5 Questions With Shane Smith & the Saints: Musical Influences, Sonic Journey, ‘Yellowstone’ & More

by Jim Casey

Shane Smith & the Saints have been a Lone Star State staple for more than a dozen years. The band has released a handful of studio albums in that span, including Coast (2013), Geronimo (2015), and Hail Mary (2019), as well as a 2021 live album, Live From the Desert. However, Shane and company recently earned a legion of new fans, thanks to Paramount’s ratings monster, Yellowstone.

During Season 4 in 2021, series creator Taylor Sheridan—as character Travis Wheatley—capped Episode 3 by name-dropping “Shane Smith and the f—ing Saints” while “All I See Is You” (which was also the title of the episode) played in his truck. The following week’s Episode 4 opened with “All I See Is You.”

Now, the hard-touring Texas troupe—Shane, Bennett Brown, Dustin Schaefer, Chase Satterwhite, and Zach Stover—are slated to join Whiskey Myers’ Tornillo Tour for more than 30 dates this spring and summer.

Outsider caught up to Shane to ask him 5 Questions about his musical influences, sonic journey, Yellowstone, and more.

1. Lots of elements in your music—Texas Country, Red Dirt, Americana, Rock, Blues, Celtic. Where do all those sounds come from?

Shane Smith: I definitely listened to a lot of different stuff growing up. I grew up listening to a lot of Motown. My dad really enjoyed old oldies. There was an oldie station, 98.7 K-LUV in Dallas-Fort Worth. He would always have that on. My mom listened to a lot of gospel music. And my brothers introduced me to ’90s rock and alternative rock. My cousin introduced me to singer/songwriters and Red Dirt and stuff like that. So it’s definitely been a really wide range of stuff.

One thing that’s odd, Bennett, our fiddle player, one of the guys that I started the band with over a decade ago, when we were in high school, we used to look up all the old Smithsonian recordings, like the old-school folk recordings. Where you have some certain Carter Family members and just these unknown heroes in the Appalachian mountains on a banjo or on a fiddle on their front porch, when the Smithsonian would go around all over that area and just record with the very first recorders ever. I thought that was so funny to connect that dot that he and I both used to dive into all that stuff. He’s got the whole CD collection of it that’s this massive book of Smithsonian recordings. I think that’s a big link to how he and I hit it off so well musically at a very early point and why I was so into the style of fiddle that he would play. And so it just worked out. It’s funny.

2. Who are the singer/songwriters that speak to you?

Shane Smith: Hayes Carll, Adam Carroll is a big one. Ray Wylie Hubbard has been a big one. Ryan Bingham as well. I started listening to Bingham’s music at a pretty early point, when put out this CD [in 2002] Wishbone Saloon. Those are the ones that come to mind immediately. When I was about 19 or 20, I really started diving into their music when I was first going to college. It just gave me a whole new appreciation for that side of music, the writing side of it and the lyrical side of it and what you can do with a story. It’s a vast rabbit hole to dive down into when you get into the lyrics and stuff. I just really got into that.

3. How do you decide from album to album where you’re going sonically?

Shane Smith: I think it’s very much a subconscious thing of what we’re into during that time and what we’re seeing. At the end of the day, we’re going to have most fun whenever people are having the most fun at our shows. And you start to pick up on what people are really into at your shows and what’s getting a good response, and what’s not. I feel like we’ve always, from day one, we’ve been more of a live band than we’ve been a studio recording band. That’s been to our downfall a little bit, but I take a lot of pride in that. And I think that it’s a unique thing for a band to have that label. Even in the last two years, I’ve been listening to way more Indie rock and way more stuff that’s not country at all. I still listen to tons of country. I still listen to tons of folk music, but just in the last two years, I’ve started listening to a lot more Indie rock.

4. Will we hear a bit of that Indie sound on the next album?

Shane Smith: I wouldn’t be shocked if there are a handful of songs that sound a little more Indie rock. I think that’s the way it goes, and that’s honestly the way it should go because I definitely don’t think there should be walls built up around your sound or genre or whatever you want to call it. I think we’re living in a time where genres are dying off and the walls are being broken down of all kinds of stuff. And people don’t know what to call anything anymore, but that’s a good thing.

5. Take us back to Nov. 14 when ‘All I See Is You’ was featured on ‘Yellowstone.’ What was that like for you and the band?

Shane Smith: Man, it was unbelievable. We’ve never had anything like that before. We’ve never had anything to compare that to, that particular feature replacement. We were actually on tour at the time, and we were playing a show in Virginia Beach. And it was a Sunday night when Yellowstone airs. We talked to the venue because they had this big-screen TV behind the stage, and we’re like, “Hey, can we turn this into a watch party and then play a show after?” They were like, “Yeah, we don’t care.” We literally had it like a movie theater. All the fans were in there. We were in there with the fans, just getting drinks with everybody, hanging out. Everyone was just watching the episode on this big screen with all the lights down and through their PA system. So it just sounded like you were in some big movie theater. It was really cool. It was really special.

Yeah, it’s just crazy. I don’t know. It’s absolutely bizarre. We’re so used to having to work our asses off to get any kind of movement on the needle, and then all of a sudden you get this placement. I’m really thankful for it. It’s definitely new territory for us that we’re not used to at all. But I’m just extremely thankful for the nudge forward.