Ben KopelmanWhile JD & The Straight Shot might be the most well known Knick-related jam band around, MSG house band Lettuce has some loyal NYK supporters as well. TKB got a chance to chat with one of the band’s guitarists, Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, about the group and his love for everything orange and blue.
Ben Kopelman: Where’d you all meet and how’d the band initially get together? What’s your connection to the Knicks?
Shmeeans: The core of Lettuce met when we were 16 at Berklee School of Music summer program. I grew up in Hastings, NY and [drummer Adam] Deitch grew up in Nyack so I started going over there and making music after that summer. I’m a homegrown die-hard Knicks fan and I converted Deitch into one — he caught the bug quickly and now he loves them as much as anybody.
Kopelman: What’s on the horizon for the band? Upcoming tour, album?
Shmeeans: We are playing Wednesday in New York and then Thursday at Toad’s Place in New Haven; then we’re playing the 930 Club in Washington DC on Friday and the Rex Theatre in Pittsburgh on Saturday. And there is talk about going in to do an album in the wintertime.
Kopelman: James Brown set on Wednesday? We gonna get “Mother Popcorn?“
Shmeeans: Maybe it’s on the list. I’m not saying it is, but maybe it is.
Kopelman: Where do you watch games when you’re in town?
Shmeeans: I go to a ton of games. You can catch me at the Garden a lot. When I’m not at the Garden, I love to watch at my crib, I’ve got a nice big HDTV, MSG channel, all day. Or if I go out I go to Harlem Tavern.
Kopelman: Ever been on Celebrity Row? Which you got: “Gimme a Minute with Jill Martin” or “Hot Minute at the Half with Bobbito?”
Shmeeans: No disrespect to Jill, but gimme Bobbito any day of the week. I’m a musician, man, so I got to take Bobbito. But I love Jill. Jill’s the best.
Kopelman: How do you follow the team when you’re out of town, on the road?
Shmeeans: I’ve been getting the NBA league package for my computer, been doing it for years, so when I’m out on the road, that’s how I watch the Knicks.
Kopelman: Are you the “I don’t look at my phone or the internet, I watch DVR’d games not knowing the outcome” kind of guy or are you checking box scores during Krasno’s solos?
Shmeeans: I try to be neither. I’ve been known to make them put on the game as we’re playing at Brooklyn Bowl. If we’re the headlining act, I’ve been to known to ask for them to put on the game. Even been times where we’ve held up shows for 20 minutes until a game ends and then go on.
Kopelman: You show your Knicks pride on the road? Rock a jersey on stage the night of a big game?
Shmeeans: I represent. Shmeeans represents the Knicks full on, all the time. I’m wearing a NY Knicks Mitchell and Ness hat at the moment, with my Knicks blue sweatshirt and I even got my Reebok pumps in Knicks colors.
Kopelman: Outlook for the season?
Shmeeans: This is the most promising season I’ve ever seen since the mid-90s. I think the depth of this team is the likes of which we’ve never seen. I think these guys are gonna end up meshing really well. I love the [Beno] Udrih signing. Some people might not know his name right now but will know it for sure come mid season, believe you me. I think Metta [World Peace] brings great defense and championship experience and I think [Andrea] Bargnani, if he plays to his potential, can really really help [Carmelo Anthony] out, scoring the ball. Plus this could be the year of The Shump. I think he could really break out. And if Tyson [Chandler] plays the defense we know he can play, throw in something from Amar’e [Stoudemire] and [Kenyon] Martin — we could be a great team. Great mix of athleticism, skill, experience. I think we win more games than we did last year and go further in the playoffs.
Kopelman: Who’s your favorite Knick of all-time?
Shmeeans: I have so many different feelings on this. The PC, proper answer — the one all my friends would get mad at me if I didn’t say — is Patrick Ewing. But there were times when Latrell Sprewell was my favorite Knick; times when Alan Houston was my favorite Knick; times when Amar’e, when he came into town and had all those 30 point games was my favorite. Right now, it’s gotta be Melo. He’s a ball handler, a scorer, he can pass, he can dribble. He is such an incredibly well rounded player. Carmelo Anthony, this is his year. So I’m going with Melo. I believe in him.
Kopelman: How boss is Walt Clyde?
Shmeeans: He is the cat to all the cats. He emanates class. I want to be like Walt when I grow up.
Lettuce will be performing this Wednesday in New York at Stage 48. Click HERE for more information about the event and to purchase tickets.