The story of Beyond the Badlands starts with Cuda Smith, the founder and guitarist/songwriter. Cuda Smith is a combat vet stationed in Germany, but that hasn’t stopped him from making music with some talented musicians and producer Rudiger. Beyond the Badlands uses Rock, Southern Rock, and a little bit of Blues to drive their creative process centered around the military and riding motorcycles, another passion of Cuda’s.
Their latest single, “Soldier,” is a dark, gritty song about the haunting memories that come with being a soldier. It is easy to get lost in the classic rock guitar that slams onto the first verse and the loud, piercing vocals. They even add eerie helicopter noises before the song really takes flight, a sound that lives in the minds of soldiers. “Soldier” delves into all the dismal topics that sometimes are not talked about, like wanting to protect your family from the things you have seen and done. Woven in through the unforgettable melodies are the stories of loss and grief and the wonderings of if you will ever be the same again.
It is truly amazing to see what Beyond the Badlands has been able to put together from opposite sides of the world, and we hope they continue to make their music and inspire people.
It is inspiring how personal and touching the lyrics for “Soldier” are, and I’m sure it helps others in your position know they aren’t alone. Do you ever find it difficult to write about such personal topics?
So it depends. Writing songs like this for me is the easy part, especially one with so much emotion. It's actually a mechanism that allows me to release some of that emotion. It's way harder for me to share it publicly. For many Combat Vets, these things are close hold. In fact, I originally wasn't going to release Soldier, but my wife convinced me to. I'm glad I did now- I've had so many people reach out and in some circles, it's almost become an anthem; a common element that people can personally relate to. And for some, it's the story they're unable to tell themselves
What keeps you grounded and inspired to make music while you are stationed in Germany? How do you get through the bad days?
Music is my inspiration and I love being here in Germany. When I'm not playing music, I love to ride motorcycles and there's so much to see here. As for the bad days, we all have them (combat vet or not). Everyone has experienced tragedy, heartbreak, or the daily stress that life throws at us and we all deal with it differently. For me, a nice long motorcycle ride with some "wind therapy" is a great way to clear my mind.
Who are some of your greatest musical inspirations?
The world has so many musical inspirations, there's no way to have an all-inclusive list. I love the vibe of Shinedown, Stereoside, Black Stone Cherry, and Wayland (an up and coming band out of Michigan). But as a guitarist, I'd be remiss if I didn't include a few in the very short list of 6-string warriors I admire. Guys like Joe Bonamassa, Warren Haynes, Stevie Ray, Dave Murry & Adrien Smith, and of course the late great EVH. My musical influences cross so many genres, from Chris Stapleton and the late Charlie Daniels to Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, and Hagar. They've all played part in how my style has evolved over the years. I've had curators approach me and suggested we be more "modern" or "fresh", or maybe if we did some "rap" or be a little less "American Rock". At the end of the day, you have to be true to who we are and embrace it!
Is it difficult to coordinate making music from across the world? Do you hope to get to perform all together with your bandmates once you arrive back in the US?
It's not been difficult at all. In fact, just the opposite. I believe it's easier when we don't get in each other's way. You know, music has its own language and each of the guys complements the story with how the song moves them. It's almost like producing an open jam. With every song, I'm completely blown away when I get to listen to the creativity of their parts when it's broken down. The artistry of each track is brilliant and I'm so excited these guys are part of the project. You know, everyone brings something to the table, whether it's Bart's B-3 organ parts, or Harley's bass and Go-Go's drums laying the foundation, but none of it would be possible without Rudiger. Not only is he the voice fronting the band, but he's also a skilled producer who puts it all together. We've spent a lot of time on the phone going over ideas and I can't imagine working with anyone else. As far as the future of the band once I return to the states, the sky's the limit! We all have other projects we're part of, and that's the beauty and the passion that music brings to our lives. Beyond the Badlands will continue to evolve, we'll keep releasing new music, and as we build a virtual following that I believe will set the stage for us all on its own. One thing for sure, we're not going anywhere and I look forward to being on stage with these guys.
What has been keeping you inspired in 2020?
Yeah, I believe 2020 has been a cultural shock for everyone on the planet! Whether here in Europe or the Middle East, I have family in the states, friends in Asia, and Australia. The events of 2020 haven't left a stone untouched around the world and it's just crazy how it's affected everyone's lives! But I also believe we have a lot to be thankful for. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and people sometimes let emotions drive them, while social media spreads it like wildfire and everyone feeds off it. I guess for me, I like to keep things in perspective (the good and the bad). For instance, a close friend of mine lost his father a few weeks ago, but the same week they were blessed with a healthy grandson. Sometimes life has a way of knocking our teeth out, but it also has a way of smiling at you. That's what inspires me musically. There's always a story to tell, an emotion to express, or rhythm to move to. As artists, we feed off the moment.