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Permanent Ability Interview - Frontman Brian Lanese speaks to Stereoboard

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 Written by Rob Sleigh
Permanent Ability Interview - Frontman Brian Lanese speaks to Stereoboard

Following in the footsteps of rock luminaries such as No Doubt, fellow Californians Permanent Ability recently headed into the studio with producer Jim Wirt to work on their latest release ‘Bring It On!’. Wirt, who is best-known for producing a string of groundbreaking rock albums like Incubus’s ‘S.C.I.E.N.C.E.’ and Hoobastank’s 2001 debut, spent some time working with Permanent Ability on the funk-rock quartet’s second EP last year. However, despite only having a short history, this isn’t the first time that the LA-based group have collaborated with a well-known artist. For their 2008 debut EP ‘From the Womb to Hollywood’, Permanent Ability were joined by funk legend Lige Curry, who was formerly the bass player with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic.

Stereoboard recently caught up with Permanent Ability’s frontman and founding member Brian Lanese to find out more about the band and their music.

When did Permanent Ability first get together and how did you all meet?
I founded Permanent Ability back in 2006 after moving to Los Angeles from Waterbury, Connecticut. I didn’t know a soul here, but as soon as the plane landed, I literally hit the ground running and started to build the band from the ground up. I already had a bunch of solid songs written like 'Sex Junkie' and 'Bring It On!', so I quickly found players who believed in the project to get it moving. I went through a couple versions of the band at first and some shows were terrible in the beginning, looking back on them now. In the summer of 2008, I was seeking a new guitar player and Nick [Gordon, guitarist] answered an ad I had posted. Our drummer Gary Rinaldi and bassist Dino [Steve Andino] joined the band in September 2009. Gary and I were good friends for about a year or so before he joined. As for Dino, I connected online with an ad he posted and he had a lot of experience from his tenure in former metal band Tourniquet. Dino brought a lot to the table with his seasoned chops and added to our already energetic live performances too.

ImageWhen you first started out, did you have an idea of what you wanted to achieve as a band or
did this come later?

Here is a good metaphor to answer this question. In our song 'Hey Now', I wrote a lyrical phrase: "I don't now where I'm going, but I know I'm on my way." Now, not intentionally thinking about that when I wrote the lyrics, this phrase is very suitable. A band is a constant evolution and we let it take its course, although we definitely had a clear vision of simply making good funk rock music with substance. There are many routes to achieve success and in reaching a destination. We're constantly adapting to the ever-changing music industry and taking advantage of technology that helps indie bands like us have a voice. We hope that along the way we can creatively inspire people with our music so that someday someone can say Permanent Ability is an influence of theirs. We know we are on our way to something as long as we keep doing what we are doing. With that said, we've always known what we wanted to achieve and we're still a work in progress until we reach our goals.

Do you all have shared musical interests or do you each bring different influences and styles
to the group?

It's a mix, but more shared influences for sure. When Gary and Dino work on rhythm parts together, they tend to bring the metal influences to the songs. That's what gives us that edgy, heavier sound that you hear in Permanent Ability's music. In turn, that gave Nick and I more freedom to be ballsier and more pronounced.

How would you describe Permanent Ability’s music to those that hadn’t heard it?
We have an original sound that fuses alternative rock, metal and funk. We are comparable to Rage Against the Machine, Incubus and older Red Hot Chili Peppers. We do have tons of other influences that can be heard in our music, such as the Police and Led Zeppelin, too. Ultimately, we sound like nothing out there but Permanent Ability. Our new record is simply very fresh and we’ve defined a new original sound to hopefully revive the funk rock genre.

You worked on your recent EP ‘Bring It On!’ with Jim Wirt, who has previously produced
some of Incubus’s albums amongst many notable others. What was it like working with Jim?

Jim is like a mad scientist when he works and it's immensely inspiring. At one point, we started calling him Jim "The Jedi" Wirt because he's a master at his craft. He has such passion for all music and he just let us do our thing. He gave 200% of himself to our project and has a talented ear. At times we were like “what the fuck is he hearing that we're not”. Then once we took his suggestion, heard the play back, we understood his input. Completely blowing our minds by the minute detail he just taught us. Best experience of our life as a band and the camaraderie we've all formed making this record is something that we will all share together in for the rest of our lives. He became a fifth member of the band in a sense after it was all said and done.

