“Watching Jason was the first time I thought I could start my own band, and write my own kind of music…Jason totally set my life in this new direction. It wasn’t a Jimmy Page or KISS poster I had – it was fuckin’ him!” –Dave Grohl
The statement above is just one of many you’ll find regarding Jason Narducy. His bio alone is the stuff of legends: co-founder of Verböten, frontman for Verbow, bassist/backing vocals for bands that have included Bob Mould, Superchunk, Telekinesis, and Bob Pollard.
Since 2011, Narducy has been front and center with his band Split Single. The musician formed the band after a friend, Steve Dawson, invited Narducy to do a solo set in Chicago. After haven’t written any original material for eight years, Narducy challenged himself to come with ten new songs; forty tracks later, Narducy felt that that he needed to do something with them. Split Single featuring drummer Jon Wurster, bassist John Stirratt (Wilco), and vocalist Nora O’Connor, released their second album Metal Frames back in November. The tracks are vintage Narducy-offering up the perfect mixture of punk, pop, and rock that fans will never get tired of hearing.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Narducy to discuss Metal Frames and more.
You have played music with some incredible musicians (Bob Mould, Dave Grohl, Bob Pollard). What are some of the things that you have learned from them?
Those three are very different personalities. Dave is the most social of the three. I’ve learned so much from Bob Mould and that started long before I worked with him. I used to learn his songs and his guitar chord voicing as a kid. When I was 22, I performed his Workbook album in it’s entirety. For me, Bob took over from where Pete Townshend left off. Once I started touring with him, I learned the value of preparing;musically and physically. A 90 minute Bob Mould show is a sonic wallop and it takes endurance to keep up with him. Recording with Bob is not as physically demanding. He is surprisingly detail focused for someone known as a punk icon and that shows in his recorded material over the last 25 years.
All three are phenomenal songwriters. I think efficiency is something I’ve picked up from them. Not every song needs a bridge. Not every song needs a repeated chorus. Little things like that.
Prior to Split Single’s debut Fragmented World, you hadn’t written any original material in eight years. What caused you to take such a long break from writing?
I was emotionally drained from the Verbow schedule. Including the Jason & Alison album, we had done the write/record/tour cycle three times and the last record was received poorly. Or just plain ignored. Releasing original music is a personal process in which you are vulnerable to criticism. I needed a break. Fortunately, I got work as a bassist and was able to still play music.
Do you see the process of writing coming a little easier these days?
It is easier for me now. I’m older and don’t feel the same kind of pressure I felt when I was younger. I think I’m also writing songs that better fit my singing voice. That makes performing the compositions so much more enjoyable!
Wilco bassist John Stirratt joined in for the recording of Metal Frames. What elements did Stirratt provide for the band?
Well he’s a sick bassist. He’s such a song guy. He picks his spots when the lead vocal is out. It was quite a treat to watch. Even more importantly, he’s a pleasure to be around. Very funny and one of the friendliest people I’ve met.
I read somewhere that watching The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright” ultimately got you into music. What was it with the documentary that inspired you?
I was already very much into music but that movie opens with a rock band playing a powerful, mischievous song and then destroying their instruments. It’s incredible to watch. Still. The Who used power and self-inflicted violence to express anger and I wanted to join in immediately. No idea why they never let me join their band but that’s ok. I made my own.
Where was Metal Frames recorded at?
Atlas Studios, Chicago.
What was the recording process like for Metal Frames?
We recorded drums (Jon Wurster) and bass (John Stirratt) first. Then I recorded guitars. Then I had a number of guest musicians add things. Tim Remis plays and sings, Steve Dawson plays guitar, Nick Miller plays guitar, Nora O’Connor sings on a majority of the songs, and my family even joined in – kids and wife.
You have released the Split Single albums independently; a trend that a lot of artists/musicians are doing these days. Do you find more rewarding having control than being on a major label?
It’s a lot more work but it has inspired me to be more creative. I don’t think I would have come up with the Sexiest Elbows in Rock episodes if I was signed to a label. Releasing the records out of my basement forced me to think of unusual ways to reach like-minded people because I don’t have a manager or label. It’s all on me.
Has there been any indication that you will get some of your early projects back up and rolling?
There’s talk about doing a musical based on my first band, Verboten. That could be cool. There are people who want to do it. Not sure how it will all pan to at this point.