"Kim and Scott Collins, The Smoking Flowers, carry on the torch where Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris left off in their day, delivering beautifully produced, sometimes moody, songs with knockout harmonies... and less traditional than your classic country-folk duo by bringing a punk-attitude and energy to their highly infectious songs. A marriage of song and voice that is uniquely their own."
Plato wrote "Rhythm and harmony find their way in the inward places of the soul." The music of the soul should be steeped in a fiery, firmly held love, and the classic mingling of singing souls like Johnny and June Carter, Ike and Tina, and X's John and Exene have become the voice of love for generations of music fans. Now add to the canon Nashville, Tennessee's The Smoking Flowers, led by vocalists and multi-instrumentalists Kim and Scott Collins, married 14 years, who are just as red-hot soulful and sweet as those legendary duos. This duo simply has a musical and relational love as strong as aged rare bourbon.
The Smoking Flowers fire up an East Nashville-based brand of rock, blues and country with a sweet flavor of Southern Gothic folk, all with a punk attitude. Their sophomore album '2 Guns' will no doubt appeal to a large spectrum of fans when it hits the world this summer. The album was co-produced and engineered by Adam Landry, noted producer of Deer Tick, Middle Brother, and Diamond Rugs and former touring guitarist for Ray LaMontagne. Adam also added his own sublime guitar to it, giving it that dusky, diverse feeling of his other Americana projects. "Something I Said," a single off the album, was recently featured on the hit ABC show "Revenge." Everything on '2 Guns' was written and arranged together by Kim and Scott at their East Nashville home. The album was tracked on 8-track 1-inch tape, continuing the Collins' 12 years and counting commitment to analog recording. Several tracks on the record were the first take recorded live. The realistic, street level poetic lyrics were thoughtfully written out over time and experience -- but its thirteen songs were raucously brought into existence in single recorded takes over about four days, as if their lives depended on it.
'2 Guns' is a ferocious musical document that eerily proved to be a foreshadowing of the battle the couple was soon to encounter. Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer just after they recorded and mixed '2 Guns'. The album was supposed to be released in the spring of 2012, but was put on hold while the couple faced this most dreaded disease together.
Kim's breast cancer is in remission today, just over a year after her diagnosis, due to only using holistic methods, as she decided against chemotherapy, radiation and hormones. The very day she found out of her diagnosis, Kim committed to a diet of 100% raw food and radically alternative treatments. A testament to the power and energy of life and the potential of the future, undeniable urgency flows and howls throughout the album, and the couple tapped deeply into their punk and raw country & western roots in its composition.
Kim cites influences that range from Led Zeppelin to Gillian Welch and The Ramones to Linda Rondstat. Ironically, just a few years ago, Kim was considered by one of those very influences when she was up for the female vocalist spot in Robert Plant's "Band of Joy". Unbeknownst to Kim, Mr. Plant had been listening to some of her recordings and loved her voice. But as fate would have it, her friend Patti Griffin got the role. "The job was clearly destined for Patti...I mean look at her and Robert now! I do believe in a good love story, after all," says a sighing Kim. As for Scott and his influences, the answer ultimately comes down to just one name: Neil Young.
Scott was born in Missouri and raised near Highway 61, growing up aware of the importance and significance of that American music landmark, even attending Elvis's funeral when he was only three years old. He became passionate about Neil Young in his early 20's, and followed his dream to New York City before being lured by his brother to visit Nashville for the summer to start a band.
Kim and Scott met that summer in 1998 when Kim was the floor manager of heralded, taste-making venue 12th & Porter (Nashville's CBGB's of that era). Scott came by to see about a summer job, Kim was the only one in the restaurant at the time, and apparently sparks flew. Kim told Scott he didn't need to fill out an application and he was hired on the spot. After only one date, Scott went back to the Big Apple and gathered up his things, telling his friends he thought he'd found the "one", and moved to Nashville. Six months later, Kim and Scott were engaged.
Collectively among past and current projects, they have opened for beloved song-smiths including the Indigo Girls and Ben Folds Five, underground post punk artists Concrete Blonde, soulful rock bands including The Black Keys and The Black Crows, straight-ahead rock bands including The Strokes and reggae legend Ziggy Marley.
Tales of the road have it that when Kim and Scott are touring as a duo, they pull-up in their Volvo wagon stuffed full of gear, and crowds are amazed by all the instruments they pull out for a two-piece. Kim dances between accordion, acoustic guitar, drums, mandolin, harmonica on "White Flags", lots of banging shimmering tambourine and her own sensual, simmering country-soul vocals. On the album and live, Scott plays acoustic and electric guitar, harmonica, and delivers his vocals with the voice of a feisty, gin-battered, heart-on-sleeve, hardscrabble troubadour.
The story behind the cover of '2 Guns' is as wild as everything else about the band's history. It's a real ghost town on Route 66. It exemplifies the gritty wanderlust of Kim and Scott. "We love to get in the car and just drive with no plan, and one time we rented a convertible and headed out on Route 66 into Arizona on a spontaneous trip. The cover of our album was a photo I took from the hood of our convertible, when we found the original dirt road of 66. It was deserted and surreal." Kim says. "When we saw the ghost town of '2 Guns' I had to stop to take photos and we ended up having quite a Quentin Tarantino-type experience! There was a man squatting in a Winnebago and a true hermit with a beard to his waist squatting in a nearby abandoned barn. They were the only two people in this ghost town. They told us stories of all the history of the land, how it had been cursed between the Navajos and the Apaches, involving lost gold. It made Tombstone look like Disneyland! We were invited inside the Winnebago to view a knife collection. That was a little scary, but ultimately they were beautiful characters, we actually didn't want to leave." Several of the songs on 2 Guns tell tale of this Western adventure. While other songs paint a picture of the other big adventure in their life... the adventure of a couple that lives together, writes together, plays together and simply loves life together