Brix Smith

About Brix Smith

Throughout the 1980s, Brix Smith maintained one of the of the most divergent careers in pop music: she was simultaneously guitarist in the Fall, one of the most deliberately abrasive and confrontational post-punk acts, and the leader of the downright bubblegummy pop band the Adult Net, which maintained a fine line in vintage 1960s cover songs. Brix Smith (who, as a generation of indie pop fans knows from Barbara Manning's 1988 tribute song "Mark E. Smith and Brix," prefers the phonetic pronunciation of "bricks" and not the expected Francophone pronunciation of "bree") was born in Los Angeles, CA, on November 12, 1962, with the name Laura Elisse Salenger. After attending the luxe private liberal arts school Bennington College in southern Vermont, Salenger ended up in Chicago as the lead singer and bassist of a local new wave act called Banda Dratsing. In the spring of 1983, she met Mark E. Smith at a Fall gig in Chicago. They were married on July 19th of that year, and by year's end, the newly christened Brix Smith was installed as the Fall's guitarist.
Most fans of the Fall contend that the Brix Smith era (1984-1989) was the band's artistic high point, and it was certainly the group's period of highest commercial visibility, due in no small part to Brix's unapologetic pop leanings and her undeniable sex appeal, an intangible that the Fall have otherwise largely been without throughout their career. Smith contributed to a classic string of Fall albums, including Perverted by Language, The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall, This Nation's Saving Grace, Bend Sinister, The Frenz Experiment, and I Am Kurious Oranj. During the same time frame, Smith formed her own band, the Adult Net (the name taken from a line from the Fall tune "Stephen Song") with fellow Fall member Simon Rogers and a revolving cast of friends, and released four singles between 1986 and 1988: "Edie," "Incense and Peppermints," "Waking Up in the Sun," and "White Nights (Stars Say Go)." Brix's marriage to the mercurial Mark E. Smith ended in early 1989, just as the Adult Net's sole full-length album, the catchy and underrated The Honey Tangle, was released. Unhappy with record company interference and largely disowning the album, Smith broke up the Adult Net in 1990.
Smith laid low for the next several years, although legend has it that she auditioned to play bass for Hole in 1994 after Kristen Pfaff died of a heroin overdose. Instead, Smith briefly rejoined the Fall, staying in the band until October 1996, when she left the band permanently following a mid-tour fight with her ex-husband. Aside from a 1999 guest vocal slot on the Future Pilot A.K.A.'s Future Pilot A.K.A. vs. a Galaxy of Sound, Smith remained mum musically, working in retail alongside her fashion designer husband, Philip Start, until the release of her first proper solo album, Neurotica, in the spring of 2007. ~ Stewart Mason

  • HOMETOWN
    Los Angeles, CA
  • BORN
    November 12, 1962