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.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Previously Unreleased Common Rider

Last week, I had to make an emergency run to Target to get some extra CD-R's for reference discs.  While heading to the computer supplies aisle, I noticed some new discs on the "Launch Breakout Artists" stand by the music department.  I had already become less surprised to see releases there by bands I know through touring or recording, but until this particular visit, I had never seen anything I had actually played on at Target (ok, with the exception of the Squirtgun song on the Mallrats soundtrack).

But, when I saw a new Hopeless Records sampler, titled Hopelessly Devoted To You, Volume 5, I decided to take a closer look.  I knew that sometime this fall the 4 remaining unreleased Common Rider songs that were cut from the 2002 album This is Unity Music were due to be released either as a CD-EP, or as a split release with the band Against All Authority.  But, I wasn't aware that one of those songs would appear first on a label sampler compilation. 

Regardless, I am happy to know that the song, "Where the Waves are Highest," is finally in distribution and available for listeners.  This is my personal favorite of the four "unheard" Common Rider songs, and was even one of my overall favorites of the entire Unity Music album.

An added bonus is that the entire sampler lists for under $4...

I have no more specific information at this time for the forthcoming Common Rider release, but will post it here as soon as I know something tangible.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Mi Poesía
          Over the last several years, I have studied the Spanish language on my own, using an informal and mixed batch of methods.  I have purchased a few lesson books, verb usage lessons, Spanish/English dictionaries, Audio CD lesson plans (including the 48-disc set by Pimsleur Language Learning Labs), a variety of Spanish-language magazines, viewed countless Spanish-language films, read some of my favorite authors in their native tongue (including Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, and Jorge Luis Borges), attended Spanish Conversation Nights at the Latino Cultural Center of Purdue University, read some Parallel Text Spanish/English books, visited Honduras, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Spain, and even made a few quick border visits to Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez in Mexico.  Admittedly, the fact that Italian was my first language, in addition to my four years of study of the French language, has aided more than a little to my learning of Spanish (though I am still quite far from fluency).
          However, my first real attempt to study the language was through a class offered by the Cervantes Spanish School, taught by school co-founder Claudia B. E. Guerín, Ph.D., and held at the Morton Community Center of West Lafayette, Indiana.  In the class, Guerín not only discussed the very necessary rules of grammar and verb conjugation, but also encouraged us to read and interpret poetry in Spanish by major Spanish-language poets. 
          During this same period, I had been absorbed in reading about and listening to Chilean singer-songwriter Victor Jara.  He was a politically outspoken supporter (along with famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda) of the Popular Unity Party, and had been active in the campaign that had successfully placed President Allende in office.  Unfortunately, when the military coup led by Augusto Pinochet (covertly backed by the C.I.A.) overthrew Allende and the Popular Unity Party on September 11, 1973, many of his most vocal supporters, including Victor Jara, were rounded up for "questioning." 
          Victor was taken to the Santiago Boxing Stadium, where he had previously held several sold-out concerts, and was tortured by electrocution and beatings while playing his guitar and singing his songs of support for Allende.  Even after the torturers broke both his wrists, he continued to perform his music.  After four days of continued abuses, Jara was finally taken down by a rain of bullets from automatic weapons fired by Pinochet's henchmen.
          The combination of the poetry I was reading in class (by Alfonsina Storni, Pablo Neruda, and many more) and the tragic story of Victor Jara -- which is largely unknown to most Americans, and perhaps more ironically, to most political punk fans -- led me to write a poem about how his story affected me.  I decided to write it in Spanish, since so much of the reading I had done about Jara, as well as the poetry I had been reading, was in Spanish. 
          I owe thanks to several native Spanish-speaking friends and acquaintances who helped review my poem to be sure that it communicated what I had intended, and for their words of encouragement in its completion.  To Claudia Guerín, Marcelo Carignano, Zuania Colón, Monica Sanchez, and Alma Armenta:  my sincerest appreciation for your time and efforts.
Esta Llama
by Massimiliano Adelmo Giorgini
Esta llama
Parpadea como las palabras se forman
Cambiando las figuras, cambiando el sentido
Su llama
Brilla luciente y fuerte
Permaneciendo clara, persistiendo sóla
Esta llama
Que me incita
Tratando de honrarle, tratando de continuar
Su llama
Me empuja a llevarle
Despertando su memoria, entrando en nuevas almas
Aún sin manos lleva la antorcha
Con más gracia y poesía que jamás pudiera
con nueve bueyes y once caballos que me ayuden
Usted habría necesitado un salvador
Con seis cuerdas y una cesta de madera
Sin martillo le construyo un monumento
Con una campana, lo llamo una canción
Esta llama
Farfulla bajo pesados alientos
Sofocandola a pesar de mis mejores intenciones
Su llama
Quema intensamente con el combustible de la justicia
Y la leña menuda de brujas y Santos
Esta llama
Podría ahogarse bajo una lágrima
Hundiendose mientras le tiro una cuerda salvavida
Su llama --  llamemosla fuego
Flota todavía en un océano de sangre inocente
Resplandeciendo como una estrella en la noche
Que grita más fuerte que el sol del mediodía
Esta llama
Aclara apenas esta página.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Rattail Then and Now

In November 1984, I got together for a "jam" with Dan Lumley, Steve Best, and my brother Flav Giorgini. Over the course of the next several weeks, the combo eventually became Rattail Grenadier, which continued until 1994. There were several line-ups of the band, which at various points included Rick Harris, Quentin Flory, and Kevin Aubey, as well as a bevy of fill-in guests who took over at times when "official members" could not make it to certain shows (one these shows, in Kalamazoo, MI in 1988, featured Matt Hart in the vocalist spot -- the same line-up which eventually became Squirtgun, and was still active as recently as 2003's Fade to Bright album).

