Smell the Blood and Roses | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Smell the Blood and Roses

The Smithereens get dangerously close

The Smithereens have been around for a long time. In the last 36 years of its existence, the band has released every single type of record imaginable, from Christmas albums, to greatest hits albums, to records filled exclusively with Beatles covers. The band has shown a drive that downright makes the rest of us look bad.

The Smithereens were formed in 1980 when Scotch Plains, New Jersey-native Pat DiNizio met Jim Babjak, Mike Mesaros and Dennis Diken, who had all just graduated from high school in Carteret, N.J. After a few lineup changes and false starts (and even a brief period as a five-piece), the Smithereens were made official in the mid-1980s. The band released two EPs, one in 1980 ("Girls About Town") and one in 1983 ("Beauty and Sadness"), but it was failing to gain any traction.

Eventually, a demo of the band's music landed on the desk of an executive for Enigma Records who remembered them from when he was a college deejay and, just like that, the band had its very first record deal.

The album, "Especially For You," hit stores in 1986, showcasing perfectly the band's blend of Kinks-style songwriting, New Wave influenced vocals and a power pop interpretation of the Beatles earlier stuff. With lyrics like "I close my eyes and see bloody roses," The Smithereens weren't a typical power pop quartet by any means. Since its major label debut in 1986, The Smithereens have released 10 more studio albums, four live albums, four anthologies and have been featured on almost a dozen movie soundtracks (including "Timecop" and "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion").

Even after Mike Mesaros left the band in 2006 and was replaced by Severo Jornacion, a super fan who already knew all the songs, they found their rhythm almost instantly. The band's most recent studio album, "2011," includes tracks evoking 1960s London power pop and "As Long As You Are Near Me," feels like Elvis Costello's deep back catalogue. As openly as the band wears its influences on its sleeves, its originals could only have come from a band that came up the way it did.

The Smithereens

Saturday, March 26, 7:30 p.m.

Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St., Bend


About The Author

Jared Rasic

Film critic and author of food, arts and culture stories for the Source Weekly since 2010.
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