bar maid. It felt like forever. The bouncer walks to me with the biggest grin on his face. It’s fight or flight and there is nowhere to run. He tells us he liked the band set and doesn’t care for “Big Bird.” He holds the elevator and helps us load out. The bouncer goes on to tell us BB has had a reputation of ripping off bands for years. I’m pretty sure the  bouncer was watching me the whole time on the phone but never let on. The bouncer was a pretty rough biker type and we made his night. He was happier than we were that someone finally got over on ‘Bird’ and I’ m sure the fact I was not a caucasion male made it even a bit sweeter. We unloaded the gear back home and called it a night.

In the wee of the night I heard the answering machine go off . The next morning I hear a drunk dialing angry ‘Bird’ try to form a sentence but all I can hear is some muttering about how we’ll never play in this town again. He was really drunk, totally pissed off and feeling a bit out smarted. You could hear it in his pained redneck voice and that, my friends, was priceless! We played that message over and over for weeks until it was accidentally erased. I think I peed myself it was so hilarious. The only regret I had was the message was accidentally deleted. We wanted to open the EP we were working on at the time with the voicemail. Note to indie musicians everywhere: Let my cautionary tale be a reminder to keep emails, voicemails and any other records when making gig arrangements. And as always, for those about to rock, we salute you!

9.0 – Westerberg stops by for smokes; what Gidgets Ga Ga tune do you pop on?

I ‘d let Westerberg pick between three songs:Dreamer, The Sorry Song and Forever and a Day. It would be great if he really did stop by to listen he is a hero of mine.

10.0 – Branding infringement aside, does Lady Gaga get kicked out for snoring? Musicians with Ga Ga in their moniker are most likely to be talented! Lady Ga Ga has written songs for some of the biggest names in the biz. She is the most talented in her genre of music for sure. I have to admit it I listen to all of her stuff my favorite song is  “Speechless.”


1.0  Who were your musical heroes growing up? This is kind of hard to narrow down, but Elvis Presley was my first musical obsession. I was about six years old when I decided I pretty much wanted to be him. But some of the other big ones would be Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye.

2.0  How were you exposed to them? I grew up in a house that was constantly filled with music, if I wasn’t sitting by the piano while my dad was playing, I was listening to the radio or watching MTV (back when they still played music). Once the internet came along, I just started downloading everything I could get my hands on.

3.0  Who would be your dream duet partner? I wish I could resurrect Marvin Gaye or Donny Hathaway. But as far as an actual possibility, Stevie Wonder or Al Green. John Legend would be pretty awesome too.

4.0  You describe The Congregation as “bluesy garage soul,” is this a new genre? No, not really. I think you can hear a lot of different influences in our music, but what I love about about The Congregation, and what I think other people love about it, is that we have such a classic sound. It’s the same music my aforementioned heroes made…or at least I’d like to think it’s something close to that.

5.0  Is this synthesis just a function of all the parts or a concerted effort to be unique? When you bring eight people together with very different backgrounds, both musically and in life, you’re going to end up with a sound that encompasses a lot of different things. I think we all came in with an idea of what soul music meant to each of us, but when we put it together I don’t think any of us really anticipated what it was going to end up sounding like. I know the soul band I had in my mind didn’t sound like The Congregation, but I think what I got was something better.

6.0  Were you happy with how your debut EP Not For Sleepin‘ has been received? Definitely. Not for Sleepin’ was a passion project for me, and I was really proud of how it turned out, so it’s been great to hear the positive feedback we’ve been getting. 

7.0  Are their plans to do a full length cd as a follow-up? Yes, we’ve been thinking about doing full length album since before we even finished Not for Sleepin’. We’re hoping to get back into the studio by September of this year.

8.0  Many bands first recordings are their best, do you think your new material is as strong as the tracks on Not For Sleepin’? The tracks we put on Not for Sleepin’ were great, but the next album will definitely be stronger, both on a performance level and as far as the material we will include. We’d only been together a matter of months at the time we started working our first EP, so everyone was still figuring things out. We’re all more settled in now, so no one’s holding anything back. There’s also been a lot more collaboration on the songwriting and the arrangements for our newer songs, so I think they’re more reflective of the band that we’ve become.

9.0  Do you guys play any covers live and, if so, does this help ‘set the table’ with a context for the audience? When we played our first show in January of 2010, we only had six or seven original songs, and they were all really short. So, we had to play a lot of covers just to be able to play a 45-minute set. We drew a lot of them from the catalogues of Stax and Chess Records, which did set the context for what we do in general. We don’t play covers out of necessity anymore, but we still play one or two at every show just for fun. Not for Sleepin’ includes “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges and “Little Sister”, which is an Elvis tune, so we play those two fairly often.

10.0  If you got the call to play Letterman next Friday what Congregation tune would you guys play? We’d have a hard time picking, but would probably go with “He’s Gone”.