Jason Poranski
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Jason Poranski

Brooklyn, New York, United States

Brooklyn, New York, United States
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"An Interview with Beirut"

The Line of Best Fit sat down and chatted with Paul Collins (organ/keys/tambourine/ukulele), Jason Poranski (guitar/mandolin/ukulele) and Nick Petree (drums) about the new melancholic French chanson representing album The Flying Club Cup before their show at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. Everyone got quite excited when discussing a critique that Beirut’s front-man (Zach Condon) is only appropriating the music of whatever country he finds interesting like a tourist snapping photos. Also current favorite albums were discussed and Scott Walker and The Dirty Projectors both popped up twice. Anyway, enough of my rambling, read on…

I was just curious. What are your ages? This band is known for being a young band since Zach is 21.
Paul Collins: I’m 27.
Jason Poranski: I’m 29.
Nick Petree: I’m 26.

Who out of you three were in the original band first?
Poranski: Paul and Nick played shows with Zach in New Mexico before Zach came to New York looking for a band. These guys came too then and then we added more in New York.
Collins: We played one in Sante Fe and then one for SXSW.

For The Flying Club Cup it definitely sounds more like a group effort. What roles did you all play in the making of the album after Zach laid down the skeletal form(s) for each song?
Collins: Recording was done in two parts. There was one part in New Mexico where they did a lot of stuff. These two guys were a part of that core group with Perrin Cloutier (cello/accordion) and Griffin Rodriguez (Beirut’s producer). Basically, I didn’t do that much on the album. I play a bouzouki on a couple tracks and I found a sample for “Nantes,” the first track. Other than that, these guys were much more involved in the original recording of Cup.
Poranski: Yeah, Paul has an analogy for the way that Zach works, which basically starts with him writing a bunch of songs on his own. Paul’s analogy is that we’re all different colors on the palette. Basically we ask ourselves what he needs for that song and what we can pull off in a kind of last minute way. You do it as quickly as possible but Zach is pretty flexible with his original songs. Everyone had different parts on this new record which is different from the first one.

Tell me a little about the times Zach would go to other people if he didn’t know how to play a particular instrument that he wanted on the album.
Poranski: Yeah there’s some stuff Zach doesn’t know.
Petree: A good example would be when Kendrick Strauch elaborating on the piano tracks Zach had for the album.

How are the larger venues working out for you?
Collins: I personally thrive on the intimate settings. Our sound benefits from those types of places. We played at a bar right before this tour with no monitors or anything and we were in the crowd playing. Brass sounds really great in a place like that because it’s very organic that way. Sometimes it is hard to get that on a large stage.
Poranski: That being said, we were really too worried about these theatre shows than we needed to be because they have been going pretty well for the most part. Of course you have some monitor problems. Some of the shows are seated and you kind of think that’s going to be weird but then people are standing up out of their seats and dancing.

How about festivals?
Collins: We’e haveen’t played any festivals in America besides SXSW back in the day. We got really lucky at Glastonbury or actually some of those other Eurupean festivals because they put us on the world stage as opposed to the main stage or hip hop stage. Instead of having the typical hipsters backstage you have gypsies and people from Western Sahara. Tinarwen played after us. Where did they form again?
Poranski: Tinarwin formed in one of Moamma al-Qadhafi’s Tuareg rebel camps. They are nasty, so good. They were backstage hanging out.
Collins: It’s so exciting to be around bands like that.
Jason, you were talking in another interview about how to translate the strings on the record to the stage. How has that worked out so far?
Poranski: What I was saying was that we wanted to translate the string section but there are so many on the record that you can’t have that at a live show. You take the dynamics of it because you can’t make the record on stage. You wouldn’t want to anyway. Maybe some bands are able to duplicate the record into a live show but that’s impossible for this band. We wanted to get past that difficulty and still make the songs work.
Petree: For example these two guys took the string arrangement that Owen Pallett did for “A Sunday Smile” and reworked it for two ukuleles.

I don’t necessarily take this view but some people have critiqued the band or specifically Zach for sort of fetishsizing the places he’s been to in the same way tourists do when they take pictures. What do you all think about that? Is Zach trying to be authentic with his music?
In almost perfect unison (all three): NO! It’s not meant to be authentic.
Poranski: It sets you up with - Line of Best Fit

"Jason Poranski and Paul Collins, Musicians"

Nine days after sending them off, a two-man team of Jason Poranski and Paul Collins sent back some cryptic, Dylan-esque answers. Had we known we were actually interviewing Condon’s band and not Condon, we would have also asked them if their front man could use an amanuensis. Or maybe a Red Bull? - Gothamist

"Beirut's Jason Poranski"

Rock shows not in clubs always seem to serve SFist especially well. Beirut is performing two nights at the Herbst Theater (tonight and Tuesday). Although they’re legendary for their live shows and the age of their leader (21), we like Beirut for other reasons. Reasons like the glockenspiels, ukuleles, and mandolins in their music. If you haven’t heard them before their first album, 'Gulag Orkestar', is a good place to start. We’ll echo the growing group of music critics who stress that their latest release is just as good and even, yes, more mature. The shows are sold out, so hit up craigslist if you haven’t gotten tix yet. You’ll finally earn that indie cred you’ve been after all these years.
Jason Poranski (he’s in the red t-shirt) plays guitar, ukulele, and mandolin in Beirut and was kind enough to answer some questions for us about the band and tour.

