Always had that je ne sais quoi Irritating little combo with no plans to reform The most fun you can have with your shoes on
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Radio 1 Interview

This interview is probably from BBC Radio 1. The interviewer is believed to have been Richard Skinner.

The Smirks became victims of the system when it seemed that everything was going right for them. They signed up with Beserkley UK, a label founded by American Matthew Kaufman. The American Beserkley label has got the reputation of caring for its acts. It's even got musicians on its board.

We liked the idea of Beserkley, because we thought it was a small family label. They had the financial backing. They also acted friendly towards us, and they offered us drinks! And it was just like a close-knit unit and we were worried about being swallowed up by a big company so we thought we'd go with Beserkley.

We actually negotiated the deal with the person who owned the company and that meant it was very much tied up with the company. When the company began to have problems, he, as the person who finally had to take the buck, got very involved in looking after the company as a whole, rather than looking after the group, which was one of the things that he was meant to be putting a lot of time and effort into. So as his time was spent more on other affairs and less on the group, things then began to wane, and that happened very soon after we signed to them, because we signed in March, and by about June, which is when our first single was released, and we played a concert at The Marquee, nobody actually turned up from Beserkley apart from the secretary at the office, so we realised even then that something radically wrong had happened.

I think they saw us as 1960s bubblegum, which we never really saw ourselves as, I mean, if I thought we were that, I wouldn't play in the band anyway, and I'm sure no-one else would but somehow they must have seen something in us to sign us up that they could twist round and make into bubblegum pop. I think they wanted us to be the English version of The Rubinoos but, you know, we could be seedy, you know, we came from the North, you know, we were allowed to have dirty jeans. The original single we did on Beserkley, OK-UK, we went in and recorded it and had no idea about what was happening and the producer sent us away and said "I'll send you a finished copy of it". About two weeks later, we get this copy, and there's organs and glockenspiels all the way through it and it's wishy-washy rubbish.

The producer was the keyboard player in Tommy James and the Shondells. It was that kind of bubblegum rubbish and, you know, we thought, oh, this is terrible and we can't have this. So we insisted on going back in. Even then when we were back in the studio remixing it and getting all this rubbish off it, all these glockenspiels and organs and tingling pianos and the actual tambourine, as he quoted to us, that was used on "Mony, Mony". Even when we were getting all that off, he wanted to keep us out of the control room, and still tried to maintain his own stamp on it. But we didn't use him again after that.

So far, the Smirks have been unsuccessful in their many legal attempts to get the money owed to them by Beserkley UK. Polydor, who were licensees of Beserkley in Britain, did pay ten thousand pounds. That was the bill for recording a Smirks album that Beserkley UK never released. But the band are still owed more than twelve and a half thousand pounds by Beserkley UK. And the man who signed them up appears to have disappeared. It's a cautionary tale, but one with a reasonably happy ending, because The Smirks have been back in the recording studios, and using their own cash, released this single, American Patriots...

Click here to download the interview.

Click here for Radio 4 interview.

Click here for Band Of Hope interview.

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Page last updated by Ian on 16 June 2007