Jim Babjak Talks About The Smithereens and The Lost Album

Posted October 2022

jim babjak croppedI love the story of the Smithereens because it’s much like our stories . . . at least, I can relate to it.

Four buddies graduate from high school in the seventies and decide to pursue their dreams on the side as they work allegedly responsible day jobs. In the case of the Jim Babjak, Pat DiNizio ,Mike Mesaros, and Dennis Diken, it was forming a band, getting a recording contract, and recording albums that resulted in an impressive string of hits. To jar your memory, some of those hits were “Too Much Passion”, “Only a Memory” and “A Girl Like You”.

Their work also led to some very impressive, high-profile collaborations with the likes of The Kinks, Lou Reed, Julian Lennon, Susanne Vega, Belinda Carlisle, and Graham Parker.

The Smithereens (named after the famous catchphrase screamed by a cartoon character, we all knew and loved, Yosemite Sam, recorded a total of two EPs, eleven studio albums (not counting seven compilation albums), and five live albums. These fed appearances on twenty-one soundtracks and other like-kind projects.

To add to that list, the band has just released a long-lost album called, well, The Lost Smithereens CoverClick Above To Order Your CopyAlbum. It was recorded in 1993 while the band was not under a record label. The album sat unreleased and “unlistened” to until now. And boy! Is it ever great stuff! It’s the kind of great rock and roll that we always loved and expected from The Smithereens.

The interview video, below, is from a recent chat I had with band founder and guitarist, Jim Babjak. We talked about the story behind this album, what he and his band mates have been up to, and other fun topics.

Please watch the interview and share it with your friends. You can also keep up with the Smithereens at their website, here, and with Jim Babjak, here, as well as on the band’s Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages. Be sure to also check out the official press release about The Lost Album. It is located underneath the interview video, below. Oh, and you can buy the album by clicking on the album cover to the right. 

 

The Boomerocity Interview With Jim Babjak

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEMINAL ALT-ROCK BAND THE SMITHEREENS TO RELEASE THE LOST ALBUM, PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED FULL LENGTH RECORDED IN 1993 VIA SUNSET BLVD. RECORDS ON 9/23

The album from the beloved NJ quartet will delight fans and critics alike as it is comprised of rocking, raucous never before recorded songs. The Lost Album will be available on all digital platforms.

CARTERET, New Jersey -- In the fall of 1993 while they were in between contracts with Capitol and RCA, The Smithereens ventured into Crystal Sound Studios NYC to write and record a new album for their own label. The result of those one-month marathon recording sessions is this album, unheard by the outside world until now and appropriately titled The Lost Album. The Smithereens’ take no prisoners sound, reflecting their Garden State roots, has resonated with fans worldwide over the course of 17 albums and 2500+ live shows. They've also inspired generations of musicians, including Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, who cited The Smithereens as a major influence. Founded in New Jersey in 1980, The Smithereens have been creating electrifying, original rock’n’roll for 41 years. Jim Babjak (guitar) Dennis Diken (drums) and Mike Mesaros (bass) grew up together in Carteret and lead singer, the late Pat DiNizio, hailed from Scotch Plains. As The Smithereens’ fame escalated, they were in heavy rotation on MTV and appeared on The Tonight Show, Conan O'Brien, and Saturday Night Live. They’ve since performed on stages coast to coast from the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles to the Meadowlands Arena in NJ to Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, and internationally from Europe to Australia. Tour mates have included Tom Petty, Squeeze, The Pretenders, Lou Reed, and Ramones, among others.

In bassist Mike Mesaros’ “own write” –
The Lost Album has previously existed only as a sentimental “scrapbook” for Dennis, Pat, Jim, and me. Mine was tucked away in a dusty shoebox with other cassettes—forsaken raw nuggets of outtakes, demos, rough mixes, and silly chatter. Now, the inevitable turning of the clock and the tragic demise of friend and brother Pat has buffed and polished this collection of songs into emotional gold. The Lost Album remains only 80 percent finished and rough mixed. The feeling and style, however, are all there, outweighing any overdub or mix considerations. It is something new, yet vintage, emerging from its warm analog tomb into a cold digital world.

