Smiley Kids
By CraftyJonson

Crafty with George of the Smiley Kids
As Stavesacre took the QuestFest 2000 stage in Atlanta Ga, I was in the very back of the room at the merchandise tables, looking to spend my money just like everybody else. I would buy something I didn't want and something I wouldn't ever need. As I hovered over the tables, I bumped into a kind face. A face that wasn't smiling, but I could almost feel it's joy radiating off and onto me. This face belonged to George of the Smiley Kids, a punk band out of Colorado whose debut album was released last year on 5 Minute Walk records.

George started to talk with me about the regular stuff as he handed out free demos to just about every kid that came to the table, and I decided to ask for an interview. It was late and I was tired. I got the same impression from George. It was like he read my mind as he grabbed a bandmate, Kevin and escorted me to the Green Room, where there were scattered band members and all the top quality fans.

As soon as we got there, we (George, Kevin, and myself) were stared at as everybody seemed to whisper comments to eachother. I could tell I was the only one that cared (perhaps they were used to it?) as the guys feasted their eyes on a pan full of garlic bread that they would soon be feasting their bodies on. We sat down beside the table with the toast as the guys proceeded to stuff their faces with the scrumptious morsels... What happened was truly what I needed that night. This is the recorded part of our conversation, after which, I heard some of the most inspiring talk from anyone in a long time (it's just a shame I cut off the tape when I decided it was getting to personal...):

CraftyJonson (CJ): Alright, first I wanna know who you are, what you play, and where you guys are from...

George (G): (through a mouth of garlic toast crust) I'm George, I play guitar and sing... [I'm] from Colorado.

Kevin (K): (waits to finish his mouthful before speaking)... I'm Kevin, I play guitar and... try to sing (smiles). Colorado.

CJ: So you guys play with Five Iron Frenzy?

G: Sometimes... we try not to.

CJ: You don't like em?

George shakes his head as he gets up to get more bread. Kevin is laughing.

CJ: Well as long as you don't use any words, nobody has to know.

We all laugh, giving me the impression that he was kidding about not liking FIF.

G: I like em... I do like em a lot.

CJ: Anyway, how long have you guys been together?

G: About... two years, right?

K: Two years.

CJ: And how'd you end up getting on the 5 Minute Walk label?

G: We're not on it.

(I look at my copy of the CD and then give him a disbeliving look.)

G: Well that release is (Don't Get Bored), but we're not on it anymore.

CJ: What happened?

G: It's more punk rock to not be on a label.

They laugh.

K: No, we just work better doing stuff on our own... and it's punk rock.

CJ: So I guess that can kinda lead up to my next question which is how to you guys feel about the "Christian Market" and the way that it is?

G: I think Christianity is just pretty much... just about your relationship with God. And the money part of it... ya know, has nothing to do with like true Christianity. So the whole market that's making a lot of money, that's not Christianity, that's just a market.

CJ: Yeah. What's the purpose of the Smiley Kids as a band?

G: Right now?

CJ: Well, I guess if it's changed, that too.

G: Music and God. That's about it.

CJ: So it's not like a ministry for you guys? It's just doing what you like to do?

G: Just do your thing.

CJ: So you guys were on tour with Ghoti Hook and Left Out? How'd that go? Are you doing any more touring now or in the future?

G: (looks at Kevin) Are we? Um...

K: We're um... taking a long break... to figure stuff out.

CJ: So I guess that you guys don't have any future plans about another record or anything?

G: Not really. (looks at Kevin again) Do we?

K: We have a lot of new songs, but we'll probably put it out ourselves. Independent.

CJ: What kind of music do you guys like to listen to?

George brings over the remainder of the garlic toast, which he jokingly took out of the hands of a kid sitting near by.

K: Depends on what mood we're in I guess.

G: Yeah... Um... old skate rock, new wave, goth and industrial.

K: Same thing pretty much... and metal.

CJ: You guys seen any good movies recently?

G: No.

K: Friday. (he laughs)

CJ: Friday part one or-

G: Yeah, part one-

K: The first one.

At this point, the kid that George stole the bread from comes over and takes a peice back, and they act mad at each other as the kid actually lets George have the bread anyway. A girl nearby shouts out "IT DOESN'T TASTE JUST LIKE DR.PEPPER!!! IT TASTES LIKE CRAP!!!" I'm pretty depressed at this point. I didn't think this interview was going so smooth. Kinda reminded me of one of the Smiley Kids' songs.

CJ: Who wrote the words for "Jesus is My Shrink"?

G: Me. I write most of em.

CJ: Well I really like that song a lot. I mean, the title kinda caught my attention, cuz I had some problems for a while and I was all depressed, and I really identify with that song a lot. So I was just wondering is that the type of thing you wrote it about or what?

G: (finishes his mouthful of bread this time) When I first became a Christian, well, I mean... Before I was a Christian- ya know everyone has tons of issues and stuff. And it's like... I started thinking that I needed a shrink or something, but just like the counseling that Jesus gives in the Bible and stuff... But Jesus would just like answer everything... Answer every question for me and just guide me.

(Kevin burps REALLY loud)

K: 'scuse me.

G: And... Jesus just totally healed a lot of issues I had... Mental issues like anger and depression and stuff- I still deal with tons of anger, but uh...

CJ: What do you guys do with your free time?

G: We don't have free time.

K: We don't really have friends either so uh...

CJ: Well then that makes you guys the coolest band in the world to me... Even though I missed the majority of the show, you guys are my favorite now just for that... You remind me so much of myself...

They laugh. Either because it's funny or because they don't wanna be like me.

K: Basically it's like we're never off tour, cuz when we're at home, it's like we still hang out with eachother... Not that we love eachother that much, just that we don't have anyone else to hang out with...

CJ: Ok... Just out of curiosity... How do you guys feel about punk music?

K: Now or then?

CJ: I guess, ya know, general feelings on how it was and what it's become or whatever you wanna say really.

K: I think it disappeared.

G:I think that punk is just, ya know, raw emotion... Just expressing yourself and being free to express yourself. Just trying to learn and grow. It's about being against corruption and stuff. Punk's always been against corruption... But anyway, I just think there's not really any good punk bands anymore.

CJ: Yeah, I'm definitely with you on that. Punk was all I listened to for about three years, and I'm still into some of it, like when it was first starting. But I was buying all the NoFX and stuff, and it's not really about emotion anymore. It's just about a good song. Sometimes you've gotta put em both in there. Have a good song WITH lots of emotion...

G: One thing I think about punk, hardcore, hip-hop, whatever... pretty much, it's all just music and without God in it, it's nothing. I think whatever it is, if you put God in it it's definitely something, but minus God, it's pretty much nothing...

...And at this point, we went on to discuss many other things, not included on the tape I recorded the interview on. I figured that since the bread was all gone and we had covered everything I could think of, it was over. So I thanked the guys and told 'em it was great seeing that I probably wouldn't get an interview with Zao, or Stavesacre (whose show I missed half of because of my talk with the Smileys), which spawned a whole other conversation and some of the deepest philosophical conversation about Christians in music I had ever had with anyone. What a shame it is that I didn't get that part... My advice to you is to go see the Smiley Kids if you get a chance. Buy their CD. Go to Cornerstone and see their show. Tell them that you like them, and meet two of the kindest guys I believe I've ever encountered... Because there's no telling how long that "long break" they're taking may last...

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