Last week, idobi contributor Ashley Holman had the opportunity to speak with three of the four members of Permanent Ability, a funk- rock band based in Los Angeles, California. Their latest EP, Bring It On!, debuted in 2010 and secured them the title “best band of the week” from rockitoutblog.com. Singer Brian Langese, guitarist Nick Gordono and bassist Steve “Dino” Andino managed to make the interview memorable and fun. If these boys have this type of energy when sitting down for an interview, just imagine what fans are going to get when they see them perform.
idobi: Can you give us a brief history of the band for the people who haven’t heard of you yet? Or describe your band in three words?
Nick Gordon: Funky, Rock, and Sexy.
How did you come up with the name Permanent Ability?
Brian Langese: I came up with it, I founded the band back in 06 and I just had this concept that god gave me a gift to create art, and it’s like a permanent gift that I have, and no matter how hard I try to get rid of the gift it will always be an ability of mine. Coming together as a unit I thought it was really suitable once four people get in a room and started creating songs.
How long have you known each other? And out of that time, how long have you been a band?
NG: As Brian said, Permanent Ability has been around since 20o6. I met Brian in ’08 and we have kind of gotten together since then and the current lineup with Dino who’s on the line here and Gary who’s out delivering pizzas right now. It’s been probably been about a year and a half.
Dino: October was our first show together. So it’s been almost two years with the current lineup.
BL: It’s a weird dynamic doing these interviews over the phone because were used to feeding off of the chemistry that we have with each other….
Who writes your songs? And where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
BL: Up until the recent record we’ve been writing as a team and lately we’ve really been coming together as one unit and we’ve all been coming together as a band. I think that there were only two songs on Bring It On! That we all collaborated on, the rest were songs I already had and we just worked on them and fused them together.
NG: It varies. Jeff Buckley, Mega death, Iron maiden, Jeff Beck, The Beatles, The Stones, and Jamariquoi.
BL: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus, LL Cool J, Michael Jackson at times for vocal melodies. For a rap melody I’ll listen to a lot of rappers, especially LL or Wu Tang to see how rappers deliver their melodies. They will inspire me to come up with a melody over what Nick’s got on guitar. It just varies, the sun’s shining outside and I can see all the way down the Santa Monica beach that in itself is an inspiration sometimes.
So you get your inspiration from everything?
BL: Yeah. I mean, we’re a very creative band, a very talented band so we just soak up whatever inspiration we can get.
How long did it take to write the album?
Dino: About 3 months, realistically. A few of the songs were already written, we came in and pretty much added our dynamics. We all fed off of each other really well. We just wrote and worked so the collaboration was very simple.
BL: Nick and I had already developed a sound with our previous members and when Dino and Gary stepped in it became more refined, they heard what we were doing and really made it their own. From there we added two more songs. one song didn’t get finished so hopefully we can go back in and finish it up at the end of the year. As far as the other tracks go: on the first EP, From the Womb to Hollywood, I already had all of those tracks when I moved to L.A. From the Womb is no slouch, the songs that were on there were real strong songs and that kind of started off the band and gave me the outlet to get the players that needed to be in the band and it kept progressing and progressing and like Nick said we’ve been together for nearly three years and we’ve been through a couple of lineup changes and we have weathered the storm and now it’s just smooth sailing, the music is just coming to us like the snap of a finger.
Do you have any shows coming up?
BL: Uh yeah, we’re playing next weekend in L.A. at Molly Malone’s; we’re also playing the Indie Music Festival in Las Vegas on the May 21st. It’s a very big show for us, it’s pretty much a showcase show so if you know anyone out there send them along, and we’ve got a forty minute show that is going to be really fucking explosive.
BL: My favorite is the Roxy. That’s my favorite place to play in L.A.
Dino: Anywhere there are a lot of people.
BL: All of the Hollywood shows are good, but we try not to play a lot of the LA sunset strip type of shit because a lot of its pay to play and for me all of our shows are pretty much paid we gotta go where the money is.
NB: I’m gonna go with the bar, whatever the bar was in Columbus?
BL: Oh! CDR? That was a great one too!
NB: Nah, nah nah, the second one.
NB: Yeah dude. And Fontana’s in New York.
BL: And I liked playing in Connecticut too that place was fucking packed the fire Marshall had to come on that one.
Was it too packed? Is that why the fire Marshall came?
BL: Yeah, the limit that we had… it drew such a big crowd, I think the venue only held like 600 people and the fire Marshall had to come because we couldn’t let any other people in, as we were leaving there was a line down the street and people were asking “ you already went on? You already went on?” yeah, that was a great show.
It sounds like it.
BL: Yeah man it was fucking awesome I thought it was a great show.
ND: Yeah, can’t forget that.
Do you prefer playing more intimate shows or larger ones?
BL: For me, I’d rather be in front of fifty thousand people instead of five.
ND: It depends, I like both. You can get intimate with a large amount of people if the music and the mood are in the right place.
Do you have any pre or post show rituals?
BL: Oh I definitely do, and you can quote me on this: I need to use the bathroom. Every. Fucking. Day. Before the show. An hour before the show, I’ll be in the bathroom, I’ll do my vocal warm ups and then I will poop.
BL: Everybody shits I’m not embarrassed by it! Nick and I have fart offs sometimes during rehearsal.
ND: I need a cup of green tea before the show. That’s kind of my whacky thing.
What can someone who has never seen you perform live expect from a live show?
