Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist (and admitted Prince disciple) Shawn Smith is probably best-known among Pearl Jam fans, since he's the frontman for PJ guitarist Stone Gossard's on-again, off-again side band, Brad. But in addition to Brad, Smith has been involved in several other projects since the early '90s, including launching a solo career just prior to the dawn of the new millennium. Born on October 28, 1965 in Spokane, WA, Smith became interested in music at an early age (originally courtesy of the Partridge Family), which resulted in the budding musician picking up the drums, piano, and the guitar by the age of 13. Although inspired by such '70s rockers as Queen, Kiss, and Elton John, it wasn't until Smith discovered Prince in the early '80s that he had found his true musical guiding light. After relocating to Seattle (by way of Bakersfield, CA) at around the same time, Smith invested in a drum machine and began penning original songs.
After unsuccessfully trying to establish a career as a solo artist, Smith tried his hand at forming a Seattle-based band during the early '90s (just as several local outfits began to infiltrate the mainstream). First up for Smith was the short-lived Love Co., before forming the group Satchel with drummer Regan Hagar (originally titled Bliss). But just as Satchel was beginning to blossom, the group was put on hold momentarily, as both Smith and Hagar joined old pal Gossard in a side project that originally appeared to be a one-off, the funk-rock/ballad-based Brad. After the release of a debut recording, 1993's Shame, all of its members went back to their full-time bands, as Satchel inked a recording contract with Epic Records. Satchel put out a pair of underappreciated recordings during the mid-'90s (which were quite similar stylistically to Brad), 1994's EDC and 1996's The Family, which both sunk without a trace. It was also during this time that Smith formed another band, the studio-based dance duo Pigeonhed (which included famed Seattle producer Steve Fisk), who recorded a pair of recordings: 1993's self-titled debut and 1997's The Full Sentence.
As if Smith's schedule wasn't busy enough, Gossard came calling once more, resulting in the resuscitation of Brad. The group issued their sophomore effort, Interiors, in 1997, and this time, launched an extensive supporting tour behind it. But once more, Brad failed to score a significant hit, as the group was again put back into mothballs upon the tour's completion. 1998 saw the British dance group, Lo Fidelity Allstars, score a sizeable hit with a remix of the Pigeonhed track "Battle Flag" (off their How to Operate with a Blown Mind album), while Smith was putting his debut solo album together. In 1999, Smith issued Let It All Begin to little fanfare, and a year later, released a follow-up concert recording, Live at the Point: 9/30/99, which included a mixture of Brad, Satchel, and solo tracks. In 2002, Smith and Brad returned with their third album, Welcome to Discovery Park. Smith has also guested on recordings by other artists over the years, including the Afghan Whigs' Congregation and Black Love, Critters Buggin's Guest, Devilhead's Your Ice Cream's Dirty, and the Twilight Singers' Twilight. ~ Greg Prato