Discover Jersey Arts 5 Live: The Smithereens' Pat DiNizio
Recently, Chris Benincasa had a fun interview with Smithereens Drummer Denis Diken. On Friday, July 21, we sat down with Smithereens frontman Pat DiNizio, just prior to their set at the XPoNential Music Festival, in which they rocked the crowd through the 110+ degree heat. It was pretty incredible.Pat was wearing a Captain America ballcap, and, being a fellow comic book geek, we communed for a bit. We spent about ten minutes talking about the new Captain America movie, in which we decided it’s sort of like “Saving Private Ryan” with brighter costumes. It wasn’t how I expected to start an interview, but it was a lot of fun. Pat wanted me to spoil the ending, I politely refused.
Jonathan Elliott and Rich Ratner for Discover Jersey Arts: What’s your favorite thing about playing in New Jersey?
Pat DiNizio: It’s home, and we understand home. There’s no surprises. These folks here—who’ve been with us in our own backyard—they’re like family. They’ve been there for us through our success, and they’ve got a greater empathy for what we’ve achieved.
JA: How do you unwind between tour stops?
PD: I’m on the road all the time, between band and solo shows. When I’m not onstage, I love Turner Classic Movies. I also spend a lot of time at the computer, looking at things I wish I could afford on Ebay.
JA: What do you like to listen to on the tour bus?
PD: You know, you go through phases. The Beatles are always one of my favorites, but eventually you have to step away from it and then come back, a few years later. I grew up with the great AM pop radio—you’d hear the Beach Boys, then the Beatles, then Motown, and the one hit wonders—it was this wonderful, eclectic musical stew. You didn’t know who you’d heard one second to the next. I also like Black Sabbath, the Kinks—I like to watch documentaries, I just finished one about Glenn Gould, I’m watching one about Philip Glass. Duke Ellington. I tend to get inspired by other interesting lives. I don’t see a lot of movies in the theater, unfortunately. I want to see the new John Carpenter movie, The Ward. We’ll see if that happens.
JA: What’s different about playing outdoor festivals?
PD:When I was a kid, I used to go to outdoor rock festivals. They’re certainly different than theaters—they’re a lot of fun, but challenging, too. It’s really hard to get a great mix unless the PA is really incredible. I remember back in ’73, seeing Pink Floyd on The Dark Side of the Moon tour, and the sound was horrendous. But I’ve seen three stadium shows—Paul McCartney—and it’s been really spectacular. So, things have changed.
JA: You performed the National Anthem for the Phillies game tonight. How was that?
PD:It was fun! I sang it at Shea, several years ago, before they built the new Citi Field. We also did a Smithereens song, and “Ticket to Ride.” I’m one of only seven individuals to have sung “Ticket to Ride” at Shea—The four Beatles, Jim Babjak, myself, and a friend of ours, Beatle Tommy.
JA: How do you feel about the bands your work has influenced?
PD: The press doesn’t really write about this—we were friends with Butch Vig, who was Nirvana’s producer,and the Smashing Pumpkins’ producer. He told us when they were making Nevermind, they were listening to our albums a lot, looking for production values. It’s documented—if you look in his diaries. It’s nice. My seventeen-year old daughter has a copy of the diaries—she came to me and said “Dad, do you know you’re number three?” It’s nice to be a part of all that.
The Smithereens played an incredible set on Friday night; “2011,” their thirteenth studio album, is in stores now.