The Persians
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The Persians

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“Happy birthday Elvis, it’s time to rock n’ roll,” said lead singer John Brocato of The Persians as they took the stage in Poindexter Auditorium Jan. 8 to begin the Student Programming Board’s first concert of the semester.

The Persians opened for Ingram Hill, a Memphis, Tenn., area band with a following in Columbus.

“Ingram Hill is a pretty good band and so are The Persians. I’d like to see them again,” Brian Robinson, a chemical engineer major from Mississippi State University, said.

“I had a blast,” freshman MUW student Ashley Athas said, “They were very sexy.”

The Persians were formed in 2001 and are from Starkville. Brocato, lead singer and guitar player, [founding former member] Rob Snell on bass and vocals and Todd Hunt on drums form the band. Their first album “A Thing Like Any Other” was released in 2003.

They performed many songs including “Via the Migration,” “Accidental Physics,” and “Mullet Boy Enumerates.”

To learn more about the Persians, visit their Web site, http://www.thepersians.net. - The Spectator (Bridget Smith, Lifestyles Editor)


The group played Wednesday night at the State Theater as part of the poetry reading/music event "JabberRock."

Playing from a mix of 11 original songs including "Going Dutch [Means You're Ugly]," "Mullet Boy [Enumerates]," and "Innard Yank," the band's upbeat tempo and blend of acoustic and electric rock enthralled the audience....

So, if you're looking for a band to sit back and enjoy some original melodies with eclectic lyrics, check out the Persians. Not only is the music good, but the enthusiasm and energy all three members put into playing provide an atmosphere of fun as well!

[NOTE: This is the infamous article wherein the johnny-on-the-spot reporter called us the "Peruvians" in the headline and throughout. We've taken the liberty of correcting that ridiculous error.] - Starkville Daily News (Jennifer Cason)


If you only have $5 for cover, and you want your alt-rock with an indie or punk sensibility make sure to go to Hal & Mal's on Aug. 16 for The Persians, John Black Attack, and Young Agent Jones. - The Jackson Free Press (Herman Snell)


The Persians are the newest of the three acts - they formed in 2001 - but anyone who's been around the Starkville rock scene knows Persians main man/principal songwriter John Bracato [sic] from one of his many former projects, including Skeleton Crew and the hilariously-but-crudely named Men from Nantucket. Like Young Agent Jones, The Persians are also a power trio - Brocato plays guitar and sings, Todd Hunt plays drums and [founding former member] Rob Snell plays bass. Their bio doesn't define their sound but says what they AREN'T: not a jam band, not nu-metal, not country, not punk, not jazz, not emo. What does that leave? Rock. Bracato [sic] cites rockers are [sic] diverse as Billy Joel, Iron Maiden, Pavement and Billy Bragg as influences. They'll be supporting their debut CD A Thing Like Any Other.

So go check out some of the best the Mississippi indie rock underground has to offer. - Planet Weekly (Carey Miller)


Song To Pine By:
UVA by Skeleton Crew [NOTE: John wrote this; it's now a Persians song and is on their debut CD]
- brandonbulldogs.net (a website for alumni of Brandon High School in MS)


UVA is an awsome [sic] song.... - http://www.myspace.com/thepersiansms


An album full of melodic, hard, wordy rock songs running the gamut from acoustic ballads to a full-out rock assault. - http://www.cdbaby.com/


Aaron Burdette
September 12, 2006

Students attending recent Mississippi State events or even just certain classes may recognize members of The Persians, a Starkville-based rock band that has been performing together in one form or another since August 2001.

The Persians, though it has had its roster changes, is currently composed of four members. John Brocato sings lead and plays guitar.

Todd Hunt handles the drums and further vocals. Lee Graham imbues the songs with his bass line. Steve Chrestman rounds out the group, also playing guitar and vocalizing.

The group started when Hunt called Brocato out of nowhere and suggested starting a band.

"Todd and I had known each other for many, many years," Brocato said. "He called and said 'let's jam,' and we did. We got together with a bass player, not Lee at that time, and started playing. That was August of 2001, and we've been going ever since."

As a three-man band, Hunt, Brocato and former bassist Rob Snell soon began playing shows in the Starkville area and around Mississippi.

After a few years the band cut its first album, A Thing Like Any Other, which was released in September 2003.

"For me, [the band] was just kind of a creative outlet," Hunt said. "My day job doesn't allow for a lot of creativity. I've been playing in bands for a long time. Drumming is good stress release, too."

Neither Brocato nor Hunt was new to the music scene. Hunt had been in several bands, including Jonestown Survivors and Identity Crisis. Brocato had gotten his start in a Los Angeles band called Skeleton Crew before moving on to the Starkville band Men from Nantucket, of which Chrestman was also a member.

Chrestman, an experienced musician, joined The Persians in June 2005 after terms of service with the band Molly Gish from 1995 to 1997 and the John Black Attack, which still occasionally plays shows in Starkville.

Graham joined the band shortly before him in April 2005 with years of experience under his belt. He first began his music career in high school playing with a band called Grounded Pilots before coming to Starkville and joining several groups. Before The Persians, Graham played bass for the Puerto Rican Rum Drunks until the untimely passing of the band's lead singer, Del Rendon. Now Graham splits time between The Persians, solo acoustic sets and other Starkville-based bands Hogleg and Joe Whaley and the Benders.

The rock style performed by the group is drawn from many influences, though after mixing them together the band retains its own sound.

"We have a lot of influences," Brocato said. "Nirvana, The Pixies and Weezer. Can't forget The Foo Fighters or Green Day. As far as our sound goes, though, it's kind of hard to just name someone we sound like since all of us have our own individual influences."

