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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Smarties Interview! (with Craig Bostick)

Craig Bostick was very gracious in answering some questions I had about The Smarties... you can also hear his most recent musical work with the band Spoilsport.



First of all, how did you all meet and form The Smarties?


I had just moved back to Springfield after some time in LA and was
working with Jay Williamson (now in Big Smith). I must have made him a
tape or something because he told me that this girl he had met really
liked my music. It was probably stuff like Lone Justice, Los Lobos,
Lucinda Williams... I really can't remember exactly. Anyway, I had been
thinking about starting a band (even though I didn't know how to play
guitar) but I didn't know many people who shared my taste in music so I
was curious if this girl, Sheri, was interested in singing or playing
with me. As it turned out she had an amazing voice and the three of us
started The Smarties.


I got an old Fender Mustang and a friend showed me the basic chords.
Jay played the bongos (which we got at a flea market for seven dollars)
and Sheri sang lead on most of the songs and played the tambourine. Her
parents were both musicians and her mom had this great old tambourine.
Sheri played it for years until it finally fell apart. We'd sneak into
this parking garage after hours and on weekends to practice. Our first
show was in March of 1992 I think.


Jay quit at the end of 1993 and eventually we found Kristy. Jay's
cousin Mark was playing bass for us at that time and after he left in
the fall of 1994, Matt joined. That was the line up until the end:
Matt, Kristy, Sheri and me.


And how did you all decide on the sound -


Obviously we wanted a very pared down sound at first. I wanted the
guitar to sound very reverby and surfy. And we wanted lots of
harmonies. Besides that I think we just wanted to sound like what we
were listening to. We learned a lot of other people's songs at first.
Besides the bands I mentioned earlier we also were doing songs by The
Go-Go's, The B-52's, Josie Cotton, Bow Wow Wow. So I guess we were
going for a surfy/beach thing mixed in with country and other kinds of
rootsy music.



You mentioned that you were the principal
songwriter... did any of the others contribute songs?


I wrote most of our original songs. I started making up songs as soon
as we decided to start a band, before I even learned to play guitar. We
did a couple songs that Sheri wrote and they were included on "Play
It". (The song "Day Off" on the demo you found was Sheri's.) After Matt
and Kristy joined we did a couple of songs by each of them. We recorded
one of Matt's at our only post-"Play It" recording session.


Jay mentioned there was a tape, "Beach Blanket Bongo"
and the CD "Play It", from which you have some MP3's
up... can you talk a little about the making of those?


Jay's cousin Mark Bilyeu (also of Big Smith) took and interest in the
band and decided he wanted to record us. I don't think he had ever
really recorded anyone before and we had never done any recording
either. He had a friend with a small studio set up in his basement and
that's where we recorded that first cassette. We really had no idea
what we were doing. The guitars especially never sounded the way I
wanted them too but that recording has certain charms I suppose.
 


What was the general reaction to The Smarties in the
region and on tour - I assume that you guys did
probably tour...


We were pretty popular I'd say, especially in Springfield. We also
played quite a bit in St. Louis as well as Kansas City, Rolla,
Columbia, Joplin, and Fayetteville, Arkansas.



What led to the disbanding - was it a case of
conflicting musical desires, better opportunities, or
personal turmoil?


What is it they always say, "musical differences"? That's good enough
for me.


How well do you keep in touch with other members of
The Smarties?


I haven't talked to Matt and Sheri in years. I got a couple of emails
from Sheri after I moved to Boston but that was at least 6 years ago
or more. Kristy and I are still in contact. We email all the time.
She's living in LA and I see her whenever I take a trip out there.
She's been to Boston a couple of times too. We just met up in St. Louis
around Christmas when we were both home visiting our families.


I hear from Mark every now and then. I haven't heard from Jay in a
while. I was in his wedding right before I moved to Boston. Last I
heard he was teaching, playing in Big Smith, and had two kids. I
imagine he's pretty busy.


What led you to Boston and how is your life as a
graphic artist/illustrator and comix artist?


I was never a fan of Springfield and stayed around just because of the
band. After we broke up I moved to St. Louis for a year but I wanted to
live somewhere bigger. When a friend of mine decided to go to school in
Boston I decided to go along.


I love illustration and design and the flexibility of freelancing. For
me, it doesn't get any better than that. I've got lots of comics
related things going on right now. This spring I'll be part of an
exhibit at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. I've also
contributed to several books that will be published a little later this
year.


I guess that's it for now. I hope you find this useful in some way.

It's kind of astonishing to find someone interested in The Smarties
after all this time. It's been about 9 years since the band broke up.
Time flies...

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an old friend of all the Smarties members. Let me say, In Springfield at the time they were certainly "The" band.

To think about them brings about such a sense of nostalgia at to almost be crushing--without a doubt the soundtrack to much of my youth. Though I am still in near constant contact with Matt, Sheri, and Mark, I certainly miss Kristi and Craig.

-Doonnie K

Oh, and their fliers were the shit!

2:45 PM  
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