Episode 4: Joe Palladino
Jordan: This is Table to Stage. I’m Jordan Werme. Let’s get the pod started.
This episode is Joe Palladino. Full disclosure, I have known Joe for more than 20 years and he’s played in several bands with both of my brothers, John and Cameron. Both of their names actually come up during this conversation, though we don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about them. We do end up, however, diving pretty deep into some inside stuff and we talk a lot of Stone Temple Pilots because Joe’s newest project is an STP tribute band called Dumb Love. They’re actually playing their first show coming up on May 26 in West Hartford at Blue Back Square. It’s a free outdoor show so I think it starts at 7 PM and you should go check it out if you’re into STP or other music from that era. These guys are great musicians; it’s definitely worth checking out.
If you’d like more information about Dumb Love tribute band, you can visit their website, dumbloveband.com, or you can find them on Facebook. And if you’re interested in actually booking the band or want some more information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, if you like the podcast, please give a rating on your podcast service of choice and be sure to leave a comment on Facebook, Podbean. I have a Twitter account now. You can email me at email@example.com. Here’s my conversation with Joe.
So how did you first realize that you had to be involved in music?
Joe: It started at Westside Middle School. I think either like sixth or seventh grade everyone had to take a music class.
Jordan: This is Waterbury?
Joe: Yeah, and guitar was one of the options so I took a guitar class and really liked it. I don’t know if I could pinpoint what about playing guitar spoke to me, but I was just like, “Oh, this is fun. I liked it.” And so from there, that was the beginning, really.
Jordan: So is that 11 or 12 years old, something like that?
Joe: Yeah, probably 12.
Jordan: What kind of music were you listening to then?
Joe: This probably would have been like early 90s, so I was listening to Nirvana, Green Day. This was probably around the time of the Weezer Blue Album, Dookie, Offspring. I was big into Offspring then, big into the first Alice in Chains album. Mostly that kind of stuff.
Jordan: Okay. When you started playing the guitar and you’re marrying the music that you’ve been listening to up with the kind of stuff that you wanted to play. Were there any specific influences that you had on your own playing?
Joe: Yeah. Dookie by Green Day was probably the big one and the reason for that being…
Jordan: That blew up. I don’t think anybody saw that coming.
Joe: Yeah. When I first started playing guitar, I made a typical immature kid mistake where I started playing and I was, I don’t know, let’s say maybe like a month in, two months in, and I wasn’t getting like noticeably better. And I was like, “Oh, I’m never going to be any good at this.” I stopped playing for probably a good year or so. And then when Dookie came out and I started getting into that, I realized I was like, “Every song on this album is a song that a mediocre guitar player could play.”
Jordan: Same three power chords over and over again.
Joe: So theoretically, could also write and it’s still awesome. Because before that, I would be listening to Metallica and that kind of stuff and I’d be like, “I’m never going to be able to play this.” And that was the end of it.
Jordan: That’s intimidating.
Joe: Yeah. And then when I heard that, I was like, “Oh, I could not shred and still write cool music.” When I heard that, that was what got me back into it again. When I started playing guitar the second time around, it was literally I would sit in my room, put on Dookie, press play, and start having a blast and just go and just run through the whole album over and over again. And that was the beginnings of my second phase of playing.
Jordan: That’s funny. I don’t think I’ve ever really heard Billie Joe Armstrong cited as a guitar inspiration before.
Joe: He was it.
Jordan: It’s always Clapton, Hendrix, those guys. How long have you been playing the guitar before you decided that’s something you want to do with other people, collaborate on a band of some kind? How old were you when that happened?
Joe: It was probably around that same time. Well, not around that same time, but I guess into high school. That’s a good question. There was never a point where I was like, “I’m getting good at this. I want to try to start a band or do something more than just myself.” I think it was really probably meeting Cameron that started it because when you guys moved to town and Nick and John started playing soccer together, I think through conversation, they learned about me and Cameron. John was like, “Oh, my brother plays bass, we should get the two of them together.” When Cameron and I met, that was kind of what started it. But prior to that, I wasn’t thinking like, “Oh, I need to find a band to play with.” That was kind of what started it, really.
Jordan: So you just happen to know somebody, just get together and have some fun.
Joe: Oh, yeah.
Jordan: That’s interesting.
Jordan: That was ’94, ’93? Something like that?
Joe: Yeah, probably around there.
Jordan: How long did you guys play together in that form? Because that that went from just goofing around to recording a record.
Joe: Yeah. I think the record came a couple years later, I want to say. For a while when Cameron and I started playing, we “recruited” my brother to sing mainly because we didn’t really know anybody else and he was into it at the time. John was still playing drums with Jay Blair and Chris [inaudible 06:39] and those guys, so he would just play with us recreationally in between. When he parted ways with them, we were immediately like, “So do you want to play with us?” And he was like, “Yeah.” So it took off from there. We would just go around. At that time, we were still too young to be playing music in bars and like those venues.
Jordan: Yeah, you guys were about 14 or 15 years old.
Joe: Yeah, around there. So we would look around for places around town where we could play and there were a few occasionally here and there but a lot of the focus back then was writing songs. Even though in the early days we didn’t have the means of recording anything, just the writing process was fun.
For most of us, I think, myself for sure, that was my first time doing that. I mean up until then, it was playing along with Green Day and playing along with Foo Fighters and that kind of thing and now it was like, I was taking a riff that I wrote and taking a riff that Cameron wrote and we were putting it together and we had a song and I was just like, “Woah, this is really cool.” I started really liking that a lot.
Jordan: And that eventually became the Electric Banana, right?
Joe: Oh, yeah.
Jordan: I still have that record in rotation occasionally. I’m probably gonna drop one of those tracks in this podcast at some point.
