Smith/Kotzen announce four-track EP, Better Days, share riff-loaded title track

Smith/Kotzen Better Days
(Image credit: Smith/Kotzen)

Smith/Kotzen – the super-duo project formed by Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith and The Winery Dogs’ Richie Kotzen – only released their debut self-titled album earlier this year, but it seems as though the pair have absolutely no intention of resting on their laurels.

As such, the duo have announced an all-new four-track EP, titled Better Days, which arrives on Record Store Day – November 26 – via BMG.

Accompanying the news is the effort’s lead single, which can only be described as yet another demonstration of the pair’s undeniable musical chemistry and compositional compatibility.

Adopting a slightly heavier approach than the duo’s debut material, Better Days is supercharged with some moody overdriven riffs and complementary counterpoint exchanges that see one axe-slinger serve up a melodic motif while the other assumes chordal duties.

Of course, there’s a boatload of tasty lead work scattered throughout the five-minute run time, with highlights including Kotzen’s first fingerpicking-loaded extended effort on his Fender Telecaster, Smith’s uber-melodic interlude passage and some gnarly call-and-response interplay between the pair.

While the final two tracks of the EP – Hate And Love and Rise Again – were recorded in March 2020, Better Days and Got a Hold On Me were composed at The House recording studio in LA, when Smith and Kotzen finally reconvened to record after lockdown.

Of the upcoming offering, Kotzen reflected, “When Adrian came over to LA earlier this year, we got together and started throwing ideas around and we very quickly came up with the new songs. 

Smith/Kotzen Better Days

(Image credit: Smith/Kotzen)

Better Days almost seemed to write itself,” he continued. “It’s got a nice groove to it. Adrian came in with the riff and we came up with a melody for the chorus together, pretty much working to the same formula we used when writing the S/K album, bouncing ideas off each other.”

Smith added, “Better Days is a song I’m really excited about. I think it’s slightly different to the songs on the Smith/Kotzen album – it’s kind of heavy but melodic. I’d played Richie the riff and I was looking for a reaction, and I got one! 

“Kind of like the old grey whistle test scenario – there was a spark and we started building the song from there,” he said. “I’d have an idea, then Richie would have an idea and we’d go back and forth, like building blocks.”

  • Better Days is available to preorder now ahead of its November 26 release.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.