I’m astounded at what a comfort zone drama can be. Personally, I try to minimize conditions which allow for its growth.
Politics, avoid politics. Some folks crave ongoing bad news and having vitriol for public figures. Yes, it is deserved, but there are more interesting subjects that get my panties tied into a knot. I have no presence of mind for stupid words coming from mouths of politicos who never deserved my energy or attention.
Media is also prone to drama. From both left and right, there is constant complaining about how bad things are. I choose not ingest their “news” or commentary.
Ongoing bitching seems to abound in profusion. “So and so did this”, or, “What’s His Name is such a creep,” over and over again. For God’s sake, get away from those people; stop thinking about them.
What are the motives behind this behavior?
Why have that sort of association?
I haven’t resources for ongoing bad attitudes. My clock is ticking fast; ongoing theater is not a luxury.
A question: is First World whining a fear of unfamiliar territory and not having a willingness to escape it?
John Passerelli Has Been Local Force In The Seattle Area For Decades
Mackncheeze: My first question-who are you?
John: I have some cute answers. I consider myself to be, how do I put this, a positively charged rhythmic and melodic confluence of heart and mind. That’s my musical self, which is most of it. It’s what I have been doing my whole life. There isn’t much else except motorcycles and dogs and women and alcohol.
I’m very simple, I don’t need a lot to get by.
The last couple of years I’ve been living a bachelors life. Myself and two other room mates, musicians; they’re both bass players.
Mackncheeze: Wow, two bass players in one house.
John: I know, as long as I get the girls.
Mackncheeze: I’m glad that’s working for you. What kind of dreams or aspirations are you focused on?
John: When I was young I had very big dreams. Especially with music. When you’re good at it, and you’re in a decent band, people take notice. You would like to think you could take it to the next level. I know a lot of people who aspired to that and never achieved it and a lot of them just don’t play any longer. I could never do that.
My aspiration is not necessarily success oriented but to keep enjoying music. It pacifies me when I’m angry or down. Music, you know, is more than something to just listen to. I stick with music and I just want to keep doing it as long as I can and to keep playing with people I like; having fun, not taking it too seriously.
I’m primarily a stage performer. I’ve got a couple of albums under my belt with other bands, but my home is on stage. I feel a little less comfortable with studio work. The problem with studios is the pressure of time constraints.
As long as I can connect with people at a venue, if somebody appreciates what I’m doing, when I play I can see it in their faces. After a show, when they come to talk to me, that is some of the best payment I can get. I’m done with trying to get money from it even though I earn more now than I ever have. It keeps me from working too hard at a day job.
Its a good plan; I have always wanted to be part time employed and part time music. Life isn’t worth working yourself to the bone unless it makes you happy.
Mackncheeze: You were at the top of the Seattle Grunge scene?
John: Yeah, we were called Paisley Sin. We weren’t Grunge enough. We were a little more pop oriented, we could play different styles in one show. There were a lot of bands that made it, per se, that were more one dimensional.
We had our moment. We went down to L.A. a couple of times and met some lawyers at Capitol Records. It didn’t work out; they signed Blind Melon instead. Look it where that got ’em. Their lead singer, Shannon Hoon, overdosed on a tour bus. Everyone from Paisley Sin is still alive.
Mackncheeze: There’s a lot to be said for that.
John: Paisley Sin’s lead singer Gerry Smith and I have worked together for thirty years. I’m working with him in Sweet Emotion.
Mackncheeze: Our friend, Eric Ritts, just did NAMM as an exhibitor for Marco Bass Guitars. You’ve been to NAMM?
John: Eric’s great, I went to high school with Eric.
Yeah, it was a work thing, it was still a lot of fun. I was with THD Electronics. Andy Marshall, he’s a friend of mine, I’ve known him 30 years; I was one of his first clients.
NAMM was a lot of work. We brought our own isolation booth; they won’t let you play very loud without one. If people wanted to test one of our amps, we had a room for them. It was pretty cool; it had its own air conditioner and everything.
We shared a booth with O’Donnell Custom Guitars from Australia. Craig is a great guy. He didn’t give me a guitar, though.
Mackncheeze: You digging that Marco Telecaster?
John: I love that thing, man. There’s something I want to say about Marco Guitars. The reason I like that Telecaster so much is because there is a connection between the player and the instrument; there has to be. If it’s natural right off the bat you are ahead of the game. You’re going to be inspired by not fighting it. When I picked up that guitar, it fit me, I knew I was going to enjoy it for a long time. That’s the greatest thing. Those axes are something special and they should make more.
John: Sweet Emotion. We’re an Aerosmith Tribute Band. We had all kinds of shows booked from March on out.
A side project I have going on is called ZZ/DC. Its pretty self explanatory. We’re not doing stylistic interpretations like Hayseed Dixie; a little bit of ZZ Top and a little bit of AC/DC.
