Passion. It’s why we love bands like AllOne & The Room. They’re dripping with it. From their foreheads to their souls, these guys do music for the best of reasons – it makes them happy (and of course it pleases a lot of other people as well). The Long Island-based crew of Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo, Daniel Sollazzo, Michael Korb and Joseph Patti come from a creative enough hometown, but they’re expanding on their creativity with wordplay, poetry and music in ways we haven’t seen before.
XXQs: AllOne & The Room
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?
AllOne: Our sound is constantly in flux from song to song, but the consistent elements are probably performance poetry, underground conscious rap, rock n roll, there may be some jazz elements in there as well. I guess the two main “genres” if we were to try to narrow it down would be rap and rock (as much as I hate to say that because people jump to conclusions and think about Linkin Park, Limp Biskit or Rage Against The Machine or some other weird band, all of which we steer clear from) As far as rap, what differentiates us from the others we've met and listened to are all the live instruments, the singing and the non rap hooks, our topics and often our velocity keeps us from being too similar to other rappers. As far as rock, we mix lots of different influences, we don't often have normal pop rock song structures, our singing is rap based or non existent, and.. we have a rapper!? The only band I've heard that's remotely like us is No Bird Sing and its pretty questionable even then (they're great by the way).
PEV: Based out of Long Island, New York, what kind of music where the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
AllOne: When I was really young I was into all the pop punk stuff, Blink 182 and such. When I started to “discover music for myself” I was enamored with Anti-Flag, Bad Religion, people with a brilliant talent for lyrical and topical prowess and a great and exciting way of delivering it, eventually it evolved into hip-hop because Atmosphere, Eyedea & Abilities and Sage Francis were all on Epitaph Records (Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion's label). My first big “real” concert was Anti-Flag, The Casualties, The Unseen, Smoke and Fire, and The A.K.A's, my dad took me into NYC to see them and he stayed with me for my 18th birthday.. he was not too happy! Dan Sollazzo (Bass) was more into Alice In Chains, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin, the grunge era. Michael Korb (percussionist) is into Nirvana, Radiohead, and Jethro Tull. Joseph Patti (Guitar player) says he grew up listening to a bit of everything but John Zorn, Nirvana and Tupac made him want to create music.
PEV: Tell us your take on the music scene is like in your hometown and what was it like trying to break into it?
AllOne: In our area, St. James and the surrounding Suffolk County, and even Long Island in general the music scene is flourishing! A few years ago before I really took my writing or performing seriously a friend said “Everyone you know on Long Island has been in or is in a band or plays an instrument.” I can now verify that in my experience its true 90% of the time! Artists are a dime a dozen around here, (or at least it seems so since I'm enveloped in the scene) which is great because there is such a variety in the talent pool to watch, to learn from and collaborate with (as you'll see on the AllOne debut solo album “Coal Aberrations”). We all sort of met at a little St.James cafe called Cool Beanz, where there were weekly open mics multiple nights a week. That's also where I got my start playing in front of people. There are lots of little cafes, bars, theaters and even barns and historical societies that are putting on concerts and fundraisers weekly! We've all been lucky in that there are so many people to make friends with and help one another out. The band actually got its start at a cafe called Sonoma last year, after just jamming with some friends during an open mic slot, this type of thing happens very often! The flip side of that coin I think is that venues and even the general population are a little overwhelmed by the plethora of musicians out there, and at times are turned off at the redundancy of nearly nightly events that go on. However, any real artistic, original, talented and persistent individual will find success because true talent and heartfelt music translates anywhere and any time.
PEV: With that, what can fans expect from a live AllOne & The Room show?
AllOne: Every one of our shows have been consistently really high octane, really theatrical. I've always been a ham and a class clown and so when it comes to performing I think this is just a new vessel for all that exhibitionism. Normally I'm gesticulating all over the place, laying on the floor, walking into the crowd and hugging people and engaging them nose to nose, taking topics from people and freestyling about them. Climbing on barstools or making the crowd sing the lyrics. At a recent show at a bar, a dude was obstructing some of our set while playing a deer hunt arcade game, so I took the other toy gun out of it's holster and mock shot him in the head, never once letting up on lyrics!
