Get Smart! (band)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Get Smart!
Get Smart! live in 2021
Get Smart! live in 2021
Background information
OriginLawrence, Kansas
Chicago, Illinois
GenresPost-punk, Punk rock, alternative rock, new wave
Years active1980–1990, 2020-present
LabelsFresh Sounds, Fever, Restless, Enigma, Syntax, Capitol Punishment
MembersMarcus Koch
Lisa Wertman Crowe
Frank Loose
Past membersRic Menck
Jay Sebastian
Bob Lara
WebsiteOfficial website

Get Smart! is a three-piece post-punk band formed in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1980 consisting of Marcus Koch, Lisa Wertman Crowe and Frank Loose. The band released 2 studio albums along with some singles and EPs over a 10-year career. The band re-united in 2020.


The band formed while at University of Kansas in 1980 and, along with bands like the Embarrassment, and the Mortal Micronotz, they were prominent in the alternative music scene in Lawrence.[1][2][3][4] They released their first record in 1981, which was a flexi disc released with "Talk Talk" magazine. This was followed by a self-released 4-track EP called Words Move. They had 5 songs on the four band split cassette, released by Fresh Sounds Records, called Fresh Sounds From Middle America (vol 1) (the four bands being Get Smart!, the Embarrassment, the Yard Apes and the Mortal Micronotz). In 1982 they relocated to Chicago, Illinois.[5] The group were signed by Colin Camerer to his Fever Records label (an independent label in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and released their first album, Action Reaction in 1984. Their second album, Swimming with Sharks, was released in 1986 on Enigma Records' "Restless Records" imprint.

The band received considerable coverage in Nebraska's Capitol Punishment fanzine.[6]

Line-Up Changes[edit]

In 1987 Bob Lara, from the band Reaction, was added as a second guitarist. Shortly afterwards, Frank Loose left the band. He was originally replaced in 1988 by Ric Menck. Menck only stayed with the band for a short time. He was replaced by Jay Sebastian (aka "Redd Klaats"). Sebastian left the band after about a year, at which they continued as an acoustic trio until they disbanded in 1990.[7]

After Get Smart![edit]

  • Lisa Wertman continued performing with Bob Lara as "The Lisa and Bob Show" for about a year. Then she joined the band Dolly Varden as a founding member.[8] Later she would perform with the Nora O'Connor Band, the Honeybees and Jeanie B and the Jelly Beans, and now plays in Damaged Gods, a Gang of Four tribute.
  • Marcus Koch moved back to Lawrence and currently plays in the country band "Cryin' Out Loud".[9]
  • Bob Lara has played in many local Chicago bands and has participated in several re-unions of his old band "Reaction".
  • Ric Menck went on to form Velvet Crush
  • Jay Sebastian went on to form the "Twang Bang" duo.


On February 5, 2020, the band announced via its Facebook page that they would be reuniting, with the original line-up, for a 40th anniversary show, to take place at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS on November 7, 2020.[10] The band's first concert was on October 31, 1980.[11][12] The reunion concern was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and took place on November 6, 2021.[13][14]

Band members[edit]

  • Marcus Koch – guitar, lead vocals (1980–1990, 2020)
  • Lisa Wertman Crowe – bass, lead vocals (1980–1990, 2020)
  • Frank Loose – drums, lead vocals (1980–1987, 2020)

Past members

  • Ric Menck – drums (1988)
  • Jay Sebastian (aka "Redd Klaats") – drums (1988–1989)
  • Bob Lara – guitar, vocals (1988–1990)


Frank Loose, Lisa Wertman Crowe and Marcus Koch circa 1980, Lawrence, KS

Singles and EPs[edit]


Compilation appearances[edit]

  • Inspiration Series No. 1 (German cassette) – included "On And On" (different version)
  • Sub Pop No. 5 – included "Eat, Sleep A Go-Go" (from the "Words Move" EP)
  • Sub Pop No. 7 – included "Black Mirror" (different version)
  • Enigma Variations – included "Just For The Moment" (from Action Reaction)
  • Restless Variations – included "Back Into The Future" (from Swimming with Sharks)
  • Heat From The Wind Chill Factory — included "What It Is We Fear" (acoustic version)


  • "one of the few seriously innovative bands in the Lawrence-Kansas City-Topeka area" (Blake Gumprecht; University Daily Kansan; Dec 15, 1980)[1]
  • "original, simple, clean material and an energized, tight performance" (Karen Barber; KLZR 106; June 20, 1981) [15]
  • "their music has a beat and a fundamentally aggressive quality that is extremely satisfying" (John Korst; Jet Lag; Feb 1983) [16]
  • "This is what happened to Midwestern bar bands when they heard the Sex Pistols. Lots of beat and jangle; it's raw and rocking" (Barbara Nellis; Playboy; March 1985) [17]
  • "the band has a truly impressive knack for three-piece writing and arranging. Their new LP, Swimming With Sharks, is full of tense, carefully crafted miniatures that meld unvarnished noise with unexpected pretty vocal harmonies" (Renaldo Migaldi; Chicago Reader; 1986) [18]
  • "Dense minimalist rock featuring choppy guitars, a tight rhythmic thrust, and passionate, often eerie vocals, with stream-of-consciousness lyrics" (Jeff Silberman; Rock It; Fall 1986) [19]
  • "Get Smart! has emerged as one of Chicago's most respected (and nationally renowned) underground bands" (Moira McCormick; Illinois Entertainer; September 1986) [20]
  • "Warm pop melodicism competes with punky bluntness and jagged noise tendencies" (Ira Robbins; Trouser Press; 1986) [21]
  • Swimming With Sharks blends "aggressive dance-punk a la Gang of Four and Pylon with classique-moderne action reminiscent of X and The Embarrassment" (Joseph Neff, The Vinyl District, Oct 5, 2021)[22]


