Fat City Reprise
It’s six o’clock. As the sun sets over The Studio, located next to the Electric Factory, a local band, Fat City Reprise, gather together for yet another mixing session. In between breaks, the band stands around, laughing and joking about a variety of things. They play some tracks, they comment on local shows as they browse through a newspaper. Smoke lingers in the studio, as the four tracks from their demo blast from the speakers.
The band, which is comprised of four South Philly locals, started recording back in March of this year and have already generated a large local fan base. Maybe it’s their catchy lyrics with the beats that will be stuck in your head for days. Or maybe it’s their low-key, humble attitudes. Whatever the answer is, one thing is for sure. Fat City Reprise is on their way to something big.
The band has been together for some time now, but they recently experienced a line-up change. A fifth member left a couple of months ago, leaving a vacant spot in the band. Yet the four members (Frank Pedano, Nick Anastasi, Mike Vivas and Jay Miraglia) didn’t let that stop them. They’ve adjusted and have managed to play just as great as a four-piece band.
Frank, Nick, Mike and Jay have been through a lot (including almost going to jail). In July, the Brotherly Shove Fest was held at the Troc and Fat City Reprise was scheduled to play. The boys had done a weekly gig at a local bar, Abilene’s, and they had left their equipment there. However, the bar was shut down and padlocked, with Fat City’s equipment inside. The band, desperate for their equipment, decided to go in and get it. They said, “We figured as long as we only take our stuff we won’t be breaking the law. So we popped the lock and ran into the building with about 10 people. We grabbed our stuff and made the mad dash to the basement grate. When we surfaced there were ten cops waiting for us. ” Facing a double felony for theft and breaking and entering, the band was looking at some time in prison. Yet, the owner of the bar didn’t press charges and the band were able to get to the show in time. Still without some equipment, the guys were able to borrow some pieces from other bands. A true sign of brotherly love? Maybe. Everything worked out and that show has gone down as Fat City Reprise’s favorite and most memorable show to date.
The band agrees that with the closing of Abilene’s, along with other venues like 218 and the Pontiac, there has been a great gap in the music venues across the city. They said, “There’s really small bars and huge venues, leaving nothing in between as a middle ground. The Philly scene is great, the problem is that no one knows about it. The people who do know about it are amazing people and the bands rock. A lot of these bands are really top quality in music and songwriting. But out of all the people that live in Philly, it seems like most of them just don’t care. They only want to hear music that is already on the radio.”
It’s true. Luckily, Fat City Reprise has been getting some airplay on local station WMMR, especially with the DJ everyone knows by name, Jaxon. A compilation CD, entitled Jaxon’s Local Shots, Volume II (comprised of some of the best songs by local Philly artists) starts off with the track “Cowgirl,” which is probably Fat City Reprise’s biggest hit. “When we stop and think about it, it really is overwhelming. Not only is our song ‘Cowgirl’ the lead-off track but there is actually a picture of a cowgirl on the cover of the CD. It’s something we’re really blessed to be able to be a part of,” they said.
Where’d the name come from?
At the time, Philadelphia was the fattest city in America. But it used to be a musical city, Philadelphia sound, Marian Anderson, John Coltrane, the Roots, and so on and so forth. We wanted to bring back or ‘reprise’ the fact that Philadelphia is full of some soulful dudes who know how to bring the funk.
So how do you guys personally describe your music?
Fat City Reprise is rock music you can dance to. When rock and roll first started everything had a jiggle in its hips, but now bands have fallen back on easy rhythms. What hip-hop has done to the public has upped the ante. People like to dance and we like to make them dance. (They also have described their music as ‘ADD’ rock) We consider ‘ADD’ as rock music that is in constant change. Our generation is used to the internet, Ipods, Playstation and digital cable. The music needs to change and move, one minute it’s a waltz, next minute the song is straight rocking out. Mars Volta is a good example of this style of writing.
What’s the best thing to do after a show?
Anything but think about going to work the next day. That includes root canals and walking barefoot on broken glass.
So there is no one band that the band is unanimous on listing as an influence, eh? Well, if you create your own tour line-up… let’s say one main band with two supporting acts, regardless of their current status– who would be on the bill?
We’d make it a festival. Here’s the line-up, acts would play in alternation on a gigantic revolving stage. Stage A: The Beatles, The Flaming Lips, J. S. Bach, Jackson 5 (Michael Jackson’s age: 7) Stage B: Tenacious D, Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Roots, Frank Zappa.
How far would you travel to see your favorite band play?
We’d buy tickets to the moon if the festival mentioned above was going to be there.
What is one thing that the band (as a whole) wants to accomplish in the next year?
Our summer goal was to get into a serious studio and cut our first serious full-length album. We’ve been doing a lot to get it done, recording at The Studio with Jim Butari and of course, the most honorable Mike Lowe. We’re just about done with it and our goal this winter is to get that album into the hands of every single person currently breathing. We want to plant our musical seed into the collective consciousness and help everyone take things a little less serious.
If you want to find out more about Fat City Reprise and listen to some of their songs, you can check out the band’s official website or head on over to their myspace page, www.myspace.com/fatcityreprise