BAM! That will be your gut reaction when you strap on your head phones to listen to Permanent Ability. I will warn you now, you are going to listen to this album LOUD so please, don’t get mad when your eardrums burst with a joygasm! Brian Lanese is the brainchild behind the high-octane band Permanent Ability. His sound is aggressive with funky bass lines and socially conscious lyrics that resonate deeply with any audience. Permanent Ability’s sound can be summarized as classic rock ingenuity meets Rage Against the Machine with a huge wallop of lyrical agility and attitude.
Before heading out to Europe for his tour, Brain took some time to answer some questions for Orange Country Reverb.
OCR: Your musical contributions are widely acknowledged by the world. You have won three Emmy Awards and have been nominated for a Grammy. With all of this notoriety, you have collaborated with numerous artists. What was it like working with bassist Mario Pagliarulo of Serj Tankian, Serj much like yourself is experienced with multiple instruments? What other collaborations go down in history as your favorite?
BL: Thanks Connie. I’ve been rather fortunate in my duel career. My Emmy Awards however are for all my TV contributions as a 3D animator and Graphic Designer to be exact. My record Bring It On! (produced by Jim Wirt) however, was nominated for a Grammy last September in five first round categories: Best Performance by Group, Best Alt Rock Song, Best Alt Album, Best Package Design, and Producer of the Year. A member of the recording academy heard my music and contacted me. It turned out she was a former colleague and friend of Jim Wirt (who produced other famous notable musicians like Incubus and Hoobastank). It was the biggest fist full of flattery that has ever punched me in the face when she delivered it to me too. I have never been so humbled by any experience in my career thus far. It’s such a huge honor to be recognized and respected by peers in the music industry.
On my new upcoming full-length record “Love You to Death” I got to work with good friend and bassist Mario Pagliarulo. Mario is the bassist for Serj Tankian’s solo band The FCC. He is an excellent bassist, very talented, and easy to work with too. LA has a melting pot of great musicians and artists to collaborate with, and being in a big U.S. city like this makes it easier to gain exposure quickly.
My favorite collaboration that goes down in history for me would be the Chili Peppers and Snoop Dogg…I was fortunate enough to be at that concert in New York City back in 2005 and it was a one time contractual agreement I read apparently too as well. Being I’m a BIG music lover all around no matter what the genre is…I welcome collaborations. They are a positive thing within the music industry because it shows camaraderie in such a competitive business.
OCR: Your first track, “Shades of Gray,” off “Bring it On!” is very life affirming as it encourages living in the moment and finding happiness in a world that promotes pain and hurt. What other philosophies do you practice in your everyday life to promote positivity?
BL: I remember I went in to lay down the vocals for “Shades of Gray” and when I came out the booth the guys were like…”what was that all about?”, questioning my aggressive-blunt delivery. I told ’em I needed to get some sh*t off my chest for a while so I wrote about the phony facade Hollywood portrays and the raw truth of what goes on behind the scenes.
I’m the type of person who fuels off negativity, especially, if or when it is geared towards me or my band. I always use negativity as creative ammunition and yes it’s unfortunate there is an abundance of it in this world to draw from. When it comes to my personal life however, I never circle myself with negative people. I simply will not tolerate that shit. This industry is hard enough, and the last thing you need is some jealous mother fucker who wants to weigh you down hoping you don’t become successful. Misery loves company I guess, but I like to maintain a positive outlook in my life, even though it is peppered with an immense amount of tragedy and painful memories that I struggle to get past at times. Everybody has their demons, and I guess that’s what makes this song relatable. I always like to give credit where credit is due, and was taught at a young age to stand up for what I believe in, which is actually one of the new songs on my upcoming record simply titled “Stand Up!” I touch upon many of these negative people who always tell you “You Can’t” but if you stick to what you believe in you will persevere and prove ’em wrong. Haters simply prove you are doing something right.
OCR: Everyone can hone a skill and yet lose it in time with a lack of practice or passion to pursue that skill. With that being said, what would you consider to be your “Permanent Ability?” What ability should more people possess?
BL: I was born with the God given gift to draw and create art. Growing up, I was fortunate to have music education be apart of my life in school, and that’s where I found out I was also good at music as well. Instead of creating a drawing with a pencil, I was able to create with an instrument…I’m a true artist at heart and for me it doesn’t matter what the medium or tool for that matter…that’s my Permanent Ability. I’ll use a cigarette to create a piece of art when my creativity lurks if I hadda. And yes, if you don’t practice, or have the passion to pursue your talent, and at least try to succeed at whatever it is your talent may be…you will get rusty. But it is your choice to lose, abuse it, or let it go to idle.
I think more people should possess the quality or ability of perseverance. If you want something then go earn it, don’t think someone else will get it for you. In the past I’ve had band members who had this mentality, and I’m a give credit where credit is due kinda guy like I said earlier….so that sh*t don’t fly well with me, and I had to fire ’em. I ain’t here to carry anyone’s weight, and freeloaders will only weigh you down. I ain’t afraid of hard work, but you’ll be surprised on how many people are in this industry at times.
