Richie Kotzen and Adrian Smith have a love for the American blues and traditional soul music. Together they explore both on their debut album, “Smith/Kotzen.”
Used to working solo, Kotzen says it was a pleasure to work with Smith.
“I was so accustomed to doing everything myself,” Kotzen says. “It’s nice to be in a situation where we’re sharing the songwriting. I really loved it. It gave me a chance to have another perspective and sit back and lay back while he did his thing.”
Recorded on the Turks & Caicos Islands in February 2020, produced by Kotzen and Smith and mixed by Kevin “Caveman” Shirley, the nine-track collection sees the two musicians trading off on guitar and bass.
“I’ve been all over the world, so many places touring, but I hadn’t been to Turks & Caicos Islands,” Kotzen says. “It was such a great vibe down there. The water is incredibly clean, and the beaches are beautiful.
“We had a house we rented that was gorgeous. It was like something out of a story. We got up in the morning, went for a swim and then started working. We’d wrap it up, go for dinner and do it all over the next day. We really got a lot done. We made a really cool record.”
The record features special guest performances by Smith’s Iron Maiden bandmate Nicko McBrain on drums for the track “Solar Fire,” and Kotzen’s friend and touring partner Tal Bergman on drums for “You Don’t Know Me,” “I Wanna Stay” and “Til Tomorrow.” Kotzen plays drums on five other songs.
“We made a really cool record,” Kotzen says. “It’s a rock record — the likes of which people don’t make anymore. It throws back to our influence of the late-1960s, 1970s, Free and Bad Company. We had a great time on it.”