MNRVA – Interview
Interview with Gina Ercolini (d) of MNRVA and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
GE: I consider myself a music collector, first and foremost. I have tens of thousands of records all around the house, just ask Kevin. I took a few piano lessons as a child, but I was never formally trained in music. I figured out my own way of playing drums after starting my first band a few years back. If I am considered any kind of artist at all, it would one of a self-taught, unofficial education largely acquired by listening to music and absorbing it into my being. Whatever I think to play for a certain song—a groove, a feel, etc.–that’s where it comes from.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
GE: I was the weird kid who would read Nancy Drew books, skate around the neighbourhood visiting friends and chasing the ice-cream truck, play D&D, listen to records, make my own outfits and costumes from yard sale scores, play football with the boys. Always a bit of an outsider, but friends with all the different social groups. Was on the speech and debate team and also a cheerleader, studied my first love philosophy, and took the long path to become an academic, professor, and lifelong student of the ways in which we think with, interact, and engage one another. I’ll be a rock n roller until I die, with soundtracks for just about every moment along the way.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
GE: Musical influences: John Bonham, Stewart Copeland, Bill Ward, Dale Crover, Coady Willis, Mo Tucker, Sandy West, Philthy Animal Taylor, Nick Knox, Tommy Ramone, Jerry Nolan
Favorite Personae / Attitude Goals: Divine, Grace Jones, Cher, Nina Simone, Wendy O Williams, Debby Harry, Cyndi Lauper
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
GE: I don’t care if it sounds corny, it’s true: I feel like I’m already there. L I V I N. After turning 40 some years back, I rounded a corner and managed to just somehow unload so many debilitating worries, anxieties, and nagging feelings, and instead just focus on whatever and whomever is important. The worst regret is not doing all the things you’ve ever wanted to do out of tentativeness or fear. SO WHAT if I look stupid? Just do the things and figure it out as you go. I started in my first band at the age of 42, something I never thought I’d get to do. Now I’m in three bands, we play shows with a bunch of amazing bands, and I feel fortunate to get to do what I do with encouragement and support. I book the live music at my favourite local dive venue, the Art Bar (Columbia, SC), and get to hear great new bands of all genres touring from all over, every weekend. Dreams and Goals: More of it all.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
GE: For MNRVA, Byron and Kevin write the guitar/bass parts and lyrics. In terms of composition, we’ll start with the guitar parts, create structure with the drum parts, figure out the bass parts, then add in the vocals. Most of the time as soon as I hear the riff, I know what to play. Byron writes songs about people who have pissed him off, Kevin writes about tripped-out, psychedelic horror. Both are pretty good doom themes. I do have a song I’m working on, possibly for MNRVA, inspired in part by Sabbath’s Planet Caravan (one of my favorites), but I don’t want to curse the band along the lines of that well-known joke: Q. “What’s the last thing the drummer says in the band?…” Sorry, fellas. For the time being, I mainly reserve my writing for the catrock band.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
GE: Facebook Events. Tabloid Flyers Posted About Town. Apps Like Bandsintown. Constantly doing all of the above, and other things, for our bands, and for the other shows at the venue.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
GE: It’s the lay of the land these days, both in its legal and illegal forms. I suppose I’m rather outmoded in this regard, as a collector of physical formats (records, cds, tapes, 8 tracks, etc). It certainly has prompted many changes, from the ways in which songs are written, recorded, arranged, distributed, and even heard. So, for example, an LP can open with an intro theme, or overture, or sample–an exordium that sets the tone for what follows. E.g. Paul’s Boutique begins with a slow fade into the intro (“To All the Girls”) before busting into “Shake Your Rump,” or like “The Hellion” opens up Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance, as a separate track, leading into Electric Eye. The digital landscape, on the other hand, provides an entirely different calculus for the track order, arrangement of songs, which song goes first. On a platform like Bandcamp, the first track will be the preview track, the one that automatically loads when listening to an album, serving (either officially or unofficially) as the single, the hook. An entirely different organizing principle and arrangement is required.
PD: What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
GE: I guess from where I sit, I get to see mostly the good side of bands recording, touring, selling merch, and supporting one another. I have some friends who lament that there’s no good music anymore, nothing like the great eras of the 70s, or 80s, or whatever perceived heyday defines their taste. I see new amazing music all the time, like every weekend. It just depends on whether you lock into the soundtrack of your youth, or a specific moment in time, or whether you are open to listen to what’s happening and keep growing. I’m not really well-versed on the industry side of things, but I see friends doing things, making things, releasing things, basically the DIY ethos, left and right. I don’t want to romanticize the democratizing ideal there too much, but basically I know that there’s room for great music and it’s happening EVERYWHERE and RIGHT NOW. Go see your friends’ bands. Support music venues. Buy merch.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
GE: I could pick so many. Pretty much anything by Sabbath, just like everybody else. Take “The Wizard,” for example. A melding of several different styles, composed by all the members—a harmonica, really? But that groove is so massive, it’s undeniable. 2nd place—something like “Night Goat” from the Melvins. It’s such a great track, my mind goes totally blank and I’m left just completely at the bidding of that beat whenever it comes on.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
GE: Disingenuousness. Aggrandizing yourself through cruelty or cutting others down. Underestimating others, Taking yourself too seriously. Treating those available to assist you poorly. Wasting time.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
GE: Playing our first show in our first band, as just a duo, with my husband, surrounded by friends. We’ve got some great music comrades who happily slapped our just-7-song, terrified butts on a bill. I set my goal as the same one prior to teaching my first graduate class: Hold your head high, don’t stop / drop the beat no matter what, and don’t have an accident (like the #2 kind). Success.
PD: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there
GE: Our next show is on Friday, October 4th. We are releasing our debut EP Black Sky, are in the process of putting together a super heavy bill for the occasion. Our live shows are heavy and intense, and we’re lucky to be in the mix of a kick-ass metal scene here is South Carolina.