Zabranjeno Pušenje (“No Smoking”) was/is a Yugoslavian garage rock
band from Sarajevo, closely associated with the New primitivism cultural movement and the radio and television satire show Top Lista Nadrealista. They were one of the most popular musical acts of the 1980s in Yugoslavia, selling hundreds of thousands of records. During the Yugoslav wars, members of the band separated, and two off-shoot bands continue to work in Sarajevo/Zagreb and Belgrade. The Serbian version of Zabranjeno Pušenje (the one lead by dr Nelle Karajlić) is now called Emir Kusturica & No Smoking Orchestra while the Bosnian group still exists with the same name. The band was formed in 1981 in Sarajevo by a group of friends who worked on the early radio version of Top Lista Nadrealista. Contrary to the then prevalent punk rock
and new wave
, Zabranjeno Pušenje created a distinctive garage rock
sound with folk
influences, often featuring innovative production and complex story-telling, sometimes even dark premonitions of war. They went on to record four albums and tour the country extensively, occasionally sparking controversy and even getting into trouble with authorities for their, usually mild and sympathetic, criticism of the socialist system, and the habit of making light of issues considered sensitive at the time.
After the band’s popularity reached new heights in late 1980s, spurred on by the televised version of Top Lista Nadrealista, the Yugoslav Civil War which saw the breakup of the band, with one off-shoot continuing to work in Belgrade (now under the name No Smoking Orchestra, at first using an original name), and the other in Zagreb, using the original name. Nevertheless, many of the songs of Zabranjeno Pušenje have attained an anthemic status and their music remains popular across former Yugoslavia.
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