Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fab Faux's Rich Pagano and his new CD

Rich Pagano is a musician's musician and one of the busiest in the business. Not only is he the co-founder and drummer of "Fab Faux", he is a much in demand session drummer, owner of New Calcutta recording Studio in Midtown NYC, devoted husband and father, and he has just released a new solo cd "Rich Pagano and The SugarCane Cups" to rave reviews!
“Among the best albums that you’ll hear in 2009”
- Rev. Keith A. Gordon, Blurt Magazine

"Laced in pop, straight arrangements and Pagano’s hearty vocals,
it is bolstered by some fine writing...which goes to prove that yes
indeed, great drummers can also produce rock solid solo albums"
- Kevin O'Hare,

“An original and creatively exciting work”
“Timeless, well-constructed rock”
- Kay Cordtz, Elmore Magazine

In betweeen his busy schedule, I had the pleasure to speak with Rich about his new cd and his upcoming gigs...

MICK: Your new cd "Rich Pagano and the SugarCane Cups" sounds fantastic. How long did it take you to record?
RICH: I closed my studio down for a year to finish, arranging and recording. It's my place so I'm able to get in whenever I want and makes it a bit easy to work long hours.
MICK: The SugarCane Cups are quite an ensemble of musicians. When you play out, who is in the band?
RICH: The ensemble comes mainly from people who passed through my studio if not everybody! I would just ask people and friends who were renting my place or people I was producing. If I felt they could lend something to a particular track, I'd ask them to stay and sing on a track or play on it. It always worked out, some got paid a little bit, some people I bartered by doing some drum tracks for them. It's a cool little studio. Of course I had to turn it back into a commercial venture when I was done but it was nice to lock it out for myself and get my thing done. For live shows, I'm going to have John Conte (Rosanne Cash) on bass, Andy York (John Mellencamp) on guitar, Rob Bailey (Gavin DeGraw) on guitar, Kevin Bents(Donald Fagen) on keyboards/acoustic guitar and myself on drums. Steve Conte (New York Dolls) may be doing a few shows with me this summer. Guitar is bit of a revolving chair for those who are not on tour.
MICK: I can definitely hear Beatles influences in your songs.
RICH: The cd is selling well. At Fab Faux gigs it's flying off the display! I also try to go out before the show and sign it for the fans who purchase it. It is a limited edition in cd form as most sales have been from I-Tunes. When they ask me what it sounds like I tell them the approach was solo Lennon, solo Townsend and Levon Helm sensibilities.
MICK: Did anyone else influence you on your songs?
RICH: When I started the sessions, I was going through a Led Zeppelin stage "Houses Of The Holy" period so I'd say "Nine Lives has a John Bonham/ Jimmy Page production value, sonically. As the recording process went along, I got the gig as Levon Helm's second drummer. I've always been a huge fan of Levon Helm's, a bit of a template for me being a great singing drummer. I did some work with him at his Ramble [Levon's live show's at his Woodstock NY barn] and some other festival shows. He would go up and play mandolin/sing and I would jump on drums. His influence is more predominant on some of my later sessions like, "Grand Central Station" and maybe, " Rear View St. Jude".. I'm also a big Nigel Olsson fan, and of course Ringo and that certainly shows up.. I was also listening to a lot of Lou Reed at that point as far as lyrics/minimalism through words. Solo Lennon was great for that too.
MICK: Is this your first solo cd?
RICH:Yes! I've been a co-writer with people for years. I built my studio almost ten years ago to record my own music but it somehow became a commercial venture. I started producing and writing with other artists and then my wife and I had a kid, the Fab Faux took off, I went on the road with Rosanne Cash and other artists for a while and never got back to my own stuff. Now that our son is in school full time, I promised myself that i would get this out there. At first, the way the music business is, I thought that it would be very tough to get rock and roll heard and then sell it. I had a lot of fans within the Fab Faux that kept asking me if I will put something out since I sing a lot of leads in that band. So I thought I'd do something that would cater to the Fab Faux fans, not particularly Beatle-ish, but along the classic rock lines. It eventually evolved into this and The Fab Faux fans are really digging it plus, there's a nice new audience out there too!
With my new cd, I've been doing an acoustic tour for the last four months on and off. Now we are doing an official electric show with the full band at The City Winery in New York City on April 30th at 7:30.
MICK: What's the future plans for more appearances with the SugarCane Cups?
RICH: We will be doing some East Coast dates to be announced; We are definitely doing Maplewoodstock which is a great music festival in Maplewood New Jersey on July 10th.
