Through it all, the Smithereens have maintained a busy performing schedule, preserving their reputation as one of rock's hardest-working live bands, and continuing to thrill the devoted fan base that's stuck with them over the years.
"These days, the band is playing as well as we've ever played, with more focus and more intensity," DiNizio asserts, adding, "We still feel like we have something to prove. We have to hit a grand slam every night, and we have to be twice as good as bands half our age. And we've got this body of work that spans over 30 years, so we'll play at least two, two-and-a-half hours every night and bang through the songs like a freight train."
"One of the beautiful things about this new record is that now, in the current musicindustry environment, we can do exactly what we want to do," DiNizio states. "Radio as we knew it in 1986 no longer exists, so we don't have to think about making things acceptable for the radio. The rulebook has been thrown away, which liberates us to just make the records that we want to hear. That's basically what we've always done, but now the gloves are really off."
"I think it's as good as anything we've ever done," Pat DiNizio says of Smithereens 2011, the Smithereens' first album of original songs in 11 years.
"I hate to use the term 'comeback album,' and it certainly wasn't planned that way, but it really feels like it," adds his longtime bandmate Jim Babjak. "It has the raw vibe of our early albums, while showing that we're moving forward and that we're still at the top of our game after 31 years."
Indeed, the 13-song set shows the New Jersey-bred quartet to be making some of the most urgent music of their three-decade career, delivering their timeless brand of punchy, heartfelt rock 'n' roll with as much fire as ever. Such instantly memorable new tunes as "Sorry," "One Look At You," "A World of Our Own" and "Rings On Her Fingers" exemplify the Smithereens' trademark brand of punchy melodic songcraft, driven home by DiNizio's expressive vocals and emotionally complex lyrics, along with fiery ensemble performances that show off the uncanny musical chemistry of longstanding musical partners DiNizio, Babjak and Dennis Diken, and later addition Severo "the Thrilla" Jornacion, who joined in 2006.
Smithereens 2011's title slyly acknowledges the fact that it's the band's 11th studio album, and that it's been 11 years since their last collection of original material. The album's moniker—as well as its cover design—also pays tribute to the foursome's beloved 1989 release Smithereens 11. Smithereens 2011 also reunites the group with revered producer and kindred musical spirit Don Dixon, who was at the helm for the Smithereens' breakthrough 1986 debut album Especially for You and its much-loved 1988 follow-up Green Thoughts, as well as 1994's acclaimed A Date with the Smithereens.
The band inaugurated the new album's birth cycle by spending a month hammering their new compositions into shape at the same 12-dollar-an-hour East Village rehearsal space where they'd rehearsed in the 1980s. They then recorded the bulk of Smithereens 2011 in an action-packed three days with Dixon and his frequent collaborator Mitch Easter, who served as the album's engineer, at Easter's legendary Fidelitorium studio in Kernersville, North Carolina.
The resulting album is a consistently riveting distillation of the qualities that set the Smithereens apart from the pack when they first emerged in the 1980s, and which have continued to endear the band to a large and fiercely loyal fan base in the years since.
The Smithereens' three-decade history is a story of substance, integrity and persistence triumphing over shallow artifice and transient trendiness—of hard-working underdogs achieving success on their own terms by sticking to their guns and ignoring the dictates of pop fashion and music-industry convention.
Smithereens 2011 caps an extended period during which the Smithereens limited their recording efforts to a series of thematic releases that paid homage to the group's formative influences.