|Photo © Antonia Tricarico|
Joe Lally is a man of few words, mainly letting his music do the talking for him. Whether laying down memorable bass riffs, such as the intro for “Waiting Room” by Fugazi or over the course of many side projects and three solo records (“There To Here”, “Nothing Is Underrated” and “Why Should I Get Used To It”), showing an ability to always push himself into new and exciting sonic environments, he has shown he is one of the most innovative punk musicians of the last 20 years.
Even though the shadow of Fugazi looms large, he has managed to carve himself a nice little niche with his solo records, which where started under the humblest of circumstances.
“When Fugazi went on break I found that I wasn't ready to stop playing live music. I had to find a way to keep going,” said Lally.
This led him to three solo records, even solo records would be a misnomer, because the first two, 2006’s “There To Here” and 2007’s “Nothing Is Underrated” are basically collaborations with such underground rock luminaries as Ian MacKaye, Eddie Janney and Scott “Wino” Weinrich. Even on his new record, “Why Should I Get Used To It”, which was recorded in Rome, where Lally makes his home with his wife and daughter, he brought in musicians Elisa Abela (guitar) and Emanuele Tomasi (drums) to help him work out his vision.
Still, despite the collaborative effort of these releases, there are some major differences between how these were done and how writing and recording was done in Fugazi.
“That was the effort of four individuals. My solo work is much more the efforts of one (with some help). I sound the same on bass I think, but most similarities with Fugazi end there. Lyrically I don't think I write anything like Guy or Ian,” said Lally.
Even though, there is a slight difference between the first two solo records and the new one. In the case of the new one, he knew ahead of time who his musicians would be, so that helped greatly in finding a unified sound.
“The first two were written rather open ended. I left a space for what would be the "lead" instrument. With the last one I was ready to see what I might write on guitar. I can't really play guitar so I thought that would keep it interesting. Once I had Elisa as a regular player I wrote a few directed at her way of playing. She's a natural improviser. It's still me writing on bass and singing. That keeps the songs sounding like mine,” said Lally.
When asked who his favorite bass players are, Lally cites the following: Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins, Jah Wobble, Peter Hook, Rick Denko, and Chiara Locardi to name a few. He admits he likes them for their originality and if you listen to any of Lally’s work you will there are a wide range of influences on it, it’s not like he is just influence by funk bassists or dub ones, but by a wide variety of musicians.
Even though, he stays humble when talking how his own bass playing has evolved since his early days.
“I'm not so sure. From the inside of it you can't really measure that. It's been like 26 years or whatever since I picked up the instrument. I'm certainly better at picking out what I like to hear,” said Lally.
Even though, he has been living in Rome for the past four years, he still hasn’t lost interest in what goes in the United States. For instance he is very encouraged by the current “Occupy” protests that have been going on in many cities across our fair land.
“I think it's great. It's the kind of action I think people need to take. It turned rather violent here in Rome the other day, but I think that kind of protest obliterates the message. I think a stronger message is made when people of all kinds are involved, children and the elderly should be in on it. When it gets violent they'll say it was a few young hooligans and dismiss the whole thing,” said Lally.
So come on down to BAR next Wednesday and witness the return of one of the preeminent punk rock musicians of the past 20 years. Sure it’s a Wednesday and it’s Connecticut, but it’s free and should feature some awesome music. So what’s your excuse this time?
Manic Productions Presents:
Wednesday, November 16
BAR – New Haven
254 Crown Street
New Haven, CT
9:00pm – Free – 21+