Interview with Smile Mafia

Photo found on Smile Mafia’s Facebook Page

Come out to Wonder Bar tonight to hear Smile Mafia’s unique blend of reggae, alternative and classic rock. This trio will have you relaxed and easily connecting to their lyrics that speak of our journey through life, navigating relationships with others and giving in to human desires. The Pop Break had the chance to interview Smile Mafia about their sound, being a three-piece band, their self-titled EP and news of an upcoming album.

Who is Smile Mafia? (Names of your band members and the instruments you play): Smile Mafia is Matt Fisher on vocals/guitar, Brendan Smith on bass, and Shawn Ryberg on drums.

What year did you form: 2014

Do you primarily play along the Jersey Shore, since you’re based in Belmar? Where are some of your favorite places to perform: We do play mostly at the shore. Couldn’t say we have a favorite place, any place where the 3 of us can be loud is a good place for us.

Photo found on Smile Mafia’s Facebook Page

From power pop to reggae and rock, what sound elements make you stand apart from other bands: Our influences are more from the Classic/Alternative rock and Singer Songwriter worlds than they are from Reggae. Reggae was a pragmatic choice to sound good in the beach bars we grew up playing. As a result I think we blend the styles in a way no one else does.

How would you describe the sound of Smile Mafia in just one sentence: Three dudes that make music designed to get you audio pregnant.

As a three-piece band, do you find that people are surprised by the complexity of your music during performances? Have you ever considered adding any more instruments or members? Or would that just completely change your sound: I don’t know if people are surprised by anything in the 21st century, especially us, but I hope they enjoy us! As far as adding instruments, 3 members is hard enough to manage.

How does your self-titled EP reflect who you are as a band? What themes or ideas are explored on the EP: Sonically, I think it shows how we blend alt-rock, classic rock, reggae, and singer/songwriter sensibilities. In terms of themes we explore, the songs mean different things at different times to us. What do they mean to you, the listener? That’s what really matters.

Photo found on Smile Mafia’s Facebook page

I feel like your songs are very relatable to listeners, especially ones like “Life Moves Along” and “It’s a Battle.” What acts as inspiration for the subject matter of your music: That’s the hope—that they are relatable, so thank you for saying that. As far as what acts as inspiration, I suppose I’m a bit of crybaby, as we all can be at times. However, singing about my troubles seems more useful than complaining, because it helps other’s find solidarity, and maybe feel less alienated by their problems. Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone is all you need.

What are some of your favorite songs on this EP and what is it about those tracks that you like so much: All of them! We don’t put out music unless it truly moves us. We also have a new album we’ve recently finished that we’re excited about!

What song do you suggest that listeners hear in order for them to understand what Smile Mafia is all about: I’m probably way too close to the songs to be able to answer that. You said “It’s a Battle” was relatable so we’ll go with that.


Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.