ND: Energy, Intensity, Explosiveness.
BL: That’s a full 20 minutes to an hour of what we have. We’re gonna give you it all. The other day somebody called us the Chili peppers on speed. Some kids that were at the CIA on Friday they’re the ones that said that, these young kids….
That’s not a bad compliment, though.What song is the hardest to play live? Why?
Dino: I’m going to say all of them. Because they’re all intense, all of the songs have certain dynamics, technically every song. Tempo-wise, some are fast and some are slow, we’ve got a lot going on so there’s not a dull moment with what we’ve got going on instrumentally.
BL: Yeah if we’re not on point you’re going to hear it. It’s almost like being in a metal band, if you’re not on point people are going to hear it, you know, the fuck up. At a permanent ability show we jump around so much, we do know our parts but you can definitely hear if someone fucks up. Every song is pretty demanding but right now it’s just so second nature to us.
ND: We arrange the set accordingly. And if there are songs that work better for us when we’re warmed up we’ll put those towards the end of the set that aren’t as demanding and that do take the extra dynamic and focus. The hardest one probably varies for everyone. The hardest one for me is: I don’t know….
BL: Do we have that song?
ND: (laughing) Yeah, that’s a new one we’re working on.
Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
BL: I could listen to Sarah McLaughlin she’s got a beautiful fuckin’ voice.….
Dino: Like I said earlier one of my favorite artists is the Beatles. They pretty much defined music and they opened up a lot of doors. they were very experimental and so forth, they’re just a great band in general and they opened up a lot of doors for a lot of rock bands and then of course you’ve got your bass players like Victor Wooten, Stanley Clarke, Markus Male the list goes on. There are a lot of incredible people out there, it’s really hard to pick and narrow it down to one particular artist, and it’s just a collaboration of different people that pretty much made us learn the instruments that we now play. I think we agree that we pretty much listen to everything but country.
ND: It depends on how you define country, because I can listen to some old man hillbilly stuff, but not modern pop country. Give me the score to the dukes of hazard any day.
BL: Come on that’s a classic right there, I’d be on there with you too. I remember when I was like eight years old and we would travel from Connecticut to New Hampshire and what i would do is I’d have a tape recorder in the backseat and I’d rewind the dukes of hazard theme song over and over and over again… my parents would be so pissed by the end of the day.
What band would you most like to tour with?
Dino: Man I would love to tour with Incubus, The Chili Peppers, 311, The Foo fighters.
ND: I’d go for 311 that would be sweet. Those guys work hard.
What is the weirdest thing someone has ever asked you?
Dino: What’s my Race? What’s my nationality?
BL: What was that one that we had, the crazy lady?
ND: Which one we’ve had a few, the one that was dancing?
BL: Yeah what did she say to us that one time?
ND: One time? It was more like all the time: it was either wardrobe suggestions, comments to us or…
BL: No, no the one about the cd in her car….. her car got stolen.
ND: Oh, she asked us for another cd because apparently her car had been broken into and the cd was stolen so apparently it was our fault that her car got broken into, she wanted another cd. And permanent ability would usually concur and sympathize but when you’re nuts and ask a lot of things we kind of told her to hit the bricks.
BL: She admitted to being bipolar as well, which was a little scary at times. I can tell you weird things I’ve seen I don’t know about weird things people have said.
ND: Something weird that just hit me she stopped coming around when Allen and Adam stopped playing with us so maybe there was a connection.
Dino: Yeah she had an infatuation with one of them.
That’s kind of scary.
BL: Yeah I was documenting stuff on her because she was saying a lot of things and I was getting a little worried about it. She would tell me that I reminded her of a young Mick Jagger with the way I moved on stage and she was obviously about 20 years older than I was so it was getting to a point where it was just… yucky.
ND: Yucky. Brian just turned into a thirteen year old girl everyone.
BL: I have seen a woman piss on a garbage can, I’ve seen a man take a shit on the subway and I’ve seen a woman piss in a urinal. So those are three things I’ve seen.
It always goes back to the bodily functions then doesn’t it?
BL: I don’t know I always have these weird bathroom experiences I don’t know if it’s because I spend so much time in there doing my vocal warm ups or….
Dino: To me the weirdest thing that I’ve seen is the New Kids on the Block / Backstreet Boys reunion concert.
ND: I signed some little kids arm at a dodger game. He thought I was a dodger player.
Dino: The weirdest thing for me is I actually signed an autograph and the people thought that I was the bass player from Korn instead of myself. Anyway I like going over to people who think they’re somebody and I like saying things like “I’ve only been in LA for two weeks and you’re that guy from Panic! At The Disco, please take a picture of me, please take a picture of me.”
Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own band?
BL: Put down the Nintendo rock band and literally get out there and form a band, there are not enough rock bands out there that are good. A lot of the material that’s out there today, this auto-tuned stuff that people play is garbage, that would be my advice, it’s hard work but put it together if you really want to. Do it and start a band.
Dino: My advice is for bands that are already existing, or amateurs who are beginning, we’re in a city that used to be the music capital and now it’s pretty much like finding a needle in a haystack. A lot of bands go out there, and it is hard work, it takes a lot of effort to go up there onstage, and there’s just no camaraderie in Los Angeles on the scene. Another piece of advice is practice, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Get tight, get tight, and get tight.
ND: I would say pick up the controller, keep playing rock band so that we can thin out the herd a little bit…