On the Fourth of July weekend a couple of weeks ago, Dan Lumley ran into Steve Best. Steve, who currently lives in Wisconsin, was in town visiting family for the holiday. Coincidentally, Flav, who now lives in Seattle, was in town working on a solo album (which I am producing at Sonic Iguana Studios). We took advantage of the situation to meet for lunch, and to re-create a photo that we had used as a promo poster for our early tours.

Flav sent the new photo to Kevin Neireiter, who not only has done most of the artwork for Squirtgun, but also did much of the artwork and design for Rattail Grenadier. Kevin used his prolific skills to make the shadows, background, and logo match those of the original poster shot.

Above; Trying to look "tough" -- Rattail Grenadier in a 1986 poster (left to right: Flav Giorgini, Steve Best, Mass Giorgini, Dan Lumley)

Rattail Grenadier in July 2004, still failing to look "tough."

Rattail Grenadier released four full-lengths during its ten-year span. The first, Three Blind (1986), was a self-issued cassette-only release that we recorded as a three-piece, with Dan Lumley on drums, Flav Giorgini on guitar and vocals, and myself on bass guitar and vocals.

Our second full-length was also a cassette-only self-release entitled Copy (1987), which featured the line-up in the above "poster" shot. The two cassette releases were primarily distributed in the tiny Midwestern punk scene of the time, and sold about 400-500 copies each.

In 1988, after a couple of years touring and playing with nationally-recognized punk bands, such as Naked Raygun, Dag Nasty, Toxic Reasons, the Zero Boys, and others, we signed with a new Chicago-based label called Roadkill Records. Roadkill Records was formed after I introduced my friends Ben Weasel and John Jughead of Screeching Weasel to Rattail Grenadier singer Steve Best's older brother Dave at a Screeching Weasel show at Durty Nellie's Pub in Palatine, IL on May 22, 1987. The general idea was that Dave would provide the funding, and that Ben and John would run the label, with signing decisions being mutual.

The first three releases were issued simultaneously in late 1988, and included full-lengths by Screeching Weasel (the original release of BoogadaBoogadaBoogada) and Rattail Grenadier and an E.P. by the Bhopal Stiffs. The Rattail Grenadier album was self-titled, and was released on vinyl LP and cassette. The album was produced by Paul Mahern (producer of Iggy Pop, John Mellencamp, and the Blake Babies) and featured a guest appearance by Vess Ruhtenberg of the Zero Boys. This release was much more widely distributed, and went into a repress of both editions. Approximate sales were 2500-3000 in total.

By the time Rattail Grenadier was ready for a fourth full-length, Roadkill Records had folded, after releasing many more releases by bands such as the Effigies, Sludgeworth, Sloppy Seconds, and No Empathy, to name a few. So, we signed to an Italian label called Helter Skelter, that was also a well-known distributor of punk albums in that country, and also signed a distribution deal with Rotz Records in the United States for our next release, Too Much of a Good Thing (1991). On this album, our line-up had changed, now featuring Rick Harris on lead vocals in the place of Steve Best. The album also featured guest appearances by Matt Marz of the Disease (who also appears on the latest Squirtgun disc) and Bruce Stuckey of Toxic Reasons (note: Too Much of a Good Thing is the first released and distributed album I ever produced and engineered).

In 1992, Rick Harris moved to Berkeley, CA to start a Ph.D. program in Molecular Biology. He was replaced by Quentin Flory, who had previously been a member of New Jersey's P.E.D., which had released a full-length on New Red Archives Records in 1989. He had also been friends and jammed with early incarnations of the Bouncing Souls. We started work on a fifth album, which was never released. This album marked a move towards a more melodic, but minor key, sound, somewhat reminiscent of Bad Religion. One track of this intended fifth album was "Come On Back," written by Quentin Flory, which was featured on the PUNK USA compilation on Lookout Records (1994). This remains the only Rattail Grenadier song currently in print. The former members of the band have discussed the possibility of releasing a compilation of highlight songs from throughout the band's history, but no formal plan exists at this time.

In 1994, while our father was ill with brain cancer, Flav and I put the band on hold. By the time of his eventual passing, we decided to start a new band with a more upbeat and positive image, most certainly as a result of the sad events of the year. Rattail Grenadier ended, and Squirtgun was born.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Giulia's Dance Recital

(Above, Giulia is the second from the right)

In mid-May, I made a five-day jaunt to Italy, in order to clear some items from my father's former apartment in Voghera, and to visit family there. During my short visit, I had the opportunity to see my 12-yr-old second cousin, Giulia Cigagna, perform in a dance recital by the Centro Studi Danza di Voghera.

(Below, Giulia is on the right)
The recital was part of the 622nd annual "Fiera dell'Ascenscione," which serves as the city of Voghera's annual festival, and was held at the city's historic Caserma di Cavalleria (the courtyard of the former barracks of the cavalry). Giulia and her classmates performed brilliantly, and impressed me with the skills that they have developed in their years of dance training.
Although the task of preparing my father's apartment for sale was one that filled me with melancholy, Giulia's recital served as one of the highpoints that helped to make the trip enjoyable.