Piece for the NME's 'Hot 50' list on the pioneering downtown LA venue The Smell.
Los Angeles got exciting again and it’s pretty much down to just one place: The Smell.
The Smell has acted as both focal point and catalyst for the current wave of good things coming out of LA. The space offers kids of any age or background an alternative to bars which require twelve kinds of ID or a house party circuit where you are as likely to get a beating from the LAPD as be able to play some music.
The club began life in North Hollywood ten years ago picking up where recently closed clubs the Jabberjaw and Impala Café had left off. Original owner Jim Smith moved the club downtown and remains the clubs sole full time employee. The Smell relies on kids helping out from doing the door to cleaning the toilets. The place is about as DIY as it gets.
Its ‘anything goes’ musical policy has also lead to one of the most exciting and diverse hubs for new music anywhere on the planet as of now.
The Smell can take you from Health’s unhinged synth and bass loops and Brendan Fowler’s spoken word Barr project via the free noise freak-outs of Pocahaunted to Silver Dagger’s scatterbrained no-wave, Lavender Diamond’s delicate pop, Carla Bozulich’s spooked synths and the Mae Shi’s art-punk. And that’s before you even get to the wondrous psyche garage of Abe Vigoda, a dead cert for hugeness in 2008.
The two most successful graduates of The Smell’s school of goodness are two man, post-puks No Age and Misfits in Riot Grrl clothing Mika Miko who we decided to ask about the place:
How important was The Smell to your bands?
Dean (No Age): Everything. Without The Smell we would not be band.
Kate (Mika Miko): It started it all. It’s the place to start a band, and be part of a family. It’s the center to the whole music underground of LA.
Can you imagine an LA with no Smell?
Dean: The Smell isn’t a place where you go to be seen or be cool ‘cos you can’t drink and there are kids running round all over the place so the people that are there are there the music.
Kate: Without it I would have never have met 75% of the people I know today. The Smell sent me to new places. Without I would be hanging out in a parking lot or something.