Monday, January 23, 2012

Pheaturing Ian Narcisi

The Giants are going to the Super Bowl! The Giants are going to the Super Bowl! Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Phile, kids. How are you? I am tired, but happy as the New York Giants are gonan go to the Super Bowl. What else is going on?  During a campaign event Mitt Romney reached into his pocket and gave cash to a woman who said she was broke. Which got awkward, when she was like, “I'm also lonely!”  I saw that a bakery in Georgia is selling “Tebowing” pretzels, inspired by Tim Tebow’s popular pose. You can tell they’re Tebow pretzels, because if you eat one in New England, you end up choking.  President Obama is visiting Disney World on last Thursday to promote a new plan to boost tourism. It was awkward when he walked into the Hall of Presidents and saw them making room for Mitt Romney. Obama doesn’t pay admission to Disney World. He just charges it to the China section of Epcot.  During a charity auction, Donald Trump bought $12,000 worth of Tim Tebow memorabilia. Or as it was known on Monday, “15 bucks worth of Tim Tebow memorabilia.”  President Obama took Michelle out to a steak restaurant for her birthday, marking the first time in months the words “Obama” and “well done” appeared in the same sentence.  Two weeks ago, or as we say in England, a fortnight ago, a British Airways crew mistakenly told passengers that their plane was about to crash into the ocean. They made an even scarier announcement later: “Your in-flight movie will be Yogi Bear.” Yeah, the crew told passengers their plane was about to crash, but it turns out a flight attendant hit the wrong button. I don’t know what’s worse... getting lied to about crashing into the ocean, or knowing it happens so often there’s a button for it.  Texas Governor Rick Perry officially dropped out of the race for president. Yeah, he just couldn’t get over that one campaign hurdle... you know, talking.  President Obama aired his first campaign ad of 2012, which promotes his record on clean energy. Obama’s a big environmentalist. In fact, for the election he plans to recycle the same promises he made four years ago. Next week Obama will visit Iowa, Arizona, Las Vegas, Denver, and Detroit. Not because he’s campaigning, just because all he could afford was a Southwest flight with a bunch of layovers.  A new study found that 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. While the rest are both.  Okay, not only did the President release his first ad for the 2012, he also released an inspirational poster. And I have it here first.
Watching the football game last night, a few things I noticed that is different from American football to say Brtish football. For example, you'll never see a move like this with the Giants. 

So, it looks like they fixed the Costa Concordia cruise ship. At least it looks that way to me. 

I think Michael Bay should just blow it up for his next movie. Okay, and now for some sad news... or is it?

Joe Paterno
Dec 21, 1926 - Jan 22, 2012
Nothing will overshadow the fact that he was the winningest coach in major college football history. Wait. What? Seriously?

Okay, with this whole SOPA thing I thought I would invite someone to the Phile to get her opionion, as no internet could effect everybody. S, please welcome to the Phile for the very first time, the young moody lady with the almost positive attitude...

Me: Hello, Eve, welcome to the Phile. So, what do you think of this SOPA deal?

Eve Rest: If SOPA passes, no more free porn.

Me: True, true. Anything else you wanna say? I was kinda expecting more.

Eve Rest: I put 70 cents in the toll before I noticed it read my EZ pass.

Me: Thanks... I guess. Eve Rest, everybody.

And now from the home office in Phulfortha City, New York, here is this week's...

Top Ten Things You Don't Want To Hear At An Awards Show
10. "I'd like to thank the Academy and... I'd like to tell you about a few Amway products."
9. "And now a few words from Al Gore about global warming."
8. "Okay, I'm back from the rest room. You can leave now."
7. "Each acceptance speech will be limited to one hour."
6. "Here's a montage of stars we hope to lose in 2012."
5. "Coming up: Justin Bieber does a Bruce Springsteen medley!"
4. "And here to present the top three nominees, Rick Perry."
3. "David Hasselhoff's on the red carpet. No, I mean ON the red carpet."
2. "That guy you just insulted in the lobby? Ricky Gervais."
And the number one thing you don't want to hear at an awards show is...
1. "Oprah. Uma. Uma. Oprah."

The 10th artist to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. is Thomas "Teeg" Ketchen and this is one of his pieces...

Thomas will be a guest on the Phile this Wednesday.

Today's guest is a singer, songwriter, drummer and keyboardist from Chicago, Illinois. His latest EP "Phone Call To Infinity" is now available from his website and iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Ian Narcisi.

Me: Hello, Ian, welcome to the Phile. How are you, sir?

Ian: I’m doing well thank you.

Me: You're from Chicago, right? Have you lived there all your life?

Ian: Yes, I am from Chicago. Yes, I have lived in Chicago all my life and I love it here!

Me: Chicago is a great city. The last time I was there was in 1996. Growing up in Chicago you have to be a fan of the blues, am I right?

