Where There's Smoke There's Fire • William Patrick & the Smoke

Igniting the Stage with Inspirational Creativity & Energy

    Additional Reporting by
    icon Jul 11, 2024
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William Patrick & the Smoke are a freshly hatched and meticulously incubated 7-piece Rock ‘n Soul band who take specific definable elements of accomplished musicianship, creative inspiration, and tightly rehearsed yet  spontaneous showmanship, and blend them all together with a uniquely collective chemistry designed  to instantly grab your attention.  Within my own experience, this is the template needed for creating a truly great Rock ‘n Roll band.

Formed out of the ashes of the critically acclaimed and genre bending Rock ‘n Fusion band We, the Infamous by group co-founder William Patrick (lead guitar, lead vocals, primary songwriter) after that group disintegrated a little over a year ago, Patrick decided that the best way to make sure his next musical excursion would be designed to take listeners into the musical stratosphere was by hand picking the members to collaborate with on his next musical journey, knowing not only that their collective vision must be aligned, but that each member needed to add that extra fire and drive so essential to make it to the top in the modern world of the music business.

Adding both beauty and fortitude to the coloration and texture of both their original compositions as well as their cover material are the collective members who comprise The Smoke, consisting of Eric D’Aigle (drums, back-up vocals) Ameer Azúl (rhythm guitar, back-up vocals)  Erik Gillette (alto, tenor, baritone saxophone, rhythm guitar)  Elijah ‘Ozborn’ Hecht (bass guitar) Nathan Silverman (keys, organ, synthesizer, back-up vocals) and Christina Elizabeth (violin, back-up vocals).

Since their inception the group has been recording new original songs, with their first new single, What’s In the Box? set for release and currently available for pre-sale, the band has performed a half-dozen live shows and festivals throughout the region, and their performance opening at The Vault for ADABOY!’s CD Release party in June was a sight to behold. 

Rarely does one hear a band come out of the starting gate with so much tightly wound showmanship, loaded with meticulously crafted dynamics and fluid instrumental interplay that can stop on a dime.  For reference points, take the intricately woven yet syncopated Funk-Pop-a-Rock textures of Prince, meld that together with the fluid guitar weaving of The Allman Brothers, and top it all off with the brassy pizazz of James Brown & the Flames, and you get a better sense in terms of the scope of the musical landscape traversed by William Patrick & the Smoke.

“Essentially, we were born out of the ashes of six years with We, the Infamous, after trying like hell to take that band to the next level,” explains Will. “A combination of factors didn’t allow that to happen, but once you have your eyes set on something your drive is locked and there’s no stopping you.”

“At that point it became a matter of finding the right personnel, the right chemistry, and above all the right attitude, because what I’ve learned is that being a musician is 20% skill and 80% a question of whether you can hang and roll with the punches, which is why I kind of hand-picked this band. Some would say I stole a few musicians from some other really good bands, but I call it head hunting because if you want to be the best you’ve got to work with the best.” 

As for the eminently and equally talented members that form the foundation and add to the trim of this creative conglomeration, newest member Christina Elizabeth is the band’s violinist, who moves with the smoldering fire of Scarlet Rivera. “I started playing violin in high school and have played for 20 years now,” she reflects. “After college I wanted to find the right orchestra for me, only it turned out to be a band and I started playing with William Patrick & the Smoke about a year ago.”

Drummer and back-up vocalist  Eric D’Aigle says he was on his way up from Detroit to play with his former band, the award-winning Lori & the Darlings, when he got a call from Will who was desperate for a back-up drummer. “I was playing a show in Bay City and afterwards headed over to the Hamilton St. Pub to play a show Will was headlining there. He showed me a couple originals on acoustic guitar and told me covers I’d never played that I listened to on the way to the show and it went really well. When their drummer quit, I officially got the job.”

Sax player and guitarist Erik Gillette adds an amazing layer of sparkle to the band’s sound, having played sax for 12-years and guitar for nine. “I grew up in Fife Lake between Kalkaska and Traverse City and came down here to Saginaw to study music at school.  I met Will at a museum playing a gig for charity at which I was playing the bass. When he found I played sax, I was called in and became part of this enterprise. Originally when I got out of high school I wanted to be a bass player, but discovered my talents were desired elsewhere. 

Apart from Will, bass player Osborn Hecht is one of two other original members from We, the Infamous to join The Smoke, and studied guitar for 15 years, spending 5 of those years on the bass. “I joined the old band when I came across Will at a supermarket and ever since then it’s been a great ride,” he reflects. “I’ve stuck with Will through his journey with both of these groups because I believe we’re gonna go places and we both share the same attitude of let’s be the best thing out there.”

