Although they stole my heart during their short stint as The Raptors, The Artists Now Known Again As The Sarah Pedinotti Band ultimately decided not to stick with the daringly Cretaceous name. Read why below, and then find a way to be at one (or, preferably, both) of the following two shows to see first hand what all the fuss is about.
Saturday, 3/29/08, 9pm - Kenny's CastawaysOne last thing. As you read the interview, play this. Over and over and over.
Friday, 4/4/08, 8:45pm - The Living Room
Mike McClenathan: Who are The Raptors?
Sarah Pedinotti: We're now the Sarah Pedinotti Band. We're still looking around for the right name. We've looked under garbage cans and in newspapers; the boys come over regularly, pick up any book off my shelf and shout out random words. One day, we were talking about T.Rex and Chris (the drummer) said, half-joking "how about the Raptors." We all stopped what we were doing. It seemed familiar but good and we thought it had to be taken. And it is. "The Raptors" are a Canadian Basketball team that rarely wins... BUT we became The Raptors for a little over a week too. It felt good.
Now to answer your question: The group of keen-sighted, flesh-eating birds and ferocious dinosaurs known as The Sarah Pedinotti Band consist of: Tony Markellis (bass), Chris Kyle (guitar), Chris Carey (drums) Dave Payette (piano) and me.
MM: How long have you been playing together?
SP: Dave, Chris Carey and I have been playing together since high school.
Tony joined in the summer of 2006. We added Chris Kyle in the fall of 2007.
MM: How did the decision to change your name come about?
SP: Well, my last name is difficult for most people when they're sober. Something about four syllable names, they're too perplexing for the mind to handle. But since we're back to being The Sarah Pedinotti Band, for now, I just think of how much people love Luciano Pavarotti. It makes me feel better.
MM: Comparisons are all but necessary evils when it comes to getting the word out about great new music, but I hate making them too much to do it directly myself. So here's this: your bio mentions recent comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, Jacque Brel, Dr. John and Tom Waits. I'm sure there have been scores of other comparisons as well. Which do you find the most flattering?
SP: I find the ones you mentioned the most flattering. Especially Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits. And since this industry calls for braggarts, they're mentioned in my bio. What my bio doesn't mention is that I hate being compared to Pee-wee Herman. Actually that has never happened. But if it did, I'd be pissed.
MM: Because every conversation I have with anyone always ends up here and at least this time we have a reasonable transition to it, let's focus on the Springsteen comparison for just a minute. Your songs, like his, are full of vividly developed characters. Where does the inspiration for a character like Michael (from "Julio") come from?
SP: I met this man in the Albany bus station. I was in the cafeteria, sitting in an orange-colored booth between the jukebox and the video games. The air was sticky with the smell of hot dogs cooking on a dirty grill. I was reading Down and Out in Paris and London and he came walking up to me. He was a short, tough-looking Latino man. He wore all black, a black bandana on his head, faded black jeans, black leather boots. It was hard to tell his age because his skin was so rugged. He had many tattoos (including a teardrop on his left eye) and plenty of scars. He asked me for a pen and said he'd give it right back. I quickly rummaged for one and told him to keep it.
He came back minutes later and asked me what I was reading. He said, "Oh, George Orwell, like 1984 and Animal Farm." I must have looked impressed because he sat down across from me and proceeded to tell me his whole life story. He said he was never interested in books until he escaped the law, riding solo on boxcars and hitchhiking to Mexico. Reading was the only entertainment he had back then. He didn't know anyone outside of New York City and he was only fourteen when he ran away.
Long story short, I missed my bus. I found myself simultaneously freaked out by the man who claimed to be a mass killer and enthralled with his story. It was like talking with a jungle cat. I felt frozen in time, watching his pitch-black eyes flash like lighting while he spoke. He was less a socio-path and more an emotional wreck with a tough-as-nails exterior, born into the wrong neighborhood.
Meeting him took awhile to process. But months later, during an earsplitting thunderstorm, I woke up out of a deep sleep and wrote down the song in 10 minutes. No joke. Maybe I was electrocuted.
MM: Saratoga Springs, NY looks like it's as close to Montreal as it is to NYC on a map. What's it like to be a band there?
SP: Saratoga is a strange and sometimes beautiful place. In the summer it turns into a touristy freak show. It actually is home to the oldest organized sporting venue of any kind in the US, the Saratoga Race Course. So every year when it gets warm, horses, gamblers, cigars and big hats follow. A lot of people like to get drunk here. That's sort of the underlying disorganized sport that takes place around these parts.
But there's beauty too. The mineral water is supposedly sacred, we're at the foothills of the Adirondacks, there's a community of artists and musicians, and a farmer's market. And that's why we're here. That and drunks seem love us and tip us more.
MM: What's the local beverage of choice?
SP: Most drinks are popular. All I know is the non-alcoholic beer doesn't sell. I drink whiskey from time to time. It's good for the voice.
MM: Being in a band is cool. What's the coolest thing about being in your band?
SP: We're good friends who share a passion. I can honestly say I love my band mates. Every single one of them is brilliant in their own strange way. Chris Carey has boundless amounts of energy. He can make the best and most realistic farting noises with his armpits. He has a talent for turning any inanimate object into a musical instrument and he actually makes everything sound good. Dave is nocturnal and sleeps in a cave like batman. He has perfect pitch and can probably read minds. Chris Kyle is a badass with a heart of gold. He’s got a scar on his lip from a pit bull that attacked him at a gas station and yet he can’t wait to have a dog of his own. He’s soulful and wild like a Buddhist monk on a motorcycle.
And Tony? I bet he’s played on every stage, stadium, theatre, basement, living room, bathroom and kitchen in the universe. With every famous, infamous and unknown person I can think of. He’s gotten fancy treatment on tour, sleeping in 5-star hotels, signing hundreds of autographs and he’s dealt with the shit, sleeping in vans after playing hole-in-the-wall bars. Now he’s playing with us. That shows dedication.
[Buy the album at CD Baby]