These influences can be heard at local venues and as far as Mobile and Huntsville, Ala.

"I think our favorite place to play is Dave's [Dark Horse Tavern]," Brocato said. "We also play at the Boar's Head, and we'll be playing at Rick's soon."

The Persians have been asked by Law of Nature to be the opening act at Rick's on Oct. 14 at 9 p.m. This will be the band's next show in Starkville.

Before that, the band will be traveling to Huntsville on Sept. 23 to play at Big Spring Jam, which is named for the park where the festival is located and not the season of the year.

"We're opening up for 38 Special and Bo Bice," Hunt said. "It should be interesting."

Brocato added that Joan Jett will also follow the band in the festival lineup.

"We'll probably be able to see her biceps from the stage," he said. "That woman is cut."

The members of the band are more accepting of this situation than the one given them at a previous Big Spring Jam in which they opened for Jewel.

"She yodeled," Brocato said. "Her encore was her coming out on stage and yodeling for like five minutes. It was like old timey, folk music yodeling. It was awful. Bo Bice'll yodel if you hit him in the right spot, but I don't expect that to happen."

When not traveling or playing locally, Graham spends almost all of his time surrounded by music, since during the day he works at Bebop Record Shop, making him the only member of The Persians that does not work for MSU in some manner.
Chrestman and Brocato both teach for the university, while Hunt acts as director of Humphrey Coliseum.
The day jobs of the band members receive much of their focus, but the band is foremost on their minds.

"I spend about 75 percent of my time doing band stuff, and about the other 25 being a responsible adult," Brocato said.

Lately, MSU has hosted two events in which the band has played: a Hurricane Katrina-relief concert in the amphitheater and the grand opening of Barnes & Noble.

"We did the Katrina concert because we thought it was a good cause," Hunt said. "As far as the Barnes & Noble thing, I'm not really sure how that happened. They just called us up and ask - The Reflector (http://www.reflector-online.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2006/09/12/4506123ddbf94)


If there are two things an independent rock band wouldn’t want to compete against, it would be an Alabama football game and an audience just passing time until Bo Bice hit the stage.
The Persians from Starkville, Miss., gave the polite crowd a good show anyway Saturday afternoon with impressive rock and smart lyrics, introducing new songs like “Swing on By,” “At 5 in the Morning” – and what should have been an Alabama crowd-pleaser: “Football Blood.” But judging by the crowd the Bice Squad was out in force waiting only for their “Idol” to hit that stage at 8:45 p.m.
A cool distraction as the Persians wrapped up their show at the WZYP Stage: a crew of young people riding Segways through the crowd, apparently sponsored by Regions Bank.

– Deborah Storey, Sept. 23 [2006], 5 p.m. - http://www.al.com/go/blog/index.ssf?/mtlogs/bama_gojam/archives/2006_09.html


Discography

A Thing Like Any Other (2003)
Banjo Mute (Live at the CDAF 2004)
Rocking Is Fundamental: Live at the MSU Barnes & Noble (August 2006)
Allergic to Juggling (release date: TBA)
Get In, Sit Down, Shut Up, Hold On (release date: TBA)

Photos

Bio

Like many other bands, Starkville, MS-based The Persians play music, and not just any type of music, but rock music, which means the guitar and bass are usually electrified, the drums are often pounding and frenetic, and the singing, though effective, is not operatic. Not on purpose, anyway.

The two lead Persians, John Brocato (guitar, vocals) and Todd Hunt (drums, backing vocals) knew each other for years while playing music in the local area before deciding in 2001 that they really ought to play together and just stop with all this “rival bands” business. So that’s what they did, and before long they were playing energetic, moderately loud live shows at places like Rick’s Café and the Darkhorse Tavern (Starkville), Memphis Jam (at Mud Island in…um…Memphis), Hal and Mal’s (Jackson, MS), Grand Central (Mobile, AL), and the colossal outdoor festival Big Spring Jam (Huntsville, AL).

After two years of working up nearly 30 original songs and several obscure covers, they released their debut album, A Thing Like Any Other, in September 2003. Some of the songs last longer than others, but the average for all 11 tracks is 3 minutes 27 seconds, which is nice and reasonable. As for the style of the songs, they owe a debt to a bunch of big names, like Led Zeppelin and Elvis Costello and Nirvana, as well as several smaller names, like Billy Bragg, Pavement, and Guided by Voices. All in all, it’s a good debut album if the band does say so itself. Thankfully, other people feel this way too, including CD Baby (where the band sells its album) and the more than 30 music-download sites on the Internet (such as iTunes, Napster, and Tower Records Online) where A Thing Like Any Other is available.

Once bassist extraordinaire Lee Graham and guitar genius Steve Chrestman joined in 2005, the Persians truly became the swigging, stomping, come-on-everybody-let's-twist-again live band it is today. At some point in the extremely near future, they will release two more albums: (1) Allergic to Juggling, which will have no fewer than 14 songs, some of them about construction sites, very mean men, and two warring recipes for red velvet cake; and (2) Get In, Sit Down, Shut Up, Hold On, an 11-song slab of rockery that may or may not be released before the aforementioned AtJ.

WHY "THE PERSIANS"?
While contemplating some name other than the obvious for his solo days (he was musically unaffiliated at the time), John saw “The Persians” on a banner advertising a history lecture at the California Institute of Technology and thought it was perfect. The band's use of “The Persians” carries no political, social, or cultural significance, nor is it meant to show a lack of due respect for ancient/modern Persia, one of the richest and most culturally significant civilizations in history. The band chose this name simply because it’s a beautiful-sounding word.