One of the things that I will never forget the first time I heard that was you guys had some really interesting harmonies on a couple of the tracks on there that I wasn’t expecting. I mean, I’m older than all you guys by a little bit from kids.
Joe: From non-musically educated kids, yeah. I think that had a lot to do with the kind of music that we were listening to, I think. Obviously, it was where we got that from. Especially Alice in Chains, if you’re going to pick one out of that era. They’re very well known for that. I think that’s where I picked up the understanding of how harmonies helped a song and I’m sure, if you asked Cameron, he would probably say the same thing.
Jordan: Yeah, a good harmony really sets a song apart. All these years, that’s 25 years ago now almost. In all that time, have you continued to play in bands the whole time? Have you had breaks? What’s that been like?
Joe: There’s been a lot of breaks. I think there was a stretch of probably about nine years or so. Let me back up. While Electric Banana was still together, I picked up and started playing drums just because the drums were set up for a while in my parents basement because that’s what were our practice space was. I would fool around on them and pick that up. But for a while, in the early 2000s after the Banana broke up, there was probably a stretch of nine years or so where I fiddled around on guitar a little but didn’t play drums at all and wasn’t in a band or wasn’t really doing anything like that.
I miss playing drums. For the most part, I was living in either apartments or condos where having a proper acoustic drum set wasn’t really feasible. I was just sort of like, “Well, okay, I guess my drumming life is over.” And then 2012 maybe, I met up with Jeremy who was the singer-guitarist in the next band that I played in, which was a 90s cover band that I played drums in. We started off, at first, rehearsing at his house, and the first time I went to his house to play was the first time I’d played drums in like nine years.
Jordan: Was that Chalkboard?
Joe: That was Chalkboard, yeah.
Joe: When I’ve sat down behind the drums at his house, I was like, “Wow, I forgot how much fun this was. I really missed it.” And then when my wife and I bought this house and I had my own basement, I was like, “I’m gonna start playing drums every day now.” I’m back so that was a lot of fun.
Jordan: Oh, yeah. We’re all mic’d up, you must be doing some serious jamming down there.
Joe: Oh, yeah. Well, serious is debatable. So I guess Chalkboard started in 2012 and I think we played our last show in late 2015 and that was a lot of fun. Again, chalkboard was strictly covers, but when we broke up, Jeremy, the lead singer and the guitarist, he and I had become pretty good friends over the course of the three and a half years of the band was together. Our wives had become good friends. When the band ended, we had a brief conversation where we were like, “Let’s not let the end of the band end our friendship. Let’s stay in touch blah blah blah.”
Through that, we were like, “Hey, let’s pull together a handful of our favorite original songs that each of us wrote and record an album.” And so we’ve been doing that probably for about a year and a half now. Obviously, we’re not on any deadline so we usually, once a week, we’ll get together here for a couple of hours, we’ll record tracks. Again, we’ve been doing that up until now. We’re at a point now for the second time in the process where we’ve recorded everything that we have written.
One of the problems is none of the songs that I wrote or that I brought into the project had any lyrics because I can’t write lyrics and I always hate the lyrics that I write when I do write them, so all of my songs were brought in with the thinking that Jeremy would provide lyrics for them and he’s been doing that but we’ve still got a few that he hasn’t written anything for yet, so they’re just sitting waiting for lyrics.
Joe: But so every week we’ll come in on a Wednesday night for a couple of hours, we’ll record some guitar, we’ll record bass, whatever, and we’re just plugging away at it as a little hobby, I guess, if you will.
Jordan: How many songs have you guys recorded?
Joe: I think we’ve got 11.
Jordan: Oh, you got a full album.
Joe: Oh, yeah.
Jordan: Do they even do albums anymore? I mean, it’s just released online now.
Joe: Yeah. We’re going to print up some CDs.
Jordan: Yeah. Good luck with that.
Jordan: So, all of this playing in bands that you’ve done and playing the guitar, playing the drums, how has that led to you getting involved in production side of things? Those are very different worlds, completely different skillset.
Joe: When did that start? I guess a long time ago. It started when we were in high school, you probably remember Mr [inaudible 13:38] at Kennedy.
Jordan: I didn’t go to high school with you guys.
Joe: Oh, that’s right, you didn’t. I remember seeing you hanging out at soccer games and stuff at Kennedy but you weren’t actually a student there, yeah.
Jordan: Yeah. No.
Joe: Okay. So there was a music teacher at Kennedy, Mr [inaudible 14:01] and he had this old — you’ve probably seen similar units are devices like an all-in-one four-track mixer with like a tape deck built right into it, like recorder kind of thing. He had one sitting around in a music class in Kennedy. It must have come up in conversation and he was like, “Here, do you want this?” And I was like, “Oh, hell yeah, I would love that” so I took that home and played with it. But that was like very, very basic, but it was also sort of the beginning of it.
Jordan: Is that the thing you guys recorded the Electric Banana on?
Jordan: No, okay.
Joe: Different unit but same thing.
Jordan: Yeah, I remember. Cameron told me about the all-in-one that he used for that and thought it was the same.
Joe: Yeah. Sometime around like 2009/2010, I started recording again. I guess for no other reason than because I had the time on my hands and I had songs that I had written that I wanted to hear what they sounded, fleshed out being played by a “band” and I didn’t have a band so I thought I’ll just record everything.
Although having said that, this was still before I had gotten into a situation where I could start doing drums again. I was doing drums in the computer and that kind of thing. And then in like 2011 maybe, I really got into digital recording. My setup when I first started around 2009 was primitive. I was recording on my computer, but it was pretty much a completely analog signal going all the way in and then just getting converted to digital by the sound card in the computer.
