By Nicholas Jason Lopez
In addition to his work as the drummer for The Growling Hounds and The Pomelos, the lead guitarist/producer for Bad Static and co-writer in Nitro Electric Fairy, it’d be hard to believe Mario DiSanto has had any time for solo material, but you can put those doubts to rest.
This past August, he dropped the fearful single “It’s Here.,” a distorted encapsulation of paranoia in lieu of an unavoidable monster, completely written, recorded and produced on his own.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with the New York-based musician about what he has been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for your single “It’s Here.”?
Mario DiSanto – My goal for my single “It’s Here.” was to attract a wider audience with a song everyone can relate to. The theme for the song was to capture the feeling of despair and fear in people’s mind throughout the pandemic. In a world where an invisible monster is at everyone’s doorstep, it’s hard not to be paranoid. There were times – especially in the very beginning of the pandemic – where the stench of death seemed to seep into every crack of our lives and that’s what made it impossible to numb both our rational and irrational anxieties and that’s exactly the atmosphere I was attempting to create.
Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?
Mario DiSanto – My father was a mechanic growing up and because of this, I spent a lot of the time tinkering in the garage. From working on cars, to opening up clocks, to building wild contraptions, I always seemed to be fiddling with something. This eventually led to me being interested in toying around with audio electronics, when music started to take over my life. This hands-on intuition I have has absolutely affected the way I produce and record music. I’m not the biggest fan of using digital equipment and recording “in the box” as they say it. I much more enjoy not only using analog equipment, but also manipulating them in various ways to achieve sounds I am looking for in a song. I think this helps me stand out from some of my musical peers.
Music Bugle – How do you differentiate your own material to that of your respective projects?
Mario DiSanto – I think a lot of the differences to my music compared to the various musical projects I am involved with is the song structure and genre choices. When it comes down to me as a musician, I am through and through, a drummer. I have been drumming for a long time and was in a band for many years as a drummer. Because of this, I was never able to write my own music as easily as say a guitarist or keyboardist would. I didn’t know chords and I barely knew notes. The only thing I knew how to do was bang on things – often loudly. When I picked up a guitar and started learning how to write a song, it opened up a whole new world of imagination for me. At that time, I was only a drummer in a band and while I could have written songs to bring to the band, it was hard for me to write a guitar part at the level of expertise the guitarist was looking for. Because of this, I started writing songs for myself. I really enjoyed the complete control of how I wanted a song to turn out. No one could tell me they wanted the bass line to go, “da da duh” instead of “duh duh da” or that they didn’t want a distorted mess of a guitar part. I was finally able to make all my own decisions in a song instead of being left in my locked cage writing the drum part. This caused me to think outside the box in various ways. Most notably, as I mentioned before, was the song structure and genre of my tracks. I rarely ever write songs in the stereotypical “Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus” structure. In fact, I rarely have what I would call “verses” and choruses, with “It’s Here.” being a glaring exception. A great example of this would be my song “Night Clouds” with its distinct three-part structure. In addition, I am often very eclectic with my genre-bending. I often don’t know how to describe what genre my material is a part of, which is why I often just blanket label it “garage rock.” This is a direct contrast to my other bands, such as Bad Static, where we are strictly a “punk” band.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write?
Mario DiSanto – I would say my track “Night Clouds” was my hardest to write because of the emotional meaning behind it. The purpose of that song was to emulate the story of falling in love, the break-up and eventually, the disillusionment of being alone. I am glad I pushed myself through it though, because I think it is my favorite track to date.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest challenge lately?
Mario DiSanto – The biggest challenge I am facing currently is finding exposure for my music. I have a very small social media presence and because of this, I am finding it hard to get an audience to the music I make. Unfortunately, face-to-face meeting – especially during a pandemic – is not a particularly great way to network anymore, so now, I am in the process of trying to expand my social media circle as wide as possible.
Music Bugle – What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Mario DiSanto – Being played on the radio is by far my proudest accomplishment. Although it was just a measly local radio station, it still meant the world to me. I mean come on, being able to say “I was on the radio” has a special ring to it, ya know?
Music Bugle – What do you hope for as we begin 2022?
Mario DiSanto – My hope is to gain some following for my music. As I mentioned before, I am having trouble having my music reach an audience. I am hoping with some effort, I can get a fanbase, no matter how small, that will regularly listen to the music I release.
Music Bugle – Are you working on any more new music?
Mario DiSanto – I’m always in a whirlwind of new music being produced. Besides my own material, I am in a few other bands – Bad Static, The Pomelos, The Growling Hounds and most recently, The Fuzz Fairies. I am the producer for four out of five of these projects, so my recording room always has something buzzing along in there.
Music Bugle – What was the moment that made you want to play music?
Mario DiSanto – Oh, boy. Okay, let me find a way to condense this answer into something that isn’t 12 paragraphs long. I always tend to look at my musical journey as three parts. First, The Beatles got me into music at a very young age. I am a huge Beatles fan, in an embarrassing way. Second, Keith Moon of The Who made me want to play drums, especially on a stage. I must have listened to “Live At Leeds” hundreds of times at this point in my life. Third, Ty Segall was the one who made me start writing music. While writing music was something I always was interested in, it was Ty Segall who made me go, “Oh fuck, I gotta do this, man!” When I first heard his album ‘Melted,’ there was suddenly this drive in me that made it necessary for me to put my ideas to work. I could no longer sit idle in my seat until I put my musical creativity to the test.
Music Bugle – What does today’s music industry need more of?
Mario Disanto – I’ll preface this answer by saying two things. First, I can only speak for the rock sector of the music industry and second, my opinions are admittedly too opinionated. Now that I got that out of the way… what the rock industry is missing today is some goddamn grit! A lot of mainstream rock coming out now is so sanitized and safe that it just doesn’t resonate with me at all. Everything is so drowned out by endless plugins, countless tracks/overdubs, autotune and the same safe bets over and over again. It’s no surprise a true rock band hasn’t been in the “Top 40” in ages. I think it’s time some of these big record labels take rock back to its root a la “Get Back.” Perfection is overrated. Bring back the rawness of rock and roll!