Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts – Interview on new music, touring, Biters, record labels and Mötley Crüe

We'll get a club called the 'Restless Hearts Rock and Roll club'. That's how I want my songs to feel, I want it to feel like home. Like you've heard it before but it's new. That's my goal. 

Interview by Adrian Hextall

Tuk Smith and The Restless Hearts is an American rock band from Nashville founded and fronted by former Biters leader Tuk Smith (originally from Atlanta). The band released their debut single “What Kinda Love” on January 10, 2020 and were also added as an opening act for The Stadium Tour with Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe on the same day. For those of you who bought tickets for that tour, and then held on to them until 2022 as the tour was postponed twice, may well be scratching your heads thinking “but I didn’t see Tuk and the band on stage”. Well there’s good reason for that. Let’s roll back to 2018, and the cessation of Biters and how Tuk has bounced back, more than once, to deliver some great new music.

Debut ‘Ballad Of A Misspent Youth’ was released on November 4th and the latest single, ‘Girls On The East Side Of Town’ delivers a glamtastic stomp filled rock n roll track that makes for perfect listening as the winter nights draw in: 

We caught up with Tuk, in what looked like the perfect Nashville studio. When quizzed about the location, he confirmed the town and then expanded with: 

TS: It’s my garage. [laughs] I just sealed off the garage. I made it look fucking dope and yeah, it’s my lair.

Tuk’s biography on the band’s website (http://www.tuksmithandtherestlesshearts.com/) talked about the thousands of hours that he’d spent in a van touring. The piece reads as if Tuk’s time could be better spent with thousands of hours in song writing instead rather than touring. Perhaps that means we’re going to see reduced live shows from him and the band?

No, no no. I’m just more particular about touring. You know what, with my last band, we played every fucking dive bar up and down up and down over and over and over and over again. We slept on floors and toured with two bands and one van and we ate Subway for entire tours. I’m not complaining, but there’s a ceiling to that. And it’s very low. [laughs]

I actually can’t wait to go back out. I’m fucking chomping at the bit. I’m just trying to be, you know, you’ve got to be a little smarter and plan a little more nowadays with the cost of touring. I want to make sure I get a great tour or get some great routing. I’m just being efficient.

Rewinding a little bit, after Biters dissolved at the tail end of 2018, Tuk looked set to bounce back with the Restless Hearts. New singles with Better Noise Music were released, the stadium tour with Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe was booked, everything was pointing forward. Then it all just stopped dead. No tour, no more music until now and the tracks released in 2020 are missing from the new album…..

[Loooong sigh…] how far in depth do you want to go? The cliff notes or the detail? I’m not at liberty to speak too much because of legal things, but essentially they [His former label] have a protocol at their label that they will only put out a release if you were opening a shed or stadium-sized tour. Alright so when I got the Motley tour they scheduled my release, it all revolved around that tour. Now of course the shutdown happened in March in 2020. No tour, no release and the first year goes by and the second and I’m sitting there and I can’t even play clubs. We were coming out of the pandemic or people were starting to tour again but there was the fear that maybe the Motley Crue tour might not have happened for a third year. If it had held up again I couldn’t release the new music. I begged them to let me release music on my own and we’d pick up the deal and just move on but then the in fighting it started, the relationship started to decay. And if you want me to be honest, that Motley Crue tour. I would be playing at doors, or even before doors. Nobody would see me, and it was scheduled for a 15-minute set. That’s three and a half songs.

So while I did want to do the tour, I don’t know if it would have been looking great on paper, just because of the cost. I would rather be in charge of my own destiny and I took the risk. I didn’t think the tour was going to happen for the third year in a row. So, I would rather just release music and get on with my fucking life, then potentially be wrapped up for our third year. 

Of course as soon as that was decided, before my body, was even cold, before my record was even cold, it was shelved and another band was put on the bill to replace us. My booking agents dropped me, so they didn’t really give a shit about me. It was just political.