Joe: At one point, actually, I had replied to a Craigslist ad from a band who was looking for a drummer.
Jordan: Oh boy, Craigslist. That’s brave.
Joe: Yeah. We can do a whole another segment on that. I never ended up auditioning for the band, but they sent me some of their songs so I could hear ’em. And I said to them, “Oh, you know, these demos sound pretty good. Where/how did you record these?” And they said, “Oh, we recorded these on a PreSonus AudioBox in Studio One. Prior to getting that email from this guy, I had never even heard of PreSonus as a company. I never even knew the name.
Joe: So when I got that email, I was like, “Huh”, so I started looking it up, doing some research on their hardware and their software and shortly after bought my first PreSonus unit. I am now a PreSonus junkie. I use PreSonus interface in Studio One, all that stuff.
Joe: But that was sort of the beginning of me getting into the DAW (digital audio workstation) world and sort of the current generation, I guess, of digital recording.
Jordan: Yeah. What projects are you looking for as far as being a producer? Are you looking for rock? Because we grew up on rock and it’s more or less dead at this point. The bands that are still going are still going but there’s no new stuff anymore. How are you translating your experience and your love of music and now this new getting into the production end of it? What stuff do you hope to be doing with it?
Joe: What I like to do most, I think where I “shine the best” is in more natural-sounding stuff like mostly rock or folk/acoustic singer songwriter stuff. The way the studio got started down here was in 2015. At that point, I had been doing this for four or five years, and getting decent at it, but still not great. I mean, I’m still not great at it. I’m still learning every day. But so, “Oh, I saw an ad on Craigslist.” Let’s go back to that again.
Jordan: So we’re gonna do that segment now?
Joe: Yeah, we are. There was a band on Craigslist, a folk band named Cartwheel from Cromwell, Connecticut and they put up an ad saying, “We’re looking to record an album.” They had an album that they had recorded at Coffeehouse Studios in Middletown. Very good sounding album, good product, but they were ready to do a second album and they didn’t want to spend as much as they spent on the first one.
Jordan: That was crazy expensive.
Joe: They put up an ad saying, “We’re looking for someone who’s a hobbyist producer who can help us out with that album.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s me.” I replied to them and said, “I’ll help you out.” We spent probably six months, kind of the same way that Jeremy and I are doing it now or one night a week. One of the five band members would come in here, record their parts for a couple of songs, and we would just do that every week for about six months until we had the whole album recorded.
And then I spent probably a month or two mixing and mastering it. At the end of it, the whole project went really well like the album came out sounding better than I thought it was going to. When I when I pitched the offer to them, I guess I low balled myself and gave them a very reasonable price because I didn’t want to quote them a price and then set the bar too high for myself because I had never done an album for someone else.
Joe: I was like, “Here’s what I’ll do it for.” They were like, “Great.” Album ended up coming out really good, at least I thought so. When that project ended, I thought, I wonder if there’s other people in the area who might be looking for the same sort of service that these guys were.
Jordan: What was the name of that band?
Jordan: Is that record available somewhere?
Joe: Yeah, they have it on… I know it’s on CD Baby for sure. I’m not sure if it’s on iTunes, but it’s up on CD Baby.
Joe: Name of the record is Onto the Next Heartbreak. I guess I should mention that, huh?
Joe: So after that, I decided to you know, like I had a little logo made up, I put up a website.
Jordan: What’s the website?
Jordan: One more time?
Jordan: I’ll put a link in the show notes.
Joe: Go there now. So far, I haven’t had any other clients like them come in to make a record for them, but I’ve recorded session drum tracks for a couple of other albums. I’ve done some of my own stuff. I’ve recorded some theme music for YouTube channels and stuff like that.
Joe: I’d say 90-95% of the time I spend down here is working on my own stuff. In the past, I used to go out to open mics and bring out business cards and if I heard or saw someone play that I thought sounded good, I’d give them a card and say, “Let me know if you want to record something.”
Joe: I should probably start doing that again because I haven’t been advertising really aggressively. But it’s fun, yeah.
Jordan: The way you mentioned the Cartwheel recording stuff going, you had one member at a time?
Jordan: No one else here. How does that work? Because at the end, you have one coherent product and to get to that point, you have to record everybody individually and all these different tracks, then put it all together and that sounds very complicated.
Joe: It doesn’t have to be but it can be. With them, it was a little bit one of the reasons being in this day and age when everything is recorded digitally, almost everybody records to a click track now. Nobody doesn’t do that anymore. It’s a double negative, but nobody doesn’t do that anymore.
Jordan: So they’re recording through essentially a metronome?
Joe: With few exceptions, yes. The problem with these guys were none of these guys in the band really played to a click very well. So even though a lot of the songs were recorded to where the tracks were performed along with a click, they didn’t necessarily follow it. When we were coming back the next week trying to record the next part to that same song, it was tough to sync up. This album took a fair amount of time and effort actually doing linear editing to a lot of the takes because the guitar and the bass and the vocals just weren’t lining up with one another.
And again, being now that we’re not recording the tape anymore, you have the freedom to do that. You can sort of shift things around and massage everything to get it to line up. There were a couple of songs where I had to do quite a bit of that and that’s not to knock the band at all. If you’re not used to doing that in a recording setting, it’s not something that you can just flip a switch and do it.
Jordan: No, it seems like a very unnatural way to do things if you have nobody else to look it at, no other body language to read off of.