And so, The Lost Album lives. Listen and float with us in between labels purgatory. Pat D. Is in fine fettle and we are young, together, and tight. Cigarette smoke fills the studio like a mainline from the NJ Turnpike. It’s good and loud. Even playbacks. Beer is swilled and laughs are had with Den’s impersonations ruling the roost. It’s our traditional and comfortable atmosphere for makin’ us a record.

‘Round midnight, we exit Crystal Sound Studio A and jaywalk over to Studio B — O’Flynn’s Saloon. In due time a cab is hailed, and we head downtown to our village incubator, Kenny’s Castaways. We affectionately reckon with our uncle and mentor, Pat Kenny and invite the beloved man to a session. (He came). We’re jazzed about this project because, for the first time, we are producing ourselves and mum’s the word to the outside world. Somehow, it evokes the early days when we were our own best kept secret and a fan club of 4.

The next day our singer is AWOL. After Kenny’s we had followed the clarion call to Freddy’s, an extinct Little Italy speakeasy (Bud in cans or Smirnoff shots) run by our pal Sal where Pat was the jukebox Sinatra. By day it was a paper/tobacco stand/ soda fountain. Sal’s mama always had a big pot of sauce gurgling awaiting her cloud-like meatballs. The aroma permeated lower Manhattan to 6th Avenue.

As we three Carteret hangovers await the Scotch Plains boy’s arrival we are soothed by our ace engineer, pocket psychologist, and studio owner Larry Buxbaum. He supports us and believes in our project like an older brother with a bemused grin. Love and miss you, Larry. Thanks.

The Lost Album showcases some of DiNizio and Babjak’s best writing and never better group empathy and collaboration. At this point we were really listening to each other, and this was key in our individual styles meshing so well. A real band. We could be mean, sweet, joyful, or brooding. As need be. We still were in our prime — young, battle-scarred vets who were fluent in the lingua franca of rock ‘n roll but still not far removed from Jimmy’s garage and Pat’s basement. (We still aren’t.)

Out of a shoebox it came. New and vintage. Come back with us. Let’s Get Outa This World.
Tour dates are as follows:
10/14 WALL STREET THEATER NORWALK, CT
11/2 CITY WINERY CHICAGO, IL
11/3 POTAWATOMI HOTEL MILWAUKEE, WI
11/4 LUDLOW GARAGE CINCINNATI, OH
11/5 KNUCKLEHEADS KANSAS CITY, MO
with Marshall Crenshaw on lead vocals

12/3 CARTERET CARTERET, NJ
with Marshall Crenshaw and Robin Wilson

3/3/23 80s CRUISE
with Robin Wilson

Chris Impellitteri Wakes The Beast

Posted September 2022

Photo taken in West Hills  on 07/28/18.Except for Boomerocity followers in Japan (and there are many), I will wager that, like me, many of you have heard of the band, Impellitteri, even though they are quite successful and are a West Coast-based band.

I didn’t know about them until recently.

Now, I will never forget.

Chris Impellitteri formed his namesake band with vocalist Rob Rock in Southern California. In 1987, they first released their self-titled EP. Fans were immediately struck by the classically influenced heavy metal, shred-heavy guitar solos performed by Chris; the amazing, screaming vocals by Rob Rock, and thundering bass by James Pulli. When the EP was released, the band enjoyed serious attention from major media outlets as Circus, Guitar World, and Kerrang! (Boomerocity wasn’t in existence, yet. ).

Before the release of the band’s first full album the following year, Stand in Line, the band regrouped and brought in vocalist Graham Bonnet from the UK. The title cut and associated music video caught the attention of MTV and put it in heavy rotation. Chris was even brought in as a guest host on MTV’s“Headbangers Ball”. The album also enjoyed an Impellitteri WakeTheBeast 3000px ALBUM COVERClick Above To Order Your Copyover five-month presence on Billboard’s Top 100.

The band has released a career total of sixteen albums and EPs that have been virtually only available in the Asia Pacific area – primarily Japan. Now, for the first time ever, the band’s career-spanning music is available on Wake the Beast! and can be heard on Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, or click on the cover to the left to order a physical copy.

I recently interviewed the band’s founder, Chris Impellitteri, to chat about Wake the Beast as well as his take on the music business overall. It’s a long but fun interview. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope you do, too, and share it with friends after you watch it.

