SMITH/KOTZEN, the electrifying collaboration between guitarists and vocalists Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen, released its self-titled debut album on March 26 via BMG.
A six-and-a-half-minute behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the album can be seen below.
Recorded on the Turks & Caicos Islands in February 2020, produced by Richie and Adrian and mixed by Kevin "Caveman" Shirley, this nine-track opus is a consummate collaboration between these two highly respected musicians who co-wrote all the songs and also share lead vocals and trade off on guitar and bass duties throughout the record.
Exploding with powerful melodies and harmonies, the album embodies the spirited attitude of 1970s classic rock with a melting-pot of influences ranging from blues, hard rock, traditional R&B and more, blending the pair's backgrounds and life experiences to result in a thoroughly contemporary sound.
01. Taking My Chances
04. Some People
05. Glory Road
06. Solar Fire
07. You Don't Know Me
08. I Wanna Stay
09. 'Til Tomorrow
The record features special guest performances by Adrian's IRON MAIDEN bandmate Nicko McBrain on drums for the track "Solar Fire", and Richie's longstanding friend and touring partner Tal Bergman on drums for "You Don't Know Me", "I Wanna Stay" and "'Til Tomorrow", with Richie picking up the sticks on the other five songs.
Smith comments: "Richie and I started working together a couple of years ago. We'd been jamming as we'd been friends for a few years before that. We both share a love for classic rock and bluesy rock, so we decided to get together and start writing some songs and it went from there. Pretty much everything on the album is handled between Richie and myself, including the production. We had developed a really strong idea of how we wanted it to sound, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. There's a lot of cool songs on there that we are really happy with.”
Kotzen adds: "We had a very fluid process in writing. Sometimes Adrian would send me a riff and I would immediately hear some kind of melody or a vocal idea. And sometimes it was the other way round, so it was a kind of circular motion. We'd get together whenever we could and throw some ideas around and it just evolved, which was great because there was no pressure and nothing other than just a natural course and I think the record really speaks for that."
The album is available in these formats:
* Digipack CD
* 12" black vinyl with embossed sleeve
* Digital (streaming and download)
* Limited-edition 12" red-and-black-smoke-effect-colored vinyl
Smith is best known as one of IRON MAIDEN's principal guitarists, having also enjoyed success as a solo artist. Kotzen is the frontman for THE WINERY DOGS as well as having been the guitarist for both MR. BIG and POISON during his long and acclaimed career, which has to date seen him release more than 20 solo albums. Both artists are also prolific songwriters.
Adrian comments, "I think Richie and I complement each other really well. He's a virtuoso guitarist but he's got a great sense of melody — the whole thing just felt very natural."
Richie adds: "We found common ground in classic and blues-based rock — we both come from that mentality. We've been writing and recording together for the past year and I'm ecstatic with the results."
Smith has spent the last few months promoting his memoir, "Monsters Of River & Rock", which was released in September via Virgin Books.
In February 2020, Kotzen released his 22nd solo album, "50 For 50", via his own custom label, Headroom-Inc. The three-disc collection is just what the title implies: a collection of 50 previously unreleased compositions produced, performed and written by Kotzen in honor of his birthday. It's the follow-up to his critically acclaimed "Salting Earth" album, which came out in April 2017 via Headroom-Inc.