Record Release and Label Showcase November 11th at Pappy & Harriet’s with Mondo Generator and The Freeks. $10 Cover.
By Lisa Morgan
Mario Lalli was just a punk rock kid growing up in a desert that practically closed down during the intense summer days; where the only sound most local kids would hear was the lonely buzz of air-conditioning units and cicada bugs. Lalli, his cousin Larry Lalli, and a few friends would learn to make their own noise from their garages to the middle of the desert, over the top of roaring generators to an audience of friends, coyotes, snakes and scorpions. Playing music with his friends was his life; it was where he fit in and was accepted. As another kid born and raised here in the desert, I can assure you, there was really nothing for kids back then if you weren’t a jock or a cheerleader. This town wasn’t built for us. For this punk kid with a penchant for Black Sabbath and jazz, making his own noise would become his destiny, as it would be for Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Brant Bjork (Kyuss), Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, QOTSA, Mondo Generator), John Garcia (Kyuss), Gary Arce (Yawning Man), Sean Wheeler (Throw Rag), and others.
Today, that punk kid is still alive and thriving, more seasoned, but perhaps even hungrier to create new noise and play it on tour. The big difference now, is he gets to do it all with his son, Dino. In contradiction to the name of the new record, both father and son are anything but idle. I had the honor of catching up with Mario and Dino in between back to back European Tours and new album release shows for the first Fatso Jetson record in six years.
CVW: “How was the recent tour?”
Dino Lalli: “Touring with my dad is always great, and this last tour, we also took my mama bear. She sold merch every night and was the best cheerleader in the world! Touring is a dream for many musicians; it is no different for me. This was my 5th trip over with Fatso Jetson and I’m ready for more! My favorite part of this particular trip was getting the opportunity to be around Greenleaf (as in Greenleaf, the band, I’m not using some dumb code for drugs). They are a great bunch of dudes, and I learned a lot from them. They are the real deal! My least favorite part was being away from the rest of my family (the ones that didn’t get on the plane… my girlfriend and my dogs). I’m glad to be back with them. My band (Big) Pig just released our debut album, and we are playing shows as much as we can! I’m currently recording and writing with another project called Brass Eyebrow, as well as continuing to write and play with (Big) Pig and Fatso Jetson!”
Mario Lalli: “The tour was really amazing. I started in September with Yawning Man; I did a full month with the guys and our awesome new member Justine (bass). Then the Fatso Jetson dudes flew in, and we all played a festival together in Switzerland. We set up two drum kits and both bands’ equipment on the same stage for the event. Both bands did a massive jam. After that, I did a month and a half with Fatso Jetson opening for a band from Sweden called Greenleaf. We played a lot of new cites; Poland, Croatia, Lithuania… it was very exciting. Then we went all the way back down to Italy and even as far as the island of Sardinia.”
CVW: “How did it feel going overseas in regard to the recent terrorist bombings, threats and alerts?”
Mario Lalli: “Well, I really didn’t feel an elevated sense of alert or notice any obvious extra security measures other than the things you see here at large public events and airports, etc. But we were concerned, and when in sensitive areas, like Paris and Brussels where we had friends affected, it was very much on all our minds, just not overly so.”
CVW: “How has touring with your son, Dino?”
Mario Lalli: “Playing with Dino is amazing – a dream come true for me. He’s gotten so good! He’s a great road musician with an awesome attitude, and real high energy performer. He lives to do this stuff. The highlight for me is when people tell me how cool it is to see us playing together, and that we have great chemistry musically.”
CVW: “Overall, how has 2016 treated you?”
Mario Lalli: “2016 has been a big year for us with our first record in 6 years, two tours. We’ve landed a US booking agent now. We just want to have fun and play music as much as possible.”
The new Fatso Jetson album, Idle Hands, was released this past October and recorded at the world renowned Rancho De La Luna recording studio in Joshua Tree. Lalli’s vocals, still as powerful and dramatic as ever, are hauntingly Bowie-esque in this ensemble of songs. Hammering beats and lush power chords give way to haunting, passion filled, emphatic vocals that press against dissident and minor chords hypnotically. Tastefully produced, each song breathes and spins with its own personality, message and feel, but flow like a well oiled machine, creating an intriguing rock drama from start to finish. Lalli as a lyricist is something of a beautiful, mad poet. And the one and only, master of the tortured rant, Sean Wheeler, shares that brilliant mad spotlight momentarily, yet epically, on this album.
From the beginning, Mario Lalli never came at music as a business or career. It was about family and friendship and connection through an incredible ear and love for a very unique blend of the sound spectrum. His love for his incredible list of peers and their love for him is special. While those who helped create what is known worldwide as “Desert Rock” may not all be on speaking terms, Lalli, more than most, remains a highly respected, common denominator between all the legendary, eccentric sound crafters. In addition, Lalli has always been passionate about supporting the younger fledgling rockers growing up in his shadow, always with an encouraging word, and even a place to play and be heard. While Lalli may just be chasing the next tour, the next sound to integrate in the next new album, those of us who know him, long to see him finally be recognized to the same degree as those he has inspired. To our delight, it appears the legacy will carry on into a new generation. No matter what, we can all count on this one thing – Mario Lalli will be making music with his last breath, and that music will always bleed a powerful authenticity that will inspire the future children of Desert Rock, whomever they may be.