If you've never listened to Smith Westerns, then frankly, you've been missing out. Their new album, Soft Will, came out last week, and it's excellent - possibly the best album of their career. The trio have come a long way - and their sound has grown exponentially - since their lo-fi, quasi-self-titled debut The Smith Westerns charmed its way into the hearts of listeners four years ago.

If you hadn't already guessed, we're big fans of the Chicagoan band, so we jumped at the chance to send them some questions. Max Kakacek fielded them, so if you're interested in what the guitarist of the self-styled 'birthday party arena sex rock' band had to say, then read on.

You played over 140 gigs in support of Dye It Blonde - do you have any particular favourites from that tour?

It's really hard to remember all of the shows, but my favourites are the ones where we would randomly play weird birthday parties/dinner parties in Europe. I think they were booked on off days that we had to fill over there or something, and resulted in us playing for a bunch of little kids dancing around in birthday hats!

How would you describe the Smith Westerns live experience?

Birthday party arena sex rock?

Are there any plans to come back to the UK at the moment?

Definitely, hopefully we’ll be over before summer ends.

How did the creative process for Soft Will differ from your previous albums?

Right after we got off tour, Cullen and I got an apartment and lived together for the entire writing process, which is something we had never done before. Other than that we pretty much worked the same as we always have - both of us bringing parts of songs and mixing and matching them until we have a final version.

You seem to have developed a good relationship with Chris Coady, since he's produced your last two albums - what does he bring to the Smith Westerns sound?

Love the guy. Mainly we're just very comfortable in the studio with him since we have known him for so long. He really lets us sit and work with the songs first before giving us his input, which allows us to choose the direction of the songs.

What was the inspiration behind the video for 'Varsity'?

We kind of handed it over to our friend Alan [Del Rio Ortiz], and he did a great job of recreating the youthful romanticism of the song in the video.

Which of the tracks on the album are you most pleased about having written?

'Fool Proof', 'White Oath' and 'Best Friend'.

'XXIII' is quite different from the other songs on the album - who came up with the idea of writing an instrumental track?

We had the demo sitting around with all the others and it just found its way onto the album. It was a really nice to mix things up a little in the studio and have a song where we could be really indulgent instrumentation wise.

Finally, what's your favourite thing about being on tour?

Well, when in the UK, Walkers crisps.


Soft Will is out now via Mom + Pop.