Ian: I am. I was more into the experimental side of the the blues. Artist’s such as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn were my favorites. Robert Cray and Eric Clapton are a close second. I’ll never forget the first (and sadly last) Stevie Ray Vaughn concert I saw in Alpine Valley, in East Troy Wisconsin on August 27, 1990. Actually it was a bunch of blues artist’s (SRV and his brother, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Sugar Blue on harmonica) and the show was fantastic. I personally thought Stevie stole the show! I’ll never forget him doing the 'Hendrix thing' during "Voodoo Chile" where he laid his guitar flat on the stage floor and was playing the springs on the back of his guitars’ body during one of his mind blowing solos! I knew right then and there that this guy was the real deal. I mean you can listen to any of his albums and know this, but, man: I just felt something go through me during that solo that was just beyond words. Perhaps he knew somewhere in his heart that this was the last time he would ever play guitar and was telling us in that solo. That night his helicopter went down in the fog.

Me: And I take it you're a Michael Jordan fan? Everybody from Chicago is a Michael Jordan fan.

Ian: I appreciate his passion for what he did and respect him immensely. He brought a new dimension to the game of basketball that I never have witnessed in my life. He certainly pushed the bar of the game to a whole new height!

Me: What music did you listen to growing up?

Ian: My parents always were listening to classical music (Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, Chopin, Mussorgsky, Liszt, Schubert, Brahms, etc) when I was growing up, but also had a flair for The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel as well. I started off with The Beatles “Abbey Road” and The Polices’ “Ghost In The Machine” eight-tracks on my now ancient Craig stereo. I worked my way into Elton John, The Who, REM, The Smiths, Peter Gabriel, Rush, etc cassettes and entered the digital age with Living Colour, Yes, Genesis, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Led Zeppelin, The Samples, ELO, Crowded House, Janes Addiction and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Me: Alright, lets talk about your music. You started out playing keyboards but switched over to drums, right? 

Ian: Yes. 

Me: Why did you switch? 

Ian: Piano at 10 years of age just didn’t spark anything in me. I think “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” just wasn’t rocking enough. Drums didn’t come along until I was 14. My brother sparked it off when he brought me over to his friend Steve’s house to watch Steve play. From that day I never looked back. Neil Peart (drummer of Rush) sprinkled the extra creative ingredient that I invited into my playing. It was and continues to be so damn exciting to feeling what you play while you are playing! It’s like being hypnotized while your limbs are working on a separate realm – steaming ahead with intense focus.

Me: What do you prefer to play now?

Ian: I really am on the fence with this one. I love the emotions evoked when playing keyboards and love the shear drive and physical prowess of drumming.

Me: You're smart... drummers don't get the chicks, Ian. When did you start to write songs?

Ian: Chicks… no, however, drums are what got me the chick! I married her years later. I started writing songs in the late 90’s. I was in a band called Population 3 that played around Chicago. During rehearsals (at the end when everyone was packing up) I would experiment on the keyboardist’s piano. I still remember the exact time “Forever Today” (from my first EP “Off Purpose” [2006]) came to life. I just knew it would become a song. Soon after that moment; I took it upon myself to purchase a spinet piano from my boss’s mother. I used to play every day after work. I started playing and singing religiously from that point in time on.

Me: You took a break from music to study meteorology, which is crazy. Did you wanna be a weather man?

Ian: Yes and still do sometimes. I went to Oklahoma University for about 15 minutes to major in meteorology. Mononucleosis won that battle.

Me: Do you still study the weather stuff?

Ian: Daily I watch Tom Skilling on WGNTV here in Chicago and look at the latest grid models to see how things are and will be changing. I watch the skies endlessly and at work enjoy informing my fellow employees of impending doom when a snow storm, or severe thunderstorm is approaching. Yeah, pretty much a weather geek. I am the first to admit it. After my Oklahoma adventure I went to Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, IL and interned with chief meteorologist Tom Skilling for a year and a half as well as Tim McGill and Jim Ramsey: all top notch meteorologists here in Chicago. It was amazing and I gained a whole new respect for what those guys do on a daily basis!

Me: I met someone years ago who was a storm chaser. That's the most dumbest job ever, next to a snake wrangler, or anything to do with animals. You didn't do that storm chasing stuff, did you?

Ian: Yes, several times. Even before I knew how to drive I would race on my bike to the nearest park to audio record (and later video record) every storm that went through town! Later (in the mid 90’s) I chased with Paul Sirvatka’s (amazing meteorologist and all around nice guy) chase class in the bread basket. That year we saw nothing but blue sky and tumbleweeds. We ended up in Boulder, CO to visit The National Center for Atmospheric Research which was quite cool. My first albeit, 30 second tornado was on a chase I did with a couple of guys from The College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL. We chased in central Illinois. The tornado literally touched down and went back up that fast! When you know, for the majority of the time, how these supercelled storms work you know how to play it safe for the most part. You know where the tornado is most likely to form and with the aid of having access to the internet from basically anywhere; it makes chasing that much safer.

Me: And you studied opera? Did you have an opera teacher?