Joe: Yeah. That’s one of the things. If you watch or listening to a band to play live, and like a good band, and all the musicians are playing well together, you don’t realize during the course of a song how much the tempo fluctuates, because you’re not listening to it along with a click. If you were, you would be like, “Oh my God, these guys are all over the place.” Not because they’re bad musicians, but that’s just human nature and human body mechanics. That’s how it happens. So when all the sudden, it’s like, “Okay, here’s the click, play to that, play to that, play to that.” If you’re not used to doing that, it’s not easy to do.
Joe: And again, in this day and age, that’s how everything is recorded. But yeah, it’s not an easy thing to do always.
Jordan: Yeah. As a producer and a musician, how much of your own musical voice comes out in the finished product you do for somebody else? Because there’s a sound that you’re looking for, you have your own taste, so how does that influence the final product from a band that you’re not a part of?
Joe: That’s a good question.
Jordan: I mean some producers have really signature sounds like Butch Vig.
Jordan: You’d know. You’d get that hard pop on the drums. You got to know a lot of these guys.
Joe: Yeah. In this case, when I did this album, that’s a good question. Obviously, I’m an amateur hobbyist producer. I don’t have my own signature sound. When I got started doing this album, basically what I did was I listened to their first album and I listened to it and thought, “Okay, so they were happy with this, I’m going to just try to get as close to that as I can because this is what they want to sound like.”
Jordan: They didn’t come to you looking for a specific sound?
Joe: Right. Not off the bat, anyway. We finished the album, I finished mixing and played them a first draft, and one of their criticisms was… I’m trying to remember exactly how they worded it, but they basically said something to the effect of “We want it to sound a little more raw, a little more energetic, a little lively or a little rougher.” That was tough because my response to them was, “Well, if that’s how you guys want these songs to sound, that’s how you have to play them.” Mixing doesn’t put energy into a song, you got to play it that way if that’s how you want it to sound. Mixing enhances the sound, it directs the listeners attention to what you want them to hear, but I can’t put energy in a performance that was performed without energy.
Joe: If you guys were brushing the strings with your pick like you comb your hair, then there’s not going to be energy in it when I mix it. That’s how it is. We had to talk that out and let them know like, “You guys got to play how you want it to sound. That’s where the energy comes from. It doesn’t come from my mouse and my keyboard, it comes from your guitar.” That was interesting.
Jordan: Well, that had to have been a challenge particularly because they weren’t playing together.
Joe: Oh yeah, for sure.
Jordan: Remotely like that is, yeah.
Joe: Especially yeah, if you’re a professional studio musician that does that all the time, you know what to do. But if you’re a weekend warrior who just does this once every two years, it doesn’t just come naturally when you start playing.
Jordan: Alright. Aside from producing, you’re playing on a new band now, right? What’s this band about?
Joe: The new band is a Stone Temple Pilots tribute band called Dumb Love: A Tribute to Stone Temple Pilots. I started the band with Cameron, whom I believe you’ve met.
Jordan: Yeah. I’ve known him for a little while.
Joe: Okay. Yeah.
Jordan: He wrote the theme song to the podcast.
Joe: Yeah, he did. This is our third band together covering over a span of 23 years or something like that.
Jordan: I feel so old sometimes.
Joe: I know, I know. I’ve been a big STP fan for a long time and Cameron is probably even a slightly bigger fan than I am and this all came about, this was this was pretty much his idea. Chalkboard, my previous band, as I had mentioned, ended in 2015. Towards the end of last year and to 2017, I was starting to get the itch again. I was feeling like, “Oh, I miss playing in a band, I want to play again.” I had decided that I wanted to play either guitar or bass just because I’m pointing at my drum set now, lugging that thing around at 2 o’clock in the morning is a… I’ll keep it clean, but you get the idea. So I was like, “I don’t really want to do that again.”
Jordan: I don’t know why anybody wants to play the drums.
Joe: Yeah. I was looking around for a band to play in and Cameron sent me an email out of the blue and was like, “I’ve wanted to start a Stone Temple Pilots tribute band for a long time. Would you be interested in trying to do that now?” And so I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” We recruited an excellent drummer whose name is Joe Cruz. He lives down at Danbury. I had gone online on this website called BandMix. It’s basically like a social media/networking site specifically for musicians.
Jordan: Sounds a lot like Craigslist.
Joe:. Oh, it’s dirtier than Craigslist. We found this guy on there and he had a YouTube video of him playing like a 14-minute Rush medley, like Neil Peart tribute and I watched it.
Jordan: It’s the simple stuff.
Joe: Yeah and I was like, “Oh, we got to get this guy. He’s good.” He was actually the first drummer that we auditioned. He came in, we played three songs, and we were like, “All right, done.” We recruited a guy by the name of Rich Donnelly from Burlington, which isn’t far from here to sing and the whole thing is working out really well. It’s nice having doing this band with four skilled and competent musicians who when we say, “Okay, for our next rehearsal, we’re going to do these four songs,” or “We’re going to add these four new songs to our list.” Everybody shows up. We play those songs the first time and it’s like, “Okay, we could go perform that song tomorrow.”
Jordan: Oh, wow.
Joe: You know what I mean? Everybody knows what they’re doing.
Joe: Cameron got a leg up on all of us because he pretty much knows all of these songs already so he’s not learning. Can I swear?
Jordan: He’s just a cheat, yeah. It’s a podcast.
Joe: He’s not learning shit for this band. He knows all these songs already. The rest of us are actually working, but no. So yeah, it’s going really well. You’ve probably experienced this. A lot of cover bands have drummers who are to some degree just keeping time under the music, but not necessarily hitting all the accents where they belong, and really playing the song.
Joe: Even if you’re not someone who’s musically inclined and doesn’t understand what the drummer’s doing versus what they should be doing, you still know when you hear it. You’re like, “It doesn’t quite sound like the song I hear on the radio.”
