30 years after strumming his first guitar on the steps of his childhood home in Bangladesh, Karl Smith, the voice and songwriter of Sodastream, is set to release his debut solo album, Kites. Recorded and mixed in Karl’s basement studio while preparing for fatherhood, Kites captures the heady excitement, nervous energy and intermittent panic of the time.
Kicking things off with lead single – I Want You, a wonky little ode to love in the modern world, Karl will be showcasing songs on stages, radio stations and work computers across the country over the coming months.
Born in New Zealand, raised in Bangladesh and schooled in India, Karl eventually landed in Perth where he began playing music seriously. After garnering a swag of local awards and national airplay with local outfit, Thermos Cardy, the band unexpectedly split. Soon after, Karl formed Sodastream with Pete Cohen and relocated to Melbourne. Following the release of their first EP, Enjoy they toured Europe on the back of support from eminent UK DJ, John Peel and Dutch broadcaster, VPRO. On arrival in London, Sodastream met with Rough Trade head honcho, Geoff Travis and subsequently signed with Tugboat Records through Rough Trade. Second EP, Practical Footwear was hailed as single of the week in Melody Maker by Moby and after shows across the UK, the band topped off their first European tour with an appearance at the first-ever All Tomorrow’s Parties at the invitation of Glaswegian popsters, Belle and Sebastian.
In 2000 Sodastream’s debut album, Looks Like A Russian came out through Tugboat Records and the band followed it up with extensive tours across the UK, Europe and Australia, including a performance at Holland’s Crossing Border Festival with Mick Cooke of Belle and Sebastian guesting on trumpet. Sophomore album, The Hill for Company was given a worldwide release and included the super 8 video for Heaven on the Ground, which was a surprise hit receiving airplay everywhere from MTV in the US and Italy to German satellite TV in Saudi Arabia. The band toured Australia and Europe again, performing with Mercury Rev on Italian MTV and Low at the Union Chapel in London.
Sodastream followed up their 2003 album, A Minor Revival, with 13 months of relentless globetrotting – from a whirlwind tour of Japan to winter months in Europe, and then on to the US for their first American tour. Kicking things off in LA, the boys raced around the US, playing shows with everyone from the Essex Green and Richard Buckner to SXSW appearances with Powderfinger and John Butler Trio.
Over the next couple of years Sodastream criss-crossed the globe, performing in front of enthusiastic audiences at big-city shows in London, Berlin and Paris as well as far flung territories like Sicily, Luxembourg and Slovenia. From Pavement, Smog, Low and The Mountain Goats to Yo La Tengo, Lambchop and Emiliana Torrini, the boys have shared the stage with many of their heroes, all the while working with some of the most renowned indie labels around, including Tugboat, Rough Trade, Darla, Trifekta, P-Vine, Everlasting, Drive-in Records and Acuarela Discos. Karl also took time out in 2005 to record The Morning Ripples with Small Sips, a side project created with members of Paradise Motel alumni.
2006’s critically-acclaimed album, Reservations was album number four for Sodastream, but the band called it a day soon after an exhausting European tour. Karl turned his hand to writing and also went on to form Lee Memorial with members of Sleater Kinney, The Nation Blue and Paradise Motel. Releasing The Lives of Lee Memorial through Dot Dash/Remote Control, the band toured Australia and began working on another album before members’ commitments put the project on hold. However, never one to sit around twiddling his thumbs, Karl wrote the songs that would make up his first solo album, Kites. While recording Kites at his home studio in Melbourne, Karl also began rehearsing with Pete from Sodastream again after a six year break.
So now, with 12 studio albums under his belt and another Sodastream album in the works, Karl Smith’s debut record, Kites, feels like both lucky 13 and number one.
I Want You is the first single from Karl Smith’s debut solo record – Kites, out soon through littleBIGMANrecords/MGM.