The No Smoking band (Zabranjeno Pušenje in their original Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language) was born in Sarajevo in 1981 and soon became the most significant musical expression of “New Primitivism”, a cultural resistance movement created in the transition years of post-Tito Yugoslavia.
After two years of live performances in small Sarajevo concert halls, in 1984 the No Smoking (which musical critics have defined as a Rock band) recorded their first album, “Das ist Walter”. One of the songs in the album, “Zenica blues”, was soon to hit the top charts in Yugoslavia with more than 100,000 copies sold. In the same period, the band appeared on a TV serial, “Surrealist Top List”, a fake newscast that was actually a savage satire of Yugoslav politics. The trouble for the band started when its leader, Dr Nele Karajilic, made ironic remarks on Marshal Tito’s death at a lively performance before a huge crowd of enthusiastic supporters.
Boycotted and heavily criticized by the country’s official propaganda machine, the band was able all the same to record its second album, “Dok cekas sabah sa sejtanom” (“Waiting for the dawn with the devil”), whose title contained words that were borrowed from Muslim Bosnian culture, just to emphasize the band’s strong cultural bonds to Bosnia’s capital city, Sarajevo.
Sales of the band’s second album dropped precipitously due to the official censorship. The hard times took a heavy blow on the band. Some of the original members left and were replaced by others, including, in 1986, renowned film director Emil Kusturica on bass.