Arcati Crisis
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Arcati Crisis

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
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This weekend Lyndzapalooza (LP) welcomes Arcati Crisis back to the spring festival stage for the fourth time for There's a Stage On My Lawn!

Arcati Crisis plays acoustic pop tunes full of literate wordplay and ornamented with frequent boy/girl harmony. Band members Peter Marinari and Gina Martinelli have known each other for over half of their lives, but as a duo they grew up right before our eyes - they were billed as "Arcati Crisis" for the first time at a LP spring festival, and have made a habit of debuting new material with each appearance.

Gina and Peter fielded LP's questions after their final dress rehearsal, chatting at length about David Bowie, the agony of harmony, and Bonnaroo versus Styx.


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LP: One or both of you have performed at every Lyndzapalooza event ever presented. What are your favorite memories?

GM: I had the privilege of being one of the first performers at the very first Lyndzapalooza.

PM: Actually, I think you were first. Like, the first.

GM: I was only there briefly because I had to go back to school to be in a play. My voice was nearly gone, as was the tradition when I had the lead in a Drexel show, but I wanted to sing anyway ... so I got up and screeched my way through, singing my heart out into the mic duct taped to the broom stick.

PM: Over the years I've fallen in love with the behind the scenes lunacy at LP events. Last year I discovered Lindsay vacuuming a carpet in the middle of the lawn. I'm so excited that other people can now volunteer with LP so they can witness it all.



LP: When did you stop being Gina and Peter, and start being Arcati Crisis?

GM: My mom throws a winter holiday party every year and a big part of it is a variety show beforehand in my mom's theater, the Shubin Theatre. Peter and I always had an open invitation to perform...

PM: ... ever since 2003 - same year as the inaugural Lyndzapalooza festival.

GM: For 2006 we decided that we were going to rehearse more than once! We had, like, four rehearsals, and were impressed to see that when you really rehearse not only do you sound better, but you have a much better time.

PM: We had been playing under the guise of Arcati Crisis for years, but that was the first time we specifically rehearsed as a duo, rather as two individuals playing on each other's songs.

GM: We decided to start rehearsing semi-regularly, then it turned into very regularly - always being encouraged by how much better we sounded and how much fun we had playing our songs.



LP: Who are you influences, individually, and collectively?

PM: Individually my biggest two influences are Madonna and Ani DiFranco, but when it comes to us I'm much more influenced by late-70s pop. Heart, Fleetwood Mac, the Pretenders.

That's the model, for me - popular music that happened to rock, or be folky, but was and always will be essentially pop music.

GM: Personally, my influences mostly come out of the 60s and 70s, people like Neil Young, the Beatles, Donovan, Bob Dylan, and the Velvet Underground.

I think Peter and I both agree on David Bowie as a major influence for both of us.

PM: Oh, god, definitely. 70s David Bowie, from Hunky Dory through Station to Station. We hardly ever sound like that, but we draw so much inspiration from those albums. There's so many layers there to choose from.

GM: When it comes to the 80s we diverge - [Peter] loves the likes of Madonna and Paula Abdul, while I have always been drawn more to New Wave.



LP: What makes a song an Arcati Crisis song?

GM: I believe a song becomes an Arcati Crisis song when we have succeeded in making it so daunting that we tremble in fear each and every time we think of playing it, and yet so very awesome that we can't help but suffer through it. For the sake of the children...

PM: Weeks of agonizing deliberation over a single line of harmony...

GM: Our songs have interlocking guitar parts, so that it's sometimes difficult to tell whose playing what. This was Peter's vision from the beginning - he'd play me pieces of Sleater-Kinney songs. I laughed when he told me he wanted to sound like that.

PM: But, we actually got compared to them, recently! "Acoustic Sleater-Kinney."



LP: What is it like being in a community, with each other, and with other musicians in the local scene?

GM: When I was sixteen, I spent the summer going to a weekly open mic at a local coffee shop. I had a lot of good experiences there, but also a lot of skeevy ones and I was wary of them for a while after that.

PM: Yeah, I witnessed the skeeve. Something about a sixteen-year-old girl playing classic rock. But, that's a whole other story.

GM: Now I'm older and singing original music and it's great. Having Peter there definitely helps with the confidence, and definitely the fun factor. We've been best friends for half of our lives so it's really a great experience to share all this with him.

PM: When I'm alone I just output, output, output - I get bored so easily playing the same song more than once. With Gina - and also as I play in the community more - it's completely the reverse ... I'm more about distillation. I'm happy to play the same thing over and over again because I want to find the essence. Concentrated song, rather than eau de toilette.

Did that make any sense at all?



LP: What's the best concert you've ever been to?

PM: I attended Bonnaroo in 2006. Rolling Stone calls Radiohead's set the best festival performance this decade, and I would be inclined to agree. Except, a few hours later I saw The Dresden Dolls play an incendiary set to a packed tent of people dressed up as a vikings and fairies, capped with a straight-up cover of "White Rabbit."

Seriously, "feed you head" at 2 a.m. in the middle of a massive carnival in Tennessee surrounded by a bunch of rabid music freaks in fancy costumes, the majority of whom have just eaten "some kind of mushroom"? How do you beat that?

GM: Well, it depends on what you're judging a concert experience on. If you are judging it based on fun plus kitsch factor, then seeing Styx at the ballroom at the Tropicana in Atlantic City was certainly one of the best. My boyfriend, Wes, and I were like 10 feet from Styx, doing their stadium rock in a tiny room. Truly awesome.



LP: What music excites you lately?

GM: Well, Arcati Crisis, of course.

PM: I like bands that are impossible to label with a standard genre, because they encourage me not to succumb to that urge when it comes to Arcati Crisis.

