Rare Beauties

12 April 2012 | 1:31 pm | Rick Bryant

He used to prefer punk to Duran Duran now he prefers eating pies to mixing. Smrts' Predrag Delibasich says his role is to make the band sound "five per cent more happy".

If records are considered the progeny of bands, coming often after a long and arduous gestation, then there is a curious parallel that's occurring between Predrag Delibasich and his band Smrts' releases. Their debut, Sun Sets On A New Tomorrow, was recorded in haste just three days before the arrival of his first child, and recent release Have Friends And Visit Them At Night comes two months before his second. For some, this might be cause for anxiety, but Delibasich will approach it with his usual unbridled, artistic verve. “Well, I will definitely have a short break but I'll get back into action as soon as I can,” he states excitedly. “I feel inspired by parenthood and, regardless of how tired I get, I can still have creative time. I truly feel like I only just started being good at music, and I want to push the band as far as we can go.”

Having achieved so much in such a relatively short time, thanks in part to Delibasich's prolific output, it would appear there is already great drive in Smrts. Band members come together sporadically, and occasionally after lengthy absences, but this in no way stalls their progress. In fact, you get the impression that each jam is a treat, a rare opportunity for these seasoned and skilled musicians to capitalise on time spent together.

A recent tour through Melbourne and Sydney put the members' relationships under the microscope, but they came through unscathed and buoyed by what turned out to be a very successful trip. “It was the first time Smrts played outside of Perth, and it was amazing!” Delibasich enthuses. “We are an unknown band with no mainstream media or triple j support, but the shows were well attended and the crowds were very receptive. We hope to go back before the end of the year. And as far as going overseas to play, we would all love to do it.”

Encompassing a range of influences and styles, Smrts have arrived at a point where their sound is not only unique but also wholly accessible.  While the band's first album was an exercise in efficiency, the second was recorded with more of a game plan in mind. This intent is evident in Have Friends… as its mix has been given greater attention, and the result is an album that is more sonically interesting than its predecessor. “We had heaps more time for this album and, after recording all the drums and guitars, we spent a couple of days mixing everything,” Delibasich explains. “Lewis [Ryan] and Matt [Bairstow] were mixing and we were eating pies and drinking beer, telling them 'bring this up', 'cut this delay down', 'make it five per cent more happy'.”

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Having been involved in the Perth music scene in various guises for a decade, Delibasich has, in Smrts, managed to very successfully combine his obscure musical bent with more structured songwriting. To hear his other work might suggest that Smrts' relatively standard approach is at odds with his instincts, but the truth is that Delibasich is as much a lover of convention as he is of those uncommon, leftfield oddities. Well, almost.

“I like a lot of obvious stuff, but it's always small, unknown acts that impress me more, probably because I feel a connection with them. When I was a teenager everybody loved Duran Duran. I hated them and was into punk and new wave, so I enjoyed going against the mainstream and finding the rare beauties in obscure music. There is so much music, old and new, and I find something exciting on a weekly basis.”

With upcoming shows scheduled and one of this year's most striking albums to promote - in both content and cover - there's little doubt more people will be discovering the beauty in Smrts, too.