Massimiliano Adelmo Giorgini

Mass Giorgini: Producer/Engineer (Anti-Flag, Rise Against, Alkaline Trio, etc), CoProductions include Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day), Kris Roe (of the Ataris), John Strohm (of the Lemonheads), Paul Mahern (producer of John Mellencamp, Iggy Pop), and Anjali Dutt (producer of Oasis, My Bloody Valentine). Sonic Iguana Studios founder. Screeching Weasel bass. Squirtgun bass/b. vocals, Common Rider bass/sax. Occasional contributor to Punk, Rock Sound, and Punk Planet magazines.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The National Trust and the Ataris/Squirtgun Connection

Wow. My last post brought me more e-mail than I could possibly respond to on an individual level. Therefore, I will do my best to answer many of the questions in this post.

First off, The National Trust have not yet recorded, which logically means that there exist no MP3s of their upcoming album. Yes, they are at essence a re-incarnation and extension of a band called F.O.N., but it is not the same F.O.N. that has released several CDs in the punk scene of the last five years.

Yes, The National Trust did perform the song "Social" live on the night I saw them. The song was written by Matt Hart, and originally performed by F.O.N. in the early 1990's, not long before the band dissolved. The band never actually released the song, however, so Matt brought it to Squirtgun when we first formed the band in 1993. It went on to become the opening song to the 1995 Kevin Smith film Mallrats, which also featured early performances by actors including Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Claire Forlani. "Social" was also featured on our debut CD on Lookout Records, Squirtgun. However, because Matt Hart sung the Squirtgun version of the song, while Giles Davies sings the National Trust version, I believe that an immediate and obvious difference in the versions is notable. I do not know whether or not the National Trust intends to record a version,or simply to play it live.

Yes, Kris Roe did appear on the most recent Squirtgun CD, Fade to Bright, as a guest vocalist, singing along with Squirtgun singer Matt Hart. He appeared on the song "Burn for You," for which we also made a video that included an appearance by Kris Roe (this video was getting heavy rotation on the 120 Minutes program of MTV Latino America last month). However, I do not feel that this song is representative of the National Trust in sound or in songwriting (maybe partly because I wrote "Burn for You," and I am not a member of the National Trust?).

Finally, I received a number of e-mails either stating that I was lying about Kris Roe's involvement in the National Trust, or asking if he was a member. As one can clearly see in the photographs that accompany the previous post, he did perform as a member on their debut night. Further, he has co-written a few new songs with the band, and is planning to both continue to perform with them live, as well as to play on their upcoming album.

Monday, June 14, 2004

On Monday, June 7, I attended the debut concert of a new band I will be co-producing later this summer. Then again, it was also the reunion show of a long-defunct band that I originally produced back in 1992.

The current band is called The National Trust, and is composed of Giles Davies, Matt Hart (also the singer of Squirtgun), Kris Roe (lead singer/guitarist of the Ataris), Eric Appleby, and Pete Janidlo. The original impetus for the formation (or re-formation) of this band was Kris Roe, who as a teenager was a huge fan of the band F.O.N. (which included Matt, Giles, and Pete from the National Trust). Although F.O.N. had a loyal and sizeable following in the Muncie, IN area during the late 80’s and early 90’s, they were largely unknown outside of their home base. The initial intent was simply to encourage them to re-form, then record and document their original songs, and finally to release and distribute their music in order to expose the band to a wider audience.

However, once Kris had managed to convince the members to re-form the band, a huge problem became evident: Kris was the only person who actually remembered many of the songs. After a long stretch of rehearsal time was spent with Kris teaching the former members their own songs, they invited him tojoin the band as a guitarist and backing vocalist. After a few rehearsals, all members wanted to go further than simply re-hash the decade-old material, and began to write a few new tunes to go along with the older songs. Eventually, it became evident that the result was something different than the original F.O.N. – even though many of the old songs remained. They decided to adopt a new name, the National Trust.