New music is however here! The album is out and Tuk is working with a label partner that cares about him as an artist. To give you a sense of just how fickle the industry is, the first, now shelved, album was touted to and turned down by some 30 labels. Then he tried to get a new record deal with the demos of the (now) current album and was turned down by about 30 or 40 record labels mostly because it’s very expensive to put a record out nowadays. Tuk though decided enough was enough;

TS: I just said, fuck it. I put it on my credit card and I went back with my buddy, Dan Dixon, and just recorded six songs and I was just going to release it. I ended up getting a label partner to help me and we recorded two more songs. But yeah, I was prepared just to go out there myself. I’ve been turned down a lot but it was really discouraging, probably the lowest point of my life. 

When you add on the pandemic, everybody had a hard time during the pandemic, people lost businesses, people lost their lives. I lost a lot of things I had going on, so that was bad. I’m celebrating every small victory, every great review. I’m sitting here and answering back to. I try to answer to every comment on social media, every single one. I’m just so grateful for any support right now.

I was going to quit music and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was going to go work in a factory or something, I had no idea because I have no life skills but I was just pushed to the point where I didn’t know what to do. So I told myself, if I can get back to where I was pre-pandemic then I can do anything.

The label support comes from Music Recording Group. Their mantra is ;

Dedicated to supporting the creative expression of its growing roster, MRG navigates the ever-changing music landscape to guide projects toward the realization of their full potential. Helmed by two accomplished music industry veterans with offices in Nashville and Los Angeles, the label is aligned worldwide with Virgin Music/Universal Music and brings the guidance and resources to identify , develop and deliver the superstars of tomorrow.”

Check out their details here: https://musicrecordinggroup.com/

Doing anything will involve tours taking place in 2023. Hopefully with less living on Subway meal deals every day and crashing in the back of the van. 

TS: Tours are booked six months ahead of time now, at least. My new booking agency is really pushing to get me on some great tours so any day now I could hear about something for early spring or later.

Right now I’ve been talking to a UK label to partner with as well. I need infrastructure to help me into Europe. I’ve had a lot of great Zoom calls and meetings with them and I’m supposed to hear from soon so wish me luck. I’d love to get back over there [the UK] by summer.

Radio still plays a huge part in getting Tuk’s music out there in the world and the support from one certain syndicated show has helped more than most. 

When we released the song ‘Ballad of a Misspent Youth’, we didn’t get any major love from national stations but some big rock stations like Kansas City, Chicago, New York, Florida, helped get us good charts placings for a while. But then, ‘Nights with Alice Cooper’ picked it up and because they’re syndicated it would knock us right back up in to that week’s Top 40. I think we’re going to go for a new radio single after the New Year. We’ll have to see! 

I’m actually having a call about it today. We’re doing it the old school approach, man. Trying to push people with streaming. Trying to go to Radio, still trying to make music videos. Eddie Trunk has been a big supporter over here and he’s like the go to rock guy in the States and I’m very blessed to have supporters like that,

For the more astute amongst you, you’ll recognise that the band name is a track from Biter’s ‘Electric Blood’ album. A neat way of connecting the old with the new whilst still allowing the new band to have the freedom to grow on their own. 

TS: You know, there was never a band called Restless Hearts and it was a Biters song and I already knew how I wanted the logo to look.  Tuk Smith and the Restless Hearts, phonetically it’s great as well. And like I said audio-visual. The name, the logo, it all has to connect. To me the upside down heart with the tear, it just worked. I just want that iconic, I want to be that iconic rock and roll band. 

Our Biters fans had a club called Biters Army. There was so many people that got that spider tattoo / Biters logo. Hopefully with the Restless Hearts, once we start touring again we’ll get a club called the ‘Restless Hearts Rock and Roll club’. That’s how I want my songs to feel, I want it to feel like home. Like you’ve heard it before but it’s new. It just feels comfortable. Yeah, that’s my goal. 

You can find the album ‘Ballad of a Misspent Youth’ on a multitude of platforms by clicking here: 



Photo Credit: Dhruv Kumar

The Defiants - "Go Big Or Go Home" - Official Music Video

Legendary Rock & Roll Hall Of Famers Joan Jett And The Blackhearts Release New Digital EP “Mindsets”

With Thunder On Pause, Luke Morley Discusses His First Solo Album In Over 20 Years, And How He Really Feels About Hair Metal.

Candlebox Announces Final Studio Album The Long Goodbye To Be Released August 25th

Scar Symmetry – The Singularity (Phase II: Xenotaph) Review