Volume 92, Issue 23

Thursday, October 15, 1998

talk it out


Underground sound

By Mark Pytlik
Gazette Staff

Toronto-based punk band Smear are certainly no strangers to the do-it-yourself ethic. Formed in 1992 by lead singer and co-lyricist Melanie Kaye, the band have always taken a decidedly independant route to success.

After self-producing four demo tapes and establishing a network of friends to help promote the band, Smear's journey has culminated with the release of their first EP, Whatever, Mary.

The album is a varied affair and effectively highlights the diverse musical influences of the people behind Smear. For this reason, Kaye finds the band's sound difficult to pigeonhole. "I'll say 'we're a punk band' and then another two members of the band will say 'no we're not,'" she says.

Regardless of what they are, Kaye astutely observes their melange of power pop, punk and metal offers something for almost everyone. On the downside, she notes that the band's particular sound can be difficult to market. Fortunately, Smear do not seem to be a band hell-bent on commerical success.

"I really enjoy being in this band," Kaye muses. "The only expectation I have is that it's got to be fun. We're not making enough money so that this is all we do. If it's not a job then I'm never going to act like it is."

Ironically, Kaye's day job is as head of promotions and publicity for Sudden Death Records, which is also Smear's current label. Contrary to what many may think, Kaye does not see her affiliation with the music industry as a drawback. In fact, she notes there are definite advantages to being involved with both the artistic and business side of things.

"I think that because I am in a band it gives me a clearer insight into the different aspects of [the industry]. I know what it's like in terms of scheduling and I have a better understanding of what it's like behind the scenes."

Kaye's position with the label has allowed her to co-ordinate some Sudden Death showcases in Ontario, many of which include appearances by the seminal punk bank D.O.A.. After that wraps up, the future is wide open for Smear.

"We definitely want to record again and we definitely want to tour," says Kaye. "We're talking about going to Europe and we'll also probably end up at those music industry-type festivals like South by Southwest and CMJ Music Festival."

Wherever they do end up, Kaye has one main goal in mind for Smear. "We want to progress and continue playing and to have new people at all our shows." A goal attainable by their own hands.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998