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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Band Rock


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"Exploding on the Music Scene"

Exploding on the Music Scene
By Penny Goodman

There is a song on REAL’s new CD named “Explode” and that’s just about what the band members of REAL – Mariano Mattei, Fabian Henault, Joe Falcione and Erik Brown – feel like they’re about to do on the music scene – explode!

“We’ve been doing this for some years,” says co-lead singer and guitarist Mariano, "and we feel that this is our best work yet. We are really proud of the CD and the positive response that we have gotten from our fans."

The CD, entitled “I Blame You” – recorded at Big Sky Audio in Springfield, PA., under the direction of Producer Drew Raison, in association with Little Devil Records and Fifth Stone Music, consists of seven songs that can only be described as “pure, straightforward rock and roll,” according to Fabian, the band’s drummer. Mariano adds, “Drew is a great producer who really developed us as a band. Working with him has benefited us in many ways, but I think one of the biggest ways would have to be in our musical maturity.”

The band members all agree that it was extremely hard to choose which songs from their extensive song list would make it onto the CD; however they ultimately decided on these because of the songs' diversity. “The songs we chose really show the musical range that REAL has," says Fabian. "We intentionally mixed the CD with serious songs like “Maria’s Gone Away” and “Nothing Else Matters” along with tongue-in-cheek rockers like “Explode” to give our fans a taste of the different sides of Real, both sensitive and ready to rock."

Whatever your taste, this is the CD that has something for everyone. REAL has been around for a number of years now, going through the usual incarnations that bands go through. Childhood friends, Mariano and Fabian, started the band and have remained faithful to their initial goal that they wanted an honest and 'real' sound similar to that of Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi. They vowed never to change their sound to fit what radio wanted. Instead they concentrated on playing rock music, playing it well and playing from the heart, and they knew this would capture almost any type of audience.

Most bands thank their fans for their loyalty but, according to Fabian, REAL does more than just give them a shout out during a show. “Our fans have been extremely loyal to us,” Fabian says, “and we try and thank them whenever we can.” The band hosts a regular “fan appreciation” night in their South Philadelphia studio, and sponsors bus trips to see Real perform in New York City.

At no charge to their guests, the fan appreciation nights treat Real's fans to complimentary food, refreshments, door prizes and other give-aways, including lots of merchandise from the band's sponsor, Nada Logo (, a clothing manufacturer that provides the band with product to give away at shows. “The fan appreciation night is our way of saying ‘thanks’ to everyone for supporting us throughout the year,” said Mariano. “… and it provides an opportunity for us to play for the under 21 crowd that can’t get into the bars,” added Fabian. The band agrees that this night is all about the fans – “…it’s just a good old-fashion party!” Real’s next Fan Appreciation night is set for Saturday, January 15, 2005. The band will be debuting their “I Blame You” CD that night as well, and of course – giving it to fans for free.

The “Wacky Bus” (as it is referred to by the band), is the official REAL party bus to New York where the band performs regularly throughout the year. There is a small fee to get on their “Wacky bus” trips, but the band promises that it is well worth it! “We feel that if people are coming to see us, we not only like to put on a good show on stage, we like to give them a party, something they’ll remember for a long time," Mariano says. “People have told us that they have as much fun on the bus as they do while they’re at the show,” Fabian said. And there are plenty of Nada Logo t-shirts and products to go home with when the night is through. The next bus trip is a Valentine’s Day bash to New York City on Saturday, February 12, 2005, so reserve a seat now - they go fast!

This version of REAL began performing together a little over three years ago and it was the addition of keyboardist and co-lead singer Joe “Journey” Falcione that brought along the biggest change in the band. The keyboard was something that the band felt was “missing from their sound,” but band was in luck to find that Joe also brought along a fantastic vocal range. Joe’s vocal sound has been compared to artists from Steve Perry to Tom Waits. His impressive range is most evident on the song “Nothing Else Matters” (on the “I Blame You” CD) written primarily for his daughter. His vocals seamlessly flow from soft to blues-rock, and his keyboards are on fire.

Erik Brown plays bass guitar for REAL bringing new and fresh ideas into the mix. Erik - Out on the Town Magazine

"Until You're Home Again"

I recently went to The Nail and saw the band Real. Real is comprised of two brothers, Mariano (guitar, vocals) and Angelo (Bass, Vocals) Mattei, and Fabian Henault (Drums, Vocals). They had recently added a keyboard player, Joe Falcione and that night was his first show.

After their set ended they gave away, for free, that means no money, a full length CD titled Until You?re Home Again. The CD?s title song (The last song of 10) is a beautiful ballad with a great trippy guitar solo. The band?s style is pop/rock with a few songs reminding me of The BoDeans and The Rembrandts. Especially Now That You?re Gone a great pop offering that I could envision eventually being the theme song to a ? hour sitcom. They do mix it up a little with a more modern rock sound on Rain and Laelean and have great fun with a 50?s style old time rock-n-roll song Baby Likes Rock-n-Roll. Angel is a 6 and a half-minute classic rock epic reminiscent of Procol Harem or Manfred Mann. What?s really nice about this band is that all four lend their writing and vocal talents to the whole. Real?s harmonizing is very well done, their song Let Me Be The One reminds me of the classic REM vocal layering. Days and Nights is a pretty ballad with very melodic harmonies; this is one of the several songs Fabian sings while throwing spare drumsticks at Angelo, the bass player. Mariano?s guitar work is solid throughout the CD with exceptional solos on Take My Hand, Laelean and the very danceable Everything About You.