Why the name ‘Beirut’?

The name goes back further than the band’s live shows, further than 'Gulag Orkestar', to Zach’s earlier home projects. Somewhere when he was a lot younger, maybe fourteen or fifteen he came up with that name. It is in no way was supposed to be political. It probably just seemed like an exotic place that was a lot different than New Mexico.
Any hints of what people can expect at the SF show?
A mix. A lot of new songs, a lot of gulag songs, a lot of stuff off the new record. People who have been to our shows before should expect it to be more vibrant, there’s a lot of energy in music. They should expect to have fun.

What’s your favorite song to perform live?

A new song off 'The Flying Club Cup' called “In the Mausoleum” It has a lot different flavor from the others we perform. There’s a groove to it, its fun to play.

Favorite song off the new record?

It’s hard to say. I like Owen Palat’s [Final Fantasy/ Arcade Fire] song on the record. It’s a nice break on the record to hear a different voice. I like his arrangements.
Photo by Kari Sharff

Who would you compare your live shows to?

One thing I like about being in band, and the live show is that it has an energy and instrumentation and I’m part of something I haven’t heard before. It’s odd. I was talking about this.. asking about the reactions of different people in different places to our music. Like France versus New York. Across the board, our experience has been we’ve gotten a great response in the States, and all over, and there isn’t that much of a difference. Sure you can have shows where we are pretty mellow. Myself, as an audience member, I’m not always vocal, I don’t jump round. What I like about this band, is I’m not like that personally, but a lot of people do that. It’s great to have an audience get so involved. In Toronto, people actually crashed on stage and started dancing. You don’t see that w/ too many other bands. I like being a part of it, because I don’t see too many comparisons.

Ukuleles seem to be popping up lately in music, how did you come to it?

I didn’t play too much before ukulele before Beirut. My background is in finger picking guitar. If you can play a guitar you can play a ukulele. There’s different tunings, but it’s pretty much the same thing. What it does add is a really delicate feel. I play a nylon string guitar, I prefer that to steel string. I like the ukulele too, because it’s more delicate, with less strings. It’s not a kid’s instrument at all. It can be used that way. But lots of guitar players just learn and use 3 chords. A Ukulele will produce an equal sophistication when played well.

What’s surprising about being in this band?

It goes back to when getting live show off the band, those first shows in NY, with so many people showing up. That was the big surprise going back 2 years. The response from people has been amazing . When I first listened to Gulag and realized how young this person [Zach Condon]was, that was as surprise. He’s a really focused kid and makes great records.

What should we look for from you on the new album?

Look for the mandolin on “St. Apollonia”. That’s a mandolin part that me and the drummer worked on together. It adds a lot to the song.

Any songs you like in better in the lives show?
No. Each one has its own place. It’s interesting and different to figure out how to perform them live. It really is another project once the record is done to figure out how to keep the energy up for the live show. We had a good time doing it, and we’re ready to play the songs. - SFist


The Hendu



Raised among New Jersey, Florida and Massachusetts towns, Poranski started playing music in Boston's Mission Hill. It was 1996 and Poranski was working in Newbury Comics' Warehouse, and later as a graveyard shift Orderly at Mass General Hospital. Poranski soon moved to Chicago, attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, until dropping out shortly after. Poranski talks about his delineation from visual art to music, saying "Initially I wanted to understand more about the fear of being on stage, or hearing your own voice." Poranski has always been intrigued by what makes something bad, rather than what makes it good. "I think I ran out of bad ideas in painting," says Poranski, so he moved on to focus on music. Eventually Poranski would end up calling New York home, where he joined Beirut as an original member. After three years with
Beirut, Poranski went on to form Freetime (later Human Rights) with Tom Gluibizzi (Psychic Ills.) Freetime was picked up to play MOMA's Armory Show with The Walkmen. Shortly after, Poranski began writing several songs for a short-lived band called Swim with Kenny Wang (Yeah Yeah Yeahs.) THE HENDU will be Poranski's first solo record,
and certainly not one to miss. THE HENDU was produced by Jordan Leib (Producer on JD Samson release MEN)
and Francis Harris (Adult Napper).