Despite his forays into satellite radio, movies and television in recent years, Pat DiNizio still considers himself to be a musician first and foremost.
“But I’m also an entertainer, and I’m also a conceptualist — someone who enjoys putting projects together from scratch and seeing them brought to life,” says the leader of The Smithereens.
Case in point: 7th Inning Stretch, a baseball/rock ‘n’ roll special starring DiNizio that aired last July on ESPN2.
Last summer also saw DiNizio and the rest of his band recording their first new studio album since 1999’s God Save the Smithereens. They emerged from the House of Vibes in Highland Park, N.J., with a track-by-track cover version of Meet the Beatles!, calling theirs Meet the Smithereens!; it’s due Jan. 16 on Koch.
“No one artist, to my knowledge, has recorded a studio version of a Beatles album in its entirety,” says DiNizio. “We considered recording ‘I’ll Get You’ and ‘There’s a Place’ — two great Beatles songs, two great B-sides from that era — and putting them on the CD to give people added value for their money. But the fact of it is it’s the Smithereens doing Meet the Beatles! There were 12 songs — that’s it.”
As for touring behind Meet the Smithereens!, DiNizio says, “The band is intent on getting out there and promoting this record because it’s worth hearing. It will enable us to set the table, as it were, for the next studio album. That’s the plan.”
That next album will feature original material and be written from scratch, says DiNizio.
“I have enough [older stuff around], but I think it’s got to be fresh and coming from a new direction,” he explains. “Any new album you write has to be a musical reflection of where you are in your life at that point. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with going back to the vault, but I’m not interested in that.”
DiNizio also has another TV project in the works — a planned multiple-episode special in which he seeks mentoring and songwriting help “from some of the greatest songwriters of all time.”
“It’s my attempt to write the greatest album of my career,” the singer/guitarist says.
— By Chris M. Junior
The Smithereens on tour (schedule subject to change):
Jan. 11: Rams Head On Stage — Annapolis, Md.
Jan. 12: State Theatre — Falls Church, Va.
Jan. 13: B.B. King Blues Club & Grill – New York
Feb. 15: Key Club — West Hollywood, Calif.
Feb. 16: Coach House — San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Feb. 17-18: Red Devil Lounge — San Francisco
March 24: Jazzbones Restaurant & Nightclub — Tacoma, Wash.