Smith Island Asylum
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Smith Island Asylum

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Return of Smith Island Asylum - A sojourn in glam rock opera"

At Crash Mansion this Friday, New York’s favorite schizophrenic Glam-rock opera comes back pared down to its dark and tender-hearted bones.

I know you cool kids everywhere love to think that pill-popping, fast-living, boob-flashing, starfucking decadence was your very own invention just about a year back, along with wearing delusions of grandeur right under your fake eyelashes and the eager propensity to white-jacketing yourselves into desperate mayhem and prompt oblivion. Not quite so.

Zelda Zardoz did it a lot better, with all of her incandescent spirit and with grander panache, all before you were born.

Zelda’s story is the heart of Smith Island Asylum’s intense post-psychedelic mixed-media rock opera sensation. She once was just like you, a gorgeous young girl with a bitter childhood and a head full of dreams: fame and fortune, glamour and opulence, flashes and courtships – or Hollywood would do too. It was the early seventies and California already had more than one go at crushing idealism in such delicate creatures. The onslaught of crazed attempts and broken dreams began.

White light, Asylum, Uncle Dick, Starfucking your way to Nowhere, In my Room, Killer, The Rape, Dickey the fly, Iranian Party, White Jacket, Coma. Song after song, Zelda fashes forward and back to distrastrous childhood scenes and infamous adult ventures, from drug-fueled joyfests to starkly naked awakenings as the Demi-God of Shortcuts, Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll, along with all his dark-winged wicked angels, chip away at her heart, life and sanity.

The show is an homage to 70’s Glam Rock sound, to Bowie and T.Rex showmanship, to Queen epic rock grandeur, to Blondie’s sky-rocketing eeriness, to Iron Maiden’s ability to wreck havoc inside your own plexus. Dizzying film montages of an unexpected quality don’t leave you on the edge of Zelda’s mayhem, they take you right inside of it. That’s the show. That’s the show we Manhattanites have been missing for the last six months. But it’s not what seems to await us on the exceptional presentation this Friday.
Smith Island has grown up and pared down they say. Out the glitter, out the superfluous they say. Out the films, the smoke machines, winged angels being flown onstage to chase evil scantily-clad nurses. Don’t give in to disappointment because all of that loveliness will soon return, but the treat you’re in for this Friday is a slightly different animal What the grand scale extravaganza sometimes concealed, the intimate Crash Mansion nookiness will welcome and bring to light: the sheer quality of the music. The chiseled lyrics, dark and tender, humorous and savage. The heart-seizing melodies, giddily joyful at times, hauntingly tragic at others, like a violin’s bow on your fucking veins. And most importantly perhaps the vocal prowess of Gabrielle Stubbert.

Accompanied by the equally wizardy Aaron Berk, Gabrielle’s voice is a force to be reckoned with, a Patti Smith in disguise, a harem-full of distinct personalities. This Friday when she sings the life and times of her own paranoid schizophrenic mother sort of “unplugged”, without the veils and the bows and the whistles, I expect something quite shattering will happen. In a most exciting way. Welcoming the arrival of hauntingly gripping Cellist Rubin Khodeli (of Precious and True Blood fame), Paul McGilloway and David Aaron Berger will also have to shed one of their hard-rocking skins.

I can’t wait to hear what happens. See you there. - Scallywag & Vagabond


Smith Island performs a cinematic rock event that combines music and film

By David Freeland

With songs like “Uncle Dick” and “Starfucking Your Way to Nowhere,” Smith Island couldn’t exactly be described as a kiddie show. A “cinematic rock event” that combines music and film, it narrates the troubled tale of a Hollywood heroine, Zelda Zardoz: “Through a journey of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, Zelda aspires to reach redemption but gets lost along the way until finally she is made prisoner by her own tragic existence.”

Lead singer Gabrielle Stubbert explains further: “It’s loosely based on a real person that I know who’s a paranoid schizophrenic. I was talking to her about her delusions, what the voices tell her. And I thought, ‘This would make a really good concept album.’”

