Who says that love and work should never mix? The Wind Up Dolls is a labor of love forged by romantic and musical partnership, Marty and Rachel Smith. Hailing from the Lockyer Valley, they produced and recorded the album in their home studio as well as sessions in Nashville and Texas by some of country music’s finest. Marty is featured on drums and percussion. Rachel tracked vocals, bass, piano and organs and penned the album. Having toured previously with Texan artist Drew Womack (solo/Sons Of The Desert), Marty enlisted the help of Drew for backing vocal arrangements as well as multi-instrumentalist Dave Ristrim (Big and Rich/Jewel/Luke Bryan), first call fiddle player Troy Engle (Patty Loveless), Vaughan Jones (Troy Casser-Daley) and Benji Pocock (Lee Kernaghan). Benji mixed the album at Vibetone Studios with mastering by Dave Neil.
The songs have been road tested in hundreds of shows from Darwin to Melbourne and every regional town in between. The band released their first foray into independent music in 2010 and toured relentlessly for the next nine months. The album received a respectable level of regional and national attention with music that “will knock your socks off.” (Gympie Times, 2010). But when the floods hit the Lockyer Valley in early 2011 they had a significant impact. Hailing from a town of scarcely 1900 people, Rachel recalls, “it was surreal. Right in the middle of it all, we got a call from a reporter from Southern Cross Ten who was very supportive of our music. I did the interview with one eye on the rising water level outside! But we were very fortunate… although sadly many of our neighbors were not able to say the same thing”. Immediate property damage aside, the band felt the main impact of the disaster post-event. “Many of our regular regional venues went under altogether or were so adversely impacted by the floods that, in the short-term, they couldn’t afford to have bands anymore”, explains Marty. “So we went from a full diary to tumbleweeds in a very short space of time.”
It was this shake-up that led to a major shift in musical direction. Shortly afterwards the band was offered a Wednesday night residency at Brisbane’s Tempo Hotel. Ready to stretch out beyond the confines of rock, the trio took on the residency under another moniker and embarked on weekly experimentation with blues and country sounds. A slew of new songs followed. “Writing the song on Monday and performing it live on Wednesday is a good litmus test for a songwriter”, Rachel remarks.
The new sound…
Between their base in the Lockyer Valley and extensive touring regional and rural Australia, the music has evolved in an unsurprising direction. “The songs and arrangements are much more country-orientated than their previous balls-out-rock counterparts,” explains Marty.
This makes sense when you consider Marty’s credentials. Signed to a major label at just 16, he toured the globe and relocated to Nashville in 1996. He’s recorded a swag of albums for various USA-based and Australian country artists and has played for everyone from Australia’s Lee Kernaghan to Texan sensation, Drew Womak. He was co-awarded Victorian Country Music Band of the Year 2006, MOE Awards 2005 and Tamworth Songwriters Association Album of the Year 2006 for his work with The Vibe, has been described as a “sidewalk-melting beat man” (Crave 2010) and, well… you get the picture.
But perhaps most endearingly of all, Marty and Rachel’s partnership solidified when working at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. “It’s true – it’s where we fell in love”, Rachel confirms.
“The Wind Up Dolls… have been making some big waves in the music scene. There is a strong musical connection that resonates through the band.” (Tsunami, 2012)
“Combines Smith’s captivating vocal talent with the intoxicating talent of drummer, Marty… one of the most exciting rock bands to hit Australian stages and airwaves in recent years” (Crave, 2010)
“A raw Aussie feel… cleverly crafted music” (Dubbo Photo News, 2010)
” Taking the reins and belting out rock like there is no tomorrow, Rachel steams up the stage and the stereo with her saucy vocals.” (Queensland Times, 2010)
“There is something different about Lockyer Valley rockers, The Wind Up Dolls. From the husband-and-wife connection to its rural grounding and female lead singer, the three piece has cast convention aside.” (Ipswich News, 2010)
“From the rich, lush farmlands of the Lockyer Valley… this is rock like you haven’t seen in a long time – and it will knock your socks off.” (Gympie Times, 2010)