There was Guilty Pleasure; we worked hard on that band. We had two female singers and a different collection of songs; a lot of stuff I had never heard. I learned all this stuff I had never played before and it was fun.
Mackncheeze: What have been some of your biggest struggles?
John: Wow, yeah, interpersonal band member things. A band is like a relationship with four other girl friends, or what ever. I have learned not to carry grudges. Its too easy and humans are really good at it. People leave the band to start their own thing and its like, “Wait a minute, we had a good thing.” I can’t hold it against them.
Mackncheeze: Not holding a grudge is super important.
John: It takes a while to learn. Some people never learn it.
Mackncheeze: What is it that you personally want people to know?
John: That’s a rough one, man, because I really do this for myself. I just want people to know that I will do it if they will appreciate it. That’s my reason for doing it, someone getting off on it.
You got to take the negative criticism as well.
Mackncheeze: Whats your musical education?
John: I started playing trumpet in third grade. I played trumpet for eight years ending up on the Garfield High School Jazz Ensemble. We took first place in Reno two years in a row. There was a transition, there at the end, where I started playing guitar, and I let go of trumpet.
Mackncheeze: By the time you reached high school you probably had put in your first ten thousand hours?
John: Yeah. When I was 8, 9, 10 ,11, 12 and 13, I was playing in concert bands and symphony. Jazz band made it clear it would be a lot more fun. The band director told me I was one of the best sight readers he had ever seen.
When I picked up guitar, all my reading skills were put aside. I became completely ear trained.
I was sucked in by Rock n Roll: Robin Trower, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, Rush; anything with good guitar work. I started out playing covers before moving to originals.
At first I absorbed a lot of really good styles and all that has coalesced in to a style of my own.
After High School, I briefly went to college. Pre Engineering, at Western and the University of Washington. I just wasn’t that into it. That didn’t work out, so I took some time off, and then I went to Shoreline and studied music for two years. It was fun, but I was already ahead of most people. I was a working professionally, having recorded in big time studios, had done some studio engineering. I was like the Golden boy. I knew my shit. But what I really came away with was two years of theory. I already knew what it was, I used it all the time, I could recognize all these things I was already doing.
I’m always looking to break the rules. These days I don’t take theory too seriously. I’m not very modal. I’m a Blues Guy. If it sounds good I’ll make it work.
Mackncheeze: You sing very well; did you have vocal training?
John: Nope. In fact, I played guitar for fifteen years before I started singing. It started coming easier, because I was working on original music. I didn’t have to be some one else. I’ve been working with Gerry and we are connected well. I know his nuances.
I think there is much more magic in original music, whether or not a person is a very good song writer, its something to believe in and to be more attached. The magic is when you can get four people to make a song happen on the fly. It’s inspirational. That one idea makes me do something , then the bass player joins in, then drums, pretty soon you have written a pretty cool song with out even trying. That is the magic.
Sometimes the process is not collaborative. Sometimes someone brings in a great idea and wants to try it and we do it.
The other part of magic is the spontaneous combustion. Everybody should want to do both; bring in an idea to bounce it off one another or to go off in the moment. That’s the fun; that’s when you’ve found the right people. It’s whether or not they are your friends.
I’ve gone back to just playing with my friends.
We are going to release our music, we’re just going to give it away, it doesn’t matter, we’ll put it out there and hopefully somebody likes it, ’cause that’s what its about. You’re playing music to connect; there are far too many people that play great music and nobody hears it.
Mackncheeze: Do you consider yourself a prolific song writer?
John: I haven’t written a lot of lyrics in my life, but yes, as for music, I have unused ideas from years back. There is stuff floating around that I want to do something with. Then there’s the fact that I can just noodle something into existence.
Used to be I would get my best ideas from just watching TV. You’re just so disconnected.
Mackncheeze: You’re subconscious just zeros in….
John: You’re not contrived, hardly paying attention to what you’re doing. But then you have to go, oh, wait a minute, that was cool. Then you repeat it and hold on to it and keep it. I have lost so many of those things in my life by not remembering them, not recording them.
There are some that are still there, that are awesome, and all I can say is, one of these days.
Mackncheeze: What’s another part of the song writing process?
John: I trust my ear and the theory I learned in college. Things I listen to, things that influence me. Sometimes things that are new enter me. I would never change my style but new ideas infiltrate my writing process. It’s an intuitiveness that I have.
I really just go with the flow. Some days I write, some days not; some days I feel inspired, some days not. Though I never quit. Some of my best recorded work has been in inspirational, improvised solos.
Mackncheeze: What are some of the most influential shows you have ever seen?
John: Getting back to that Blues thing, in my youth, I was really in to Southern Rock. Back in the old days I saw ZZ Top, The Outlaws, Molly Hatchet, 38 Special, The Allman Brothers; I cut my teeth on that. It was fun; there was a lot of guitar work . Sometimes there were three guitars, a lot of bands with two drummers.
