After spending the past four years immersed in the Beatles and The Who, making new albums out of old songs, the Smithereens recently returned to their original style -- original, fast-paced, British Invasion-style rock and roll in the style of "Yesterday Girl" and "Only a Memory."
By phone from his Scotch Plains, N.J., home, frontman and songwriter Pat DiNizio talked about the band's 31-year history and return to new material. The band pulls into Port Washington's Landmark on Main Street Theater Saturday.
Did you really compose "Blood and Roses" as a garbageman for your father's waste-removal company?
Yeah, I did, actually. I wrote the bulk of the song walking home in the rain, a very cold February morning, from where I worked in New York City, at the legendary music venue Folk City. I had done sound and lights there. I heard that bass line in my head. But yes, I did complete the writing of "Blood and Roses" on the back of the garbage truck. You know how you see the guys hanging off the back of the garbage truck? That was me.
"Smithereens 2011" is your first album of original material in almost 12 years. You've said in the past that you've had writer's block. Does that explain the delay?
The thing is, I don't really suffer from writer's block. I can sit down, and if someone said, "I need a song for a movie," or for whatever reason, and the odds are pretty strong that I could deliver the song by 4 in the morning if I needed to. As when I wrote the song "A Girl Like You" on deadline at the behest of director Cameron Crowe for the film "Say Anything" -- and then we decided to keep it for ourselves.
So what made you want to write again, after so many tribute albums?
It was simply a matter of, well, I have to write an album, the studio time is booked. That's how I like to work. I like to create a framework.
How did being in the Tu Casa studio in the East Village, where the band recorded its 1988 classic "Green Thoughts," influence the sound of the new album?
I wanted the vibe of the New York streets on this album, which was where we came from. The fact that Tu Casa was open and still the same was great because it put us back in that hungry place. That's the place we needed to be in.
WHO The Smithereens
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, Landmark on Main Street Theater, 232 Main St., Port Washington
INFO $40-$45; 516-767-6444, landmarkonmainstreet.org