  1. ^ a b Gumprecht, Blake (December 15, 1980). "Get Smart! tells audiences to wise up". The University Daily Kansan. p. 6. They are Get Smart!, only three months old but one of the few seriously innovative bands in the Lawrence-Kansas City-Topeka area
  2. ^ Behan, Catherine (February 15, 1982). "Get Smart! a leader — New Wave rides high in placid Lawrence". The University Daily Kansan. pp. front page.
  3. ^ Mills, Mike (July 1985). "Our Town". Spin. p. 23. If the Embarrassment from Lawrence, Kansas, had become a huge national hit, people would have gone, "God, there's Get Smart!, and The Mortal Micronotz — LOOK AT ALL THOSE BANDS! What is it about Lawrence, Kansas, that produces these bands?"
  4. ^ Fricke, David (December 19, 1986). "The Underground Empire". Rolling Stone. pp. 116–122. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Lawrence, Kansas, has been a hotbed of alternative music for several years, thanks principally to the indefatigable Bill Rich, who runs the hardy, little Fresh Sounds label there. As far back as 1981, Rich was issuing the first pressings by the Lawrence bands Get Smart! and the Embarrassment, both of whom went on to underground-cult fame.
  5. ^ Twardy, Chuck (October 17, 1982). "Get Smart! getting smarter in Chicago". Lawrence Journal-World. pp. 3D.
  6. ^ Jones, Jim (July 17, 2009). The Complete Capitol Punishment. Nebraska: CP Publishing. pp. 2, 8, 110–113, 142, 150, 215–217, 265. ISBN 978-0-9638594-3-3. Archived from the original on December 14, 2009.
  7. ^ Kot, Greg (August 23, 1990). "'GRAFFITI BRIDGE'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 24, 2021.
  8. ^ Puls, Eric (April 22, 1994). "Dolly Varden Hooks Listeners". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 14, 2011. Our bass player quit and when we auditioned Lisa (Wertman, ex-Get Smart!), we felt a chemistry. The three of us began playing quite a bit and it was obvious that we needed to start a new outfit. Stump had become standardized and somewhat boring. Now joined by drummer Matt Thobe and guitarist/keyboardist Mark Balletto, Dolly Varden rocks harder and leaner than the ambling Stump the Host.
  9. ^ "Cryin' Out Loud". Archived from the original on July 29, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  10. ^ Get Smart! (February 5, 2020). "Save the Date!". Facebook. Retrieved February 18, 2020. SAVE THE DATE! November 7, 2020 Get Smart! will play our 40th Anniversary show with special guests at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, Kansas! Stay tuned for more details. We can't wait to see you!
  11. ^ a b c d Loose, Frank (September 28, 2003). "Get Smart! timeline". Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  12. ^ Spacek, Nick (July 2020). "40 Years in a Band is an Act of Rebellion". The Pitch. pp. 18–19. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Jones, Jim (November 19, 2020). "GET SMART! Interview. Part I, Reunion". Capitol Punishment Fanzine. Archived from the original on November 21, 2020. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  14. ^ Bradshaw, Sarah (November 3, 2021). "Bridge Interview: Get Smart - 40th Anniversary Show". The Bridge. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  15. ^ Barber, Karen (June 20, 1981). "Get Smart!". KLZR 106 Music Guide. Lawrence, KS.
  16. ^ Korst, John (February 1983). "Get Smart! - no dummies". Jet Lag Magazine. St. Louis.
  17. ^ Nellis, Barbara (March 1985). "Get Smart! Action Reaction review". Playboy. p. 20.
  18. ^ Migaldi, Renaldo (May 23, 1986). "Critic's Choice - Get Smart!". Chicago Reader.
  19. ^ Silberman, Jeff (Fall 1986). "Swimming With Sharks review". Rock It Publications. Hollywood, CA. p. 16.
  20. ^ McCormick, Moira (September 1986). "Swimming With Sharks review". Illinois Entertainer.
  21. ^ Robbins, Ira (1986). "Get Smart!". Trouser Press. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  22. ^ Neff, Joseph (October 5, 2021). "Graded on a Curve: Get Smart!, "Oh Yeah No" EP". The Vinyl District. Retrieved October 5, 2021.

External links[edit]