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Joe, solo

A Conversation with Joe Pisapia

Puremusic: Joe, so good to speak with you, always. We never have opportunity enough. Tell me, how did you meet the Guster guys, which eventually led to your joining the band?

Joe Pisapia: Well, Josh Rouse and Guster did a tour together. Both Josh and [drummer] David Gehrke claim that they gave Guster the Joe, Marc's Brother CD. And those guys really liked it. And then they called us, and they said, "Hey, we liked your disc a lot. Would you guys play with us?"  And it was right when we got the disc done, before we even had them printed up and all that. So we said, "Sure." It was great.

PM: Wow.

JP: And we had heard the songs on the radio, and all that, the "Fa Fa" and "Barrel of a Gun." And so we were like, "Yeah, bring that on. We'll do that." So we ended up going on the road with them.

PM: Was it a bunch of dates?

JP: It was. I think we did two separate tours.

PM: And what year would that be?

JP: That was in 2000. So we went out. And one thing leads to another. You're out hanging with a band, everybody becomes friends. We became friends then. And we kind of kept in touch, and would jam. Whenever we were in New York and they were there, we'd jam together or have a beer, or whatever. They'd come down here, we'd hang out for the day. And then while I was doing the Daydreams record, I was all into that--deep into this folkie groove. And Ryan came over one day, and I showed him some of the stuff I was doing. They were doing their record Keep It Together at the time. And they were doing some overdubs at Sound Emporium.

PM: [laughs] Just down the street.

JP: Just down the street. So he would come over, he'd walk over. And he came down. Actually, no, it was before they did that record. They had a show here at the Ryman. He came over in the afternoon, and I showed him what I was doing, what I was planning on doing. And it was before I had the record done.

PM: I always loved that record, still do. [You can check out some Puremusic clips from this incredible disc here.]

JP: Oh, man, thanks, Frank.

PM: Yeah.

JP: So we were just riffin', and we wrote this song, "Jesus on the Radio," which was on the Keep It Together record.

PM: Ah, that's where you wrote that with him, at your pad.

JP: Yeah.

PM: Wow!

JP: We just pulled out a banjo and a guitar and sang.

PM: Now, what did you have of that song, at that moment? Something?

JP: We had pretty much the chorus. We had the verse part and kind of the melody. But we kind of wrote the chorus right then and there, I believe.

PM: Nice.

JP: And then we just were like--I remember Ryan was on the floor, banging pedals with his fists for the bass.

PM: [laughs]

JP: It was like, "Yeah, I'm like into this ragamuffin kind of recording vibe lately."

PM: Definitely. [laughs]

JP: It was fun. And I was really surprised that it went on that record, because it had nothing to do with the rest of the record.

PM: Oh, really? Because I don't know that record yet. I will by the time I do this setup, but I don't yet.

JP: Yeah, it's really just kind of a deep record. It's kind of like the one we just did.

PM: Oh, that's a great record, that last one is great!

JP: Ah, thanks, Frank. Thank you.

PM: And I hear you all over that.

JP: [laughs] Yeah, thank you. So that's like a long story short. And then they asked me, oh, jeez--they were starting to sniff around. They were like, "Man, we're going to need some help on this upcoming tour"--when they released Keep It Together. I think they thought that when they did that Lost and Gone Forever record with Steve Lillywhite, that they'd sort of captured the picture of the three-piece band playing live and doing their kind of thing. They more or less took that all the way, and captured it there, and then they kind of wanted to go beyond it.

PM: Right.

the three-piece

JP: And that was when everybody started to learn how to play different instruments, write on different instruments, this and that.

PM: And the sound got expanded to a point that they couldn't reproduce live.

JP: Exactly.    continue

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