It could be said Charlie Wallace is living his best life.
Sitting in Nashville's FedExForum last week watching Game 1 of the Grizzlies vs Warriors NBA playoff series, the lead guitarist for Napier band Black Smoke Trigger is pinching himself.
"This is my childhood dream," he says.
Basketball game aside, Charlie and fellow band members vocalist Baldrick, bassist Dan Fulton and drummer Josh Te Maro are enjoying a double whammy in the world of recording artists.
A little over three weeks ago, the fast-rising New Zealand rockers recorded their first official EP in producer Nick Raskulinecz's Rock Falcon studio. Nick has also produced bands including Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters and Halestorm.
Black Smoke Trigger has collaborated with Disturbed's David Draiman, Marti Frederickson (Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne), Blair Daly and Zac Maloy (Shinedown, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Keith Urban) and Keith Wallen, of Breaking Benjamin.
"In preparation for this recording, we had been writing and rehearsing the songs relentlessly at my home studio. We've written a lot of songs, put in a lot of work and we can't wait to see what they do when we finally release them," Charlie says.
The young line-up has also signed with manager Andy Gould (Pantera, Linkin Park, Rob Zombie) from LA-based Spectacle Entertainment Group and co-managed with Nico Golfar, marking the most high-profile management deal inked by any rock band from New Zealand.
"I saw the video for Caught in the Undertow that this band from New Zealand made themselves and it was everything I love about rock music. The visuals and song were great," Andy says.
"Digging deeper, I realised this band had crazy talent and it was something I had to be involved with. When playing it for some of my friends, they agreed this was a band that was only going up."
Charlie says Nick was someone the band resonated with.
"You can hear his passion. The vision that he has, the music he creates and the performances he draws out of bands like Korn, Ghost, Deftones, and of course, Alice In Chains. We couldn't be more excited."
Black Smoke Trigger, which officially started in February 2019, recorded their first EP Set It Off three months later with producer Michael Wagener from Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne fame.
The singles Caught In The Undertow and You Can Have it All introduced a "young band with old souls". The cut The Way I'm Wired featured Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars. The Set It Off EP jumped onto the Billboard charts with No 12 Hard Rock Album Sales and No 13 Heatseekers Albums.
"After we filmed the music videos for a few of those songs and toured with Devilskin and Like A Storm, we began writing and preparing to record more in 2020. We all know what happened then."
Black Smoke Trigger was poised for their first-ever US tour which included a show at the Whisky A GoGo in Los Angeles with Drowning Pool, hed PE and Il Nino when Covid travel restrictions put an end to those plans.
"We knew that as soon as we could get out of the country, we were going to get this new record done, it just took a lot longer than we first thought for that to happen."
Charlie describes their first EP as a homage to their influences.
"Since then we've had a lot of time to sit together in a room to write and play, and our new material is representative of who we are as a band in 2022.
"We've grown so much in the last few years, matured, and come into our own as songwriters. The upside of being in one of the most aggressive lockdowns in the world is that it really allowed us the time to pull out our best material."
The band met with Nick over Zoom in mid-2021 and had to postpone twice before they could get to the US.
"Unfortunately that meant that we had to cancel shows over here, but for us, right now, getting this new record is the most important thing. We've been waiting a long time to record and play in the US and it's finally here. We're beyond excited to record in Nashville with Nick to make the best possible record we can."
Charlie says once they are back in LA they'll be catching up with their managers and other music industry people and getting some promotion work done before they return to New Zealand. He says the vision for the band is to take it as big as possible.
"We really have a dream team around us, we couldn't ask for better, or more high-profile management, and working with Nick is just so great. He's really pushing us to get the best possible performance for each part."
Charlie believes they are onto something big and says everyone in the industry who is involved in the project is very excited about what's coming.
"We have the right team to do it, and we're swinging the bat as hard as it can be swung. We are all so passionate about what we do, and can't wait to get out touring the world with these new songs."
Once they arrive back in New Zealand in June, they'll be getting ready for two shows lined up at The Cabana on Friday and Saturday, June 1 and 2, and preparing to film three music videos to promote the singles.
"The release schedule for the singles and full record hasn't been planned yet, but for our local fans, they'll get a sneak peek of how it's going to sound at our upcoming live shows."
■ To check out Black Smoke Trigger visit the following links
Check out the Caught in the Undertow video at https://youtu.be/FOnAtpOyWCs