Smith Westerns frontman Cullen Omori announced over the weekend that his band would be going on “indefinite hiatus” after a farewell show in Chicago and a New Year’s Eve surprise in NYC. In a new interview with The Chicago Reader’s Dan Hyman, Omori clarifies that Smith Westerns are breaking up for good, with no plans to reunite, thanks to guitarist Max Kakacek’s decision to leave the band. Here’s how the breakup came to pass:
Dan Hyman: Why end Smith Westerns? And more specifically, what instigated this decision?
Cullen Omori: In 2014 we didn’t really do anything. In 2013 we released Soft Will, and the Sky [Ferreira] tour was the last tour we did. We kind of took it easy in 2014. We hadn’t really taken it easy or stopped since we started or since the ball started rolling on our band in 2009, when we were like 19. We just toured nonstop, or if we weren’t touring we were spending a lot of time working on music and writing. So we decided we were going to take some time off with the intention that we would possibly revisit putting out more Smith Westerns music. And as the year went on it become more apparent that to get us back in the studio, to get us all on the same page, was gonna be something that was not very possible. And then recently Max came to me and Cameron and said he didn’t want to be a part creatively of Smith Westerns anymore. He thought it would be a good time to stop since we hadn’t done anything this year. And Cameron and myself were down with it. We were fine. We weren’t angry or anything. But we wanted to do one last show because we never planned any of this. This was very unplanned. He just came to us and told us and we were like, “Cool, let’s just at least do a show before we stop.” He wasn’t into that idea.
But you guys are officially done?
The band just didn’t work. Both creatively and personally. The terminology I used, “indefinite hiatus,” I thought was a clever way of saying “it’s not going to happen in the future.” But yeah, there’s no plans to reignite Smith Westerns. It’s broken up. Me and Cameron, when Max left the band, we decided we weren’t going to dissolve it until we played these last shows because it sprang up on all of us.
Smith Westerns’ farewell show is this Tuesday, 12/23 at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. Get tickets here.