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Nick Vicario of Smirk Exudes Cool Confidence While Poking at the Anxieties of Modern Life

Over the past few years, Los Angeles punk Nick Vicario has released a handful of great records, whether he was shredding through the noisy hardcore of Crisis Man, the tense post-punk of Public Eye, or the grimy contortions of Cemento. Around the time the second Public Eye LP Music for Leisure dropped just months into the pandemic, Vicario stumbled into his solo project, Smirk. He released a pair of tapes in 2020 that were eventually remastered and released together a year later as his debut album LP, released through Feel It Records (Spread Joy, Silicone Prairie, Sweeping Promises). The debut is a rollercoaster ride from start to finish with its brilliantly disjointed garage punk and unruly experimentation. Vicario later returned with a brand new 12" EP through Total Punk Records (Cherry Cheeks, Predator, GG King), another dizzyingly angular and frenzied continuation of his debut. Through wiry, hyperactive guitar passages, impeccably tight motorik rhythms and distorted noise, the new EP touches upon the anxieties of modern life and the absurd dependency on technology. Most recently, he released a split alongside Jeff Homrich's gloriously inexhaustible hardcore solo project Zhoop through Loopy Scoop Tapes. After Smirk played at last year's Gonerfest as a five-piece composed of members from Marbled Eye, Acrylics, and Spiritual Cramp, we sat down with Vicario and quickly talked about the visual side of Smirk and how his solo venture evolved from pandemic boredom to sharing the stage with bands like the Osees.

Photo by Bee Wright

You released your first tape not long after lockdown happened. Were you writing before COVID or did Smirk come from quarantine boredom?

Nick Vicario: It was definitely a quarantine boredom project. I had some parts going around in my head for the new Public Eye record, and I learned we wouldn't be touring or writing new stuff anytime soon. They are all in Portland, and I'm in L.A. so couldn't really jam with them, so decided to turn it into a little solo project.

Your cover art has a lot of cohesion and continuity to it: the cassettes, the LP, and the most recent EP; can you tell me about the artist behind those?

I hit up my friend Samuelito, he's out of Oakland and runs the label Smoking Room, books shows and does art.

Were you involved in making any of the videos for the new EP?

The "Imaginary Harry" video I did all myself with found footage and put it in iMovie, and I don't know how to use that shit, so I just winged it. They needed a video so I got it to them myself. The other two were done by a friend of mine.

Can you tell me the lore behind the Taylor Swift cover?

Haha I'm just a big fan of hers and I love that album Red that the song is on, which I think is basically a perfect album. I thought that song would sound good as a punk song.

What can we expect from Smirk in 2022?

We finished mixing the second LP that will be released through Feel It Records. I've got a 7" coming out on Under The Gun too. Once the new LP is released, we are planning to tour for that, hopefully in Europe as well.

EP is out now through Total Punk Records.


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