On November 11th, composer Simon Hanes and his Tredici Bacci orchestra released an album that has already been well received worldwide. The eleven track LP features work written as though for an Italian work of cinema, however there is no movie attached to the album itself. It illustrates a tale
“Columbo” opens the Amore Per Tutti, sounding a bit like an American 70’s sitcom theme song. But it also sets that bustling, upbeat tone that so many cinematic composers go for in the beginning of a movie. “Ca C’est Cantare” is a little slower, more like a track you’d find in a fancy hotel lounge, while “Modern Man” is the first vocal track on the record, featuring Ryan Power, and crawls at a pace that is beautiful and raw. “Avante” comes in guns a-blazin’, with a wild west feel to it. “Swedish Tease” literally feels like the title would suggest, an upbeat track that could double as a game show theme song.
“Slusher” starts a string of vocal tracks, featuring the beautiful voice of Ruth Garbus, who sings a very straight forward narrative. “Vendetta Del Toro” features Charlie Looker on vocals, and is perhaps the most dramatic track on the piece, feeling a lot as though it’s a new addition to a Broadway show (i.e. Phantom of The Opera). Jennifer Charles sings on “Drowned”, which is clearly a low point in our cinematic narrative, with low whistling leading into the haunting vocals. But then there’s “Give Him The Gun” featuring JG Thilwell, which is clearly meant to set the backdrop for a thrilling climax in the plot. Thilwell’s raspy vocals bring that sense of thrill characteristic of the action/adventure motif we discussed earlier.
And then there’s “Souvenir De Beacoup D’Amor”, which rounds the album – and the imaginary cinematic wonder – out very nicely. It’s slow, and makes us feel like we’re strolling happily along the newly rain-drenched streets of Paris in the evening.
In honor of the album’s debut, we got the chance to speak with Simon about his work with Tredici Bacci and beyond.
What’s your official origin story?
The official origin story? Well – in order to avoid any run ins with the immigration department, the official story is that I’m a fucking music school nerd and I got thirteen of my fucking music school nerd friends to start an Italian pop band with me. However, off the record – and don’t tell anyone this or publish it on any blogs – we’re actually all Italian ex-pats who met in Bologna and emigrated (illegally) to the US about 5 years ago. We all live in the same busted-up house in Astoria, and we have a lightweight sex cult thing going on. I recommend everyone try it.
What are some of the earliest albums you remember listening to? Who introduced them to you?
I mean, fucking A man, if I look back far enough I can remember listening to the Backstreet Boys album while they’re all cute little marionettes. Or was that NSYNC?
Whatever – you obviously mean “What are some of the earliest cool albums you remember listening to?” – to which I would respond that Bay Area guitar legend and impresario Henry Kaiser introduced me to two crucially important records: We’re Only In It For The Money by The Mothers of Invention, and the soundtracks to In Like Flint and Our Man Flint, both composed by Jerry Goldsmith. Look ‘em up – total classics. after that, everything started to spiral out of control.
How have creative influences from past projects influenced your current direction, if at all?
Each past project I’ve been a part of has taught me some sort of unforgettable life lesson about performing music. In Guerilla Toss it was “when you’re onstage, always bring 100% of yourself to the table, and give everything to the music.” In my surf band, the Tsons of Tsunami, it was “when you’re onstage, always bring 100% of yourself to the table, and give everything to the music.” In my solo project Simon Says Smut, it was “when you’re onstage, always bring 100% of yourself to the table, and give everything to the porn that you’re reading to the audience.”
Also, each on of my past projects has been a stop on the path towards figuring out who I truly am as a musician, and so far, Tredici Bacci feels like my most honest and personal representation of that so far.
Where did you draw the most inspiration from, in your creation of Amore Per Tutti?
I drew most of the inspiration for Amore Per Tutti from the idea of collaborating with people who’s work I’ve deeply respect and admire. That was my way of lighting a fire under my own ass, in a sense – like “shit this has gotta be really good because I’ve somehow convinced some seriously amazing performers and composers to work with me on this thing!”
The inspiration for the framework of the album was also based on one of my favorite aspects of the B-movie soundtrack tradition – when a film has a really beautiful pop song right at the beginning or end of it, inspired by events in the film, and sung by a celebrity chanteuse of the day. You can find these all over the place in the Italian film soundtrack tradition, and if you really want to get into it, the 4 CD series entitled “Canto Morricone” is a collection of these kinds of tracks. I wanted to write songs like this for the guest stars on the album, so technically, in some alternate universe, each one of those songs is playing during the end credits of a feature-length film with which it shares a theme.
Is there a best frame of mind for someone to take, during their first listen through?
Either metaphorically or literally, build yourself a time machine and travel back to 1975. That what I’m constantly trying to do with my music. If you don’t have the time or money for that – here are some other options: Drink a campari and soda (with lime), smoke an unfiltered cigarette, engage in a highly sensuous romance, drive really fast in a powder blue convertible, eat a delicious meal with a large group of friends, have an espresso, or strip nude and wrap your entire body in velvet.
Inspiration must be plentiful to continually create new music- what keeps you creating?
I tend to operate in cycles – I’ll have a period of feeling incredibly inspired, sandwiched by periods of having to lie in bed and watch countless hours of bullshit television. With Tredici Bacci, part of the inspiration is to be continually making sure that we’re always attacking new material and growing as an ensemble. Most composers will tell you, and I agree with this, that the moments of inspiration aren’t actually what’s important, as opposed to knowing how to still get work done in the lengthy periods of time that lack any inspirational spark. This is something I work on, how to start writing a song with almost zero ideas, and just keep banging my head against the wall until eventually an idea forms amongst the bruises, something that can give a whole new sense of direction to the music.
What’s your dream collaboration?
All the collaborations on this album started out as dreams! Looking towards the future, I would absolutely love to work with Mike Patton, Ed Askew, George Benson, and Van Dyke Parks.
What sort of chemistry has developed among the team through the recording process?
Lemme tell ya – the initial recording sessions for Amore Per Tutti took place over a year ago now, and so many freakin’ things have happened since then. But i will say this: the musicians in Tredici Bacci are the sweetest, kindest, most hard-working individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and each time we embark on a new project together it tightens the bonds of friendship, respect and love that we all have for one another.
Any fun anecdotes from putting this record together?
Everyone went into the studio and played their fucking asses off. How’s that for an anecdote?
Anything else you’d like to let our readers know?
In this time of extreme turmoil and turpitude, your readers should remember that music has always been, and always will be, a beautiful way to bring people together – a way for communities to band together and share the ecstatic joy that comes from hearing sound waves bounce around a room in a pleasurable way. So, for fuck’s sake – go to shows!!
Amore Per Tutti is available now.