‘Johnny Pisano’s Punk Rock Pizzeria’ Serves Up Nine Tasty Slices

January 31, 2017 by

“Don’t want to be something that I’m not / don’t want to change ’cause I know what I’ve got.”

That line from the opening track (“The Know It Alls”) of Johnny Pisano’s Punk Rock Pizzeria (available from his store on Etsy, as well as iTunes, CD Baby and Spotify) says a little something about the bass player’s 20-year odyssey from always-in-demand sideman and session player to his first solo effort.

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Johnny Pisano and Jesse Malin at the Mercury Lounge Punk Rock Pizzeria Album Release Show / photo by Clint Wolcott

As recounted in our first interview with Johnny Pisano nearly seven years ago (“Bass Instinct),  his musical trip actually began in Bensonhurst at age 10, listening to KISS and “playing bass” (a baseball bat, actually) à la Gene Simmons. Flash forward to December 16, 2016, and Pisano – after touring and recording for two decades with the likes of Marky Ramone, Willie Nile, Jesse Malin, Ryan Adams, Deborah Harry, Bruce Springsteen, Counting Crows and, appropriately enough, former KISS drummer Peter Criss – is at the Mercury Lounge hosting the album release party for his first solo effort, Johnny Pisano’s Punk Rock Pizzeria.                                         

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Johnny Pisano and Matt Hogan On Stage at the Mercury Lounge Punk Rock Pizzeria Album Release Show / photo by Kyra Kverno

Regarding the album’s title, he tells Brooklyn Roads, “Everyone pokes fun at my name including me … and who doesn’t like Pizza? So I thought it would be fun way to set the vibe and pace of what the music would be.”

When it came to financing the project, he chose the Pledge Music route. “It turned out these people were curious enough about what I was up to that they Pledged for stuff and pre-ordered the record without hearing a single note of any of the songs.” The experience supported his belief that, “The community of people that come out to see us play are the coolest people on the planet.”

Pisano found the locations and wrote his own scripts for the great Brooklyn-themed videos that helped his wildly successful Pledge Music campaign, while his friend Kimberly Giannelli, he says, “gave me the idea to have a suspenseful five- day video countdown to announce that I wanted to record [a new album].” He asked Kyra Kverno (one of Brooklyn Roads‘ contributing photographers) to do the videoing and for her cinematic ideas as well. “I wanted to re-create the Saturday night fever intro and launch into a speech about my neighborhood to throw everyone off.” He and Kyra made the five videos and decided to release one per day “to reveal what I was up too. It caused a stir and was fun for people to follow.”

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Johnny Pisano Samples “Punk Rock Pizzeria” on 86th Street in Bensonhurst / photo by Kyra Kverno

Pisano wrote eight out of Pizzeria‘s nine tracks, getting help on “Pilicious Bitches,” a song about pizza, from Matt Hogan, putting “Pi” (pronounced “pie”) in front of anything and everything “Pirrific,” “Pitastic,” “Pisexual,” etc. Of all the songs on Punk Rock Pizzeria, “Maloveilove” and “All Fucked Up From Growing Up” are his personal favorites. “However, lots of people are telling me they like ‘The Know It Alls,’ ‘Superhero’ and ‘The Streets of São Paulo’ as well.”  The album closes with a cover of Willie Nile and Frankie Lee’s “One Guitar,” for which Pisano added “Mon’” to the title and gave it a reggae twist.

Most of Punk Rock Pizzeria was recorded “in St. Mark’s Studio, which is a room in Matt Hogan’s apartment” . The album was produced by Johnny , with co-production from drummer Alex Alexander and additional production by Matt Hogan and James Frazee.

Acknowledging the possibility of a Brooklyn show in his future, Pisano tells us, “I’d like to see how things go and maybe plan something for the summer.” Spurring him on was the great time he had at the Punk Rock Pizzeria release show. “That…was fun and nuts. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and didn’t mind at all when I put on a Trump wig to play The Clash’s ‘I’m So Bored With the U.S.A.’”

Judging from the high energy and raw power he displays on Punk Rock Pizzeria, Pisano clearly isn’t bored – nor will Brooklyn audiences be bored if they do indeed get the chance to see him perform here.