Smirk is led by a man who has dedicated most of his days to bring various music to the masses. Coming from Portland to Los Angeles, this is just the beginning for Nick.
Photo by: Dan Stanton
Expect nothing short of greatness from someone who has been heavily involved in two authentic music scenes in the country. His latest project recently took the stage for the first time ever, performing in front of a live audience. Put together by the amazing Pretty But Wicked, a sold out show saw Smirk opening up at The Echo on Sunset Blvd. Although playing a first show can be somewhat nerve wrecking for people, Nick is not new to playing on stages. He, along with his band, mastered the stage with excellent cadence and charisma.
Smirk formed during the pandemic, something Nick didn’t think would ever turn into a band playing live shows. They just put out a wonderful 12-track LP on Feel It Records titled “LP”, naturally. The punk scene in Los Angeles never truly died, it just fizzled out a bit from what it was back in the day. It's surely an exciting time to be involved in the Southern California music scene at the moment, filled with eccentric characters and hard hitting sounds.
The band has some exciting things coming for us for the rest of 2021, including a new 12” EP coming out in two weeks on the label Total Punk. Tonight they'll be opening up for Oh Sees at Non Plus Ultra for $10, which is sure to be an iconic show. You don’t want to miss that. Pick up the LP vinyl on Smirk’s bandcamp, along with a few cassette’s.
I sat with Nick on July 16th at the aforementioned Echo show where they opened up for Downside, Niis and Dumb Fucks, respectfully.
Photo by: Paula Jean
Here's what he had to say:
Q: As I look around I notice a packed house. What does it mean to you playing at this venue, with the other bands on the bill, for your first show?
A: I'm just super honored to be able to open up for these bands, and to have a first show at a venue such as The Echo is pretty rad. Such a great opportunity, we definitely had fun up there and it sounded great.
Q: Other than performing tonight, you guys did a live stream recently, how was that experience?
A: We recorded it up at Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati, California. North-Bay area. Pretty legendary studio and we had a hookup so we decided to do it there. It premiered on Harakiri Diat's YouTube channel. We got some pretty decent views.
Q: Before you formed Smirk, what other projects were you involved with?
A: I guess I started playing in bands for real when I was 12. I played in a band called The Discords in Portland, Oregon where I grew up. It was like late 70's punk style. Then I played in a bunch of hardcore bands before joining a band called Autistic Youth, another Portland band. We toured extensively and then I formed Public Eye. Also part of the amazing scene out in Portland.
Q: When did you start making music as Smirk?
A: It was like right at the start of the pandemic. I was just at chillin at my parents house in the North-Bay writing songs for Public Eye and it didn't feel right using that band I guess. So I just decided to do everything myself and teach people the songs. I never thought we would play live honestly as Smirk. It was just something that came out of boredom for fun.
Q: You just released your first LP titled "LP", what were some inspirations that went into making that?
A: It was a lot of like obscure late 70's European Punk we were jamming to a lot and ripped off pretty heavily *laughs; if you can find what I ripped off, where it's from & when, you won a grand prize. I'll give you a Smirk LP. Definitely inspired by that stuff though, we wanted to do something that sounded vintage.
Q: What made you come from the scene in Portland to the scene here in L.A.?
A: I'd done my thing up there. I went to elementary school, middle school, high school… I played in bands the whole time. Ultimately I just wanted a change in scenery, plus I'm closer to my family now, nicer weather. Couldn't handle those brutal winters anymore.
Q: During the shutdown we all went through in 2020, what did you learn about yourself the most?
A: I dealt with my mental health, finally. It's something I never even thought about doing before all of this. Started working on it by talking to professionals and I learned that they aren't for me, ultimately. So, coming out of the whole pandemic it was like, okay I'm stronger than I think I am. I don't need that much help. That was cool to learn, I guess.
Q: You said before how you wrote everything and then sought out a band to play all the parts with you, how did you go about finding the rest of the band to play live with?
A: It was a little bit of seeking out friends and seeking out other talented musicians. I play in another band called Acrylics as well so two of the members of that band are in the live Smirk band. Also there's this band out of San Francisco called Spiritual Camp, the vocalist of that band plays guitar for this live band. It's mostly Bay Area based which is funny because I call us an LA band.
Q: What are your plans for Smirk for the rest of 2021 and beyond?
A: I think we are going to do some touring around the EP that's coming out in September. Hitting up New York City, Gonerfest in Memphis and Olympia & Seattle randomly.