Pistol Opera
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Pistol Opera

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"Listen Up: Los Angeles"

Move over Lavender Diamond. For locals who are looking for homegrown talent with a little more octane, there's a new name on the L.A. music scene: Pistol Opera.

So, what does this under the radar group sound like? Inspired by classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles these three guys (who have known each other since they were kids) incorporate the very best of what gets us all going into their music, from post-punk to new wave and hip-hop. (Yeah, they cover a lot of ground.) It's true rock 'n roll, chock full of ear-pleasing harmonies, catchy hooks and infectious energy.

"We admire Queens of the Stone Age and Rufus Wainwright," explains guitarist Scott Pitts. "They both make amazing, uncompromising music in their respective genres on their own terms with a measure of mainstream success sufficient enough that they're allowed to continue by the overlords of the modern music business."
- Gen Art Pulse/Music Nation


"Pistol Opera Shoot For Succsess"

Pistol Opera have exploded on the L.A. rock scene so fast since forming less than a year ago, charismatic front man Eli Braden, who meets me nursing a vodka tonic at three o’clock in the afternoon, has barely had time to adjust to life in his adopted hometown. “I’m just now getting used to the sheer quantity of enormous silicone breasts here,” he says. “There’s no better place to be a nursing infant in the world right now than L.A. Every day they feast.”

A demo CD that singer/bassist Braden recorded in 2004 with NYC producer Bryce Goggin (Phish, Pavement, Nada Surf) reached L.A. native Scott Lorenzini (drums) early last year through a mutual friend. Lorenzini was so blown away by the music he immediately phoned Braden (who he barely knew) to propose putting a band together.

Braden, who’d been performing solo acoustic in San Francisco, took the plunge south, and Pistol Opera was born when Lorenzini brought high school chums and longtime musical collaborators Toby Semain (lead guitar, vocals) and Scott Pitts (acoustic guitar, vocals) into the fold.

“It was really fantastic to step into a situation where three great musicians who are also cool guys are crazy about my songs and super excited to play them,” Braden says. “They’ve known each other since they were kids, so they have this built-in chemistry that helps avoid the dysfunction that plagues so many bands.”

Taking their name from an obscure Japanese Yakuza film, Pistol Opera’s music easily recalls the melodic excellence and songwriting quality of (seriously) the Beatles, but they’re definitely a “rock” band, with an intensity rooted in post-punk and metal that shines through even in beautiful ballads like “Never Say Goodbye” and “Shrine.” “We give everything when we play,” Braden says. “Sometimes we get so excited onstage we careen out of control - the tempos start rising and the music gets crazier and crazier. But even at our loosest, weirdest shows, there are always a few people who come up afterwards and say we’re the best new band they’ve seen. That feels good.”

Pistol Opera are currently recording a 5-song EP which they hope to have out in stores by April. The CD will feature live favorites like the ferocious rave-up “Over and Over” and the strange yet amazing “Do Ya”, which sounds like a sure-fire hit single despite being described by Braden as “like Radiohead covering Outkast being hijacked by Guns n’ Roses.”

The band has already been shown some record label attention but, as Braden points out, “In this day and age, you really have to question what exactly a record label can do for you that you can’t do for yourself. In the 90’s, the goal was to get a record deal so you could get a huge advance to record and quit your day job. That’s not really happening anymore. But with home recording technology and the internet, bands can really take their destiny into their own hands. It’s a cool thing.”

However, Pistol Opera wouldn’t turn up their nose if a major label were to make some overt advances. “Personally, I think we could be as big as Coldplay,” Braden says. “We’re the real deal; we’re not Hollywood posers. We work hard to make great music that will hopefully mean to people what the Smiths and U2 meant to me when I was a kid. Everybody needs something they can believe in.”

For music and more, check out http://myspace.com/pistoloperamusic and http://pistolopera.com

- Campus Circle Magazine (Mar 1, 2006)
- Campus Circle Magazine


Discography

"Pistol Opera" (2007)
"Obama" (single) (2008)
"Miracles" / "Letting Go" (EP) (2008)

Photos

Bio

PISTOL OPERA is the sonic partnership of Eli Braden and Toby Semain, two amazingly talented dudes who have lived and breathed music since they were old enough to play tennis rackets in a mirror.

Pistol Opera's intense, melodic rock seamlessly fuses musical influence from the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, the Stooges, Cheap Trick, early Van Halen, Stone Temple Pilots, and Foo Fighters. Lyrically, Pistol Opera set themselves apart from typical rock 'n' roll dumb-dumbs with a clever and humorous intelligence a la Morrissey and Eminem.

Frustrated by a world where most albums feature only two or three decent tunes at best, Pistol Opera are ALL about the songs. Braden and Semain work their asses off to ensure every track off the P.O. assembly line meets rigorous performance standards. Can you run a marathon in record time to the rockers? Can you have the best sex of your life to the soaring anthems? How damp is the average pair of panties as one of their elegant ballads ends? These are the kinds of tough questions Pistol Opera pose to themselves during the forging of each and every musical nugget.

L.A.-based Braden and Semain write, record, and produce their music almost completely on their own. The pair shares creative input on song structures, chord changes, melodies, and what to have for lunch. Braden is the singer (and bassist), and handles the bulk of the lyrics. Semain is a phenomenal guitarist AND drummer (although not at the same time); he also engineers and produces the band's recordings. Band friend Mike Stromsoe expertly mixes the finished product.

Pistol Opera released their self-titled debut in 2007. Songs from the album appeared on ABC and PBS, in a feature film, and in several other less-impressive media. Two of the tracks reached the Top 4 in consecutive sessions of the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest ('07 and '08). Mike Smith (star of Canada's hit TV comedy "Trailer Park Boys") loved their album so much he flew the band 3,600 miles at his own expense to Halifax, Nova Scotia to play at his popular nightclub "Bubbles' Mansion." No doot they had a good time, eh?

Pistol Opera are currently recording their next two albums simultaneously, both of which they hope to have out before the end of 2008 (or at least before Guns n' Roses release "Chinese Democracy."