Drowning Clowns ready to showcase its decade-making music
For almost a decade, Mike Speranzo worked on snippets of songs whenever his duties running Mr. Small's Theatre in Millvale permitted. He stole away moments during construction projects . He stayed up late at night after concerts, experimenting with textures and sounds.
"Other people would come up to work on things," Speranzo says. "Frank (Spadafora) and Liz (Berlin, his wife) came in and worked on the vocals. I was doing some work in the studio and I put up a microphone, came up with background parts and sort of stacked it that way. Certain songs have been built as songs and certain songs are products of construction. ... I might have two nights a week for four hours, or eight hours. That's why it's taken 10 years."
Speranzo is ready to share his work. The Drowning Clowns, featuring Spadafora, Berlin and "most of Pittsburgh," according to the band's bio, will showcase the new music Saturday at Mr. Small's.
The sound that emerges from Speranzo's creation doesn't fall into any single genre. It's as if Peter Gabriel enlisted David Byrne and Kate Bush on a recording project, with Brian Eno working the soundboard.
Speranzo, formerly of the bands Crisis Car and Love's Gun Shop, enlisted some of Pittsburgh most accomplished players to realize his vision. Guitarist Dirk Miller, drummer Frank "Shaggy" Marcello, Mike Hammer on keyboards, bassist Nate Campesi and guitarist Evan Smith contribute, as do Berlin and Spadafora (both on vocals and guitars).
"It really gives me a chance to open up and play," Miller says. "Some projects that I'm involved in I'm more of a side guy. In this, I really let go, and I appreciate having the material to do that."
Part of the appeal is the freshness of the material. It's not purely rock, not purely anything, and Speranzo's philosophy allows every opportunity to contribute.
"There are so many layers," Hammer says. "It's more about trying to find where you fit. There are parts that are there and parts that you hear that aren't really there. They're ghost parts. There'll be two guitars playing together, the bass line playing together, and all of a sudden you'll hear something that's not really there, but is in your head."
"It's an eight-piece band so there are a lot of different sounds," Marcello says. "It's really cool how it all comes together."
While the raft of musicians might seem to imply a noisy product, the Drowning Clowns actually create musical landscapes that are serenely intricate. "Covered Over" is an atmospheric piece in which the vocals and instrumentation hypnotically ebb and flow.
Speranzo enjoys that quietude, but wants his cast to feel free to add their imprint.
"It's interesting how quiet we can get," Speranzo says. "As we've been growing in the rehearsal room, trying to figure out how to define what we are as a band, trying to interpret this music we've created in the box and laying it out, it's amazing how subtle it gets at times. I want it to be even more bombastic. On that side, we've put the reins on because we don't want to be seen as overplaying, because of the personal dynamic. ... All of us, to a fault, because of the amount of people in the band, are more cautious than I wish we would be."Additional Information:
With: Jenn Wertz, Backstabbing Good People, Stephen Tribou, Mike Marks
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Mr. Small's Theatre, Millvale
Details: 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers cut Scobee, sign free agent kicker Boswell
- Burnett pitches well in farewell, but Pirates lose to Reds
- Are Pirates better positioned to win it all this postseason?
- Kessel addition, better health could have Pens scoring like it’s 1990s
- Pitt holds off Virginia Tech in ACC opener
- New book credits Nunn for Steelers’ 1970s success
- Pirates fans on edge as season again coming down to wild card
- Penguins at a glance entering 2015-16 season
- Shaler man charged in death of girl, 6, not prosecuted in repeated alcohol cases
- Would-be Troy Hill carjackers scared off by sirens
- Fight stops Monessen-Wilkinsburg game in 3rd quarter