It’s the chicken/egg situation for every band: Which comes first, the gigs or the fan base?
“We actually were turned down by every major venue in Cincinnati that we contacted for our CD release show,” says Dustin Smith, the 22-year-old singer/songwriter behind Okay Lindon.
He isn’t complaining, though. He’s simply explaining why his band had its CD release party at a local pizza place on May 2.
“Mac’s Pizza is pretty much the only place in town that will have us,” he says.
Smith is confident in himself and his music, but modest and reserved when it comes to talking about it. Okay Lindon’s full-length debut, Everything in Moderation, was produced by Smith and mixed and mastered by Jason Martin (of Starflyer 59). While the album has a wonderful flow from track to track, Smith was able to mix the lush instrumentation of Kevin Shields with the poppy melodies of Built to Spill to create something true to himself and his influences.
“I’ve never really been drawn to music that was particularly flashy or relied on any kind of gimmick,” he says. “What’s really important to me is to be honest with myself and just play natural music. I (tend to gravitate) towards artists that I think are writing about things that are actually going on in their lives.”
Okay Lindon doesn’t try to be cute or precious — just to bring an honesty and simplicity back to music.
With Everything in Moderation, Smith has crafted an album filled with gems that are easy to relate to but aren’t reaching for a particular niche. Standout tracks like “The Truth About Everything,” “Stronger Bones” and the David Bazan-esque “A Purpose I Used To Know So Well,” while plain and straightforward, are sophisticated in their use of various instruments and melodies to convey the simplest of emotions.
Everything in Moderation lacks any filler over its 44 minutes. With themes of growing up, dissolving friendships or being overwhelmed, Smith was able to make each song undeniably different yet connected through its thematic honesty.
“When I wrote that Okay Lindon record I was actually pretty inspired because I was just having a tough time … a weird period of change,” he says.
And this is exactly how the record feels — a young man experiencing life and trying to deal with adulthood. While Okay Lindon’s music has a lot to say, Smith often infers that he isn’t necessarily a deep writer. When asked what might set Okay Lindon apart from the flock of Indie bands in the area, he simply says, “I guess I consider myself a creative person, I just don’t feel the need to scream it out all over my music. I’m just trying to write songs.”
Smith understands why his gimmick-free approach might not draw people the way other local acts do.
“A lot of people are looking for bands that can give them an identity,” he says. “I don’t think there’s any sort of stereotype you can get from an Okay Lindon CD — it’s just music.”
While coming off as a “normal” guy would make some musicians or artists cringe, Smith wears that label with pride, even if that label won’t get the band booked someplace where they don’t have to bring their own PA.
“We cannot get booked anywhere in Cincinnati, so instead we have to take any odd show we can get,” he says. This includes a frat party where they played on a tennis court and no one came within 60 yards of the band; a park in Middletown where they played for about 100 children who could care less about them; and the Cincinnati Broomball Tournament, where they played one song in 0-degree weather.
Even with this weekend’s scheduled performance at Molly Malone’s in Covington, Smith jokes: “I always think we’re going to be forced to forever play the basements, bedrooms and broomball championships of this world.”
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