Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Interview with Joe Pascarell, of The Machine!

THE MACHINE, America’s top Pink Floyd show, has forged a 20 year reputation of excellence, extending the legacy of Pink Floyd, while creating another legacy all their own. Over the years, The Machine has touched the hearts and souls of many, selling out theaters, large clubs and casinos across North and Central America, Europe and Asia. They have also appeared at renowned music festivals such as Bonnaroo, Riverbend, Gathering of the Vibes, Buffalo's Artpark, and Germany’s Rock of Ages.

The New York based band focuses on making every show an authentic Floydian experience for their fans. Known for performing a diverse mix of The Floyd’s extensive 16-album repertoire (complete with faithful renditions of popular hits as well as obscure gems), The Machine’s stellar musicianship, dramatic lighting and video, and their passionate delivery sets them above and beyond the rest.

In the classic tradition, The Machine explores collective improvisation paralleling and even rivaling that of an early 1970’s Pink Floyd mentality. Their use of expanded theatrical elements and elaborate stage displays continues in the spirit of the later Floyd lineups of the 1980’s. The band is also known for recreating entire albums as a part of their show, accepting requests from fans, and for taking an A to Z approach in which one song is played for every letter of the alphabet. Additionally, the quartet has been sharing the stage with full symphony orchestras, including the Atlanta, Detroit, Pittsburgh and San Diego Symphonies.”

Above was taken from the Machine’s website; http://www.themachinelive.com/about/

When the Way Live Should Be (WLSB) sent an email to The Machine’s management asking to do an interview, we didn’t expect much of a response. So imagine our surprise when two hours later Heather received a phone call from Mr. Kilpatrick asking if the next day at 2:00 would work for a phone interview with Joe Pascarell (JP), guitarist, vocalist, and one of the two original-from-the-beginning members of The Machine. We were blown away and incredibly thankful. The following is the result of that interview and we hope you all will be as impressed as we were with Mr. Pascarell’s deep insightfulness. I know that I, at least, took away some life advice from this experience.

WLSB: Its obvious Pink Floyd had a huge impact on your life, so, how did Pink Floyd happen to you?

JP: Well first, of all the 100’s of times I have been interviewed I have never been asked that question and its probably the best. When I was about 12/13 I was a Beatles fan, I thought they were basically all the music that existed. But I have this amazingly cool, older brother Mike who nurtured me musically. He brought home Dark Side of the Moon when it first came out in 1974… you just cannot imagine what that sounded like in 1974. Nowadays we all know that album by heart, but go back and listen what was going on musically at that time and there was just nothing like it. It blew me away… had a real impact on me. When I was 13, my brother took me to see Pink Floyd in New Jersey and after that I just devoured every album I could get my hands on. I was very fortunate to have that exposure.
I first started playing guitar when I was ten and my parents didn’t have money for guitar lessons so I would just wear chairs out, sitting in front of the stereo, moving the needle back over and over when I listened to music, until I figured out how it was played or what they were doing to make those sounds. The feelings that came from the music… I wanted to be that person, to make people feel the way I did. And if you are good at what you do, then its good for everyone involved.

WSLB: How did the group come together? How did you come to be a PF cover band?

JP: Well Todd (the drummer) and I started the band. It was never a conscious decision to play all Pink Floyd. We were both disillusioned with the shitty bands we had been playing with so we decided to just play all music we liked. Now in 1988 no one was playing Pink Floyd and we started playing a lot of it. It got a great reception because you didn’t hear anybody doing it much. We didn’t have a singer, we auditioned for one, but everyone was terrible. So as it got closer and closer to that first gig we just trying to find that singer while I did the singing during rehearsals. So when that night came, Todd told me that I could do it and I did. It took 5 to 6 years before I finally started to feel comfortable singing.
I have learned in life that I try not to ever force things to happen. The things that I have just let happen, that just did happen, those are the most rewarding and if I had tried to steer it, it would never have been the same.

WSLB: How long have you been playing together?

JP: Todd and I have been in this for 22 years and the band has changed a few times since then. Ryan has been with us for 11 years and Scott for 4; some people get tired doing what we do… but I never do. Sometimes we have 2 other members as well and when we play with the symphony there are 106 of us.

WSLB: How long before you felt you could pull off an authentic PF experience?

JP: I’ll let you know when that happens! (Laughs) It’s a work in progress and it’s always evolving. If I could tell you when that had happened then I think it would be over.

WLSB: How do you prepare for a show? Do you listen to Pink Floyd?

JP: I haven’t listened to PF, except when we are learning a new part or it’s played on the radio, in ten years. But I could count all the bands I still listen to, that I listened to when I was younger, on one hand. You grow as a person and musically and your relationship with those bands changes. We don’t rehearse, well maybe once a year, because we are playing all the time. I’ve played over 2000 shows with The Machine, more than Pink Floyd did. It doesn’t feel like someone else’s music when I play it; its constantly changing, constantly becoming something new… it’s a very organic process. That’s probably why I don’t get tired of it.

WSLB: I have to ask, what is your favorite album?

JP: The Wall. I feel like most bands have an arc that they follow and are often lucky to have one album at the peak of that arc. PF had the albums from Dark Side of the Moon to the Final Cut that were all on their peak of their arc and I feel like The Wall was the peak of those. It was so intensely creative, alternative, and amazing. When we perform The Wall it sucks the entire life out of me, physically, emotionally… it’s very intense.

WSLB: How do you feel about PF’s relationship to the prog rock genre; specifically Dark Side vs Animals?

JP: Im really not comfortable with labels; it is all personal opinion. I personally have never really thought of them that way, Pink Floyd was really much more experimental. They were so different from everything else; always growing, evolutionary with an ethereal sound. Prog rock makes me think more of Yes or King Crimson.

WSLB: What are your thoughts about the song Fearless?

JP: Well I have performed it a number of times, and usually I really try to get inside the lyrics and have some kind of internal understanding of them. However, I have never really understood what that song is about… it was always sort of out of my grasp.

WSLB (Heather): I’m certain I am not nearly as familiar with PF as Joe Pascarell! Didn’t dare to venture an answer…

WSLB: So what can we expect for our show here in the good state of ME?

JP: Well for anyone who loves Pink Floyd… its like looking at a picture of the Rocky Mountains versus being there and having them physically in front of you. The music is always better when it’s being made right in front of you; actually experiencing it versus just listening to it. I would like to think it’s going to be the next best thing from actually hearing Pink Floyd do it. A sonic sound by a good band!

Thanks again to Mr. Pascarell! The Machine is playing Thursday, May 29th at 8:00 pm in the CCA… get your tickets now!!!

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