Band name: The TarantinosNYC
Genre: Surf, Soul, Spy, Spaghetti Western
Geographical Area: Northeast – Tri-State – NYC
Interview with: Tricia and Paulie Tarantino by email on 5/29/06
1. What is the current line-up of your band (in order of appearance in the band):
Paulie Tarantino – guitar; Tricia Tarantino – bass; Joey Tarantino – drums, retired from law enforcement, Joey also plays in a professional Long Island blues/rock band; Brian Tarantino – keyboards, classically trained, Brian is also a tenor in the Young New Yorkers Chorus.
2. How and when did you get started with your band?
For 14 years, Tricia and Paulie toiled in a original rock band called After One. They played with various other musicians and along the way played most live venues available to play in NY like CBGB, Continental, Lone Star Roadhouse, etc., and especially a little bar called Nightingale’s on Second Ave and 13th Street, which was the launching pad for Blues Traveler and the Spin Doctors. After One played there 31 times because the booker/manager was a true believer. If he liked you, you played, even if the audience was sometimes sparse. (See diatribe about NY bookers in Question 9.)
Tricia and Paulie had already started to include Dick Dale’s versions of “Rumble,” “Smoke on the Water” and “Miserlou” in the After One set, and we had fooled around with “Time is Tight” in rehearsals. In 2005, the idea to include all our favorite instrumentals in a cover band was given the final “huzzah” moment when we thought of the name the Tarantinos. (NYC was added later due to various legal problems, etc.)
Tarantino’s movies – particularly Pulp Fiction, seemed to really get the thrill of this music, making 90's gangsters somehow more hip, more appealing than if they listened to actual 90's music. (Think about it.) And because of Pulp Fiction and other Tarantinos movies, more people know about this music. Plus, Tricia was relieved to stop singing after filling in for the last several years in After One for prima donna singers who quit or got fired.
Another factor was Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio show which brought back interest in early rock. (It’s on in NY on Sunday nights and it’s still awesome.)
Once the concept was born, we got really lucky, and through Craig’s List, got Joey and Brian.
3. What bands or music have influenced you most?
Dick Dale, Ennio Morricone, Booker T & the MGs, Link Wray, Los Straitjackets, The Derangers
4. What is the breakdown of cover vs, original material I your live shows and/or recordings?
Right now we have two originals and are working on more. The cover band market is not what it seemed to be anyway.
5. What recording have you done?
Our first original, “Fistful of Reverb”, was recorded as part of After One’s 2001 CD, Burden of Knowing. It is one of two instrumentals on the CD (available on CD Baby). The other one is a Santana-like number called “Little Spanish Fly Wing”.
6. What kind of gear do you use?
Off the back of a truck. No seriously, here’s the breakdown.
Tricia – Medium scale Fender Precision bass – wood pick guard custom-made by Paulie. Ampeg B2 head and Avatar 4x10 cabinet.
Paulie – Guitars include: DeArmand Jet Star with Bigsby vibrato, baritone guitar (designed and built by Paulie). Amps: Vox AC30 & Fender Blues DeVille.
FX: Danelecto BLT Slap Echo, Voodoo Labs Tremolo, Digitech Digiverb.
Brian – “I don't have particularly special equipment...at least not in a good way.” Roland XV-2020 64-Voice Expandable Synthesizer Module, Studiologic TMK-88 MIDI Controller, Fender Stratocaster.
Joey - I use a Ludwig classic 400 snare drum (1961) and my original Marine Pearl Ludwig kit with a 22 x 14 kick, one 9 x 13 Tom, and 16 x 16 floor tom. I use a 20 inch Zildjian ride, an 18 crash... for extra effect I use 17 inch fast crash…and a 14 inch pair of New Beat hats. My hardware is all 1960 era including the Hi Hat stand. However I use a Camco foot pedal.
7. What is your band’s favorite food/beverage?
A Royale with Cheese or a Big Kahuna Burger and a tasty Sprite.
8. How do you get gigs?
Like everyone else, we e-mail, send press kits, call, plead and beg for gigs. We also graciously accept invitations! We try to be open to many kinds of gigs, but also avoid what seems like it would be a “gig nightmare” for any reason. Of course you never really know in a new place. We also scan the papers for new venues just opening up.
9. What are the difficulties you find playing your kind of music in your area?
As other bands have mentioned, a lot of bookers don’t know what surf music is. You really have to explain it. Plus, in general, the NY live music scene has sucked for years. Club’s don’t take any responsibility for getting people in. They rarely make their own ads, or banners, or posters. They’ve seen so many bands come and go, they have zero interest in who’s playing. It used to be a money machine for them, but now it takes some effort and they just blame the bands.
10. What positive attributes does your band have that sets you apart from other bands (of any genre)?
We were conceived as a show band, not an originals/recording band. So we have the jokes and a Quentin Tarantino trivia contest, along with a wider selection of instrumentals to choose from since we have a keyboard player and the Tarantinos concept covers a variety of styles.
11. What have you found to be the single most effective promotional tool you’ve used to further your band’s musical path?
Joining NESMA! And meeting Unsteady Freddie by accident online. He’d heard “Fistful of Reverb” through Phil Dirt, and e-mailed us that he wanted to play it on his radio show. We asked him, where should a band like ours play? He said, “Well, would you like to do a show I’m putting on at the Rodeo Bar?” There we met Mike and Sandy, who were also on the bill, and the rest is our history as a surf band.
12. What’s the most interesting performance experience you’ve had?
At Don Hill’s, people were moshing during our show. It was a great audience for us, which was a big surprise, since they were college kids. (We would try to go back there, but the booking/sound guy, like all sound guys, was a real pain in the ass, and he cut our set from 45 minutes to 30 right before we went on. Avoid NYC sound guys, they think it’s their job to ruin your state of mind before your show.) College kids seem to like surf because it hasn’t been rammed down their throats, by corporations or by their parents.
13. What do you hope to get out of being a NESMA member?
We hope to continue to contribute to the mutual promotion of all surf bands. This is a real help to us and we will help NESMA in any way we can. We are trying all the time to get surf nights where we can invite other bands. And we promote NESMA even when we’re the only surf band because it helps people feel like this is a popular thing they could get into.
14. Anything else?
Surf is a rush. And people are catching on. And, after being on nights with so many shoe-gazing alternative rock kids who can barely play (with our former band), we have been really impressed with level of playing in the surf bands. We know if we go see a surf show, at least the people playing will know what they’re doing.
Thank you, Mike and Sandy, for doing this.