Anthony Paganini Interview - July 29, 2003
by Theresa Yarbrough
BE: Anthony, as the bass player for The Rob Balducci Band (Steve Vai's Favored Nations), why did you feel compelled to start your side project, Silent Fate?
AP: Having played for Rob for around 6 years now, I felt that I need to broaden my horizons a bit and try to get into something more mainstream. Although I have input on the material that I'm playing with Rob, I really wanted to write my own material and do something new. Something where I could take center stage and pour some of my own personal creativity into.
BE: What influences carry over into Silent Fate?
AP: Musically, I wanted a current sound that had some substance to it. Bands like Tool, System of a Down, Korn and even Linkin Park all had elements that I liked, but no one band had them all. Our sound is also very influenced by the other members of the band. Everyone in the group comes from such a different musical background, (and area) the combination of styles and personal influence combines to make something we feel is unique.
BE: What was it like growing up on Long Island for a kid whose goals were to become part of the music business?
AP: The only thing I can liken it to is possibly an aspiring actor growing up in Hollywood. NY is probably the most saturated market when it comes to bands and music in general. Long Island in particular. It's the typical American suburbia where every kid is told by their parents that "THEY CAN BE A STAR".
I've been playing out since I was about 13-14 and I've got to say the only thing worse than some of the bands around here are the self proclaimed promoters. I really feel that they (the promoters) just about killed live music on Long Island. Unless you were a cover band with a well endowed female front, you weren't getting a gig anywhere. When you did get a gig, the "promoter" did absolutely nothing to get people through the door, it was completely up to the band. And even if you packed the place... good luck trying to get any kind of pay for the night. It was really discouraging for a long time, but things are starting to come around. More bars are starting to have live ORIGINAL music and even a few venues have opened that cater to the original musician.
BE: Why did you choose the bass as your first instrument?
AP: I didn't.... My first instrument was trumpet when I was in 4th grade. My teacher at the time was Ms. Satriani (Joe Satriani's mother!) I remember her bringing in press photos of Joe and me looking at it saying.... "why would anyone want to play guitar and grow their hair long?!" It wasn't until I was in about 7th grade that a friend of mine brought his guitar to school one day that peaked my interest. I had remembered seeing my dad playing a guitar of some sort a long time ago and decided to rummage through the tons of junk in my basement that afternoon in search of it. Turns out, there was a 1963 Fender Jazz bass down there in great condition. I picked it up and figured out where all the notes were and proceeded to teach myself a good portion of the Guns'n'Roses album 'Use Your Illusion II'. Two weeks later I was in a band.
BE: I've seen you perform with The Rob Balducci Band on several occassions. You've always impressed me with your ability to balance your attention on both band and audience. Unlike a lot of musicians, you play to your audience. What's going through your mind while you're on the stage?
AP: I might scare you on this one. I have no idea what's going on when I'm playing with Rob. Sometimes I'm thinking of what I'm going to make for dinner the next night or how much lumber I'm going to need for the new project in the studio. It's strange, but if I think about what I'm doing, I make mistakes. I pretty much put myself on autopilot and try to shake the thoughts out of my head violently.
Playing with my band is a completely different experience. Being both the bassist and singer, my focus is in three different places. My vocals, my bass, and the band. A wise woman once told me... "Never turn your back to the crowd... not even to fix your amp" And I've lived by that. Seeing how other bands act on stage and the mannerisms they have towards the audience, I actually consider it disrespectful to turn your back to the people that are there to see you play. I also consider it a good sign of un-professionalism. If you can't play or cue your band without physically turning to them, you need to practice more!
BE: I read an article today reporting that Consumers across all demographics are buying fewer CDs than ever. Sales are down 13% from just two years ago and continue to plummet, with no end in sight. Many place the blame of declining CD sales on online piracy while others say the record labels are delivering bad product at exhuberant prices. Which side of the argument do you take?
AP: I would have to say that I stand in the middle of that argument. One side perpetuates the other. Record companies, in an effort to make up for lost sales revenue, raise the price of their products. Economically that makes sense, but realistically, the reason they are selling less is because the price of the product is too high to begin with, especially for what you're getting!
There's another side to that argument that many people often overlook. The retailers themselves are also to blame for the ridiculous prices for CD's. If you look at a wholesale price list and compare it to the retail price list.. the markup is unbelievable. On the other hand, however, it has become too easy to pirate music and other media. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can get free music with the click of a mouse and a few keystrokes.
