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The Smart Pills ‘Lost Studio Recordings’ Are Appropriate Discovery for Today, EP on Sale Dec. 2

Smart Pills Founder Vince Conrad Says Re-Release of Punk Recordings a Labor of Love

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The Smart Pills in 1979 – Photo courtesy of Vince Conrad

By DONNA BALANCIA

If you never got a chance to get a copy of any of The Smart Pills songs back in the 1970s, you’re getting a reprieve.

On Dec. 2, Vince Conrad Productions will release The Smart Pills – Lost Studio Recordings EP 1979, a four-song collection of the only studio recordings ever made by the Smart Pills, back in 1979.

The Smart Pills band, comprised of Git Smart, Vince Conrad and drummer Billy Ray, takes on government corruption, relationship screw-ups and life in the punk world they enjoyed back in New York and LA in the day.  It holds up well today.

“By 1979 punk rock and disco were competing forces in music and lifestyle,” Conrad said. “Mainstream radio and big record labels supported and promoted disco, as opposed to punk rock which was still very much the counter culture and not widely accepted. Both were by this time well established as music genres, but disco was far more lucrative for record companies and palatable by mainstream America.”

The Smart Pills: Brash Style Punk Rock

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No subject too tough for The Smart Pills – Photo courtesy Vince Conrad

The music is tight, in-your-face, brash punk. The Smart Pills challenge politicians, corporate jerks and even their own girlfriends on The Smart Pills Lost Studio Recordings EP 1979. With titles like “Brainwashed,” “Person To Avoid,” and “Yankee Doodle Boy,” the ideology still rings through.

“Jimmy Carter was president and oddly enough, there was a general political feeling much like today prior to the election,” Conrad said.

“The hostages were still being held in Iran, with one failed rescue attempt by the US,” he said.  “There were high gas prices and high interest rates, with a declining middle class.  Factories had already started moving to Japan and Ronald Regan would be elected President in 1980.”

Formed in New York in 1978, The Smart Pills were one of the early first generation punk bands.  The Smart Pills relocated to Hollywood in 1979 and performed in LA’s punk rock scene.  While gaining the interest of two record companies, the Smart Pills were never signed to a record label.  But The Smart Pills wrote more than 16 original songs, which they played live in New York, Los Angeles and even the Midwest throughout 1978 and 1979.

The Break-Up of The Smart Pills

The Smart Pills in the old days - Photo courtesy of Vince Conrad for CaliforniaRocker.com

The Smart Pills in the old days – Photo courtesy of Vince Conrad

Git Smart broke up The Smart Pills after he accepted an offer from staff writers at Warner Bros. to embark on a solo career. Conrad started American Bad Taste in Los Angeles after the breakup. The Smart Pills continued to work on projects over the years.

But the original half-inch 8-track master Smart Pills reel-to-reel had been long forgotten, buried deep in Git Smart’s storage unit.  The Smart Pills were pursued by a record label for a deal that eventually fell through and Conrad cleaned up the tracks himself, preparing for the Dec. 2 release.

“It’s been a great experience revisiting this music and the work to get the tracks out there has been a labor of love,” Conrad said.

Conrad has been making up for lost time. The Smart Pills Lost Studio Recordings is the fifth CD release from Vince Conrad Productions www.vinceconrad.com.  The Smart Pills Lost Studio Recordings is not the only collection that has been retrieved from the depths.

Earlier this year Vince Conrad Productions released a double live CD of rare performances in the midwest by the Smart Pills. The Smart Pills Lost Studio Recordings EP has never been previously released and was not discovered until earlier this year.

“I went on with my life, had a family and then one day when I was moving, I found this box with all the masters that I completely forgot about,” Conrad said. “I played the music and I thought it held up pretty well and was probably more appropriate today than ever.”

Are You ‘Brainwashed’ Today?

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Tough looking guys putting out killer music – Photo courtesy Vince Conrad

“Brainwash,” is one of the tunes on the album. It deals with how the media controls the beliefs of the country.

Does Conrad think the people are still brainwashed by the media today?

“People are brainwashed today more than ever,” Conrad said. “No one reads books, journals or other publications any more for information.  Most of the general public seem to get the majority of their information from TV.

“That’s why the first thing governments have done for a long time now is grab control of the media,” Conrad said.  “We saw a lot of that recently in the current election.  You tell me, where did people get their information and why did they vote as they did?”

Vince Conrad formed Vince Conrad Productions in late 2015. The label has released The Aliens NYC, by The Aliens, an early punk rock band performing exclusively in New York’s Max’s Kansas City, CBGBs, Club 82 and other venues during 1976.

The fantastic find was just the tip of the iceberg as the basement discovery yielded more recordings. Conrad started a label and released some of the live recordings, including The Smart Pills double live CD, recorded in early 1979 and songs by another punk band, American Bad Taste, which recorded and performed in Los Angeles and the Midwest until 1981.

More Songs, More Bands on VCP Label

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Git Smart and Vince Conrad: Faces have changed, music’s the same – Photo courtesy Git Smart

Conrad also released The Vince Conrad EP, a collection of six songs written from 1980 to 1984, which were performed live in various punk bands, but never recorded until 2015.  The CDs are available for purchase as downloads or CDs exclusively through the VCP website, www.vinceconrad.com

Conrad said the music business is different than it was in the old days but if you have enough drive you can not only succeed, but can extend the reach of your music beyond local radio stations.

“True there are a lot fewer record deals being offered to people today,” Conrad said. “But the web has opened up a lot of opportunities for musicians. I have listeners here in the U.S., as well as in many European countries and South America. You have to put in the time and you have to switch your thought process from being a musician to being a business person to get your music heard. It can be done.”

