Jim Babjak Talks ‘Smithereens Week’ and ‘Honor’ of NJ Hall of Fame Induction (Audio)
This Sunday (Oct. 27), The Smithereens will get their due as the Fab Four of Carteret, NJ are set to be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park.
Founded in 1980, the band–featuring the late front man Pat DiNizio, guitarist Jim Babjak, drummer Dennis Diken, and bassist Mike Mesaros–will celebrate the week with a series of appearances leading up to the event.
This Thursday (Oct. 24), the band will be honored at The Grammy Museum in Newark, NJ, hosting ” A Conversation with The Smithereens” and the grand unveiling of their inclusion in the New Jersey Legends’ Exhibit. Two nights later (Oct. 26), the band will perform a special homecoming event at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park.
So how does it feel to be considered a “legend?”
“I don’t know what to make of that,” Babjak tells 1071 The Boss midday host Michele Amabile. “The first time I was on an airplane where one of our songs was on the station on the airplane, it was under classic rock, and that threw me off…We were still touring.”
The band had a massive hit in 1989 with “A Girl Like You,” from the album, “11,” and the songs, “Blood and Roses” (often cited as an influence for Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, who modeled the song “About A Girl” after the “Especially for You” track) and “Behind The Wall of Sleep” are considered staples of the alternative rock format.
“It’s an honor,” said Babjak of the exhibit, which will showcase one of his first guitars, as well as other items in a display case honoring the group.
“They call it artifacts, now,” he laughed. “Legends? Well, I always thought we were the underdogs, with (Bruce) Springsteen, and Bon Jovi and us somewhere down there. So it’s really cool.”
Sadly, DiNizio passed away in 2017, and Babjak said the induction will be bittersweet.
“I think he would have loved the attention and the honor of it,” Babjak said.
Other inductees include musician Southside Johnny Lyon, author and television personality Martha Stewart, “Game of Thrones” novelist George R.R. Martin, former Giants athletes Bart Oates and Harry Carson, gymnast Laurie Hernandez, “Seinfeld” co-star Jason Alexander and local restaurateur Tim McLoone. Additionally, Cape May’s Joseph and Anne Salvatore, renowned for their work in preserving New Jersey’s historic and architectural heritage, will be honored at the NJ Hall of Fame’s Unsung Heroes for 2019.
Check out the interview with Babjak below, where he talks to Michele about the induction, the risk the band took covering The Beatles with their album, “Meet The Smithereens,” the recently released “Covers!” album (which released rarities such as the band’s versions of Springteen’s
“Downbound Train,” The Who’s “The Seeker,” The Outsiders ‘ “Time Won’t Let Me” and Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life”), continuing the band without DiNizo, the additions of Marshall Crenshaw and The Gin Blossom’s Robin Wilson filling in for DiNizio and plans for the 40th anniversary of the band.