Rhythm guitarist Amir Azule is the other original member from We, the Infamous  imported over to The Smoke. “There’s a total heap of talent in this new band and it’s a great combination of personalities,” he reflects.  “The generational thing our band creates is one of those special factors that make it great. We range from people born in the 1970s to 2006, all with the same energy and optimism. That’s what I find exciting.” 

This brings us to keyboardist Nathan Silverman, who was introduced to the band through bassist Osborn.  “Ozzie played me some of the bands work after their previous keyboard player dropped out and asked me what I thought.  I had to learn all their original and cover material quickly, so at first it was kind of like being the spare tire on a car that you got nostalgic for driving.  I really like playing with these guys and have never played with a group like this before. Every member of this band have their eyes set on something more than merely playing in the bars and clubs.”

Given the economics involved with the viability for smaller clubs and bars to book a 7-piece band, obviously William Patrick & the Smoke have their eyes and ears aimed at becoming a headlining festival band, which within the year of their formation they are well on the way to achieving.

“We want to pay our bills doing this and live comfortably,” admits Will, “and as fate would have it the first gig we had one year and a day from the time of our formation was last year’s Oscoda Rock Festival, so we came out at that level from the get go on our first jump. This is a professional level band, and as they say in Remember the Titans, you will be perfect in every aspect of the game. I’m not a perfectionist and none of us are, but we work well together and have a strong work ethic.” 

This ethic shines through not only in the band’s performances, but also with their work recording originals at Andy Reed’s studio. “What I like is that Will lets us have our own creative license with the song,” notes Christina. “ He usually will bring a song to the band and our contributions come from feeling something out and each of us sitting down to figure out what we can bring into the mix to make the song sound proof.”

The best parts I’ve written is when we sit down and dissect the song together,” she continues. “This is a new experience for me because I’ve never played with other bands and mainly learn from sheet music.”

The most significant reason for the group’s rapid ascension can largely be attributed to the fact that since their inception that have performed and practiced together at least two days every week for the past year, and spend another day for developing content and videos they can post on Tik-Tok and other social media sites.

We all take it seriously and understand this is a business,” states Will. “Out of 43,000 songs that come out every day on Spotify alone, you have to make a lot of noise and rise above the pack if you want to be successful. One of the things that separates bands  that make it and those that don’t is the hard work you put into it. Songwriting is important, but a lot of the success in this business is outside of the music. Overall I would say its 10 percent about the music, 30 percent about the performance skill, and 60 percent all the other stuff - promotion, media, development - business.”

“Will is the best businessman I’ve ever worked with,” cheers Eric. “He got us a distribution deal with Universal and is working with Virgin Records and 313 to get us into the festival circuit, so we all admire his determination and get inspired by it.”

As this writer can attest, with only a half dozen shows under their collective belt, the group received numerous nominations in many categories at this year’s REVIEW Music Awards, which is a difficult accomplishment for a freshly formed band to achieve on the regional music scene.

“Most of our new engagement hasn’t come from large shows,” reflects Will, “and we’re starting to see a lot of these fans showing up in real life. A lot of our fanbase came from social media because of the fact we post and work something every day of the week.”

With five original studio recording completed, seven in the works, and nine in the tank, the group is in universal agreement how the best way to release these songs is as singles rather than an album format. “No one has the attention span to sit through an album anymore,” notes Eric, “The formula that works best nowadays is to wait six weeks after your first single comes out before releasing the second one, and concentrate on making each virgin recording a hit. Unless you’re making a Christmas album, nobody cares because nowadays you can carry and access music anywhere you go. Music is everywhere.”

Now with summer in full swing, William Patrick & the Smoke are blazing the trail with a series of upcoming live performances you surely won’t want to miss:

July 12 • Beachy’s in Caseville

July 20 • Bloom & Blaze Rock ‘n Blues Rib Festival • Ojibway Island • Saginaw

Aug. 31 • Citystock • Bay City

Sept. 7 • Oscoda Rockfest in Oscoda

More shows will be added throughout the summer, so be sure to check out William Patrick & the Smoke on the facebook and social media pages.

Additionally, fans and readers are encouraged to either scan the QR Code or use the link below to support their debut single release of What’s in the Box?  If the group gets 500 pre-saves they will be able to enter the Billboard New Release charts, so do your part and be one of the first to discover what exactly is in the box - apart from what by all indications will be a memorable musical experience.



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