The Smithereens

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The Smithereens
Three of the original members, Diken, Babjak, and DiNizio in 2009
Background information
Origin Carteret, New Jersey, United States
Genres Alternative rock, power pop, college rock, hard rock
Years active 1980–present
Labels d-tone (1980–1985)
Capitol/Enigma (1985–1991)
RCA (1992–1994)
Koch (1998 – present)
Members Pat DiNizio
Jim Babjak
Severo "The Thrilla" Jornacion
Dennis Diken
Past members Mike Mesaros

The Smithereens are an American rock band from Carteret, New Jersey, United States.[1] The group formed in 1980 with members Pat DiNizio (vocals & guitar), Jim Babjak (guitar & vocals), Mike Mesaros (bass guitar & vocals), and Dennis Diken (drums & percussion). This lineup continued until 2006, when Mesaros left the band and Severo Jornacion took over on bass guitar.

The Smithereens have collaborated with numerous musicians, both in the studio (Suzanne Vega and Belinda Carlisle) and live (Graham Parker and The Kinks). The band's name comes from a Yosemite Sam catchphrase, "Varmint, I'm a-gonna blow you to smithereens!"[2]


Babjak, Diken, and Mesaros are all from Carteret, New Jersey and graduated from Carteret High School in 1975. In 1980, they formed the band with DiNizio, who is from Scotch Plains, New Jersey.[3]

The Smithereens are known for writing and playing catchy 1960s-influenced power pop. The group gained publicity when a single from its first album, "Blood and Roses", was included on the soundtrack for, and as the theme song of the 1986 Albert Pyun movie, Dangerously Close, and the video got some moderately heavy rotation on MTV. "Blood and Roses" was also featured on the 1980s TV show Miami Vice during the episode 'The Savage' (first aired February 6, 1987).

Babjak (left) and Jornacion in 2009 in Rochester, Minnesota

The group spent some time in its initial semi-celebrity phase defending itself in Rolling Stone against thinly-veiled accusations of sounding too much like The Byrds and The Beatles, pointing out that its Marshall Amplifier-heavy live sound was closer to heavy metal than it was to The Beatles. The Smithereens have always worn their inspirations proudly, but the band also influenced other musicians, most notably Kurt Cobain during the period he was writing Nevermind. Along with a basic Eastern-coast roots-rock sound that owed much to the inspirations of DiNizio, including Buddy Holly, The Who, The Clash, Elvis Costello, and Nick Lowe, the Smithereens deployed a uniquely retro obsession with Mod, the late British Invasion pop of John's Children and The Move, and other artifacts of 1950s and 1960s culture that lent its music substance. The title and lyrics of their song, "In a Lonely Place," appear to be based on the 1950 Humphrey Bogart film of the same name, including the lyrics, "I was born the day I met you, lived a while when you loved me, died a little when we broke apart." The title and artwork for the album 11 were a nod to the original 1960 Ocean's Eleven film.

The Smithereens starred as themselves and were featured as the entertainment in the indoor beach party scene of the Troma film Class of Nuke 'Em High, playing the song "Much Too Much".

The highest position a Smithereens album attained on the Billboard pop charts was in 1990, when 11 peaked at No. 41 on the strength of the single "A Girl Like You" (which hit No. 38). "A Girl Like You" was originally written to be the title track for the 1989 Cameron Crowe film Say Anything....

The group is still active and tours frequently. The basic tracks for their latest studio album of original material, titled 2011, were recorded in early October 2010 and the album was released on April 5, 2011.

The Smithereens were the final band to perform at the fabled Bleecker Street nightclub Kenny's Castaways in Greenwich Village, NYC, in October 2012.[4]

In June 2013, The Smithereens toured as support for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.[5]


Former members[edit]

  • Mike Mesaros – Bass guitar, vocals


Studio albums[edit]

Extended plays[edit]

Live albums[edit]


  • Blown to Smithereens: Best of the Smithereens, 1995 (Capitol Records)
  • Attack of the Smithereens, 1995 (Capitol Records)
  • Best of the Smithereens, 1998 (EMI)
  • From Jersey It Came! The Smithereens Anthology, 2004 (Capitol Records)

Soundtrack albums featuring The Smithereens[edit]


Year Song Canada NZ[6] UK US Hot 100 US Modern Rock US Mainstream Rock Album
1986 "Blood and Roses" - - - - - 14 Especially for You
"Behind the Wall of Sleep" - - - - - 23
1988 "Only a Memory" - - - 92 - 1 Green Thoughts
"House We Used to Live In" - - - - - 14
"Drown in My Own Tears" - - - - - 34
1989 "A Girl Like You" 62 - - 38 3 2 11
1990 "Blues Before and After" - - - 94 18 7
"Yesterday Girl" 76 - - - 16 20
"Blue Period" (with Belinda Carlisle) - - 99 - - -
1991 "Top of the Pops" 58 - - - 2 19 Blow Up
"Tell Me When Did Things Go So Wrong" - - - - 11 28
1992 "Too Much Passion" 22 33 - 37 - -
1994 "Miles From Nowhere" - - - - - 17 A Date with the Smithereens
"Sick Of Seattle"[7] - - - - - -
"Everything I Have Is Blue"[8] - - - - - -
"Time Won't Let Me"[9] - - - - - - Timecop (Soundtrack)
1998 "Downbound Train" - - - - - - One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen
2011 "Sorry"[10] - - - - - - 2011
"One Look At You"[11] - - - - - -


  • Smithereens 10, 1991


  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Smithereens | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  2. ^ [1] Archived February 5, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Cahillane, Kevin (2004-10-10). "Not Fade Away: The Smithereens' Monument to Persistence". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-03. The band formed in 1980 when three Carteret High School graduates (class of 1975) and childhood friends (Mr. Babjak, Dennis Diken on drums and Mike Mesaros on bass) met Pat DiNizio, a Scotch Plains singer-songwriter-garbage man. 
  4. ^ "The Smithereens to play closing show at Kenny’s Castaways". Pat DiNizio. Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  6. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Smithereens - Too Much Passion". Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "The return of the Smithereens!". The Smithereens Official Website. 
  11. ^ "One Look At You". The Smithereens Official Website. 

External links[edit]