Mackncheeze: What would you like to say?
I want to write a book someday. It’s going to be called, Why Am I Still Here?
Mackncheeze: John, this has been a great interview, man. This was really a lot of fun. Thank you.
It might seem odd that I would do a book review on a subject that we all are familiar with. I couldn’t resist. Shopping at the local bookstore, title screaming at me, I had to pick it up.
Turns out Harry G Frankfurt is a Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. His resume is filled with a Who’s Who list of schools including Rockefeller University and Yale. I had no idea this fellow was such a heavy weight. Imagine my surprise when I discovered On Bullshit had been a best seller and Professor Frankfurt had appeared on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. I thought it was just going to be a cheeky expose on a fairly common subject.
On first examination, there are 67 very small pages. Having no understanding of the author, my first impression was that this was light weight material. I flipped through some pages just to get a feel for it’s subject matter and found my self chuckling, then laughing uproariously.
Quotations from St. Augustine, Max Black and Ludwig Wittenstein are interesting. Evidently, B.S. has been a foundation of culture through the ages.
That, my friends, is known as an “Aha” moment.
On page 57, a great observation is made: “The bullshitter is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false………..( continuing )………..He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.” That perfectly describes some relatives as well as musicians I’ve worked with. Well said Frank.
The last page is best, of which I will not reveal, but maybe we do all of us share complicity On Bullshit.
Back in the day, when gigs were booked by the week, we played a one month stint in small coastal town. Four live music venues, tons of bars, and some pretty good restaurants. The local industry survived on fishing. Quite a prosperous place.
In a town such as this, it was quite natural to develop close friendships with said citizens. I, and others in the band, would be invited to people’s homes, met families, shared meals; amazing hospitality.
One February night, gale force winds were pummeling the coast line; because of weather, the club was deserted. Halfway through our third set, one of the locals came in and announced that 13 men had perished that evening. Three boats had gone down.
Locals took news like this badly; a sense of sorrow and loss pervaded for weeks. I would have never been impacted as greatly on news such as this should the event have occurred in my home town.
That night has stuck with me my whole life. Life is precious, family is precious, friends are precious. I try not to forget and not take life for granted.
Get out of bed, wander down to the coffee maker, get some Joe brewing, wander over to the lap top, fire it up, oops, my feet are cold, wander back up stairs, put on some socks. I got to pee, wander in to the bathroom, pick up the tooth brush, oh, coffee is ready, never mind, wander down stairs. Oh, that load of clothes needs to be dried, throw those in the dryer, wander back to the lap top, sit down, pull up my daily habit check list, itemized in degrees of importance, oh, some one’s texting me, return the text, back to the check list, coffee cup drained, wander over to the coffee maker, sit back down …How in the heck do I get anything done? Check my daily habit list.
My friend Pete wrote a poem ( thanks for the contribution, Pete )
Roses are Red ,
Violets are Blue,
Let’s ride bicycles!
Can I mow your lawn?
No, I’m not ADHD; some times I just can’t focus. Wait a minute, I got to check Facebook, maybe some one’s gonna mention me.
Its intersting, despite the slow warm up to the day, oh wait, just got a text, it says, Hey, what do you think about compressing the crap out of that guitar solo? Thats a good idea, maybe it will hang in the mix better.
Got to let the cat in, Master of the realm. Anyway…Yeah, I got the set list…What was I talking about? Oh yeah, focus, yeah, focus. Thats the ticket.
The surest way to focus is to turn off my I Phone and I Pad, oh, the blasted message app went off on the Mac Book, who is that?
Never mind, I’m turning off today’s Blog.
After a while, Crocodile!
If there’s anything we can do to help you, please contact us.
Social media….. Everyone of us who participates willingly hands over every bit of information that our sign up requests. George Orwell thought it was going to be the state. Actually, our government does not have to concern itself about our daily activities.
Trade Desk, NASDAQ TTD, tracks all of us. I walk in to Walmart, consult my cell phone for the best pricing, Trade Desk grabs the info, sells the query to advertisers, the advertisers then send adds on our cell phones to direct us to the best deals. All this happens in micro seconds.
The Weather Channel, an IBM company, tracks every movement we allow them. And lets not get started about Amazon, Google and Facebook. And make sure you stay away from Libra. Do you want Facebook accessing your bank account?
But heres the deal – these companies have eliminated the gate keepers. Now, regular schleps like you and me have access to interacting with an audience, bypassing the gate keepers, who previously kept us proletariat types from interacting with vast customer bases. Those customer bases were the domaine of the elite.
This is liberating. We can walk through this door and grab every handful of what ever we can grab to enhance ourselves and those we love. The democratization of media, with some clauses.
I’m taking advantage of every opportunity the new economy provides me.