By RALPH RENNA
TROY — Since 2006, Smittix has been steamrolling, stomping and grinding its way into the 518 music scene. Members Rob “Smittix” O’Donnell (vocals), Whiskey Will Seyfferth (bass), James London Tougher (guitar) and Jay O’Donnell (drums) have not only made their mark and claimed their territory with their unique combination of punk, ski, funk and rock ‘n roll, but have also given back to the local community.
Frontman Rob Smittix is grateful for everything.
“As much as we would love to take a leap of faith, we are not 20 years old anymore. We all have families, jobs, mortgages etc.; we can’t just jump in a van and hit the highway.”
The band as a whole embraces the do-it-yourself ethic instilled in the true members of the punk generation.
“We also are not trying to become rock-stars either, we simply have a need to make music.” explained Smittix.
“It is our release. It is for us and if people like what we are doing and they can relate to our songs, then we are glad we shared it.”
While the band has hit a few roadblocks of late, it keeps moving forward.
“We have been working with Lucas Rathke (new guitarist) for the past year or so, focusing on new material. Lucas has brought a lot to the table and we’re sure you will notice that style has been tweaked a bit, a little darker at times, a little more punk but still elements of ska in there,” said Smittix.
It’s a lot to juggle. Rob Smittix not only has a family, a day job, the band and a night job, but he also runs his own punk rock motivated/locally supportive website: forusnotthem.com.
Little did he know that two of the toughest challenges of all were about to affect the whole band.
Smittix recently released a single titled “Battle of Today,” inspired by the news that Rob and Jay’s mother had been diagnosed with lung cancer, while Will’s mother was found to have a severe heart condition. According to Rob Smittix , the band found out about both of these illnesses during the same week if not on the same day.
Illness strikes, we all know how that part feels. Yet, somehow, in some way, music soothes and sometimes heals.
Seyfferth’s mother, Debbie, went into the hospital first, suffering from heart failure, while Smittix and O’Donnell’s mother, Marlene, underwent surgery to remove the lung cancer shortly thereafter. Although she also received radiation and chemotherapy treatments simultaneously, Marlene had an unexpected yet necessary second surgery to remove another mass on her brain.
Smittix says that while both of the band members’ mothers are currently out of the hospital, they still encourage their fans’ thoughts and prayers.
The band’s members have found music and use it to make a difference. This time around, however, the causes hit closer to home than ever before and Smittix is excited to help.
The band recently began a campaign to donate all of the proceeds from the sales of its “Battle of Today” promotion to lung cancer research and the heart foundation in honor of the two mothers.
An online shop with clothing and other merchandise has been set up at smittix.com. Customers will receive a free download of the mom’s fight song with any item purchase.
Smittix is one of four bands playing live this Saturday night at The Hangar on the Hudson in Troy, as part of Let Go Daylight’s “The Low Down Dirty” release show.