Joe: But this guy is like he came in and it’s like every beat is spot on where everything needs to be. We were just like, “Wow, this guy’s awesome.” He’s the best drummer I’ve ever played with for sure. It’s going really well.
Jordan: That’s great. When did you guys start this? It’s pretty recent, right?
Joe: Yeah, we started earlier this year, I forget exactly when, within the last couple of months. I think since Rich, the singer, joined, we’ve only actually rehearsed maybe two, maybe three times with him, so it’s pretty new. First gig is coming up in about a month. We’re playing in West Hartford Center Memorial Day weekend, which will be a lot of fun.
Jordan: That’s May 26, correct?
Joe: May 26th, teah. It’s going really well. We’re looking forward to it. Our singer got us hooked up with this service/website that helps band’s bookings so he’s been working on getting us some other stuff. Our goal with this band is, we don’t want to be like a bar cover band that goes and plays at a bar and starts at 9:30 and plays until 1:30.
Joe: In part, because we don’t want to do that but nobody wants to listen to four hours of the same band, no matter who it is, you know what I mean? That’s not really our thing.
Joe: Unless it’s the band, you don’t want to listen to us playing the same band for four hours. We’re ideally looking to be booking shows in actual music halls and theaters and live music venues. In part, because I think that honestly, this band is good enough to be doing that. We’re not, with all due respect to everyone else out there, like a hack cover band that’s playing at the bar down the street on Friday night. This is a good band and we want us to try to see what we can do with it.
Jordan: Are you looking at this sort of like one of the Beatles tribute bands?
Joe: Kind of, yeah.
Jordan: Are you putting on the costumes?
Jordan: No? Your singer’s not going shirtless?
Joe: We’re not doing hair and makeup. No, there’s none of that. When the drummer joined the band, we said to him, “We’re not going to require you to go buy a new drum set that looks just like Eric Kretz’ drum set.” I’m not going to buy new guitars. We’re not going that far but sonically, we want to be on point. So far, we have been. So yeah, that’s kind of where we see this going. There’s a lot of serious tribute outfits out there that are like bands that do this full time. There’s like the Australian Pink Floyd experience, all that stuff. None of us are looking to quit our jobs and go out on the road but we want to come as close to that as we can, I guess I would say.
Jordan: Yeah. That era when Stone Temple Pilots first came on the scene, you had STP, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden. You had all these and just for guys my age, your age, that’s just like the peak of the…
Joe: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Jordan: That’s when music hit its peak. Of all those bands from that era, and I’m not criticizing, I love Stone Temple Pilots, one of my favorite bands, why Stone Temple Pilots as the band to pay tribute to? I mean, I think it’s a great choice.
Joe: Again, I think the choice for them specifically was largely driven by Cameron. Although having said that, if I had the choice to make, they would certainly be on my shortlist as well, if not the one. I think from that era, there’s probably only a small handful of bands I guess that have an extensive enough catalog of songs that are easily recognizable that it would even make sense to do that with and you mentioned a bunch of them. I think Nirvana is one of them. Pearl Jam is one of them. Foo Fighters is one of them. STP is one of them. After that, maybe you put Green Day on that list, too. But I don’t even know…
Jordan: Alice in Chains.
Joe: Yeah, but how many people know 30 Alice in Chains songs, you know what I mean? Unless you’re a fan.
Joe: Even STP. I would say once you get past like…
Jordan: Well, Tiny Music was there last commercially relevant record. Yeah, and great stuff after that, too.
Joe: Yeah, and even that one was bombed though. We can talk about that if you want but I’ll come back to that in a minute. Even STP, after you get past maybe 20 or so in terms of song count, you’re getting down to the songs were only like a fan is going to know. But even if you’re just talking about recognizable hits, first of all, you could probably play almost any song off of their first album whether it was a single or not because they sold 8 million friggin’ copies of it.
Everybody knows those songs whether it was on the radio or not, but it’s like you play Sex Type Thing, you play Wicked Garden, you play Creep, you play Crackerman, you play Plush. I don’t know if I said that already. You play Vasoline, you play Interstate Love Song, you play Big Empty, you play Big Bang Baby, and there’s a setlist right there.
Jordan: Yeah, their first two records…
Joe: Everybody knows those songs. You can get away with that.
Jordan: Trippin’ on a Hole…
Joe: Right, right. Bands like Soundgarden, as great as they are, maybe they don’t have that many songs that you can get away with. Alice in Chains, probably, I would say certainly not. So that’s another reason they were a choice. Again, Foo Fighters probably is on the same footing with. They’re still putting out singles now, they are doing fairly well, so you could get away with them.
Jordan: They’re really the last rock band that’s doing that.
Joe: Yeah. Foo fighters have been around for a while. The other bands in that category haven’t been around as lon g but aside from Foo Fighters, I would say you’ve got Muse and The Killers and that’s it as far as rock bands that are still relevant in pop music. You know what I mean? That’s pretty much it.
Jordan: Well, I know The Killers. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Muse before.
Joe: Oh, you probably have. I think if you …yeah, yeah. That’s probably it. You could maybe make a case to put Blink 182 on that list but even then, I think you’re down on the second tier. You’re not at like The Killers, Foo Fighters, level with them.
Joe: Yeah, there’s none of those bands left. When Cameron and I first launched the idea for the band, we were talking generally about like, “Well, what songs are we going to play?” There’s the obvious ones, but then beyond that, what other songs are we going to put on there. We had a discussion because Cameron had all these ideas about “I want to play this song. I want to play that song.”
Jordan: He probably wanted to deep cut songs, right?
Joe: Yeah and I had the chat with him…
Jordan: It’s the same stuff I would want.