“A really scary concept album,” adds lead guitarist Angus Clark, as Stubbert laughs. The five tracks comprising Smith Island’s EP are octane-propelled rockers set off by a surprisingly tender ballad, “In My Room.” Clark’s playing is tight and focused, while Stubbert reveals herself as a powerful vocalist in the great Patti Smith tradition. Music is only part of the Smith Island experience: A photographer by trade, Stubbert also shot all of the film footage accompanying the group’s live performances.According to Clark, “Once you get all of these elements working together, people lose the sense of being in a small club. It’s like a party, where you can come down and be as freaky as you want. There’s going to be a cast of characters rolling on and off the stage throughout the night.” And if Stubbert gets her way, there may even be a fog machine! - NEW YORK PRESS

"Smith Island's Asylum"

Written by Mikel J. McCoy
Photographed by Andrew Harris
Opposite Photo: Aaron Burk

Smith Island is theatrical…that much is obvious from the movie screen projecting scenes of sex, drug use, and beach/shower singing above the band on stage to the fact that they have conceived and perform a ROCK OPERA. The costumes are angels and nurses in lingerie, disheveled, tattered lost beauty, and those two parts of their show alone may just be worth the price of admission. Add that their music is a mix of glam 70s, think Bowie and T.Rex showmanship, big rock, like say Queen’s epic rock grandeur and heavy metal with an exacting female lyrist and you have a bona fide original ROCK OPERA that’s as much rock show as it is theater piece.

When we took in Smith Island performing Asylum the afore mentioned opera at their monthly show at the Bowery Poetry Club in the East Village we were a bit amazed. Amazed by the spectacle, this band has a definite aesthetic vision of their music, by the ambition to make a somewhat old clique, rock opera, if not all new again at least not a tired retread, and their chops, from what it looked and sounded like Smith Island know what to do and just how to do it for maximum effect.

Asylum is the Story of Zelda Zardoz, a young woman who dreams of Hollywood stardom only to face the trials and tribulations of drug use and indiscriminate sex that drives her literally crazy and lands her in the Smith Island Asylum. The band tells this story with convincing hard rock sounds and an original stage show/movie projection. Singers, Gabrielle Stubbert and Steve Dawson weave a tale as dark as gothic girls’ eye-make up and the rest of the group leaves it all onstage with precision vintage, not retro arrangements.

Smith Island performs its rock opera, every first Friday of the month at the Bowery Poetry Club. We suggest you go see what the darkness and decadence is all about while rocking out to these unique performers.

For more information about Smith Island, log onto:
For more information about the Bowery Poetry Club, log onto:

© New York Cool 2004-2008

- New York Cool

"Asylum Seekers"

Monday, June 27, 2005, 16:50
Here’s a cool project I came across a while back, and then inexplicably forgot to write about. (After all of my complaints on the subject, it turns out that I’M the reason good bands don’t get the success they deserve! Go figure...)

The band is Smith Island, and they’ve gone and created a rock opera.


Once a curious relic of the “Yes, there’s such a thing as too creative” 1970’s, the concept of rock opera was once again thrust into the public consciousness by the success and acclaim of Green Day’s American Idiot. So much so, in fact, that you probably never want to hear another rock opera ever again. Normally, I’d be with you on that – hell, I never wanted to hear one before -- but we will all have to make an exception for Smith Island.

The story of this rock opera is the now-classic tale of a young woman whose dreams of Hollywood are shattered by the reality of drug use and casting-couch abuse, which quite literally drives her insane. “Smith Island” is the fantasy asylum in which the heroine, Zelda Zardoz, takes shelter. By the end of it all, Zelda’s adventures make Jenny from Forrest Gump look like Marie Osmond.

A couple of things, really quick: I live in Hollywood, and while it is now inhabited almost entirely by elderly Ukranians, in the 70’s you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a Zelda Zardoz-type (don’t try to start doing the math; this was the late 70’s, and I was very young). So the material is thematically true to the period. In fact, Smith Island gets major points for the direct reference to Zardoz, one of those completely messed-up 70’s movies that my dad insisted on taking me to. A Boy and His Dog, The Magic Christian, Putney Swope -- for some reason, he loved that weird shit. It was like a freaking miracle whenever my dad actually took me to a normal, major-studio release in the 70’s. Maybe it wasn’t him…maybe the movies just sucked overall.

