Thru It All, They're Still BUDDZ
Teens In Local Band Overcome Adversity To Keep On Rockin'
By Ben Shupe| Special to the Bristol Herald Courier | July 31, 2008*** Published in the Bristol Herald Courier, Saturday, July 26. ***
BRISTOL, Tenn. ? Four local teens have turned adversity into a positive for their band and gained some valuable experience to cope with the volatile music business.
Brothers Scott and Matt Smile, Alex Chamis and Max Crawford, form the band "Buddz," a talented and disciplined group.
Last September (2007), their instruments were stolen from their studio. They lost about $7,000 worth of equipment.
"They busted down the door and took everything ? guitars, drums, cymbals and speakers," said Scott Smile, lead singer and rhythm guitarist.
Without instruments, the band's future was in doubt.
"We thought we wouldn't last much longer because the lack of equipment put a halt to our music," said lead guitarist Matt Smile. "We couldn't practice, we couldn't do anything."
The members since have pulled together and replaced most of the lost equipment. With the help of a loan, the band members have worked full-time to pay for new instruments.
"They've been working everyday to pay for their stuff. They haven't had very much of a summer," said Beth Smile, mother of Scott and Matt.
They received a bit of help, however, in the form of a PA system donated by Sammy Smile, an uncle of the Smile brothers and long-time mentor to lead guitarist Matt Smile.
"We've just now gotten back to where we were," Matt said. "We had to start fresh. That was hard."
While they most easily would be categorized as a rock-and-roll band, the members pride themselves on their versatility and hesitate to be categorized.
"We play anything from Tom Petty to Avenged Sevenfold," said drummer Alex Chamis. "We can play anything."
Buddz can even be found playing gospel music regularly at Valley Pike Presbyterian Church.
"We play whatever we like, whatever gets people moving," bass guitar player Max Crawford said.
Max, Alex and Matt attend Tennessee High School and Scott attends East Tennessee State University.
The band took their difficult times and turned them into an opportunity for growth. They practiced with the only instruments that remained ? their voices. With no instruments to play, they practiced harmonizing, which Scott said significantly improved the band's vocals.
"In the long run, the robbery helped us a lot," he said.
"But it hurt," added Alex, who lost a guitar he had owned his whole life.
Buddz has gone the extra mile to make sure the new instruments are secure, locking them inside a building with iron bars over the doors and windows.
Buddz members share a strong enthusiasm for performing, taking every opportunity to play, regardless of pay.
"We don't really care about getting money out of it. We just like to see people happy from listening to our music," said Scott Smile. "That's enough payment for us really. If your music is good enough to make someone happy, why not go out and play?"
The band performed at the "Relay for Life" at Bristol Motor Speedway and at the VFW's "Rockin' for The Troops."
They also played at the Bristol National Guard Armory for a breast cancer survivor benefit, which is a cause that touched the band members personally. They lost a friend to breast cancer ? Michelle Howard, Scott and Matt's cousin.
"She was a really close friend. She loved our music," said Matt.
Buddz is planning to bounce back at the Tazewell County Fair's Battle of the Bands on Aug. 13, 2008. And they recently had a major tryout they can't talk about publicly.
The band also plans on releasing an album in December 2008.