Joe: Yeah. He and I had a conversation and I said to him, “Look, we can certainly mix some of that stuff in but you have to be very careful with that.” Because there’s a couple of things. Ultimately, if we’re playing in a band, whether you like it or not, we have to play to entertain the audience. We’re not playing for you to have fun.
If you like these songs and you like playing them, that’s what your living room is for. That’s not what the stage is for. If we play Vasoline and we play Trippin’ on a Hole and everybody’s bopping along, and all the sudden you, “Okay, here’s a song from their album from 2010 that no one listened to” then all the sudden the vibe in the room is gone. It’s over. You have to be really careful doing that.
Jordan: You play Sex Type Thing and then follow it up with I Got You. Throw everybody off.
Joe: Yeah, right. As part of that process, we actually went online and looked up their album sales by album to see where did the song start to not become relevant anymore. You know what I mean?
Jordan: Inside baseball and stuff, yeah.
Joe: We went to that degree of legwork and it was interesting. I think what we found, which was almost exactly what I was expecting, not in terms of quantity, but just in terms of the trend. Core was 8 million copies. Purple was 6 million.
Jordan: It was fewer, huh.
Joe: Tiny Music was 2 million and then after that, there weren’t even enough sales for them to continue keeping track.
Joe: Yeah. What I had said to Cameron, which I think was true, was even though Tiny Music didn’t sell as many copies there were still a couple of big singles off of that album, like Trippin’ on a Hole is a huge one. They use that song in Guitar Hero and that kind of stuff. So that was exactly the problem. I think there were the people out there who knew Stone Temple Pilots from the first two albums and liked them beyond the hardcore fans, and in advance of Tiny Music coming out, when they released Big Bang Baby, I think a lot of people heard that song and we’re like, “Ooh, what’s this? This doesn’t sound like Stone Temple Pilot.”
Jordan: Their sound changed.
Joe: And they checked out and we’re over at that point. My feeling is if they had not released that as the first single off that album, their future trajectory could have been very different, but it was a downhill slide from that album on. I think that song was the beginning.
Jordan: What song on that album do you think would have would have done that?
Joe: Trippin’ on a Hole was a big song.
Jordan: That whole record was like 180-degree turn on the sound of the band.
Joe: Yeah, it was.
Jordan: Every aspect of it was different.
Joe: Yeah. I think there were a couple of songs on there that they probably could have got. Even Lady Picture Show did fairly well but I think Big Bang Baby just turned a lot of people off right away when they heard it.
Joe: It was like when Weezer came out with Pinkerton and they released El Scorcho, a lot of people were just like, “I’m not buying that.”
Jordan: That’s not The Sweater Song.
Joe: That album is their best album, but people heard that song and they were like, “I’m not gonna buy that.” You know what I mean? That was the end of it.
Jordan: How do you decide when you’re putting together a tribute band? Because you do a tribute band because you love the music and not just the hits, but the whole catalog.
Jordan: How do you make that distinction? I know you said you’re on stage, you’re entertaining people, but at some point you have to be enjoying it yourself. As long as you’re doing is playing Plush and Wicked Garden every night, you’re not getting the full experience.
Joe: One of the things that I’m looking for is if we’re trying to pick the deeper cuts, for lack of a better phrase that we’re going to play, one of the songs, for example, that we’re playing, and I think we’re planning on opening with, spoiler alert, in Blue Back Square is Glide off of number 4.
Joe: I feel like that to me, that song has a really cool chorus when it comes in. If you’re probably familiar enough with the song and you know it. To me, that’s the song that even someone who’s never heard it before, it can be catchy right off the bat and you can get into it. As far as deeper cuts go, that’s like a safer song to play, I guess if that’s the right word to use. There are other songs like that.
There’s even a couple of songs off of the new album that just came out a few months ago that I think are songs that you could get away with playing and you could get interest from people who may not have even heard the song before. Not all the songs on the album are like that, but there’s a few that are. I don’t know what it is about it, but there’s just some songs that like the first time you hear it, you’re like, “Oh, that’s really cool. I like that.”
Jordan: Well, that was like everything on Core.
Joe: Right, right. Not everything on the last couple of albums.
Jordan: No, no. Certainly not. You guys named the band Dumb Love, which is off what I think is, it might be my favorite record from them.
Jordan: Yeah. I don’t know what it was, maybe just the time that came out in my life or whatever, but Shangri-La Dee Da, as a record, I just love. I could listen to that forever and that was their fifth studio album.
Joe: I believe so, yeah.
Jordan: So you’ve even chosen a title a name for the band that’s not going to be recognizable to most people.
Joe: So that was interesting. Yeah. Let me ask you a question now.
Jordan: Oh, boy.
Joe: Have you ever tried to name a band?
Jordan: Not successfully.
Joe: There you go. Exactly. All right. I don’t even need to continue this any further. You know how that process goes.
Jordan: Oh, yeah.
Joe: We went through this for a while and not even just throwing around specific suggestions for a name but talking about, “Well, should we name the band after an STP song? Should we try to pick like a line of lyric from a song?” On and on and on, and it went on forever, and it could have gone on forever longer. And eventually, I think at some point, Dumb Love was one of the names that Cameron has suggested and a month later, I came back to it and I was like, “Didn’t you suggest Dumb Love at one point?” And he said, “Yeah” and I was like, “Let’s just go with that and be done with it. Because we’ll go back and forth about this forever.”
Jordan: Oh, yeah. At some point, you just have to make a decision to move on.
Joe: And two, it wasn’t anything particular about that song or that album, we just thought Dumb Love is a cool enough sounding name that even if you’re not familiar with the reference to that song, it just sounds cool as a band name so we said, “Let’s go with that.”
Joe: And that was the end of it.