The songwriting is mostly about things the band loves, their wives, children, girlfriends and everything else that makes for great love song subjects. The CD is presented in a very professional manner. In this writer?s opinion, the mix has the vocal a little too far out front, but considering the opposite is normally found with independent releases, maybe this was intentional. I?ll tell you this, the live show is a much better sound experience and I would recommend they do a live recording in the future, and please include the song about the Mattei?s sister Maria. Real?s audience at The Nail consisted largely of female fans and I recommend their show if you are on a date with that someone special or looking for one. My wife thought Real was great, she thought their songs touch on the emotional and were identifiable to her, plus it didn?t hurt that they are all good looking boys from South Philly.

-Bill Baldwin
- Origivation Magazine

"Rockin the Boat"

Mariano Mattei and his band, Real, are changing the face of the local music scene via the Web and multi-group performances.

Although not quite on par with the legendary age of the Philadelphia music scene -- when the Golden Boys were crooning, Chubby Checker was twisting and Dick Clark was bringing dancing teens into millions of people's living rooms -- the 1970s and '80s were a viable time for aspiring musicians.

Like many other teens of the MTV age, Mariano Mattei could picture himself as the next lead singer of KISS, Foreigner or Journey, and decided he was gonna be a rock star.

He bought a guitar, recruited his cousin and some friends, and started a band that eventually became known as Edge. The group soon learned that making it in the music business wasn't as easy as having talent and a dream.

"When Edge experienced its little run of limited success, it was about 15 years ago and the Philly music scene was beginning to break down," says Mattei, 33, a lifelong resident of Girard Estate. "We got a little bit of airplay on the radio and played the local clubs, but as we reached college age, the band just fizzled out.

"The Philly scene became an ugly backstabbing place, instead of one where bands supported each other."

Mattei quickly decided that he needed a job to fall back on, and after graduating from Temple University, he planned to go into real estate, just like his father.

Not too enamored of property deals, however, Mattei decided to parlay his general interest in computers into a career in the expanding technology market.

He quickly worked his way up to senior software engineer at IBM, a job that allowed him to work from his home at 23rd and Shunk streets and spend time with his wife and three children.

He had a great job and a great family, but Mattei still had an itch that begged to be scratched.

"Edge had a little reunion about five years ago, and while it was enough for the other guys in the band, I felt a need to keep playing," he says. "My best friend Fabian Hanault filmed the reunion, and when I told him of my desire to keep playing, he said, 'Great, I'll be your drummer.'"

Never mind that Hanault didn't own a set of drums, nor did he how to play them. A clarinet player as a kid, Hanault had a brother who played the drums, but that was as close as he got to learning the skill.

"At first, I laughed," Mattei says. "But then I realized he was serious, and having known him my whole life, I knew that when he sets his mind to anything, he does it."

Six months later, the pair was playing acoustic gigs at Mattei's brother Angelo's Ground Floor Cafèôt Front and Morris streets. Within another few months, Angelo told his younger brother that he would learn to play the bass guitar, and Mattei's new band, Real, was born.

"My brother just has such an ear for music that he picked up the instrument and just knew how to play," Mattei says. "Everyone that heard us play kept telling us that our songs were honest and real, so we figured that was the perfect name for the band."

Mattei used his experiences as a member of Edge when laying out the new band's strategy, lest Real fall victim to the infighting and turnover many groups face.

"First, we decided that we were all going to take this very seriously and practice at least three days a week in my basement," he says. "Then I decided after we made our first CD that we would distribute our music ourselves through"

The simple theory behind self-promotion, says Mattei, is that existing Web sites gladly will plug songs and CDs from independent artists, but when the groups get big enough, they sell their work to a corporation and the musicians are hung out to dry.

Instead of being a minnow to the Web sharks of the world, became a weigh station for other local original acts in the Philly area.

"We offered advice on everything from booking to playing live to producing CDs in an effort to not only network, but to once again get a sense of a Philly music scene," Mattei says. "Real realized, as did a bunch of other bands, that if we work and play together, 90 percent of our fans would dig what they were playing and vice versa.

"We are of the mentality that bringing the scene back to Philly is most important."

The grassroots plan grew to include not only other Web outlets such as and, but events where groups of original bands would come together and play all day. The first network night at the Grape Street Pub, a haven for original acts in Manayunk, brought out a huge audience to see 10 bands strut their stuff.

The informal concert also drew 20 music-industry representatives who jumped at the chance to hear a variety of live acts perform.

"Some bands got noticed and Web traffic increased 150 percent," Mattei says of the aftermath of the show. "After the second show, we had fans coming from as far as Wash - South Philly Review

"They're Real and They're Spectacular"

Joe McAllister

They’re real and they’re spectacular. OK, maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole for a band that calls itself Real. The all-original local rock band sticks to rock ‘n roll basics in this day of over the top studio production and electronic enhancement. That’s for real.

