The Provo band known as Audrey Smilley originally formed in 1988 and performed together until the early 90’s. The band is named for a young lady a band member met in England. The members of the group were former members of the Arizona death/goth band Theatre of Ice and were in college when they decided to form Audrey Smilley. Drawing on influences as diverse as Blue Oyster Cult, KISS, Neil Diamond, and the Beatles, they played all the Provo and Salt Lake City clubs.
According to their official website, “The band’s blend of acoustic and electric guitars with tight three and four-part harmonies stand out immediately. Lyrically, Audrey Smilley is eclectic, ranging from love songs to dark humor.” The band also recorded a self-titled album which was released 1 October 1990. However, the band was “plagued by an almost endless procession of drummers” and struggled throughout this period “to share its original music with a public steeped in a top 40 mentality.”
In December 1990, the group relocated to Los Angeles, California, to live the musician’s dream and make it big. However, according to their official website, “their brand of guitar-based alt-rock was not to break through the hair band stranglehold on the charts until about 1992 (Gin Blossoms, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Refreshments, et. al). Sadly, by then Audrey Smilley was long gone.” After a successful debut at a Huntington Beach California nightclub, the band broke up in the summer of 1991. Band member, Dale Garrard, said, “[It was] bad timing, of course. In retrospect, we should have done Seattle. We, unfortunately, grew up and got real jobs and moved away from each other.”
At the request of some of their fans, the band reunited in Provo, Utah, in 2013 and booked a triumphant reunion show at Velour in July 2013, the same venue that helped launch the careers of such groups as Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons. Both old and new fans begged for a re-issue of the group’s original album, so they did a Kickstarter, funded a re-master and digital pressing (the original recording was analog and was released on vinyl and cassette tape), and the album Audrey Smilley was reborn. You can listen to their 2015 remaster on ReverbNation.com. The album is also available for purchase on iTunes and for listening on SoundCloud. A documentary called “Audrey Smilley: The Life of a Struggling Band by Kels Goodman, chronicling the bands pre-California days and their lives at their peak was also created.
About the band’s self-titled album, Dan Weston for Divide and Conquer Music commented:
As far as their music goes I was thoroughly enjoying what I heard on their self-titled album Audrey Smilley. The music sounds like it came from that time. There is just no denying that. It doesn’t sound contemporary and doesn’t sound over-produced. It sounds like a band rocking out in a room. I really liked the sound and it has an undeniable celebratory rock feel [to] it that is very similar in my opinion to the band KISS and Blue Oyster Cult.
Dan continued, “The thing that I really liked about this album was how much the music seemed to encapsulate rock n’ roll. It felt pure and natural to me. I also love the redemption story behind the music.”
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