OCR: Your upcoming album “Love You To Death” has ironic album artwork. It depicts a revolver with the end of the barrel shaped like a heart. Can you explain the conceptual idea or social commentary behind this?
BL: When I design, I like to design with a less is more approach and find two opposite images to make a powerful statement. I am a big fan of juxtaposition artwork and I actually had the album art created long before I decided to even write a full length album with no title or title track for that matter. For this record, I wanted to take that less is more approach unlike what was done with “Bring It On”! in 2010. I felt that record finally captured the sound of Permanent Ability, but I also felt it had too much of a busy factor that is better showcased live than on a record.
This time around, I wrote with the song in mind, and each musician, and I wanted them to play what was right for the song. My good friend and at times writing partner, guitarist Orlando Mestre (who will be featured on “Love You to Death”) actually coined the title when he saw the album art I created. The title track is also very powerful and creatively organic with this eclectic chorus that almost comes to a stop and suddenly ramps up again. Really cool track that anchors this record.
OCR: Your biography cites you as a distant relative of Mark Twain. As a huge literary buff, I must ask you, what is your favorite Mark Twain book? Would you ever consider growing a white beard and sporting wild hair to pay homage to your relative?
BL: Yes I am. He was my Grandfather’s first cousin. As cool looking and interesting as Sam was…I don’t think I’d want to rock his style. I’ve been called the lyrical Mark Twain before guessing because how vivid and controversial my lyrics can be at times, which too me is very humbling and flattering. He was a genius and simply…great!
My favorite literary work of his is Adventures of Huck Finn…for some reason that particular story resonates with me, I guess because he took a lot of criticism because of the controversial content and language. I recently found out I am also related to novelist slash writer Harriet Beecher Stowe, who I am sure being a literary buff, you are familiar with her as well. Haven’t read any of her literary works however unfortunately, but I’m sure they are fantastic.
OCR: I am a sucker for ballads! Your fourth track, “Last to Know,” is a stripped down ballad that really stands out from the other super-charged songs on the album. Do you find it difficult to write balladesque songs? Do you have to be in a different state of mind during composition?
BL: When I wrote “Last to Know” I sincerely poured my heart out onto the pages of my notebook. Even with my delivery, I can hear the sadness in my voice while singing it. It’s a very personal song to me and really revealing too. I don’t find it difficult to write a ballad. I feel I have too many ballads actually…more recently I was thinking I’d like to do an acoustic or slow ballad album at some point.
I will say that this past record (since i was in such a positive place in my life) I struggled to go back and find that place inside of me to help me write the ballad “Only Rain.” It has this Pearl Jam “Yellow Led Better” slash Jimi Hendrix “Little Wing” guitar tone and is sincerely the most beautiful song I’ve written to date and I can’t wait to share it with the world, and I hope they feel the same. It was inspired by the one that got away, which I’m sure the majority of people out there can relate to it.
OCR: Your album “Bring it On!” has six tracks that explore various musical genres. The bass is a foundational part of your funky fusion sounds. Do you feel like the bass is underrated in mainstream rock songs? What is your favorite thing about the ways you can manipulate the bass for unique sounds?
BL: In our style there isn’t too much room to manipulated the bass at all really. What gives it that penetrating attack is the player, along with the bass head itself and of course, the MusicMan bass that Mario uses. That’s the only bass I allow to be recorded on the records I make, I simply LOVE the sound of them. However, we did use a Big Muff distortion pedal on this new record to manipulate the bass slightly and to create an edgier tone.
I don’t feel the bass is an underrated instrument really, I feel every piece of the band is equally important to the sound of the band. In Permanent Ability’s music however, it is immensely important to our sound because of our genre and most importantly to our responsibility and vow to keep the funk alive.
OCR: “Bring it On” is labeled with a “Parental Advisory” sticker due to explicit language. Radio stations are notorious for censorship. What is your take on the censorship of artistic forms?
BL: I understand censorship needs to be enforced, but when you live in the country of freedom of speech…it seems pretty contradictory. Art shouldn’t be censored in anyway, period. Especially when it is the purest form of expression that can awe and stop wars and sh*t. I don’t have much of a political agenda or have enough knowledge of politics to speak further politically, but since Permanent Ability is aiming to be a mainstream act, I understand that we need to play by the rules to get airplay. We adapt to survive and we do have radio edited versions of the songs for this purpose. But if you listen to my records, it’s a no holds bar experience and my vulgarity is me simply expressing and coloring my words with a passion behind it…nothing more, nothing less. It’s not that I’m ignorant or uneducated, it’s just the banter within my circle, and that is how it is expressed freely. If it doesn’t offend then it isn’t art…ya can’t please everyone right?!?
OCR: What’s next for Permanent Ability?
BL: With the release of the new record “Love You to Death” later this year will definitely bring a lot of promotion and tour support. We have a video for the new single “Good at Losing” on the way too. It will be our first official music video to date. For the most up to date PA news and music visit http://www.permanentability.com “FOLLOW” our ass on Twitter (@PermanentAbility) and “LIKE” us on Facebook too. Stay tuned! Thanks Connie for the excellent and fun interview.