We want to make things exciting and to make a genuine connection with every individual there, try to destroy the barrier between performer and spectator. Ideally everyone will walk away not only having fun, but having new friends or learning or considering something memorable. We all have had a lot of fun performing every show thus far, and people are responding a little bewildered at times but generously appreciative, they seem to enjoy themselves and I'm really thankful to give that. Every single time even one person gives me their time and allows me to fill it with my music...I view that as a special opportunity and I hope never to take that privilege for granted and I don't want anyone to regret the time spent listening to our music live or otherwise.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?
AllOne: “I hope I don't screw up any lyrics on this one!” Aside from that obligatory moment of self doubt, or hoping the nervous piddle in my pants isn't visible, I try to assess the crowd and what they're feeling, who's really giving me energy and who I should redirect that to in order to keep everyone in an enjoyable, comfortable balance. Who can I draw inspiration from, and who should I try to inspire? Who can I jostle, who can I have fun with, who can I challenge? Place a hand on their shoulder look them in the eye and make them feel what I'm saying, make them feel how important they really are. because a lot of “crowd members” (this applies to people in their everyday lives unfortunately as well) don't realize that they are playing a role in the night of the show that is just as pivotal as the performer, if not more because if they weren't there this show wouldn't be the same or may not have happened! I try to level the playing field, bring everyone up to whatever pedestal they think we're on, or to make sure we have no ego about us whatsoever, because arrogance and ego are huge turn-offs no matter what you're doing.
PEV: Having all played or practiced with other musicians from time to time, how is playing with AllOne & The Room as a group, different then the others?
AllOne: Well, by now we've all known each other for at least a few years. Dan and Mike have been friends for something like 10 years or more, Joseph and Mike are business partners in a painting company they started and now brother in laws/housemates since Joseph married Mike's sister Heather this past fall. I worked with all of these guys doing odd jobs for weeks and months, I lived with Mike for the summer of 2010. Really we're just a bunch of friends making music together. I suppose its noteworthy that this is the first time I've worked with anyone on art/music consistently or for more than one project really.
Since we all come from such varied musical backgrounds, it's a fun challenge to make all those things converge around my lyrics and represent my ideas appropriately. I know that personally, it has been a huge learning experience as far as musical knowledge (which was just about nothing when we started this band). I learned harmonica in part because of this band and am now learning guitar just because playing with so many great musicians has encouraged me to take it up. It's making me consider different approaches to writing and delivering my lines and it's been a big stimulant creatively.
PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?
AllOne: Observing people, nature, literature, listening. There are so many people and places and emotions to encounter in life and all of these things should be interpreted and learned from. I firmly believe that every experience has some lesson to be found in it, whether its new or old, and that has been motivating a lot of my writing lately. I don't know what ideas of mine are best or worst, but my muses fluctuate. Sometimes I hear a word in conversation or a turn of phrase in a song and it gets me to thinking about a series of lingual connections that may formulate a verse and a concept. I don't have a car so I walk and ride my bike for hours a day and am always rapping and talking and singing to myself. I have a little recorder and I take ideas down and freestyle verses to it and go home and build on that later. Sometimes I'll just write some gibberish and a couple edits later it'll just spawn something totally unexpected and focused that I'm really proud of.
The creative process is baffling to me! I try to write everyday, whether its a line or sentence or a song or a concept for an album or a story. I feel that creation is self perpetuated and writer's block is brought on by expectation and fear of failure. I always remind myself that I feel worse when I'm stagnant than I do when I'm puzzling through my head and trying to figure out a word or trying to generate the right lines to communicate what I'm trying to express. I often don't feel responsible for my work.. I feel more like it creates itself and I'm just the oracle. It may sound ridiculous but I think any writers who read this (thank you for doing so, by the way) will know what I'm talking about. I'll be blank and then come up with a thought or connect two rhymes or some wordplay I've never considered in my life and just start laughing in triumph, I love it.
PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
AllOne: I only started performing in front of people 4 years ago or so, and I only started taking music seriously about 2 years ago. This band formed around a year and sixth months ago and even though we're not incredibly successful by any means, and none of us have quit our day jobs (though mine gets neglected heavily) in support of this project, we are lucky enough to have had hundreds of people come to us over the past year or more and tell us that they got something out of what we played or said or shared with them in some way. I am so grateful for all of the places we've gotten a chance to perform and the people we've met, musicians or otherwise. Every time I perform for a crowd or someone compliments me or I get booked for a show, it feels so surreal to me that I'm actually doing this and people are enjoying it.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of AllOne & The Room?
AllOne: Well I gave away the Brother-In-Law thing a few questions back, so that won’t cut it?! We're all part of Mike and Joseph's brainchild/home studio: Sixth Street Studios, where both my albums were produced as well as a lot of local artist's projects. I guess it may be surprising to know that everyone in the band has their own solo musical endeavors and are multi-instrumentalists! Mike Korb plays guitar and sings primarily, he has his own band and three solo albums on which he plays guitar, bass, sings, drums, samples, drum programming. He also, recorded, mixed and master them all himself! Joseph normally plays bass (for Mike's band) and also sings, plays guitar (obviously), produces beats, plays a bit of drums, clarinet, keyboard and has a brilliant project he's halfway through releasing called Bookchin. Dan plays bass, drums, clarinet, keyboard and sings and is working on his own grungy rock album! I play harmonica, a little guitar and a jaw harp, none of these really enough to count, but enough to entertain my friends and I and write some parts for songs! So we all try to take these little abilities and apply them to conveying what is best for each song. I hope that was surprising enough?!
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?
AllOne: The past summer was incredible! I moved in with Mike Korb so we could hang out and work on Coal Aberrations and be creative and productive and we released in June 27th. We played a giant release show for friends and family and random spectators, had a little local media buzz. That was also AllOne & The Room's first live show, closing the night out! I got to play with all my friends and the 9 artists that art on the album with me, the rest of the summer I did a handful of appearances and really got to love doing full shows rather than just one song in another person's set or just an open mic slot. I ended up going away to SUNY Oswego for two semesters, studying English teaching, which I was a little skeptical about. I knew early on (but thought I would just push through it, because it was something I had to do) that I was about to dedicate the next 3 years of my life to something that I was really doing for my parent's and societal expectations. It just seemed like the best thing out of their selection of life choices that I could be doing. I had a really hard time up there at first, it was far from home and I felt like my entire life had been decimated. I went from knowing people on Long Island wherever I went to knowing none, and from playing music weekly to not at all and I felt really stifled. I enjoyed the professors but I felt unmotivated and untrue to myself and I started to fail classes despite my interest in them. I started attending open mics there and then made lots of great friends very quickly.
I met an amazing community of people there and I encourage anyone who goes there to get in touch with the Lifestyles Center and with Ted Winkworth and some other people there because they are such positive and artistic people. Artists I met up there like Sam Katz, Tony Button, The Scarlet Ending and some others really encouraged me and stimulated my creativity and ambition. My confidence in my craft was completely reinforced by the people that I met there, the concerts that I was booked for and everyone's great responses to me. After a second semester I realized that whether I could make it or not as a musician, my core feeling was that It was all that I really ever wanted to do, was write, and make music, and share it with others and meet people through performing. What really sealed the deal for me, was the convincing and urgent nature of tragedy. On April 1st my Poppy, Anthony Pandolfo, died of a heart attack at 70, less than two weeks after our shared birthday.
