Rob “Smittix” O’Donnell has an extensive background with hip hop and song writing in general. Rob’s career in music began after writing, producing and voicing a radio rap jingle for “Snapple Beverage Corp”; which aired in virtually every city in the United States in the mid nineties. Rob also graced the Capital Region airwaves for nearly a decade as an on-air personality and was most known as the character “Scarbelly” on WGY.
In 1994 Rob met Jim McCuen formally the bassist of “Conehead Buddha”, who introduced him to a sound that he had never heard before. The music is called “Ska”, which has roots in Jamaica but also reached it’s peak of popularity in England in the 1980′s. Rob knew that his speed approach to rap vocals could easily be modified to fit into this genre of Ska music.
Coincidentally, Will Seyfferth (Bassist) was also inspired by Conehead Buddha and had made friends with Jim McCuen as well. Jim coached Will on his bass playing along the way but Will was mostly self taught. Conehead Buddha’s front man Chris Fisher also produced Seyfferth’s first band’s album (the original “Fall Out Boys”) free of charge as an incentive for Will to graduate high school.
Jay O’Donnell (Drummer) is Rob “Smittix” O’Donnell’s brother and has been playing drums literally ever since he was in diapers. Jay had also received instruction from Al Kash (Folding Sky), which was exactly what he needed to help him perfect his playing abilities. By the time Jay reached high school he was playing in various punk/hardcore bands such as “Cast Down and Malodiction” but he always had his hand in other projects.
Jay and Rob had their eye on Will to play bass for a project for years but Seyfferth always seemed to be occupied with other bands.
James Tougher (Guitarist) was in a band with Will Seyfferth (Bassist) prior to Smittix called “Five Star Outlaw”. When the outlaws went their separate ways, this was the opportunity Rob and Jay had been waiting for to seize Will “King of the 4 String” Seyfferth. Finally in late 2006, both Will Seyfferth and James Tougher agreed to join the O’Donnell brothers as a package deal.
James brought to the table an almost classic rock approach to the normally always up-picking sound of Ska guitar. Jame’s father was a guitarist who taught James only three basic chords, a few weeks later 10 year old James showed his father that he could play along very well with the “Rush” Album “Moving Pictures”. Since then James has become one of the most talented and recognized guitarists in the local Capital scene. In 2009 James was approached by former “Dropkick Murphy’s” guitarist and founding member Rick Barton to join a huge national tour to play guitar for his new band “Continental”. Unfortunately, this offer came at a bad time when all of the members of Smittix were taking a much needed break from playing shows to deal with life for a while.
One question that we are often asked is what our band name means. Here it is: Rob O’Donnell grew up in the mean streets of the South End of Albany. Rob is obviously Irish and the neighborhood kids would taunt him and call him “Irish Smitty”. Rob also had the luck of the Irish as he avoided death many times in the old neighborhood. Rob had been shot at, stabbed and beaten with a crowbar half to death in his early years. Although Rob has numerous war scars (hence his alter-ego “Scarbelly”), many say that he has nine lives. So the “ix” in Smitt(ix) is actually the Roman numeral for “9″. Therefore the combination of Rob’s nickname Smitty and the Roman numeral for 9 is where the name “Smittix” derived from. Pretty crazy but very true!