Jordan: What if that song, In particular, I was thinking actually on my drive over here. It’s a strong opening song for that record. It sets the tone for the whole thing right upfront and the thought I had was you’re setting a tone for the band for people who know that song, which isn’t going to be probably most people.
Jordan: But yeah, it was an interesting idea to go with that one. You’ve written music, you’ve produced music, you’ve recorded original songs and now…
Joe: Star of stage and screen.
Jordan: Yes. Well, that’ll be the title of today’s episode. And now you go back to the cover band, where do you find room for your own creative outlets playing other people’s music? Dead air.
Joe: Yeah. That’s a good question. I don’t always and that’s not necessarily a problem. I think one of the aspects of producing that I was drawn to, and we touched on this earlier, but I have a problem of writing songs. I write a lot of music, but I don’t write lyrics often/very well/at all.
Jordan: It’s hard to do.
Joe: Yeah, it really is. Do you listen to the Decemberists at all? I’ll go off track for a second there.
Jordan: I did. You mentioned to me a couple of years ago and I listened to it. I never got into it, but I thought it was good.
Joe: They’re one of my favorites and Colin Meloy’s lyrics to me, he writes lyrics like no one else I’ve ever heard/read, whatever you call it for lyrics, when I tried to write something like that, I end up just throwing it all in the trash, it sucks. One of my problems is I’ll write a song musically and then it will just sit for years collecting dust because I don’t write lyrics to it or whatever. It just sits there.
One of my problems is that I have all these songs that are at various stages of completion that aren’t ready to really do anything with but the recording and producing aspect of creating music, I really enjoy. I love taking a piece of music that I’ve recorded and just sitting for hours with my headphones on and playing with compressor settings and playing with EQ and just tweaking it. Some people find that mind numbing, but I just enjoy it. Producing other people’s music lets me do that without having to go through the torture of trying to finish something that I started, right?
Jordan: Oh, I see.
Joe: You know what I mean?
Joe: It’s almost a good thing in that way. I’m not holding myself up by trying to finish writing something.
Jordan: It’s all these other people are giving you model kits that you get to put together without spending all the money.
Joe: And I can help them realize their vision.
Joe: That’s why I started doing this.
Joe: I’m just a nice guy doing favors for the world.
Jordan: Oh, it’s free, everybody.
Jordan: Yeah, that’s interesting. Like the lyrics thing, some of the greatest musicians in history couldn’t write their own lyrics. Even Elton John had Bernie Taupin to write his lyrics for him. It’s a difficult thing to do and somebody who’s good at it, like a Dylan or Janis Joplin, or somebody that writes their own stuff. It’s impressive.
Joe: Right. And again, playing in a cover band is nice, too, because none of us are at the point where we’re trying to make a career out of being musicians/rock stars. I like performing but I don’t want to go through the grind of going out and playing small, nearly empty venues, playing for people songs that they’ve never heard before trying to convince them to like the song, you know what I mean? If it was 18 years ago, that would be another story but I don’t want to do that now. Playing Stone Temple Pilots songs that I love is very, I guess, fulfilling or satisfying, despite the fact that it’s not original music.
Jordan: Yeah. Well, their stuff, particularly especially compared to the other bands from that time period, is musically very different, like the song structures, just the way they put everything together has a very signature sound to it. Even when they got past those first couple records and they really veered away from what had made them popular in the first place. I still get great enjoyment just listening to that stuff.
Joe: That’s another thing, too, when you asked earlier why Stone Temple Pilots. Selfishly as a guitar player, playing a 20-song set of STP songs is friggin’ fun. You could play in a Green Day cover band and your hand would barely move all night and even as great as their song as are…
Jordan: I can play Green Day at my level, yeah.
Joe: Even a lot of Nirvana songs is as great as they are. I love Nirvana but Kurt Cobain was, at best, a mediocre guitar player.
Jordan: He didn’t even want to be the guitar player.
Joe: That’s one of the things that makes their songs great is that they’re simple, but when you’re playing guitar, and a lot of these STP songs, you can’t fall asleep for a second or you’ll F something up. They’re work to play, I mean fun work, but they’re work and that’s one of the things that’s fun about doing this, too.
Jordan: Yeah. It’s a shame to me that more people don’t know Robert and Dean by name because this guy’s incredible.
Joe: He’s a great just guitar player technically, but some of their songs, as I’ve been learning them for this band, as I’m working it out, I’m thinking to myself like, “How the hell do you write something like this?” It’s just weird chords, but they’re great. It’s bizarre, yeah, but it’s a lot of fun.
Jordan: All right, when is the premiere for Dumb Love?
Joe: Saturday, May 26th, 7 o’clock, Blue Back Square, West Hartford Center, Connecticut, if any of you are listening from other locales. That’s the only one on the calendar at the moment so from therem who knows. But yeah, we’re really looking forward to it. It’s a lot of fun.
Jordan: That should be great.
Jordan: I’m hopeful we can get out to see that. I think the last time we saw you guys play was Blue Back.
Joe: Yeah, probably. I don’t even know what year that was.
Jordan: It was six years ago. I won’t get into why I remember that.
Joe: Facebook reminder?
Jordan: No, no. It was just a couple days later we found out about my son’s condition so I remember that. What band was that?
Joe: That was Harmonal.
Jordan: Oh, Harmonal. That’s right.
Joe: Basically, it was the same members as the Electric Banana, just a different format.
Jordan: Well, you guys played like Toto.
Jordan: All right. So Dumb Love, May 26, Blue Back Square.
Joe: Dumbloveband.com, check us out.
Jordan: Oh, you have a website.
Joe: We do.