He was my mentor and my biggest inspiration, a worldclass bodybuilder, family man. He was still working 6 days a week for his sister Anne's moving company, and going to the gym multiple times a week when he died. He knew the importance of hard work, incredible degrees of success and ambition but he was always humble and cared for everyone. He had always told me to follow my heart and do what I was made to do, to instill inspiration in others and affect the world positively and to see and learn as much from it as you can. After he passed, I realized that I couldn't take my time for granted or make decisions for anyone but myself, that I'd do more for myself and the world following this artistic path than halfheartedly choosing pedagogy or some other run of the mill career. It was hard telling my parents that I desired to sabotage academia but in the end they were forgiving and understanding.
PEV: Tell us about your latest release. What can fans expect from this? How is this different from past works?
AllOne: The AllOne & The Room self titled album is a very condensed piece of work. Nine songs in i believe 25 minutes, but there is a ton of stuff to sift through in that time. The velocity of most of the songs are a bit challenging at first but I promise you that every song is written with honesty and every song is written with care for you to walk away with something. Musically its rap, rock, funk, jazz, and indie musical stylings. The album's full of philosophy, story telling, wordplay, poetry, and heartfelt attempts at answering and asking questions. I like to think of the album as though the listener were locked in a room with no stimulus...what would you think about? Your personal relations, your emotions, your ambitions, your faults, your mortality, the concept of life itself.. The album is a scattered effort in some ways (genre and structure) and very focused in others (topic, song themes, messages). Its different from my first effort Coal Aberrations because I'm the only lyrical and vocal presence. It's also a lot more musically focused as far as instrumentation and style. Our blend of styles is consistent throughout the album, whereas on the other album, I let many other people take the wheel as far as their vision and style (blues, ambient, indie rock, folk, pop ect) and just featured myself for a verse or two alongside them, as an homage to the artists I “grew up” writing around, so to speak.
PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?
AllOne: We've actually yet to travel as a band (except into the city when we played with Anonymous(And.On.I.Must) at The Bowery Poetry Club). Anyone who's interested in having us play out of state or off the island, please get in touch with us, we'd be happy to share a night or more with you! I've done very limited traveling on my own (playing in Philly this past month with a friend of mine Phil Minissale) and thus far its great to experience people and places I've never encountered! Especially to do see all these new people and places all centered around my passion is such a phenomenal feeling. Seeing how people from different walks of life react to my work is so interesting and I've been blessed to have a pretty steadily positive response from people I respect. I'm heading to Oswego in November for a some shows centered around a performance, lecture, and q&a discussion during an event called the Living Writers' Series. In early October I'm heading to Boston for a week to live with an uncle and attend open mics on a nightly basis, I think that is going to be a regular travel plan for me, take a week trip each month and play a few shows or open mics just for the exposure to all the new stimuli.
PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
AllOne: I've yet to play a lot of places and I'm totally willing to go to all of them! I heard Albany has a great hip-hop scene and I'd love to play there, I'd like to play some shows around Minnesota. I heard great things about Colorado as well! I don't mind where I play, I want do start doing house concerts and just play intimate shows in people's living rooms, crash on the couch, make breakfast with them and move on elsewhere, I don't mind particularly where it is because where you are is often affected by who you are with, and I'm just inspired by meeting new people and hearing their stories. That's what gets me moving and for these honest human connections, more than anything else, are the experiences that I desire to have. To be around all around these people and places and share feelings and pieces of music and writing that I would like to show people. Their reactions and stories that are likely to inspire further growth and change in myself, artfully and otherwise.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?
AllOne: Our friends and the local community have been a greatly supportive foundation. As far as family, my father has played in bands throughout his life and he's been giving me advice and being encouraging every step of the way. Some of my family doesn't really understand what I'm doing, my mom has no creative drive and so she's skeptical and isn't always the most encouraging but any family that isn't completely supportive is only aware of the gamble I'm taking and wants a successful life for me. My friends are always at my shows and helping spread the word and I've gotten the wonderful attention from really great people. As I previously stated, a lot of my friends are musicians I admire and am pleased to create and perform alongside. I feel confident in my work ethic and my passion and I'm happy I have both skeptical supporters and relentlessly supportive friends who motivate me and keep me in check.
