It’s no big secret that Chris Perricelli of Little Man is one of the most innovative and exciting rock and roll guitarists in town. Little Man is back with a new 6-song EP called Orbital Amusement, which breaks away from some of the more earthbound previous material and launches, with the help of new pedals, creative mic placement and huge energy into a glittering, cosmic rock realm. In talking about Orbital Amusement, Perricelli noted that he had worked his signature, live pulsing sound effect called the “Oscillating Raygun” into “The Tower” and called the song “Found Is A Passion” the “jewel in the lotus” of the record, as well as talked about his new pedals, the cycles of independent artists and how bringing in other businesses makes a scene stronger. Orbital Amusement drops tonight with a show at the Turf Club, so make it your business to get launched into orbit.
Photo by Emily Utne, Styling by UpSix.
CakeIn15: Tell us about these pedals, which seem to have opened up a new world of sound for you. How did they come about and how have you been using them?
Chris Perricelli: Playing live I have my effects and I don’t have a bunch of things that are my go-to pedals, but I like working with feedback especially and controlling that onstage. Zachary Vex came to see a show one time and he was impressed with what I was doing and was wondering how I was doing it. I talked to him after the show and he was like, “Well, you gotta have some Z. Vex on your pedalboard.” And I said, “Well, OK!” So I went over and we got to talk and check out all his effects and I didn’t know that he was based out of here, I had only heard of him from national act people, so it was lucky that he had been at that show! When I was over there I played through all the effects and there was one that blew my mind in particular and that was the Fuzz Probe. It works like a theramin, you don’t have to touch it, as your foot approaches it the pitches bend and that was totally what I wanted in an effect. I wanted something to do with pitch bending in some way and I’ve always been a fan of the theramin and he had compacted this on a pedal. He was able to give me a good deal on these. I also use the Fuzz Factory, which he’s mostly famous for, and the Ringtone. The Ringtone has eight different tones on it that you can physically set and so when you press on it, it goes “Beep-boop-beep-beep-boop-beep-boop-boop.”
C15: Is that sound at the end of the track “Orbital Amusement”?
CP: “Orbital Amusement”, yeah, that’s that. You can play your guitar through it and it sounds really interesting. You can play it so it sounds like a telephone as well. So I got ahold of some of those and I couldn’t stop thinking about them.
C15: And that was in the fall of 2009?
CP: Yeah, I guess! I can’t believe it’s been that long. That was when I started playing with those effects exclusively, at home or in the practice space, figuring out what sort of tones I can get out of these things, playing with them, being creative with them. And all of a sudden monstrous riffs come out of these pedals, they evoke something that’s deep and dark. It changed my way of songwriting in a way that this is something that came from tone first, and then riffs and then from that come the lyrics and the construction of it all. I’ll do anything to come up with a song and be creative, this is a new creative tool for me to do something that I haven’t done. And the sound is different than in the past, and that’s what I wanted, I was scratching my head, like, “I don’t wanna do the same thing that I’ve done before.” And I just was kind of on the lookout for something that could sound different in a way.
C15: Do you feel your trajectory would have been different if you had had these pedals earlier in your musical life, would your music be different?
CP: Yeah, it probably would have. It probably would have steered me in a different direction earlier on and you know, the songs that I did with Soulful Automatic and Of Mind And Matter would not have happened probably, or some of them anyway. Yeah, its changed things a little bit, and I’m not saying that I’m going to stay in this where I’m at now with these sounds, but these particular songs all came from sounds, except for “Found Is A Passion” is more straightforward rock-and-roll, what I’ve done in the past, but this group of songs just kind of emerged with the same sound.
C15: You wrote extensively about the recording process on your blog and at then end of one of those posts you had noted that recording was expensive and asked for donations to help out. Did you wind up doing anything formal like a Kickstarter campaign?
CP: I didn’t do a Kickstarter campaign, I definitely thought about it. I wanted to first give fans an opportunity to be a part of the record and by doing so, I think it was like a $25 donation would get your name on the record in the notes and I had some people do that, it helped. I didn’t feel like I wanted to do a Kickstart thing because personally I didn’t want to make it feel like I totally needed the help, which I totally did! [Laughs] But I didn’t want to come across that way and Kickstarter is fairly new and I was a little unsure, but I have had some friends be super successful with it, so I’ll probably do something with that in the future, but with this album at this point, I’m up for working my ass off to try and pay for it. I did, but I’m in debt, you know? [Laughs] That’s what usually happens, I don’t have any support. I work to save up my money to cut a record and then I spend all my money and I have a hard time after that. It’s difficult being an independent artist, but I’m doing it; I’m still releasing records, I’m playing out and as long as I’m able to do that, that’s what’s most important for me to do.
C15: Here’s a question that we’ve been posing to all sorts of people we’ve been interviewing- for all we’ve got going for us, what’s something that we could be doing better?
CP: That’s a tough question, because I think this is one of the greatest cities for the arts and there is so much that is all for it and for promoting it in many genres of the arts. That’s one of the reasons that I’m here, the support is huge and there are so many people that are into what’s happening locally. National stuff comes and goes but your local stuff stays, I think it’s great that we’re all together on the arts scene. So what could be done that’s better? That’s a really tough question. I’d like to have an answer for it. I’m going to think about it.
C15: You’re doing something interesting with your sponsors for the show, getting not just 89.3 The Current on board, but also the Blue Door Pub, and Marshall Liquors and your barbershop, Groveland Barbers.
CP: See, there, you answered the question yourself. I think that if artists in all genres, if we include other forms of whether it be art or businesses, things that are a part of the community, bringing them together in some way and having them be a part of something with you. So you’re not a standalone person, you’re showing that you’re really connected to a lot of other things. I eat there, I listen to them I buy my booze there, it’s a part of my daily or weekly or monthly thing, so I think its only right that I try to include them and have people know them. Look, these are places that I go to and they’ve helped me, because they believe in local business. I don’t have to write a song about the Blue Door, but I can tell people that these are great folks, and it’s worth putting your money into local places, local businesses that are run by local people. They’re depending on you to keep them alive and they’re feeding you, for goodness sake, or they’re giving you music or cutting your hair or giving you things to celebrate with! That’s all part of life and should be brought into the light.