You may or may not know about Alex Fucking Smith. Yes, that F-bomb was intentional. Alex has been the Merchandise Manager for Chicago pop punk band Sleep On It since their inception in 2012. He enjoys connecting with fans and traveling the country with some of his closest friends. In order to utilize all this travel time, AFS documented the daily happenings of life on tour. Working with Sleep On It has put him beside bands like Waterparks, As It Is, Grayscale, and others, giving him an abundance of stories and experiences to write about.

You can find his writing and personal merch under the umbrella, The Merch Life, a brand AFS created to not only properly publicize his work but also to give much-needed recognition to merchandise managers around the industry.

I caught up with Alex to see what’s next for him and his thoughts on his work and stumbled into some pretty detailed insight about his love for a specific taco stand.

You’ve done some tour journals and now a road trip survival guide. How else do you plan to develop The Merch Life?

That’s a great question. [I then requested AFS for him to start all of his answers with that response so I could get some affirmation]. That’s a great question. I am glad you asked that.

For The Merch Life, going forward, the hope is to get on more tours and continue to catalog Sleep On It’s rise as they go. I am aware that Sleep On It will get to the point where they don’t necessarily need their story to be told anymore. Mainly because at some point they are going to get big enough to where their story is going to get told without me and I think that’s great. I am going to run out of Firsts for them. I am going to run out of a lot of things. That’s great and I totally expect that.

The future could be touring with other bands that I like because that is going to be a first for me like for the first time going on a tour with someone I have never been on a tour with. And just kind of vibing out what people want to read about. I try to be in touch with my fans; “fans” if you want to call them that. And give them what they want. If they want nonsense I will give them nonsense. If they want more touring stuff, if they want me to drive around the country and write, I will do that.

I like traveling, I like writing so as long as I am doing those two things and being able to live, that’s ideal.

Being a merchandise manager is often a stepping stone for people wanting to get in the industry. In addition to the writing, would you want to keep slinging merch?

I definitely really enjoy doing the merch stuff. There’s plenty of jobs that people can do outside of the band and still go on the road. Driver, tour manager, photographer, shit like that. Merchandise Manager is definitely my favorite because I love interacting with fans, because I like seeing people happy and stuff like that. Not that you can’t do that with being a photographer but it literally puts me in a position where I can really affect the fan’s day in hopefully a positive way at every show and I really like that.

BTM: You’re basically the next best thing to the band itself.

AFS: Yeah. Sleep On It is very accessible. I try to be very accessible. For a kid, or whoever, who is coming to these shows, sometimes they come by themselves and I like it to be known that like: ‘Hey if you want somebody to talk to, I am usually by myself over there. Come say hi.’ I want people to feel safe and feel like they have somebody that they can talk to. If they want someone to help get them to the band or they say: ‘Are they going to come out?’ That is what I am there for. I can help facilitate that. I want people to feel important because when they come to the show they are important. We very much appreciate them coming and stuff and spending their time. Whether or not they buy anything is irrelevant. It’s just about coming out and having a good time.

You frequently promote your page on Patreon. How do platforms like Patreon help you as a Maker?

Patreon is pretty dope because it allows me to be as creative as I want to be. It doesn’t limit me in any way. It gives me a place to host and to safely collect payments from potential fans. I choose Patreon over anything else because as of right now in the market, it is the easiest way and most streamlined way for people to connect with creators. I like that they give me the choice between monthly or by creation. I don’t have to charge people if I’m not making anything and people get to decide how much they want to give me.

BTM: Does it hurt you in any way?

AFS: Patreon is still pretty new and to outside people it can seem confusing. Even when I first started it was kind of confusing to me. I had to hammer out a lot of personal quirks when I started using it and supporting creators. It hurts in the way that anytime you put a paywall up, it is going to deter some people. Some people just don’t want to pay for stuff and that’s okay but as a [creator] you really need that payment and Patreon fortunately helps make it a little bit easier to do that.

BTM: What do most creators do on Patreon? It seems that you are breaking the mold in that respect.

AFS: Patreon is seemingly mostly used by visual artists so people who do video, photography, or models or traditional artists and graphic designers. On the computer it is a very visual medium. By not including a lot of personal art stuff, I am just not your typical Patreon user.

Congrats. You’re on Death Row. What is your last meal?

That’s a great question [laughs]. It’s gotta be something crazy that would take them a long time to get like meat from some animal on the other side of the country. I would want something super obscure like, and I am not advocating for this but, ‘Bring me the meat of a giraffe. You said anything!’ Then they would be like ‘No we’re not doing that you fucking maniac. Pick something reasonable.’

Favorite non-chain restaurant you ate at while on the road?

It’s Pan De Taco. No fucking questions asked. Pan De Taco in Houston, Texas is the best fucking food you will ever eat.

BTM: Well where can you get it?

AFS: That’s the fun part about Pan De Taco. They bounce around. . . it’s this very nice couple. . .They are fantastic humans and they were out at this venue called Walter’s and they were outside on the patio grilling up barbacoa. . . Motherfuckers were grilling outside, pressing the tortillas by hand and cooking everything. The meat is fantastic, everything about it is fantastic, all homemade. Him and his girlfriend, maybe wife? They were cooking up these bomb-ass tacos. There is only the two of them and he’s a private chef normally. His goal is to get an actual shop at some point but in the meantime he goes to different bars that don’t have kitchens and then he serves them out of the kitchen. Pan. De. Taco. That is the fucking place.

Looks like you can follow them @PanDeTaco to get the latest update on what bar they will be at. It also appears they mainly use the Twitter to interact with Sleep On It and Alex Fucking Smith. Well, we know who their biggest fans are…

To stay up-to-date on Alex’s stuff, follow him @Im_Alex_Smith and be sure to check out his Patreon for the latest writings.

Featured image by Dieter Unrath @dunrath
Read the interview with Dieter here!