I'd like to thank every single person who has ever listened to my music, I hope it has given you something. I have so much gratitude to everyone (family members, friends or loved ones) who has attended a show or bought an album or complimented me or given me advice. Either way end up as a family member, friend or loved one in my book just for that generous and beautiful fortifying act of approaching me encouragingly or supporting me genuinely.
PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
AllOne: You can find Michael and Joseph working on producing and recording music out of Sixth Street Studios or working for their painting company Roy G Biv. They've also been creating home made microphones out of odds and ends which is really cool. Joseph would probably be spending time with his wife Heather and son Noam or reading books and gardening. Dan is doing Environmental Studies at Stony Brook University, when he's not doing that he's caring for his myriad of animals. I'm likely to be found reading novels, riding my bike or skateboarding and laughing with friends. We just hang out and have a great time wherever we are.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?
AllOne: I'd love to have collaborated in some way with Micheal “Eyedea” Larsen (R.I.P). I had the pleasure of meeting him in NYC with Kristoff Krane and Abilities July 17th last year and we got to talk for a while and that was one of the best nights of my life. He was a huge inspiration to me and so many people, he had so much intellect, humor, heart and talent in his music. I think he was the ideal artist, a genuine person who made music from the heart and wished to help the world as best he could. The world has been robbed of a wonderful energy and humanity in his passing. As far as a presently active artist I think it would be great to work with Colin Meloy of The Decemberists because I feel we have similar writing methods and ambitions and I love their music. subject matter and creativity!
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
AllOne: I would certainly look up my Dad, Shawn Hureau at www.reverbnation.com/SMH , Michael Korb (www.michaelkorbmusic.com). Bookchin (www.soundcloud.com/Bookchin), Sleepyhead (www.facebook.com/Sleepyheadtheband) or anything that Dylan Pagillo touches. There's a great local rap group Ancient Tongue (www.myspace.com/ancienttongue) that I respect. Adam and Naïve, Trestin Eeling, Cloud, and everyone atwww.practiceroomrecords.com . Anonymous(And.On.I.Must.) (www.andonimust.com) is a great rapper who we just played a show with on his NYC tour stop and his band was really impressive and a lot of fun. My friend Gina Tomitz has a wonderful band called The Mouth that just released an album called “Feel Free” check them out on www.themouth.me. People that have already “made it” whom I feel would benefit your life by hearing? Eyedea & Abilities, Carbon Carousel, Face Candy, Kristoff Krane, Aesop Rock, Sage Francis, The Decemberists, Brother Ali, El-P, Bad Religion, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Woody Guthrie, Regina Spektor. Too many more, sorry for anyone I forgot!
PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think each of you would be your career?
AllOne: Mike and Joseph would probably be doing the same thing they're doing, working their painting business, spending time with friends and family and playing music in their house. Not playing music isn't an option by any means, we all do this because it's who we are! Dan would be taking care of his animals, working on being making the environment a better place, and I suppose I might be teaching English somewhere. We'd all still play music and write songs because that's how our brains work and how we enjoy our time and make sense of the world around us!
PEV: So, what is next for AllOne & The Room?
AllOne: Within the next few weeks we'll be shacked up in Sixth Street Studios recording our second project, a four or five song record called “An EP(iphany)”. We're planning on releasing that by the end of September and are going to play a few shows to celebrate and promote it. We're all taking some time to work on our solo projects. Michael Korb and Bookchin have albums they need to finish and I've got a solo album featuring a couple musical guests called Rapologues that I'm aiming to complete by January. We'll all still be hanging out weekly, experimenting, writing and playing music. That's the best part about being a member of a collective that is full of your friends, no matter what you're doing, it'll be creative and enjoyable and productive! Thank you PensEyeView for this opportunity and all the staff for your hardwork, and everyone who has read this and who has ever supported us, or whoever continue to! Take care of yourselves and one another and do what makes you happy!