Should the record companies blame the users for downloading, the hosting companies for allowing this to go on, or should they blame themselves for not keeping up with the times? In all, I think that everyone is partially to blame. The industry wants to protect their interests but didn't bother to look into security until recently (well, that I've heard of at least). Lower the price of CD's and I'm willing to bet a lot more get sold. $23 for a disc is a little steep.
BE: As a private A&R I see first hand the amount of dollars that local artists are willing to pour into a mastered recording these days. With declining commercial sales why are artists spending so much money marketing themselves in an unstable industry?
AP: You may see it as unstable, the indie artist sees it as opportunity. The internet is by far the most incredible marketing tool ever. The cost to put up a web page is so inexpensive (in some cases FREE). If done properly, that page can hit millions of people normally not reachable without spending large amounts of money on advertising.
The net is global! Right there, you've eliminated the need for an advertising budget. With the price of recording (professionally) dropping drastically, it becomes really easy to afford a high quality product (on par with whatever the "industry" is putting out). So, now you have a professional recording, world wide advertising/marketing and you've spent far less then any major industry player has. It becomes a lot easier to break even, and in some cases to turn a profit when your overhead is that low. So why would local artists put money into a pro recording... why not?!
BE: What kind of recording contract is Silent Fate interested in? Is there a certain label you'd feel more at home with than the rest?
AP: The biggest thing I'm looking for is good distribution and tour support. Without those things, signing with the biggest record company in the world wouldn't be worth it. We are looking for any company that is willing to put the same time and effort we do into making this thing work.
The people in this band are willing to do what it takes, and any label we get involved with should have the same outlook. For right now, an indie label with national distribution, and the ability to get us on the road and get the music out there would do nicely.
BE: I know that you record and produce your own CD's for your band Silent Fate. Other than the fact that it saves you money in the studio what are the other advantages in being able to record your own album?
AP: Well, that's the bottom line isn't it? The only other thing it really affords us, is that we can take some time and work things out and hear what the finished product will sound like without worrying about time constraints or budget. Along with that, we get to put out what WE want, not what some producer or engineer wants. That's not to say we would be close minded. Put us in a pro studio with a top producer and we'll be all ears!
BE: How did the transformation from musician to musician/engineer/producer happen for you?
AP: I'm not quite sure HOW it happened... it just did. The first time I went into a studio and saw all the buttons knobs and faders I was hooked. I went out and got some basic entry level equipment and taught myself how to use it and how to work around the limitations of what I had. Once comfortable with how to actually use the equipment, focusing in on producing just kind of came naturally. Everyone wants a sound that someone else has. The engineer in me finds a way to "reverse engineer" and find HOW that sound was made, the producer kind of feels where it fits best.
BE: Does the producer in you take over while recording projects for others in your studio or do you just do the job, hand them the product and move on? Do you find that musicians are open to recording suggestions from you?
AP: My studio and my policies are unlike any other studio, to my knowledge. I don't do anything I wouldn't want done to me. If a band is set on a certain sound, effect, or take, my lips are sealed. If the band is open to suggestions, I usually ask first and see what they think. Sometimes they use the idea, sometimes they don't. It's not my music, and I don't always know what the artist is going for right away. I'm always open to new ideas for recording. As far as handing someone a product and moving on... there has only been one time where I was actually glad to have a project out of my studio. Usually my policy is, "you don't pay until you're happy". Even if it is at my expense.
BE: Describe your studio.
AP: Comfy! It's a modest 2 rooms, totaling about 400-500 sq feet. We're currently running a Mackie HDR24/96 recorder (fully pro tools compatible). It pretty much has everything in house that a band would need to record from guitar and bass rigs and a drum set (excluding cymbals and cymbal stands) The studio is not only geared towards rock or instrument based music. I have a full library of samples. 5 MIDI sound modules, 3 keyboard controllers and a Roland electronic drum kit which have suited all the R&B and rap artists I've had in. The entire place was built and designed by myself (with the occasional construction help from friends and relatives). Recently, we started offering recording and sound services outside of the studio (big PA system with engineer) as well as DVD and video editing. We record everything from family vacations to music videos.
The website for the studio is The Mess Studio It's still under construction but we'll have photos up really soon so check back often.
BE: Is your studio available to label projects as well as unsigned artists?
AP: My services are open to anyone that wants them. I've had national acts here as well as bands that are just getting started. My prices are comparable to most rehearsal studios so anyone can afford it.
BE: If you acheive all your goals, what will life be like for you in 20 years?
AP: If I achieve my goals, I will still be making music and recording for way more than 20 years! I don't plan on removing myself from the art anytime soon.
Anthony, I really appreciate the time you took to give us this interview. It's not everyday I get to interview a Paganini.
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