Er…back to Smith Island. Sorry about that.

A I said, the material is thematically true to the period. But more importantly, it’s pretty damn true to the period aurally as well. Smith Island sounds like a cross between Blondie and Iron Maiden, or any of the countless rock bands that Spinal Tap was sending-up. But Smith Island isn’t necessarily a spoof project – or if it is, then it’s a very loving one, as This Is Spinal Tap was. There may be only five tracks, but the quality is too high – from Gabrielle Stubbert’s vocals to the spot-on arrangements – for this to be a throwaway project.

Would you like to find out for yourself? Well, here’s the best part: You can download the tracks in their entirety from Smith Island’s website! But I linked to the CDBaby page above, because that’s where you will BUY the album once you’ve decided you like it. Right?

Or you can listen to ESTROGENIUS, where I've added the Smith Island tracks "Asylum" and "Starfucking Your Way to Nowhere" to the playlist.

- ESTROGENIUS internet radio

"Chuck Eddy"

Locals strum and grind toward psychedelic prog, Sonic Youth and jaded LA Glam... - Village Voice





ASYLUM: A Live Cinematic Rock Opera

A series of short films and songs combine to create this intense
mixed media rock opera sensation which asks the question: What price will you pay for your sanity? Along the stylistic lines of Hedwig and The Angry Inch, Asylum uses its driving rock and roll and provocative film images to introduce us to the heroine, Zelda Zardoz, and her struggle to escape her relentless childhood memories, and the drug fueled nightmares that chip away at her sanity.
Zelda relies more and more on the fantasy—sometimes desperate, sometimes flamboyant—that someone, something will save her. She tries drugging herself into oblivion, fucking herself into fame, dreaming herself into sanity, but all the usual shortcuts to redemption (sex, drugs and rock and roll,
even an impotent Superhero fly) reject her, disappoint her, abandon her one by one, leaving her hanging on by a thread, which finally snaps. We watch Zelda fall throughout Asylum, each of the songs marking a new depth with the familiar beat and echo of human ambition, aggression, and destruction. The films paint for us the messy, seductive siren song of insanity and as we travel with her to the end of Asylum, we watch her hit rock bottom, where hopelessness surrounds her in the form of the ultimate escape: a coma. Only in hopelessness does Zelda find hope and redemption in the form of a vision she has mistrusted throughout Asylum: a white angel, and the nearly impossible choice of self-forgiveness.

In this opening instrumental we see Zelda slipping away into an overdose. Her life flashes before her eyes as her life slips away.

White Light
Alone in her room a white light in the figure of an angel comes to take her away.

We flash back to the beginning of Zelda’s life as her father walks out on the family Zelda starts the retreat into her fantasy world seeing her mother as an evil villain.

Uncle Dick
Zelda’s mother sends her to live with her Uncle Dick “A twisted trannie who lives in the Midwest.” He is a deacon in the church but has a penchant for dressing up in woman’s cloths and corrupting Zelda all the while. He ends up shooting himself.

Starfucking your way to No Where
Zelda escapes her life and hitchhikes to LA with her best friend Jackie Peach. This begins her life as a party girl. After stints in Las Vegas and London she ends up with Frankie Filthe and English rocker.

In My Room
A dark love song.

The reality of her abusive drug fueled relationship sets in and she ends up battered, flashing back to a dark part of her childhood.

The Rape
This is an instrumental that tells a dark story from Zelda’s past.

Dickey the Fly
As Zelda lays battered she has a fantasy about a Super Hero that will come to save her.

Iranian Party
Zelda flies back to LA only to become more entrenched in the seedy side of Hollywood. Jackie Peach and Zelda end up in a hotel room with a trick they plan to rob. Things go horribly wrong.

White Jacket
Zelda returns to her apartment in a drug fueled crazed mental breakdown. As she is taken away she slips into a complete fantasy world.

We come full circle to the beginning of the show where Zelda is dying of a drug overdose.