I hardly go a week without listening to Rufus Wainwright. I'm in love with Dog Problems, by the Format, but they just broke up! Um... Mieka Pauley is an amazing independent artist. Catfish Haven. Mika. Anything produced by Mark Ronson, because we both love Motown.

Kelly Clarkson. Her genre is a little more complicated than you'd think.

GM: Also, as if anyone who has spoken to me recently didn't know, Kula Shaker has a new album out and it's super fantastic. Mmmm... Kula Shaker.

Oh yeah! Kula Shaker, that was a pretty good concert years ago too. I am waiting for them to return to the states. It shall be a long wait, I fear. - Lyndzapalooza


Discography

Arcati Crisis periodically records LPs live at rehearsal, complete with improv alterations to lyrics and between-song-banter. The band offers each "Live @ Rehearsal" volumes free to audiences for a limited time.

Live @ Rehearsal, Vol. 1 - September 2007
Live @ Rehearsal, Vol. 1.5 - December 2007
Live @ Rehearsal, Vol. 2 - January 2008
Live @ Rehearsal, Vol. 3 - May 2008
Live @ Rehearsal, Vol. 4 - December 2008

Photos

Bio

Watch a full electric set: http://bit.ly/acfire1105
Watch a full acoustic set: http://bit.ly/actin1009

Arcati Crisis is the combination of Philadelphia-based singer-songwriters Peter Marinari and Gina Martinelli - a duo of best friends making unique, harmony-laden music. Their tightly-knit harmonies and riffs are supported by Zina Parrillo on drums to drive their throwback AM-radio songs into modern indie-pop territory.

For Arcati Crisis, “unique” is more than just an idle adjective. The pair of BFFs have never shared a kiss or a fight, all while equally shouldering lead vocals and guitars. Every set is a non-stop, boy/girl, pop/rock duet. On songs like “Holy Grail” and “Better” it’s often impossible to dissect the band’s tightly-knit harmonies and riffs. Despite similar split duties from single-sex influencers like CSNY, Hall & Oates, Indigo Girls, and even Sleater-Kinney, the nearest analogs to Arcati Crisis’s dual-sex dueling vocals is Fleetwood Mac. No modern, mainstream band comes close to their classic-rock-inspired interplay.

The band’s classic influences aren’t surprising - a love of music from before their births helped forge a friendship that originated in seventh-grade lunchroom food-fight during a brief, between-tables salvo of peanuts. Fast friends from that point forward, the pair spent their teenage years together attending concerts and acting in school plays, all while Gina taught Peter how to play guitar. As Peter stumbled through his small repertoire of chords, the pair joking dubbed themselves “Arcati Crisis” – after Gina’s first role in a play and Peter’s longtime internet nickname.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2001 that the tongue-in-cheek name turned into something more. Peter, now knowing many more chords, released a solo LP and invited Gina to participate in a daunting once-a-year project – a 24-hour non-stop home-recording session. After weeks of needling Gina to pen an original song for the session, she showed up with two - “Real End” and “Religion.” Along with Peter’s “Under My Skin” and “Punk,” they unwittingly recorded what would become the core of Arcati Crisis’s catalog.

Despite frequent co-writing of songs that show up in sets to this day, Arcati Crisis remained mostly a studio project while Gina and Peter split a college apartment. That changed in the fall of 2006, when the duo joined to rehearse for their annual appearance in the Shubin Theatre Holiday Revue and, afterwards, discovered that they didn’t want to stop rehearsing.

Starting with Peter’s newly penned “Standing” – a bouncy rock ode to their shared high school travails - Arcati Crisis re-arranged all of their old tunes, each now unmistakable in their interlocking guitar parts and intricate harmonies. Despite wielding a pair of acoustic guitars, the duo never debated taking on a "folk" label. Arcati Crisis was a pop/rock act that happened to be unplugged all the time.

After playing dozens of unplugged shows and releasing four LPs in just three years, in the fall of 2010 Arcati Crisis expanded to include efficient drumming from Zina Parrillo, a young veteran of the Philly rock scene. With Zina's intuitive rhythm arrangements to support them, Gina and Peter started slinging an electric guitar back and forth during sets - and Arcati Crisis's rock vibe was finally an audible reality.

Arcati Crisis has appeared on stage across Philadelphia at The Tin Angel, The Fire, Dawson Street Pub, The Rotunda, The Dive, TriTone, Blarney South, Zot, and Doc Watson’s, and at 2nd Saturday Collingswood and Snipes Farm in Morrisville, PA. They have served as the house band for The Shubin Theatre for over a decade, as well as providing music for diners at Triumph Brewing Company, The General Lafayette Inn, Dorian's Parlor, and Saxbys Coffee. They have shared bills with local phenomenons including Mutlu, Suzie Brown, Up the Chain, Dante Bucci, The Sleepwells, Joshua Popejoy, and David Cope.

Arcati Crisis performances are always imbued with the irrepressible joy and charm of best friends making music. Each new song the band debuts became an instant fan favorite – including Gina’s epic, end-of-world paean “Apocalyptic Love Song,” Peter’s acoustic dance-rock jam "Dumbest Thing I Could Do," and the band’s array of campy 80s classics like "Video Killed the Radio Star" and “Don’t You Want Me.”

Arcati Crisis continues to add new songs to their repertoire as they increase their profile in the Philadelphia tri-state area. Every time they play to a new crowd, they hear the same comment: “I’ve never heard harmony like that before!”

Whether it be their decades-spanning friendship or their unmatched male/female harmony vocals, for Arcati Crisis “unique” is more than an adjective – it’s their life.