JAN 18: Smith Westerns

The young band releases their second album.


Since their debut on tiny HoZac Records less than two years ago, the Chicago-based garage pop group Smith Westerns has been poised on the verge of stardom. The trio of Cullen Omori, 20; his brother Cameron, 19; and Max Cocacek, 20, have parlayed their long hair and fuzzed-out, feel-good hooks into a recording contract with buzz-building label Fat Possum, dates on the road with indie darlings Girls, shows with Florence and the Machine, and a European tour with MGMT. They’ve even been the subjects of a short film (left) by Ryan McGinley. Yet people are still talking about how young the three are. “Would they rather we do conceptual art for a few years?” asks Cullen, a little exasperated. “If there’s any time to do music, it’s now.” Their anticipated second CD, Dye It Blonde, out January 18, comes with a real producer (Chris Coady, who worked with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and aims to redirect the hype away from the band’s youthful transgressions—such as when, in 2009, they were expelled from Brooklyn’s Music Hall for relieving themselves in garbage cans. Though some may compare it with trashing one’s hotel room, Cullen explains that the incident was born out of necessity. “There were no free bathrooms,” he says. “So you can’t really romanticize it as a rock-star moment.”

Photo: courtesy of Ryan McGinley