Although the band includes Matt Hart and Kris Roe, who are both known for their brands of pop-oriented punk rock, the National Trust is something much noisier and more raucous. Certainly, some incredibly catchy pop hooks are present, but the songs are also rife with unpredictable break-downs, tempo changes, dissonant guitar intrusions, and occasional screams that seem to invade from the skies. Live, the band was energetic and powerful – even though certainly much rawer than either Squirtgun or the Ataris. Regardless, both Kris and Matt gave great performances, using their lead singing experience to provide strong backing vocals, as well as giving the band some very skillful guitar playing. Lead singer Giles Davies fronted the band with an intensity and focus that certainly betrayed his last decade in theater. Pete Janidlo returned from several years of virtual retirement to play a show that proved he is still one of the best drummers I have ever seen in punk rock. Eric Appleby, who originally played bass in another band that included Matt Hart,Clifford Nevernew, played a nearly flawless set, and fit in with the band like the missing piece of the puzzle. They put on a great show, and left me proud to be involved with the upcoming project.

The National Trust will be supporting the Ataris for a few dates later this month, after which they will begin preparing for the recording of their upcoming album.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Incomparable Jenny Choi

A few weeks ago, I had the great privilege of working with the lovely and winsome Jenny Choi, who came to Sonic Iguana to perform a pair of cello parts and a keyboard part as a guest on the upcoming Even In Blackouts album. Jenny is best known as a singer-songwriter fronting her own bands, including Jenny Choi and the Third Shift and Sanawon.

Beyond her musical accomplishments, Jenny is also a teacher of English Literature in a Chicago high school. Not too surprisingly, our banter outside of the specific musical project tended to focus quite heavily on our favorite authors and books. As it turns out, we found out we loved many of the same books, as well as sharing many favorite films. During our talk, Jenny so passionately extolled Interpreter of Maladies, a collection of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri, that I ordered it from the same day. Although so far I have only read three of the stories, I must admit that I am inclined to agree with her praise of the book.

In addition to the aforementioned prodigious talents and good qualities, Jenny is also the primary force behind Ona PR and the Asians in Rock (AIR) Tour. Jenny set up Ona PR in order to promote, in her own words, "awareness in a sociopolitical context for the national Asian arts community." With a like-minded goal, The annual AIR Tour was conceived in order to simultaneously entertain and enlighten by smashing stereotypes associated with Asian-Americans. The AIR Tour began in 2003, and this year will feature Sanawon and Mike Park (the founder of the Plea for Peace organization, Asian Man Records, and another of my great friends). The tour kicks off in Chicago on May 12 at the Fireside Bowl, and will hit both coasts in the course of its frantic 17-day schedule. I highly recommend checking out the tour when it comes to your part of the country!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

R.I.P. Kermit the Iguana
(March 1991-May 2004)

Kermit, the green iguana namesake of Sonic Iguana Studios, passed away due to complications of old age a few days ago. Kermit was imported into the United States from a hatchery in El Salvador shortly after her birth in 1991. After moving to Lafayette, she took her position in the Giorgini home, where she resided until her recent demise.

Kermit survived many near-death experiences in her life, some due to illness, others due to accident or mistaken identity. She survived two bouts with mouth rot, a frequently fatal herpetological disease. She also narrowly avoided electrocution when she climbed into the crankcase of a ceiling fan. Perhaps most embarassing, Kermit was assumed to be male until nearly succumbing to being severely egg-bound. At that time, it was verified that rather than being "pleasantly plump," she was holding several unfertilized eggs which she was unable to safely lay and bury. After a dramatic hysterectomy, she had to be tube-fed for several weeks until she could regain sufficient strength to feed herself.

At one point, Jessie Snaza arrived home to find that Kermit had escaped from her housing, and had somehow managed to get into the mandibular clutches of Daysi. Daysi was growling at Desmond while holding onto Kermit, and seemed to be protecting the iguana from her adoptive brother. Regardless, both iguana and pit bull escaped unharmed from their interaction, and from that point on Daysi always protectively guarded Kermit's home from Desmond's attempt incursions.

Kermit -- the lizard and the legend -- will be missed by the Sonic Iguana crew, and will certainly always be fondly remembered.