Since forming in 2007, indie rockers Smith Westerns have managed to tour with major acts including MGMT, Florence and the Machine and Belle and Sebastian. The Chicago five-piece released their debut, self-titled album in 2009. Early this year, Cullen Omori, Cameron Omori, Max Kakacek, Hal James and Ziyad Asrar recorded their sophomore effort in a proper studio. The result: a cleaner, higher quality collection of timeless pop songs called Dye It Blonde. Now on tour with Wilco and Yeasayer, we caught up with the boys to chat about what they like to eat on the road.
What do you eat before a show?
We don't eat meals before shows. All of our digestive systems are sensitive and late-night eating is the enemy.
What's your favorite thing to get after a show?
There are Popeyes and Subways all across the country
What's your favorite post-L.A. meal?
The only place we've gone out to eat in L.A. is the Brite Spot and the food there is pretty awful. I'm not sure why we've been there more than once.
Have any groupies ever made you anything and sent it backstage?
The coolest one was just recently in Chicago when two girls made us a couple of Rice Krispie treats with my (Cameron) face and Cullen's face made out of frosting on them. They go to art school I think.
Any food that musically inspires you?
Hampton Inn breakfast spreads, I don't think we could tour without them.
What are your fondest food memories? Any of them documented in your music?
The creation of our first beer salad, it's a tightly held recipe though so I won't go more into it. No food experiences are directly documented in our music, but you are what you eat, don't ever forget.
What's your favorite city for eating before or after you've played a gig?
Austin is usually really fun because we've been there often and have a better hold on the city. I think Lamberts Barbecue is probably one of the best restaurants we've been to in the past six months on tour.
What is your favorite tour bus snack?
Snacks on the bus change all the time. Everyone usually gets some kind of candy and some kind of chip, except for Hal who has a soft spot for gas station chilidogs.
What hometown meal do you miss the most when you are on the road?
Since we're all from Chicago you'd guess hot dogs, but none of us are huge fans of hot dogs. I think the one thing we eat a lot at home that we don't get on the road is Mediterranean food. We each have our favorite place in Chicago to get a falafel. Also there is a really great Mexican place right near my house that I usually hit up after a long tour.
Who's the pickiest eater in the band? What's his deal?
That would definitely be Ziyad. It's not in the sense you would think, either. Usually in the morning if we do not get breakfast at our hotel we'll each get $10 to $15 to spend at Whole Foods to stock up for the day in the van. Usually we can be thrifty enough to get a couple of meals out of that money and have that hold us until dinner. However, whether he is just cheap or hates Whole Foods, I don't know, but Ziyad rarely ever eats there and usually makes us take him to the nearest fast food chain. He is especially partial to Burger King and Popeyes. No one else in the band is really a picky eater at all.
Any food favorites of the entire band?
As much as we all try to eat moderately well (except for Ziyad), I think that Whatatburger is our favorite. They are only in a couple of southern states, but the burgers are by far the best fast food chain burgers in the country. Whataburger is really one of the only places where the whole band will get the biggest, greasiest meal possible.
Any on-the-road food discoveries, restaurants or roadside vendors?
The coolest place we have found is Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City -- it's a barbecue place in a gas station. We found it by accident when we were searching for barbecue on our GPS and it is comparable to -- if not better than -- some of the best barbecue we've had in Texas.
Backstage food is kept pretty small -- vegetables and dip, and pita and hummus are usually the only foods back there.
Have you ever requested 10,000 M&Ms, but none of them brown?
Naw, hopefully one day we will.