Did his influence have a big impact on the band’s sound?
No, not really. We had already developed our sound. Jim simply helped define it and captured it on 'Bring It On!', finally taking all of our influences, and fusing them into a fresh-sounding musical style that is now Permanent Ability. On the first EP 'From the Womb to Hollywood', which was released back in 2008, I produced it and had to hire musicians to play on it. Although it continues to receive success due to the strong songs, it failed to capture the original sound that I was looking for and the tightness which can only be achieved by working with other band members, having them bring their style to it and developing it over time. With 'Bring It On!', we worked and worked the songs before recording them and developed them, so when Jim Wirt stepped in, it was easy for him to refine it if needed. Having him step in when he did, with this particular line-up, I feel we’ve finally accomplished that and put out a highly-energetic, kick-ass record. Hopefully, we dug up the fossil of funk and revived the genre a bit too.

Have bands like Incubus had an influence on your music? What other bands have inspired you in the past?
Yeah for sure. I'd say Incubus has influenced us quite a bit. To give you a range of how diverse our influences are, we like everything from LL Cool J to Led Zeppelin. Artists like 311, Rage, Jeff Beck, Michael Jackson and Red Hot Chili Peppers too. We got this sick, heavy funk-driven cover we sometimes play live of the song ‘Young Lust’ by Pink Floyd. We really love music with substance to it, which is why we listen to a lot of older stuff or well-established iconic bands. None of that cookie cutter auto-tuned shit that’s out there today. Makes us sick – I guess because we play real instruments.

You worked with Parliament-Funkadelic bassist Lige Curry on your first EP 'From the Womb to Hollywood.' How did that collaboration come about and what was he like to work with?
I got in contact with Lige through Dwayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight, who had a quick stint in the Red Hot Chili Peppers soon after the death of Hillel Slovak in 1988. I emailed Blackbyrd back in December of 2007 and he referred me to Lige. I knew I had written solid songs and was confident in them, but they were real rough demos. However, once Lige took a listen to the material, he immediately contacted me and jumped aboard and, as Lige would say, “the funk was on.” For a musical veteran like him to dig what I was doing at the time and like it, gave me the confidence in knowing I was headed in the right direction. His help on 'From the Womb to Hollywood' definitely paved the road a bit to secure solid players needed to complete the rest of the band.

What other notable experiences have Permanent Ability had in the past few years?
Six months on the scene, we were awarded in the voting categories for "Best Male Frontman" and "Best Male Bassist" by Rock City News here in LA. Less than one month after our sophomore disc debuted, we were featured on RockItOutBlog.com. As a result, we were unanimously voted as "Best Band of the Week" and nominated "Best Band of the Month".

Permanent Ability have obviously made a big impact on the LA live music scene. Do you
plan to take your music further around the country or maybe even abroad anytime in the near

We are thankful to have made such a definitive impact within the Los Angeles music scene. We toured the US independently back in 2009, and had a massive turnout and response to our shows outside of LA. With every town we stopped in, the audience kept growing and growing from one city to the next. As you can imagine since we are still independent and funding comes from our own pockets, it would be too expensive to travel abroad right now. We'll keep you posted if we are gonna make the leap across the pond in the near future.

How important is playing live for you as a band?
That’s what we live for. Our performances are so explosive and menace with energy right from the first note hit to the last. A lot of bands nowadays put out auto-tuned records, then when you go see them live it’s not as exciting or particularly good for that matter. With a Permanent Ability show, you’re getting what you hear on the record and then some. We get the audience involved by feeding off the energy we provoke to them and vice versa. That's why it’s so important to us. It's what sets us apart from all the other dime-a-dozen, clichéd poser LA bands on the scene. Simply put, we put on a show.

What else have Permanent Ability got planned for the coming year?
Lately, we've been writing a lot of new material and hope to record and release it later this year or early next. First, we will perform live in the States for the rest of the summer and then head back into the studio to record with Jim again more than likely. We still have some songs unfinished that we started with him and to keep our sound consistent we'd want to collaborate with him again.

Where can people find your music?
We are available on all the major distributors such as iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon. You can even find links to our music and hear all our music by visiting our website.

Finally, what is the long-term goal of the band?
We'd be lying if we said we didn't want recognition from our musical efforts. Every artist wants to be recognised no matter what career they are in pursuit of creatively. Our long-term goals are to ultimately secure a recording contract and distribute our music, both in the US and on a much larger scale. We know in due time we will have that opportunity, but for now we are successful independently and will keep doing what we are doing, striving until we achieve our goals.

Click here to listen to the track ‘Bring It On!’ by Permanent Ability

To find out more about Permanent Ability go to www.PermanentAbility.com or you can follow the band on Facebook or Twitter.

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