Ian: Yes. I was vocally trained by opera singer Janice Pantezellos from The Chicago Studio of Professional Singers in Chicago for about a year and a half. The emphasis of my studies with her were based in opera. I made it very clear that it was not what my passion was. I would bring my own songs in all the time and Janice would help me. I would sing operatic pieces (acapella for the most part) at various churches and schools around Chicago, but would always slip an Elton John, or old Billy Joel tune in every now-and-again. She is an amazing voice teacher/singer!

Me: Your music has been described as part Queen and part Pink Floyd. How would you describe it, Ian? 

Ian: I would describe my music as a mesh comprised of Rush, Yes, Queen, Pink Floyd, Muse, Porcupine Tree, Genesis and Radiohead. They all are major influences. From these influences (and many, many more) comes my interpretation and expression somewhere enmeshed within the mesh.

Me: I have all your releases as you know, Ian, and a cool t-shirt you sent that I am wearing now. Your latest release is the EP "Phone Call To Infinity". Where did that EP title come from?

Ian: I think it was a combination of my job at the time (Telecommunications engineer) and my wife and my amazing spiritual-laden trip to India. They sort of shook hands and said, “Hey, let’s make an EP!”

Me: I am trying to figure out what that is on the cover sleeve. It's an 8-track, right?

Ian: No. It’s a cell phone battery. That picture (“Phone Call To Infinity” cover) was just waiting there in an alley in Evanston, IL. My wife and I were walking down a part of an alley we usually never need to walk down. She saw that series of white painted squares on the asphalt with a phone battery almost exactly how it looks in the picture and said, “That’s it Ian! That’s it!” Quite the auspicious moment!

Me: Who plays on the release with you, Ian?

Ian: Erik Swanson plays bass. Dave Bowers plays guitar. Tim Sandusky is my sound engineer and co produced all the songs and is a very talented singer/songwriter himself!

Me: This EP has three songs, and I am guessing there's a lot more where this came from. Are you currently working on a full album?

Ian: You are spot on. I am beginning work on what is beginning to look now like a massive undertaking. I am beginning work on a 20 (perhaps more, perhaps a little less) song concept double CD. I have most of the music written on keys and some on drums, but need to: A) complete the majority of the music (most songs are partial in nature), B) write lyrics and sing for the rest. There will be several instrumentals filling the gaps. The theme will definitely be spiritually based (non-religious) and should be completed sometime early next year. I will throw a song out here and there on my website during 2012 as I’m moving through the motions of this monster just to show that I still have a pulse. I am very excited about this one!

Me: How do you compare this last release to "Off Purpose", your first release? I am guessing you have learnt a lot in the studio.

Ian: I certainly have! Tim really takes the prize for this one. Tim is constantly pushing me to change my sound (see the latest video on my website for the perfect example) and incorporates new sounds and new methods of composing to my songs to give the listener a fresh experience on every release. I love that! If it were up to me things would evolve at a much slower pace. I’m happy to have him and his alchemistic approach to my music. I really had to find the right guys for “the sound”, or, rather: the sound had to find the right guys for it. Time seamed that gap quite nicely. I played in a band way back in the early 00’s with Erik and knew he would be the perfect fit on bass. He is an amazing player and very creative and innovative. I experimented with several amazing guitarists before Tim’s instincts reeled in Dave for guitar. Dave is insanely quick and uses his speed and creative might in a way that seems invisible as it is woven into the music by Tim. I respect Tim’s amazing instincts, musical intelligence and sheer technical know-how to the utmost! He is the creative blacksmith behind all my songs. I can throw him some seriously crazy chord changes and rhythmically off-the-wall patterns and he will funnel it all into the crown of his head and cough up some seriously beautiful music! Financially speaking, the past has taught me a great deal as well when it comes to recording professionally. Over the years I have learned how to perfect my rough mixes prior to going into Studio Ballistico with Tim and the guys to save me money. You really have to be wise when money is added into the mix.

Me: Wait, since the EP you have released a single called "Come Of Age (New Sun)". Is this a song from your new upcoming release? 

Ian: For the future concept double CD? It might be. I’m not sure just yet. It certainly would fit into the spiritual theme! Only time will tell.

Me: Ian, when your next release comes out, please come back onto the Phile. I wish you luck and take care, continued success. Go ahead and plug all your websites and stuff, Ian.

Ian: Thank you Jason! I wish you all the best with your wonderful, beautifully-articulated blog! I will certainly come back when the beast is complete! Progressive rock from a Chicago indie musician who wants to help the world awaken

Ian Narcisi
Progressive Rock indie musician
Singer/songwriter, drummer, keyboardist:,,,,,,,,

Me: Take care, sir, and please come back.

Ian: I most certainly will, Jason. Thank you for your time and for helping us “independents” get our music out there! It certainly is appreciated!

Well, that about does it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Eve Rest and of course Ian Narcisi. The Phile will be back on Wednesday with artist Thomas "Teeg" Ketchen. Then on Sunday it's singer, songwriter Kyle Carey. Monday it's Charity Chapman and next Wednesday it's Brian Sumner from the duo The Sumner Brothers. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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