Everything started clicking nearly 10 years ago. Then LA-based, the trio of Smith, Lyle & Moore first started recording an EP’s worth of songs. Then, they let the songs brew and went about their business for several years before putting the finishing touches on their debut EP1, out Sept. 18.
In a way, the four tracks of EP1 represent chapters in the lives of Smith, Lyle & Moore, each a snapshot from in time from singers and songwriters Tyler Lyle, Andrew Smith, and Jack Moore. Affective and uplifting breezy folk-driven “Fate” effortlessly coasts, featuring vocals by Dhani Harrison. Already good friends Moore, son of the late Thin Lizzy guitarist and songwriter Gary Moore, and Harrison had talked about working on something together for some time.
“Once we got ‘Fate’ together we felt like it would be a natural progression to get Dhani involved and do some backing vocals,” says Moore of the collaboration. “I really feel like it gave it this kind of real Traveling Wilburys vibe. He really like galvanized the whole track and made it way more interesting.”
In fact, it was Harrison who first urged Moore to move to LA in 2011, where he met Smith, and the two started writing together under various monikers—XING and Coyote.
“It started just as a demo that Jack and I did and uploaded to SoundCloud a couple months after we recorded ‘Fate,’ and we just organically did more stuff from there that inspired us to keep moving with the project,” says Smith. “Then, years later we added different elements to the original recordings.”
Through all the moving parts, and interconnectedness of their individual work, Smith and Moore eventually connected with Lyle, who previously met Smith through a mutual friend, to record the more melancholy “Werewolf” in 2012. The trio ended up recording four tracks, two written by Lyle and the half penned by Smith and Moore.
“I feel like the idea of this group has been a long time in the works,” says Lyle, who also released a video for the track under my own name in 2013. “The songs have been recorded for a few years and it’s finally time to release them. So yeah hat’s how I know Andrew is through our work.
Lyle, who has since been married, became a new dad and returned to Atlanta, says “Werewolf” was initially written when he was still living in Georgia, while “Hollywood Forever” was born out of barely getting by as he worked towards making it as a songwriter in Los Angeles. Closing EP1 on a more dreamy elevation to EP1, “Hollywood Forever” is shadowy ode to the lost hopes and dreams of LA.
“Hollywood Forever was about dead celebrities and the people trying to go to LA to live out their dreams,” says Lyle of the track. “I loved going to the big labels and A & R offices and playing that song, because it was my reminder, a meditation to myself that this moment doesn’t matter. We’re all dead celebrities.”
Still part of the LA-based synth-wave band The Midnight, Lyle says that when the pandemic hit, the meaning of “Hollywood Forever” and “Werewolf” resonated even deeper for him. Even so many years later, he was reflecting on his journey from Atlanta to LA and back to Atlanta again, and how everything comes full circle.
“’Hollywood Forever’ and ‘Werewolf’ are of the ground,” says Lyle. “During the pandemic, I pulled out a shovel in my front yard and just started digging. I didn’t know what I was digging. I just felt like I needed to reconnect with the ground, and I think that ‘Werewolf’ is about us accepting the brute nature of ourselves and not thinking too highly of ourselves. At the end of the day, we are mother fucking werewolves, while in ‘Hollywood Forever,’ we are just decomposing bodies.”
Lyle jokes that his songs tend to center around death and sex, which seems to work for him so far. “It’s about this rat race that Los Angeles can be,” he says. “It gave me a career. It gave me my band, but ultimately these these things are fleeting.”
With Lyle contributing his tracks, Smith and Moore produced their end of EP1 with “Fate” and “Gold.”
“Both tracks are like big amalgamation of just sudden inspirations at the time that we came together and wrote—me meeting Andrew and writing together,” shares Moore. “Lyrically, it was a bunch of different styles, and a combination of our inspirations. I can’t tie it down to one particular thing, but it just captured the vibes that we were experiencing at the time.”
Smith says all the tracks naturally came together, and that the lyrics of “Hollywood Forever” also connected to “Fate” and “Gold.”
“It’s a similar sentiment that at the end of the day we are dust and clay, but some things are bigger and greater than that,” says Smith of the natural evolution of the EP1. “There were also certain sounds and elements of ‘Werewolf’ that I connected with sonically with ‘Fate,’ which then evolved more with Dhani. Then that inspired ‘Hollywood Forever,’ so even though they were gone independently, they were completely intertwined.”
Smith, Lyle & Moore was a long time coming, but it has already aged well. “It sounds like a time and place, and it’s unreplicable,” says Lyle, citing Young’s recent 40th studio album Homegrown, which was pulled from analog recordings from 1974 and 1975. “To hear the same record recorded in 2020 just wouldn’t be that interesting, so to listen to this EP puts me back in a former self that was a little more lost and searching and more open to experiences—a version of myself that in some ways scares me a little more and also that I wish I was more like now as time passes and things get a little more settled.”
He adds, “This was a record where things were up in the air and things were all possible in all realms of life.”
For Smith, Lyle & Moore, this isn’t a one-off project, just something that is slowly and methodically unraveling.
“It’s been like a long time in fruition, so we’re very grateful to get it out and get a reception,” says Moore, who wants to see how EP1 unfolds and already have more material for a follow up, EP2. “I think that will dictate where it allows us to go in the future essentially, but we love it. We put our heart and soul into this and it’s precious to us and we’re really excited to see where it goes from there.”