Smithereens talk ‘Lost Album’ with Trev in NJ 101.5 studio
What a great night it was when The Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken and lead guitarist Jim Babjack came on my New Jersey 101.5 show taking calls from adoring fans from New Jersey as well as the entire country, and talked about their newly released "Lost Album."
Dennis Diken started the story as the room got fuzzy and we were flashing back like in a TV sitcom.
"We were between record deals," says Diken. "As happens occasionally to musicians, professional musicians, and we had amassed a backlog of songs. And even though we didn't have a deal, we said, let's go in. Let's record two albums worth of stuff. And we self-produced it."
This time they did it on the east coast.
"And it was a New York City," says Diken "So the previous three albums were recorded in LA it was good to be back in New York, where we recorded our first EPs and our first album at the Record Plant back then. So we decided to go to a place called Crystal Sound on West 19th Street."
"We've slept on our own beds and drove to work to the office every day, and we were always getting food delivered from Little Italy. And we just kept our nose to the grindstone, and we recorded all this material."
"After we finished it, we in short order got signed to RCA. So half of the songs that we cut at Crystal Sound, were tunes that we ended up re-recording for 'A Date With The Smithereens.' So we just said 'Well, we got the deal. Here's our new record.' And we released that in 94. And we just kept going forward."
"Meanwhile," says Diken, "we had this other stash of tunes from that session that were just kind of lying around and just didn't forget about it. But we didn't think about them too much."
"Until recently, when we started going through our archives and we're planning a whole bunch of archival releases. And this one just seems to be the one that was good to go. The most ready batch of songs that held together as an LP. And they were mixed and we sequenced it, got some artwork together, and put it out."
The first single is called "Out of This World" You could hear it played live when The Smithereens return to the Carteret Performing Arts Center on Dec. 3 with Marshall Crenshaw after opening the place last year. I was there and one of the highlights of the show for me was when Diken, Babjack, and bassist Mike Mesaros took the stage alone and played The Who's "Sparks" Diken remembers:
"We still love that stuff. And we were lucky that we still have a spark or the same kind of spark that we had when we were kids and discovering all this great music for the first time that influenced us, and we're lucky that we are able to keep that alive in our adult lives."
If you're going to see The Smithereens, see them in Carteret. It was and will be a really special night. Diken remembers:
"The fact that that was in Carteret, our hometown. And that Performing Arts Center is actually on the actual location of what was a block of stores. There was a barber shop, there was a bakery across the street. But on that very block, there was also a place called Little Klein's. It was a candy store and stationery and we used to ride our bikes there all the time to buy comic books and Mad Magazine. And so that's where it all began. And so it was on that very footprint. There was a movie theater there too, and a few other businesses so that it was just like being a kid again, it added to the spirit, that childlike spirit for us, you know."
It's that childlike spirit that keeps the Smithereens both now and then.
"We were together every day in the studio and you know, The Smithereens our blood brothers. Jimmy and I've been playing together since 1971. We've known Mike, since Grammar School. And we met Pat in the late 70s. That's a long time, you know, even at that point in '93, that we had known each other and played together."
How did they feel listening to this album after all these years?
"First of all," says Diken, "I thought that it still sounded fresh. and it held up well. But I think you probably have heard this from other artists when you ask them about a particular batch of songs or an album. What do you think of when you hear this, they usually associate the memories of the making of the record and what they were going through and what that experience was like. And that's what popped in, into my mind just being together in the studio every day. And being in New York, being close to home and having fun. We really had fun making this record, as we usually do. But that's what I think about I just think, think of the good times."
That's what I heard listening, the good times of The Smithereens having fun making a fun album. To get The Smithereen's "Lost Album" click here.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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