Jordan: Nice. It’s official. All right, so moving on to the cheesy segment of the show, Front Row Center. Five questions. Whatever answer comes to your mind. Beatles or Stones?
Jordan: That’s too easy.
Jordan: Best meal you have ever had?
Joe: The Ultimate Breakfast Burrito with Bacon from Goldbergs down the street, with a large hazelnut coffee.
Jordan: Goldbergs? I can dig the coffee. I’m a little too old for giant burritos at this point.
Joe: Breakfast burrito. It ain’t some shit.
Jordan: Yeah. One place everyone should visit before it’s too late?
Joe: Ooh, I don’t know. Also, this time last year, my wife and I went out to California for my brother’s wedding and after the wedding, we stayed for a week and drove down Pacific Coast Highway, and that was awesome. I would say do that. And this is along the same lines, San Francisco. We spent two days in while we were there and that was by far my favorite city I’ve ever been to.
Joe: So San Francisco, Pacific Coast Highway. If you can do it.
Jordan: I have never been to the west coast.
Joe: It was awesome.
Jordan: Greatest live performance you have ever seen?
Joe: I’ll give you two. You said whatever comes to mind and two are coming to mind, right now. I think it would have been 2009 I saw the Decemberists on tour for The Hazards of Love and they performed that album live in its entirety and it was awesome. That was at Mountain Park in Holyoke, Mass and that was that was probably number one. 1A would be Stone Temple Pilots 1996 maybe on the Tiny Love tour.
Jordan: I was gonna say the same thing.
Joe: At the now defunct New Haven Coliseum with Local H as the opening band which is a riot. Were you there at that show?
Jordan: No, I was in Florida at the time.
Joe: Oh, okay. Yeah. Because for any of you who know, Local H is only two guys so they open for STP on this like huge arena stage.
Jordan: Massive stadium tour.
Joe: Which is one of them on one end of the stage and the other guy all the way at the other end, and it was funny.
Jordan: That was the tour where they brought the acoustic set down…
Joe: Yeah, I believe so.
Jordan: …and they dropped it from the ceiling.
Jordan: That was the first rock and roll concert that I was just blown away by. For my money, Scott Weiland commanded the stage and the audience like no one else have ever seen.
Joe: Yeah. Back then, I guess he probably hadn’t started deteriorating yet so he was still like live, he sang as well as he did on the album.
Jordan: He was incredible.
Joe: And I was like, “Yes.” Yeah. In the later years that wasn’t the case, but…
Joe: He was good.
Jordan: Okay. I was going to say best. but I’ll go with favorite. Your favorite guest star on a Seinfeld episode.
Joe: Ooh, I got to think about this for a minute.
Jordan: There’s a lot of them. So many of them went on to do so many other things, too.
Joe: Oh, I’m freezing. I’m freezing.
Jordan: Teri Hatcher, Bryan Cranston. So many.
Joe: Yeah, Bryan Cranston for obvious reasons is a good one, but oh my God. This question wasn’t in the packet I received.
Jordan: No, it wasn’t. Last minute insertion.
Joe: I’m going to say maybe Philip Baker Hall as Joe Bookman. That might be my favorite.
Jordan: I’ve forgotten he was in there.
Joe: That might be my favorite.
Joe: That’s definitely on the shortlist.
Joe: I’ll go with that for now.
Jordan: That’s a great one. Alight. So now I want you to sell me on something. Anything recent, a book, movie, new band, great restaurant you’ve been to? Something that you have experienced recently that you think everybody got to check out?
Joe: Absolutely. If you have a Netflix account, or and even if you don’t.
Jordan: Who doesn’t have a Netflix account?
Joe: I don’t know. But if you don’t, you could try reading a book for a change, too. No, I’m just kidding.
Jordan: If you don’t have a Netflix account, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and explain yourself.
Joe: Yeah. If you ever heard of books, that’s where movies come from. On Netflix, there’s a documentary called Minimalism, a documentary about the important things.
Jordan: Ah, I’ve seen this.
Joe: Have you seen it?
Jordan: I’ve seen this.
Joe: My wife and I watched that a little over a year ago and I won’t necessarily say that it was life changing, because I feel like a lot of the things they talked about in the movie were things that we already identified with and things that that guided our life choices, I guess you could say to put it simply. But a lot of the values that we have that I think were also talked about in the movie, and they touch on this in the movie, where things that to people who don’t understand it just seem as like laziness,or a lack of ambition or something like that and that’s not really what it is. But when we saw the movie, the movie gave it a name and tied all the loose ends together for us, and we were like, “Oh, yeah, that’s how we are.”
I think that prior to watching the movie, when it came to a lot of major life choices like buying houses and buying cars, we always approach them from what essentially was a minimalist point of view, although maybe at the time we didn’t know what it was called, but watching the movie opened our eyes to a lot of the ways, those smaller day-to-day ways that we were letting ourselves be distracted by either clutter or just things that we shouldn’t be wasting our time on. Since then, my wife has started listening to their podcasts. We’ve gone and seen their live show.
Jordan: Yeah, I was going to say they go around, they tour.
Joe: Yeah, we saw them at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston last year.
Jordan: Do they have a television series or something, or is it just a documentary?
Joe: They have a podcast. They have a couple of books and I think they’re shooting another movie now. I don’t know what it’s going to be about. That movie really impacted us where a year and a half, two years later when people ask. I wouldn’t say I force it on people, but it’s something that I tell people you should watch this. It’s really thought provoking and eye opening and will maybe change your perspective on life for the better. It certainly did for us. So Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. Look it up on Netflix and watch it. It’s great.
Jordan: Yeah, that’s a good recommendation.
Jordan: Alright. Thank you, that was great.
Joe: Thank you.
Jordan: All right. Take it easy.