It only takes a few seconds to know you’re hearing something special. And it may only be you that hears it at first. But you know that what you’re hearing needs to be shared. What you’re hearing should be heard. What you’re hearing calls out, looking for the right ears to rocket it upwards.
The first time I heard Chris Porcelli play, it was in a practice room in a college music hall. He had invited me to hang out after a class we had together. He sat down and played an early rendition of one of his tracks, More Clocks (Less Time). I was immediately drawn in to everything about it. It crackled with potential. The energy of an artist ready to spring forwards. Over my time in university, I would routinely go down to the dueling piano bar to watch Chris play. He has a background in theatre, so putting on a show is familiar territory for him. I was fortunate enough to hear early renditions of his first two albums, “Briefcase Full of Cubes” and “Paper Clown”. With each record, Chris’ sound matured. His voice matured. His writing was sharper. That crackle that I heard from day one was fueling him, and it could be heard in his music.
Chris was gracious enough to let me hear early cuts from his latest release, “Fear, Loneliness, and the Unexplainable”. As I listened and heard the tracks evolve, it became apparent how much fun he was having. All the hiccups that I had heard in his first two offerings had for the most part been remedied. Here is an album that serves as a true launching point for an artist on the cusp of coming fully into their own. Chris was kind enough to give me a few minutes, and we exchanged messages about his approach to the album. What follows is a few snippets from our conversation.
Chris Porcelli: I had a few goals with this album. I wanted to make it more pointed and less long than Paper Clown. I also wanted to have as many real instruments as possible. Paper Clown was mostly digital/MIDI, but almost every sound on FLU [Fear, Loneliness, and the Unexplainable] is real instruments.
Cody Tinsley: You can hear the shift from your previous work immediately. Where did the inspiration for FLU come from?
Chris Porcelli: This album is taken from a handful of real life experiences while trying to have the songs connect. That’s how I landed on the title. I tend to write songs about tragedy that I see, and the Twilight Zone is the ultimate ironic tragedy show. I thought that exploring Twilight Zone episode titles might be inspiring, although I actually wrote most of the songs before titling them. It all kind of came together. Even the title of the album comes from a Twilight Zone opening monologue.
Cody Tinsley: This album feels like you took care of the ideas that you had while exploring them.
Chris Porcelli: I have been working on it and revising songs since summer of 2015.
Cody Tinsley: Was it hard to maintain a clear idea of what you wanted the record to be given the time you took to develop it?
Chris Porcelli: Yes and no. I knew I wanted that particular motif, but I thought the album was going to be longer. I think it still stayed true to my original idea. There was actually 2-3 songs I had written that didn’t make the final cut.
Cody Tinsley: I think the concision helps emphasize the shift in tones we hear from beginning to end.
Chris Porcelli: I wanted to hit new strides and when I met Dennis (the producer). I knew he could help take my music to a new level.
Cody Tinsley: I’m sure having someone in studio taking care of the knobs and buttons was a relief for you.
Chris Porcelli: It definitely was. I felt more like a director. I just explained what I needed, and he made it happen. Definitely let me relax and focus on the music itself.
Cody Tinsley: What have you got in the chamber? Lot of songs you’re working on?
Chris Porcelli: Right now I have a handful of songs but they are more funny and satirical. My next album may be more humorous. It may be a nice change of pace.
Cody Tinsley: Is there anything you want folks to know about you, your music, etc.?
Chris Porcelli: I hope that whoever listens to my stuff appreciates introspective but also tragedy driven storytelling. A lot of my favorite songs and songwriters, especially with my musical theatre background, are driven by emotional song writing. I have been leaning into scoring for film and theater because it allows me to write expressively and I’m getting a lot of recognition for my scoring work. I may keep going down this path if opportunities keep presenting themselves. I’m so happy I was able to get FLU out this year and I’m excited for what new projects come my way.
Do yourselves a favor and check this record out. If you’re only looking to get your feet wet, try out “The Obsolete Man”.
What “Fear, Loneliness, and the Unexplainable” represents is a stepping stone towards something even more exciting than what is contained within these seven tracks. Chris has gotten a taste of the studio, utilized it to learn from his past experiences, and is pushing forward. If you need a record to play in the background, play this one. If you need a record to drive to, drive to this one. It’s catchy, it’s a little different, and you can feel the fun Chris is having.