Conrad distributes his own music through his VinceConradProductions.com website and he says self-distribution is a new model for younger artists.

“In the Pre-Internet days, major record companies in conjunction with major radio stations controlled the promotion and distribution of music in America,” he said. “These conglomerates controlled the music industry and dictated what bands and what music America heard.  The majority of original music was never selected to make that immortal leap to vinyl.

“Today, with the Internet, artists can take control of the promotion, distribution and finances relating to their music or art,” Conrad said.  “It’s a business model similar to outlet malls, where the manufacturer markets and sells directly to the consumer.”

Smart music lovers will keep watch for The Smart Pills Lost Studio Recordings EP 1979 on the VCP website, which will be released on Dec. 2. Check out the downloads here: http://vinceconrad.com/store

 

Vince Conrad Productions Strikes Hidden Gold with Remastered Punk Hits

Vince Conrad

Vince Conrad: Polishing off some classic gems with EP Vince Conrad, a collection of remastered punk rock favorites

Music by The Aliens, Smart Pills and American Bad Taste Top the Charts

By DONNA BALANCIA – Veteran Punk Rocker Vince Conrad has released some long-buried hidden gems to music lovers.

He remastered classic hit tunes from bands The Smart Pills, The Aliens and American Bad Taste and they are now available to the public.

The Aliens were well-known in New York in the late 1970s early punk rock scene but the band’s catchy songs were lost over the years.

Through Vince Conrad Productions, Vince is re-releasing punk rock classics like “He Hangs Around With a Bimbo,” “Sticky People,” and “Blank Samaritan,” which is good news for punk lovers.

And while doing so, his company, Vince Conrad Productions, has developed a recording, promotion and distribution model that others can follow.

The Aliens

“I wanted to get the songs out there because they’re great songs,” Vince said. “But also I want to show people that you don’t need a record company to come knocking on your door. Today, you can control the whole recording, promotion and distribution process yourself.”

New Label

Vince Conrad Productions is a new punk rock record label and publishing  and production company based in Los Angeles. All of the music on the VCP website has been unreleased to the general public. And he’s got a lot of interesting songs to hear.

Conrad’s New York band, The Aliens, and Hollywood-based bands, The Smart Pills and American Bad Taste were well known to the punk rockers of the late-1970s and early 1980s. Conrad has re-issued CD’s for each of the three bands, as well as, as a solo EP of early punk rock songs previously never recorded entitled simply, Vince Conrad EP.  The EP is ranked No. 3 in the LA Punk Rock chart on Reverbnation.

“These are songs that people loved,” Vince told California Rocker in an exclusive interview. “They were recorded in the day on a casette recorder and I’ve painstakingly remastered them. They really hold up.”

The Vince Conrad EP has achieved other benchmarks on the Reverbnation site, hitting the charts in the national and regional arenas.

The Smart Pills - Photo for California Rocker

The Smart Pills

Remastered Punk

Vince doesn’t wear the same spiky hair or pins through his earlobe (OK, not as often anyway), but he’s making new music, and he’s reviving the punk classics.

“My bands played with a lot of famous bands during the early punk scene in New York and Los Angeles,” Vince said.

“But the thing is if you didn’t get signed by a record label, no one would ever get to hear your music,” Vince said. “So many great bands didn’t get signed so they didn’t get heard, like Lance Loud and the Mumps, the Mau Maus, the Skulls and a lot of others.

“The Internet has really enabled artists to promote and distribute their music and get it heard,” Vince said. “What we’re doing is we’ve created a whole new recording industry model that puts the whole process back in the hands of the artists.”

Vince Conrad Productions offers CDs and a wide range of downloads from the Aliens, the Smart Pills, American Bad Taste and the new Vince Conrad EP.

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The Aliens

The Music

During 1976 the Aliens, based in New York’s Chelsea Hotel, regularly played Max’s Kansas City, CBGB’s, Club 82 and other punk rock venues in New York’s early punk rock scene.

The Aliens played among such contemporaries as the Ramones, the Heartbreakers, Blondie, Wayne County, Mink Deville, the Mumps, and the Fast.

Vince’s partners in the bands were Holiday Ian and Git Smart, who would become members of American Bad Taste and The Smart Pills.

In 1979, the Smart Pills moved from New York to Hollywood and performed at the Masque, Club 88, Gazzarri’s, the Troubadour, Kings Palace, the Hong Kong Café and others.

The Smart Pills were on the bill with such contemporaries as the Germs, the Bags, FEAR, the Weirdos, the Mau Maus, Black Flag and the Plugz.

Many of the most beloved bands whose names have become synonymous with punk in the late 1970s and early ’80s had hard times, preventing them from enjoying the fruits of their hard work, Vince said.

The Smart Pills CD

The Smart Pills CD

“A lot of the bands, including my band the Smart Pills, broke up before they could get signed,” he said. “With the Smart Pills, we were being pursued by Casablanca and Warner Bros., but we lost our frontman. I then scrambled to get Ian and we formed American Bad Taste.”

American Bad Taste recorded four songs for Casablanca, then went out and took the Midwest by storm, bringing their music to America’s heartland before returning to Hollywood in 1981.

The collection Vince offers is a genuine effort to bring to a new generation of listeners some classic songs.

“Basically the songs were all on cassettes and reel-to-reel stored away in my trunks over the years,” Vince said. “You know when you’re on the road a lot you get used to having everything in a trunk. I always wanted to revive and re-master these songs and fortunately, now they’re available.”

The CDs and downloads are being sold through Vince Conrad Productions and are only available through the website at www.vinceconrad.com.

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#VinceConrad

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