Nothing artificial here. Just four men and their instruments. Jeans and t-shirts. Manly yes, but women like it too.

“I’d estimate that women make up 80 percent of our fan base,” says Real’s happily married co-founder Mariano Mattei. “We use no sampling. Everything we do is live and real, even in the studio. We’re just normal guys. You wouldn’t know we’re the band until we get up onstage.”

Once onstage, Real commands attention by alternating lead singers and keeping every set new and invigorating. “We all write and we all sing,” says lead guitarist Mattei. That’s our signature – four-part harmony on every song.”

Band manager Christina Morabito says the uniqueness of Real lies in the band’s all-things-being-equal concept. “They all write, each one sings lead at various times and they’re all equal in everything,” says Morabito. “And they play old-fashioned, straight-ahead rock ‘n roll -- something unique right now.”

Mattei and fellow co-founder Fabian Henault lived 10 blocks apart in South Philly but never met until the music brought them together. A conversation on the state of post-grunge rock in 1996 led to a band that bills itself as “Classic rock for a new generation.”

Presently, the band has a Delaware county connection. Real is mid-way through their latest 10-song CD, recording at Big Sky Audio in Springfield. Henault credits Springfield producer Drew Raison with helping the group rise to the next level – both musically and emotionally.

“Drew is an incredible producer,” says Henault, the band’s drummer. “He not only makes us sound good on tape, he’s maturing us all as musicians.”

Although the band has been around since 1996, their influences are mostly 80s rock acts – from Metallica to Pat Benatar to Journey. Keyboardist Joe Falcione was such a Steve Perry and company fan that he was nicknamed Joe Journey (to distinguish him from the other Joeys) when he worked in a South Philly cheese shop.

“Journey was my biggest influence both vocally and musically,” says Falcione, who now teaches math and science at the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School. Falcione adds his vocals and lyrics to the self-composed “Nothing Else Matters” that deals with raising his young daughter despite the pain of divorce.

“Everything we do is real. We don’t write fluff,” says Falcione. “If I don’t feel it, I can’t write it and I won’t sing it.”

Real is rounded out by newcomer, bassist Erik Brown. “Erik brings his wild sense of humor and something new to the band,” says Falcione. “We’re all professionals and one big family. We’re a band of brothers.”

Mariano’s deft guitar work and Henault’s steady beat are featured prominently on the band’s Journeyesque, mid-tempo power ballad “Explode” about which the band is currently filming a video.

“Our songs are mostly keyboard and guitar-driven,” says Mattei. It’s what we grew up with. What we’re going for is honesty in music.”

A Real fan favorite is Mattei’s ode to his now-grown baby sister called “Maria’s Gone Away”. “My sister and I are five years apart in age. I remember helping her walk,” recalls Mattei. “It’s a song about brotherly and sisterly love, growing up and not being at home or around each other as much.”

Family, friends and fans are what this band is all about. Bi-annual bus trips to play in New York City have turned into a raucous and affordable good time for busloads of Real fans. “For $40 we get them to New York and back, give them free CDs and other swag, provide beer and wine, and homemade stromboli that we serve them,” says Mattei. “We play band-related games on the bus with prizes and entree to the club. We’re losing money.”

What they lose in money, the band has made up by securing a sponsor,, which produces Real t-shirts, Frisbees, key chains and other paraphernalia.

“We pretty much run a free operation,” says Henault. “We burn CDs, slap a label on them and hand them out every show.”

Mattei says the CD give-aways are not just about Real largesse. “Instead of five people buying our CD, I’d rather have 50 listening to it,” says Mattei. “Our fan base is the largest it’s been and they’re very loyal.”

Meanwhile, Real is looking to play the Italian Festival and Penn’s Landing this summer and also have their eyes on theme parks like Hershey and Six Flags. “We’d like to break through to the next level and open up for major acts,” says Henault. For real.

Real plays the Nail in Ardmore, Friday, June 4 at 10 pm. For upcoming schedule information and to download free Real music, go to
- Deleware County Times


Until Your Home Again (1999)
I Blame You (2005)
13 (2006)
Not Agian (2007)



Want to spend a night with Ray Romano, Mario Batali, and Matchbox Twenty? Well, that's not gonna happen, so let's get real. REAL, as in the South Philly pop/rock quartet that's like walking into a sitcom catered by an Iron Chef. Fronted by Mariano Mattei's assured vocals and guitar and driven by the drumming of longtime band mate and collaborator Fabian Henault, REAL is a band sautĂŠed in the stellar tradition of melodic pop-rock born in Philadelphia. Mariano and Fabian's comical familiarity speaks to a history that dates back to parachute pants and jelly bracelets, and the addition of Kurt Bock and Chris Ritchie rounds out a lineup that truly delivers the Bolognese. That's right, thanks to Mariano’s being an honest-to-goodness Italian chef, rock and roll isn't all that might get served at a REAL show. "If you come to see us play," says Mariano, "you'd better come hungry."

Band Members