Search The Line of Best Fit
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Introducing: Jason Zumpano

12 May 2010, 16:23 | Written by Ro Cemm

Jason Zumpano has been a part of the Canadian music scene since the early nineties, first with the Sub Pop signed band that took his name (alongside Carl Newman), then with Destroyer, Sparrow, Attics and Cellars and through his own solo work. To mark the release of his new solo piano record “Room and Mansion”, we caught up with Jason at home in Vancouver to find our a little about what he’s been up to and what makes him tick:

For people out there that have never heard of you. Give us three reasons why they should?
Well I suppose there is the obvious two. The bands Zumpano and Destroyer. Really though, there is a legend that has soared through the last couple of decades. The Zumpano. Let me explain its origins. As a teenager I was somewhat shy of my physique and some friends of mine talked me into a visit to a local nude beach. For whatever reason I made the incredible decision to strip everything off – with one exception. My t-shirt. Nothing says “look at my privates” like a t-shirt with nothing else underneath. Anyway, cut to years later and people are still talking about it. Why? Who knows. In fact, some folks I know vacationed on a nearby island and apparently a couple of the locals used the term. When told that the visitors were friends with the individual responsible, the locals replied “it’s a person?”

Can you recall the moment when you first decided you wanted to become a musician? Was there a point where you just thought “This is it. This is what I want/ have to do”?
Growing up on a farm in a Vancouver suburb, with a mild case of OCD it seemed the natural thing to do. With radio scorchers like She Blinded Me With Science and U2 just a few albums away from Achtung Baby, I had plenty of inspiration. Of course this was interrupted frequently by friends calling with invitations to toss frisbees at the local convenience store or setting fire to cedar bush.

After Zumpano (The Band) you were Sparrow, and then Attics and Cellars, and then there’s your solo records too. Have you any other projects we should know about? Are you still working on Vancouver Nights with Sara Lapsley, and Destroyer? When are we going to get an Attics and Cellars record?
Dan and I haven’t worked together since Streethawk, but we do occasionally help each other move from house to house. Sara has hired me on to drum in the odd gig but that’s only a couple of times a year. Attics and Cellars have recorded a bit, but nothing is planned for release. We should commit some sort of documentation to the historical record. I’ll bring it up at the next practise.

Can you tell us a little about the solo piano records you have been releasing? (covers above) I heard it was a music and art project with prints by local artists?
Music and art. Art and music. That pretty much sums it up. Yes, local artists who I know well.

Our Christmas compilation featured “New Morning”, which was taken from your soundtrack to “Cartoon College” which is a documentary about James Sturm’s Centre for Cartoon Studies. How did you get involved with that? Are you a big cartoon/ comic fan? Do you draw yourself?
The director used music of mine to score her first documentary “Manhattan, Kansas”. Then she hired me to write exclusively for this one. I’m still not sure what is to become of it as she is constantly re-editing and re-shooting. A cartoon/comic fan? Hmmm, well I haven’t bought anything since Love & Rockets and The Fantastic Adventures of Fat Freddy so I can’t really say. Do I draw myself? Every chance I get (see figure 1. below)

There has been a lot of talk of Vancouver as “the new Montreal”. How is the scene these days? What’s changed since the early days of Zumpano? Has it become easier or harder to make music in the city?
Do you mean that Montreal has been lauded with praise for a handful of banal lite-rock rehashes too? I didn’t know that. Vancouver music operates as an elaborate network of secret sects with little to no support from the city. Venues are a bit of a situation as well.

Name your Top 5 records
Top Vancouver 5 records? That’s tough.
1. Which Way You Going, Billy? – The Poppy Family
2. Teen City – The Modernettes
3. (a tie) Rubies/Your Blues – Destroyer
4. Come Over to My House – No Kids
5. Mallorytown – To Bad Catholics

What one piece of criticism has stuck in your mind and was it justified?
There have been many criticisms. An elderly lady once told me to up the volume. She was right to do so.

What one thing has caused you to waste your free time in the past 6 months?
Tending bar. Chasing hooligans. Volunteering at BINGO.

If you could have written or played on any song, what would it be and why?
Schumann’s Op.44. All of it. The version performed in the 60′s by Leonard Bernstein and the Juillard String Quartet. It gets me every time. Nice stuff.

What is the first song you put on when you wake up?
A choice of three. Isis by Bob Dylan; Schubert’s Sonata Op. 42 Moderato played by Sviatoslav Richter; 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton.

We’d like you to make us a mix-tape. Pick five tracks with a theme of your choice.
The theme is : Imperative Titles (I’m a little pushy)

Be True To Your School – The Beach Boys
Gimmie Shelter – The Rolling Stones
Prove It – Television
Send Me a Postcard – The Shocking Blue
Meet Me in the Morning – Bob Dylan

One Canadian band we should listen to (that isn’t your band)?
My knowledge of new Canadian music weakens by the day. I’ll mention a Vancouver one – Apollo Ghosts

You can download Jason’s solo piano track “New Morning” as part of Ho Ho Ho Canada . After the interview we convinced Jason to let us have a recording of Attics and Cellars, which will feature on the upcoming Oh! Canada 10. Keep your eyes peeled!

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