The next person to come aboard was guitarist Tasso Smith, a longtime friend of Simon’s. “Tasso and I grew up together,” Simon revealed. “We were best friends ever since we were little kids. We learned how to play music together.”
“One day, we’re at the local pool, and we bumped into each other,” Tasso explained. “I ended up staying over at his house that night. We had just started playing guitar, and he had just gotten this SICK Fender Stratocaster from his uncle. Kind of a vintage one. He was like showing me stuff from that. I played acoustic at the time. We just hit it off. He sends me songs, since that moment, when we started playing guitar together, we were in bands together. We always knew that’s where we wanted to be.”
Tasso brings a laidback, almost surfer-like vibe to the group, as well as another dimension of musical profiency. Growing up listening to a wide variety of music —he cites everything from BB King to Bob Marley to Ace of Base as early influences— his mother started him on violin lessons in elementary school, and was in a number of groups with Simon during his high school years. He and Simon went their separate ways once college rolled around, but the love of music continued to run strong through him, even as he pursued a degree in environmental biology from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.
He was the frontman of a band called The Electric Mangroves, a band whose sound he describes as “progressive rock filtered through Texas blues,” all throughout college, an act that played gigs three times per week. (In case you’re wondering what a mangrove is, it’s a salt water tree.) Upon graduating and realizing that all of the government jobs in his chosen field of environmental biology had all but dried up, he moved to Florida to work for a real estate property development company.
“We were trying to help lease up and flip apartment communities,” Tasso explained. “I was successful at it, I had a great opportunity to make a bunch of money, but it was stupid. I didn’t want to be in Florida. Simon and Sam, after leaving Iglu & Hartley, started writing these songs and sending me demos, and I just fell in love with the songs.”