Marc Scibilia

Marc Scibilia

BandAlternative

If you were bold, you could say Marc Scibilia’s new record is the realization of an American dream, one that spans multiple generations, numerous cities and multifarious influences. But let’s start smaller: The Shape I’m In is a strong opening statement from a charismatic singer who’s a little hard to pin down. At heart, Scibilia is a rock’n’roll singer with a little Nashville flair.

Scibilia grew up in Buffalo, not necessarily a thriving musical community but one that he credits for develop

Biography

If you were bold, you could say Marc Scibilia’s new record is the realization of an American dream, one that spans multiple generations, numerous cities and multifarious influences.

But let’s start smaller: The Shape I’m In is a strong opening statement from a charismatic singer who’s a little hard to pin down. At heart, Scibilia is a rock’n’roll singer with a little Nashville flair.

And one helluva backstory.

It’s a story that dates back before the singer was even born. “My grandfather grew up playing bass in a pit orchestra,,” says Scibilia, talking from his home studio in East Nashville. “He played with guys like [famed jazz guitarist] Tommy Tedesco. But he also had to pay the bills. He didn’t have the luxury to really fulfill his dream.”

Add in a father who also played in a band — and a musician brother — and it’s easy to understand Scibilia’s early musical aspirations. “Growing up, we always got instruments as gifts,” he says. “I started with drums, then piano and guitar. I’d just pick them up and play. It was never a technical thing: it was always about the feel.”

Scibilia grew up in Buffalo, not necessarily a thriving musical community but one that he credits for developing his very “genuine” outlook. And a tough skin. “It’s very cold there,” he says, laughing. “It gave me this ‘get the job done’ mentality. I’ve got three minutes and fifteen seconds to do it right.”

Outside of his father, Scibilia found little initial support for his musical dreams. “Everyone had more conventional thoughts for me,” he says. “I had a counselor when I was 15 who became really concerned with my grades. Finally, she said, ‘What are you going to do, go to Nashville and write songs?’ I realized, hey, not a bad idea!”

It took a few years, but Scibilia eventually did move to Nashville, recording and releasing a few EPs — including a self-titled 2012 release, which included the song “How Bad We Needed Each Other,” a #1 hit on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart— as well as landing tours with the likes of Dave Barnes, Derek Webb, John Oates and Sixpence None the Richer.

For his Sony/ATV debut, The Shape I’m In, Scibilia recorded in his home studio (“guitars in the kitchen, vocals in the closet, drums in the main area”), with some additional production at the famed Blackbird Studios and Electric Lady Studios. “I like the mix of two worlds: making music in my house, then going somewhere and getting some of the greatest experts in the world to help,” he says.

While he’s released music before, Shape serves as a real introduction to Scibilia, who proves both a huge talent and a tough artist to pigeonhole.

“You can hear the kind of mix I’m going for in my songs,” he says. “For example: I love the Beastie Boys record Hello Nasty. First record I bought; the drum sounds on there are amazing. But then I also grew up really loving Lauryn Hill. And songwriters like Tom Petty and Paul Simon. You can add those influences together and see where I’m going. No preconceptions...if something serves the song and the groove, that’s what I do.”

A good example is the album’s rollickin’ title track, which started off as quieter number. “It was 3 a.m., we were doing some acoustic scratch tracks in the studio, and this riff just came to me,” he says. “It was so good I was realized it was worth starting the song over.”

A more melodic, story-centered side shines on album standout “Shining Like America,” a semi-true “be careful what you wish for” tale. “I had no money when I started out in Nashville. I was just living in a drum closet in my studio, and for some reason I was watching this beauty pageant on TV,’ he says. “It was dark times. I was like, what would it be like to meet up with a pretty girl like Miss Tennessee?” [The irony: Scibilia did end up dating a beauty contestant later on. He admits: “It was horrible.”]

With the EP finished and a full-length on its way early next year, Scibilia plans to hit the road soon and often. Along for the ride: multi-instrumentalist Eric Montgomery and Scibilia’s brother Matthew, a well-respected session player in his own right (including gigs with the likes of Cory Chisel and Brendon Benson).

And a bit more family: a bass that once belonged to his grandfather.

“He never made it out, but that bass has toured all over the country,” says the singer. “In a way, I hope this is a realization of his dream, too.”

That said, what happens next is Marc’s journey. And he plans to make it a unique one.

“I try not to have any preconceived ideas of what should happen,” he says. “I can’t work in those confines. All I know is, do I like it, and does it matter to me? That’s the important thing.”