MICK: The Fab Faux have been together since 1998! That's a long time now! How did this all come about?
RICH:Will [Lee] and I were on tour in Germany and France with the late Hiram Bullock and Will noticed that during sound check, whenever I would test the drums there was sort of a Ringo/ Nigel Olsson swing coming out of me, so he would ask me questions about the Beatles. We talked backstage and we both geeked out on our collection of bootlegs and what we knew. He said "I'd love to start the greatest Beatles band ever!." He said that he always wanted to do that and felt comfortable with me. I thought that was great but I was making my living, and sort of still do, as a session drummer who is called on for Ringo/Keltner type sessions. I thought it would be a parody of myself if I joined a Beatles band. He was really persistent and would call me every month saying, "I got this guy interested, that guy...." After a while I said lets do it! Then he got Jimmy [Vivino] involved. I knew of him but did not know him. I was working with Joan Osborne at the time and so I got Jack [Petruzzelli] on board. I was also doing some acoustic duo gigs with Frank [Agnello] in Staten Island. Frank has tons of knowledge on some of the deeper chords and Will liked him and his soul. We got together and found that we sang so well together. We started with just the five of us. Then we added a cellist and one trumpeter. Now we have a full horn section and string section.
MICK: Has Paul McCartney or Ringo ever heard the Fab Faux play?
RICH: No but they've heard of the Fab Faux. Will had a conversation with Paul about the intricacies of "Tomorrow Never Knows". Will also offered Ringo a Fab Faux pin at one point when he was on the show {Letterman].
MICK: The benefit on April 10th for the West Babylon High is coming up. Are there still tickets available?
RICH: It is selling real well. There are still some tickets left. It's a small theater so every seat is good.
MICK: You are originally from West Babylon. I didn't know that.
RICH: I was born in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. We moved out to Long Island when I was three.
MICK: What was it like for you growing up on Long Island?
RICH: It was great for me because I had a real supportive family. We had a basement full of instruments. Friends would come over to the house and my parents were very cool and welcoming. West Babylon High School had an incredible music wing with rooms put aside for orchestra, piano classes, guitar classes and choir. Back then we were told it was a nationally award winning school for high school music - it had great teachers too. We also had a 'Teen Club' in the town church basement when I was in junior high school. Battle of the bands was an important event! My friends and I didn't get caught up in hanging out and drinking. We learned how to play instruments and traded records. In my case, I learned to play an instrument and also started drawing. I actually went to art school (School of Visual Arts in New York). It was a toss up between music school and art school. When my high school gave me a partial scholarship to art school, I decided to give that a shot. I was an illustrator for about five years while I was playing blues gigs in NYC. Eventually I went back to music full time.
MICK: So I guess art would be your other hobby besides music!
RICH: Now it is because I have a nine year old kid and all we do is draw mythological creatures and go to MOMA!
MICK: Who is someone that you would love to meet?
RICH: I don't know if that would be a musician. I'd like to sit and watch Jimmy Page produce guitar tracks. The way he set up guitar tracks made it seem like he was a painter with each guitar being a different color. That's how I'm feeling this week. Next week it could be someone totally different.
MICK: Which of today's artists do you like?
RICH: I like Joss Stone a lot. She has soul sensibilities. Alicia keys is great too! Better live than on record, IMO

The Fab Faux with The Hogshead Horns and The Creme Tangerine Strings will be performing a benefit concert for West Babylon's South Bay Elementary School on Long Island. Last month, the school was destroyed in a chemical fire and has to be rebuilt from the ground up. As of right now, the children have been relocated to the town church for studies until further notice. West Babylon is the hometown of Fab Faux drummer/singer Rich Pagano. For details, see the link:

You can catch Rich Pagano + The SugarCane Cups Electric Band record release performance with Natalie Mishell & special guests at The City Winery on April 30th.

More dates and special appearances will be announced soon.
See the first video from the CD rich pagano + the sugarCane cups ("Change Your Mind")

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Rich Pagano

Change Your Mind video

rich pagano and the sugarCane cups debut CD
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