The Smithereens, formed in 1980, with their unique brand of back-to-basics rock n’ roll, seemed the polar opposite of what was being embraced by radio and MTV at the time. Yet, the band became quite popular on both college radio and the fledgling video network, scoring hits with “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” “Only a Memory,” “A Girl Like You” and others.
At the dawn of the Nineties, several bands, including Nirvana, began to cite the Smithereens as a major influence on the burgeoning grunge scene. Ironically, Capitol Records dropped the band because they wanted to focus more on grunge bands.
In 1993, the band entered the studio without a label, self producing for the first time in many years, laying down a bunch of tracks that were shelved when they signed a new record contract with RCA, eventually issuing A Date With the Smithereens. Now, almost 30 years later, these recordings get a proper release as The Lost Album, from Sunset Blvd Records.
We talk with guitarist Jim Babjak about sifting through these 30-year old recordings, and also what’s next for the Smithereens.