Philip Pietri, uncut



Here’s the initial version of my interview with Philip Pietri. He’s performing tonight with Brent and Darren Rademaker (of A New Personality, Tyde, Further and Beachwood Sparks) and Junkyard Kings at New World Brewery in Ybor city.


1. When did you start this performance project and are you releasing a CD this year? If not, what have you released so far?

My band playing this Friday (Philip Pietri & the Manatees) is a little project I started late last year for fun.  I play guitar and sing. Josh Price plays Bass. Preston Beebe plays drums. There were, like, three albums that I could not stop listening to at the time that kind of helped inspire the sound we had (and still have) going. They were Claudine Longet’s “Sugar Me”, Joe Jackson’s “Night and Day” and Lambchop’s “Nixon”. It’s an interesting mix of genre’s but I wanted to give the experimental and ambient thing a break and have some fun. We did our first recordings in a basement last Sunday that we’re going to have available on Friday. It’s only 6 songs but you gotta start somewhere, right?

I am working on an ambient album as well that will probably be released in a year or two, depending on how crazy life gets.

I’m also working on some hip hop material, which I’ll preview on Friday.

2. What instruments and devices do you play?
For my solo recordings I usually use anything that can make noise. In the past that has included styrofoam cups, pen caps, silverware, glass bottles, wind chimes, coins, glockenspiel, clarinet, saxaphone, guitar, drums and probably a million other things. This new band I’m fronting all I have to worry about is guitaring and singing.
 3. Do you have a background of singing or playing music before starting this? What is your musical experience?
I’ve played Tampa’s bar scene for 7 years in different bands ranging from rock to experimental…nothing anyone really cared about until my other band Pielos came out and started a mild stir…and even that is a love it or hate it thing. When I first started playing experimental music solo it was a matter of playing to a crowd who knew they were attending an experimental music show. Jack Spatafora gave Pielos a chance to bring that free improvised wall of noise to a broader audience by booking Pielos at some of the bigger venues. Some people have liked it, some haven’t and some have actually thrown up during a set (literally). Point being, as mentioned before, I wanted to create some more pleasing memories…like people actually enjoying and relating to what is being performed and that is why I started playing these new ‘conventional’ tunes.
4. Am I correct that you work as a physical fitness trainer at Lifestyles? It’s a job that doesn’t go with the stereotype of the experimental musician. In what ways do you feel like you defy musician/artist stereotypes, if at all?
I’m not sure where you heard that but yer close! I was a graphic designer and photographer for their corporate office for a few years until they LAID ME OFF A FEW WEEKS AGO…sorry. However, I most certainly defy the stereotypes. I am just like any other guy you’d see walking down the street. I don’t have an awesome beard and psychedelic drugs don’t inspire my creative works. I think the struggle of the modern everyman in itself has the emotional and psychological impact to fuel new and exciting forms of expression.
5. Are you originally from Tampa? If not, where did you grow up?
I was born and raised here. I love it and I plan on dying here.
6. What are some experiences that have inspired you while writing your lyrics and song titles? Your music sounds dream-like. Do you approach your words with the same aesthetic?
There is such a wide range of emotions that we experience every single day. Being a creative person I’ve been able to capture and isolate them as they have occurred throughout my life and express them by whatever means felt right, whether it be in a song, painting or a string of words.
7. I saw that you did some work with Aaronsarsutzki. Would you tell me about that and any other collaborations?
Aaron is an incredibly talented guy. I really enjoyed collaborating with him. I remember towards the end of our set the noise just kind of fizzled into silence but that did not stop the performance…it just kept going. The moment was suspended in silence that lasted a good 5 of minutes until we felt that there was a natural end to the piece. It was a big moment and the feeling was unforgettable.

My favorite collabs are with my close friends. Pielos is a big collaboration between friends of mine who played in 4 seperate bands (some of them I’ve known my whole life). It started as these improvised recording sessions where we would just completely lose ourselves locked away in a room. We have hours and hours of recorded material. We never really intended it to be something we did in public but it happened anyway.

8. Do your performances involve a multimedia presentation? Please tell us about what you use on stage, how much is preplanned and improvised.
Nah. Just sounds. What you see on stage is me making an idiot out of myself.
9. I guess you are aware that your last name means “rocks” in Italian. Pretty cool. Did you add that on or is that your birth name?
I’m well aware of that. It’s in the blood. Such a cool last name, right? It’s too bad people pronounce it Pee Tree.
10. Where in the world — anywhere — would you stage a performance and who would be on the bill with you?
The moon. With Prince.
I mean, seriously – how rad would that be?

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