Smilers is a popular rock band from Estonia. The band was founded in 1993 in Helsinki, Finland but by the end of the 90-ies the group had gained huge mainstream success on the other side of the Gulf of Finland, in Estonia, the homeland of band's charismatic frontman, Hendrik Sal-Saller.
In Estonia, Smilers has released a number of succesful albums and scored more than two dozen radio hits. The group has proved to be a popular live act and has had major impact on Estonian post-communist pop culture.
Smilers' frontman Sal-Saller (vocal, rhythm guitar) has also been active as a composer and producer for other Estonian pop acts such as Ines, Supernova or Gerli Padar. Other members of the current line-up of Smilers are: Urmas Jaarman (bass guitar, back vocal), Mikko Saira(keyboards), Raido Kurri (drums) and Martin Jürman (solo guitar).
Smilers' history dates back to the beginning of the 90-ies in Finland. Singer, songwriter and guitar player Hendrik Sal-Saller who had been a punk rocker with the group Generaator M in the 80-ies, emigrated from Estonia to Finland by the start of the 90-ies. The initial name of the group that later became Smilers was Lezer Brozers. By 1994 the band was renamed Smilers and released its self-titled debut album "Smilers" (which was sung in English) in 1994. The debut was followed by an EP "Take Five" in 1996. At the time, Smilers had up to 250 gigs a year all over Finland and they were a popular club act in Helsinki.
The group started its succesful Estonian career in 1997 with the album "Olen kuul" (translates roughly as "I'm cool"). In Estonian context, the album offered an innovative take on rock music. "Olen kuul" was followed by an even more succesful album "Mõistus on kadunud" ("The Sense's Gone") in 199 . It's most popular song, "Tantsin sinuga taevas" ("Dancing with You in Heaven") was awarded with a Kuldne plaat ("Golden Record") for Best Radio Hit in 1998. Other radio hits from the release include "Mõistus on kadunud", "Aega parajaks teen", "Ära viska mind ära".
In 1999 Smilers released 2 albums: a collection in English called "Smilers 1994-1996" and an album containing new songs called "Suure surmaga läbi elu" ("Big-Time Death through Life"). By that time Smilers had become an all-Estonian act and the band had performed on all major stages in the country.
Smilers' 2001 release "Jalgpall on parem kui sex" ("Football's Better Than Sex") was once again very successful in Estonia and produced a somewhat phenomenal result when Smilers released 9 out of its 10 tracks as singles (in addition to the title song tracks such as "Kalamaja cowboy", "Mina, Pets, Margus ja Priit", "Meteoriitide sajus" and "Kvaliteetaeg"). Album's title song was released in English and Finnish as well and has become a subject to a number of pop culture references in Estonia.
Smilers celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2003 by releasing 8th album titled "Ainult unustamiseks" ("Only for Forgetting"). This release contains radio hits such as "Käime katuseid mööda", "Räägi mis sa teed".
In 2004 the band released "Ainult armastusest" ("Only Of Love") which included band's most popular love-related tracks. That year, Smilers had around 150 gigs. Due to Estonian climate conditions these varied from summertime outside events such as all-Estonian tours to club gigs of various sizes.
2005 brought 2 live albums:"Live Unplugged" (CD+DVD) and "Esimene Eesti tuur" ("First Estonian Tour"), the latter of which is a recording of a gig held in the ruins of a medieval monastery in Pirita, Tallinn during Smilers' Estonian tour and includes co-performances by popular Estonian artists such as Ewert Sundja, Ines, Cool D, Tanel Padar, Mihkel Raud (of Singer Vinger and Mr. Lawrence fame). In addition to these albums, "Hendrik Sal-Saller & Estonian Dream Big Band" was released that year as well. This album contains mostly reworks of Smilers' hit songs, sung by Sal-Saller, backed by a big band.
As of november 2008, the latest Smilers' album is "Õhus on Smilers" ("Smilers in Air"), released in 2007. This contains mainstream radio hits "Üle tumeda vee", "Keelatud viljade turg", "Annika" and "Päike ja Pärnu tüdrukud".
In addition to Estonian and Finnish commercial gigs and tours, Smilers has played in a number of charity events, given concerts in Souther French Alps (as high as 2 300 meters above the sea level) and in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt. The band has been awarded a number of different Estonian music awards throughout the years. In addition, Smilers' music has been used in various Estonian ad campaigns. Better known of these are:
• "Lähme sõidame" and "Kvaliteetaeg" were used in TV-campaigns for oil company Neste.
• "Käime katuseid mööda" was used in TV-commercials by major Estonian sports-store Sportland.
• "Rikutud süda", "Sina oled õige" and "Nii sind ootan" were chosen by Finnish telecom company Elisa to advertize their services in Estonia.
• "Asi on maitses" was used in an ad campaign by major Estonian brewery A. Le Coq