From the Scepter'd Isle to the River City

By Bob Bahr

Tim Arlon, the charismatic lead Singer of Smokehouse, comes from a household that saw visits from James Taylor and other pop superstars. He hails from England, but his head is in the States. That's evident in the very name of his band Smokehouse, an American word. The noun appears in one ot' Arlon's songs that has made the jump over the Atlantic ('Movin' On"), but Arlon says that's a coincidence. One of the bass players that the band auditioned called people "smokehouse" just as a nickname. It became a band fetish. But it took local music maven Chaz Rough to see the word as the band's possible name.

An Americanism to title his music project? It makes perfect sense to Arlon.

Arlon: I feel really comfortable here. I enjoy playing the clubs. See, I think I have a different thing, because when I got here, I didn't know Louisville. I get really excited when people tell me that there's a lot of talk going on, because that's never happened to me. I mean, if you play in London and stuff, it takes years to like, really be the buzz. Especially without a record or something. And where I was brought up in England, there were no clubs there. Not like in Louisville. There's something really different. So I get really excited about playing around in Louisville, where for these guys, they've been playing it for ten years [laughter] fifty years!

Arlon admits that Louisville isn't what he 'would call scenic.

Arlon: I see it as lots of long roads, just lined with fast food and cinemas and garages. [Laughton]

Smith: GAY-rages means like Super America.

Arlon: Yeah, gas stations. [Laughs] There's a place in England called Slough. I think it's kind of the Slough of where? The Southeast?

Musically, how do you see Louisville?

Arlon: Um . . . .

Thompson: Be nice.

Arlon: No, no, no. I'll be honest. From where I was in England, I toured around England, but the first time I came here, I think it was the Predators that I went and saw, who was a very good band.

Thompson: Who was playing drums for that band?

Arlon: You were. And they, I suppose, are just a blues bar band. They would blow the living s out of anything in England. When I was in England, we thought and we were told, that the band we had was very good. There was a write-up that called us the best band in the last decade in England that's come out. And then I came here and the Predators would have just blown us clean out of fing England if they were to come over and play. And the other bands that I've seen are just of a huva higher quality, compared to England.

There's a different atmosphere about rock 'n' roll in general anyway than there is in America. In England music is a very secondhand job. It's alittle bit of a laughing matter.

It's performing arts. You're a performer. It's almost like an artist or an actor. It's a "So what do you do as a real job?" Thompson: That's kind of the way it is here.

Arlon: Well, that's the thing. I remember you saying that, but from where I stand, it's always been a serious culture in America. Rock 'n' roll is a serious culture. So I don't know. When you say that you're in a rock 'n' roll band, it seems like it's more important in America. That isn't a joking matter here. Or any kind of musical band, or an actor or anything like that. When I was in England, I still felt good saying that I was in a rock 'n' roll band, because I knew that everybody would be like, "Um-hmm." And I'd be like, "Well, f you. Go to your little 9-to-5 job." Mmm, that was kind of an obnoxious remark. [Laughter]

Do you think that when England is exposed to this band, they're going to totally freak out more than what's happened here?

Arlon: I tell you now: They will not have a fing clue what has hit them. And I'm not saying that we're fing unbelievable, I'm saying that if we took this band as it is now to England, it would be sick.It would be sick. England wouldn't have a clue.

Why not take it now?

Arlon: When it's ready . . . .