Follow Chris Impellitteri and the band here at their website as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The Boomerocity Interview With Chris Impellitteri

 

Steve Hackett Talks About Genesis Revisited Live: Seconds Out & More

Posted September 2022

Steve Hackett by Bruno ZampaglionePhoto by Bruno ZampaglioneA year ago this month, Boomerocity first interviewed former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett (here). Because of his tenure with the legendary progressive rock band, Steve is a 2010 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, having taken part in six of the band’s studio albums as well as three live albums, one EP, and seven singles.

When we spoke to Steve last year, it was in promotion of his brand spankin’ new album, Surrender of Silence. This year, he released a new live album titled, Genesis Revisited Live: Seconds Out & More (currently on CD/Blu-ray, CD/DVD and Digital Audio. The vinyl has a scheduled availability of November 25th, just in time for Christmas). The new album showcases Steve and his band stellar performance of Genesis’ “Seconds Out” in its totality and in the original track list sequence.

I recently caught up again with Steve Hackett just before he was to hit the stage for the opening night of his “Foxtrot at 50” tour in the hackett coverClick Above To Order Your CopyUK. He updated Boomerocity on how Surrender of Silence was received and what the story behind the new Seconds Out release.

Please watch and listen to this fun, great interview with Steve Hackett. Share it with your friends. Also, please order Genesis Revisited Live: Seconds Out & More by clicking on the album cover on this page or by ordering it from wherever you purchase your music.

You can keep up with the latest on Steve by signing up for his newsletter at his website (here) and by following him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Boomerocity Interview With Steve Hackett

John McCutcheon Takes His Biggest Leap

Posted September 2022

John McCutcheon 001Americana or folk. Ironic that what preceded the rock and roll of the seventies is again the rage today. We don’t cover it nearly enough on Boomerocity, but we do love it, we do appreciate it, and it is something that we cherish because it is an integral part of the soundtrack of our lives, especially with our big brothers and sisters of the baby boomer generations, the first ones that came out of the womb, so to speak. They were the ones who loved groups like the New Christy Minstrels, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and the like. It's still alive and well. People still love it. It does play an important part of the music scene today.

I recently interviewed a gentleman that I've heard about and Leap CoverClick Above To Order Your Copylistened to for quite a while. He's no newcomer to this music scene, especially in Americana music. His name is John McCutcheon. He has recently released his 43rd album in his 50-year career.

How amazing is that?

I recently had a chance to talk to John. We have a great talk about his new album, and how the music scene is for him these days. I'm a fan and I hope you become one too if you haven't already become one. If you haven't done so already, do check out his music.

You can follow the latest going on with John McCutcheon at his website, FolkMusic.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

The Boomerocity Interview With John McCutcheon

Steve Dorff Has Turned Songwriting Every Which Way But Loose

Posted September 2022

Steve Dorff photo credit Russell Baer Photo credit Russell Baer Songwriters are often seen as the unsung heroes of the music business. They often are not in the spotlight or command a lot of attention. That is usually left for those who record and perform the songs written.

Steve Dorff is a well-known, much sought-after, but low-key and very successful songwriter. Inducted into the prestigious Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in New York City in 2018, he is also a three-time Grammy nominee and a six-time Emmy nominee. In addition to that, he’s racked up an astonishing forty BMI awards as a result from his hits his songs recorded by such stellar artists as Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion, Ann Murray, Whitney Houston, Kenny Rogers, Garth Brooks, George Strait, and many others.

In addition to writing for recording artists, Steve has written I Wrote That One Too CoverClick Above To Order Your Copymusic for TV, movies, and musical theater.

As if that isn’t amazing enough, Dorff also has “author” as part his resume. That is because he has written a fascinating book about his life titled, “I Wrote That One, Too . . . A Life of Songwriting From Willie To Whitney”. If you like reading the backstories behind popular songs, then you will want this book in your personal library.

Watch and listen to this interview as it is very entertaining and informative. Share it with your friends and order Steve Dorff's book, "I Wrote That One, Too".

You can follow the latest with Steve Dorff at his website, here, as well as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Vimeo.

The Boomerocity Interview With Steve Dorff