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Clip: Jason Narducy: Life After Verbow

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  • Carl Z.
    December 2, 2005 Life After Verbow In his second musical career, Jason Narducy stands behind the rock
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2005
      <http://www.chicagoreader.com/TheMeter/051202.html>

      December 2, 2005

      Life After Verbow
      In his second musical career, Jason Narducy stands behind the rock stars.

      Jason Narducy

      When Verbow lost its deal with Epic five years ago, front man and
      guitarist Jason Narducy wasn't sure what he'd end up doing -- music
      had been the center of his life since he was ten and fronting the
      grade school punk band Verboten. But the 34-year-old has landed on his
      feet, and he's not only running a painting company but enjoying some
      unexpected success playing bass as a hired gun -- he's toured with Liz
      Phair and Bob Mould and just landed a gig with former Guided by Voices
      leader Robert Pollard. "What has me scratching my head is that I'm not
      really a bassist," says Narducy. "But I do understand that once you do
      something and people see you do it, that's the category you're in.
      It's kinda been a second career for me, so I'm not complaining."

      Narducy, who lives in Evanston with his wife and their young son, got
      his first sideman job in 2003 after a mutual friend recommended him to
      Phair. He and Phair had met when he opened for her at the Vic in 1995,
      playing in a duet with future Verbow cellist Alison Chesley, but they
      hadn't kept in touch. "The call came out of the blue," he says. "It's
      a lot different from being a singer-songwriter in your own project,
      but I liked it right away."

      After the Phair tour Narducy launched a new band of his own, Rockets
      Over Sweden, with late-period Verbow drummer Dave Suycott and
      keyboardist Eddie Carlson. They made their live debut in May 2003 and
      released an EP, Penny Coliseum (Aware), a year later, but it wasn't
      long before Narducy was called away again. This spring Bob Mould,
      who'd produced Verbow's 1997 debut, Chronicles, made him an offer. "I
      have a long history with Bob," says Narducy. "He got in touch in May
      saying he was going to put together a rock band to support his new
      record, Body of Song, and play a lot of his old stuff."

      Late this summer Narducy traveled to D.C. to rehearse with his fellow
      recruits -- Fugazi's Brendan Canty on drums and Richard Morel, aka
      Pink Noise, on keyboards -- and in early September the band kicked off
      a six-week international tour. "It was just so much fun to play for
      people that were losing their minds," says Narducy. "They were so
      happy to hear all those Husker Du and Sugar songs."

      While on the road with Mould, Narducy ran into Superchunk drummer Jon
      Wurster in North Carolina and power-pop cult hero Tommy Keene in LA.
      The two men had already been chosen to form the nucleus of Robert
      Pollard's first post-Guided by Voices backing band -- former Frank
      Black guitarist Dave Phillips would come aboard later -- and both
      recommended him to Pollard as a bassist. Though Narducy had seen
      Guided by Voices several times, he didn't actually meet Pollard until
      the infamously prolific songwriter came to Chicago a couple weeks ago
      to sign copies of Guided by Voices: A Brief History at a Barnes &
      Noble. "We talked for ten minutes. And he was like, 'Do you want to do
      this thing?' I said yes, and now I have 50 songs to learn," says
      Narducy, laughing. "And I think that's just side one of the new
      record."

      Pollard's album From a Compound Eye is due out on Merge on January 24,
      and the tour to support it -- actually a string of long weekends with
      stints at home in between -- will reach Chicago at the end of March,
      after South by Southwest. The set lists will consist mostly of
      material from Eye and a follow-up disc scheduled for the fall, along
      with a smattering of Guided by Voices favorites.

      Rockets Over Sweden hasn't played at all this year, but Narducy says
      the time on the road has actually helped inspire him. "On the Mould
      tour we had XM radio in the car, and there's so much great music out
      there that I hadn't been privy to," he says. "So I went on a CD-buying
      binge. I bought more CDs in the three weeks after that tour than the
      three years previous to it."

      Narducy and Suycott plan to begin work on a new Rockets album as early
      as this month. "We've been e-mailing each other with ideas," says
      Narducy. (Carlson is still in the band but living in Rhode Island for
      the time being.) In the meantime they plan to post a few new songs at
      rocketsoversweden.com for their neglected fans. "I feel bad, because
      we started up and then just kinda stopped," Narducy says. "But that
      was another great thing about touring: seeing all the Verbow T-shirts
      and meeting the people who bought the Rockets record."

      Despite his busy schedule as a musician, Narducy still runs Inside
      Outside Painting Company ("a reference for all the Beach Boys and Who
      fans out there"), which he founded in 2001 with actor and director Ben
      Byer. (Byer left in 2003 after being diagnosed with ALS.) "It's
      successful for a small business," says Narducy. "But again, just like
      being a bassist, it's something I never thought I'd be doing."

      Narducy already has plans to return to Europe with Mould after the
      Pollard tour, and hopes to get more opportunities to play as a
      sideman. "The main thing is that I don't want to be in a project that
      I'm not excited about," he says. "So far, I've been incredibly lucky."

      Bumped

      Bump JBack in the early part of 2004, after Kanye West and Twista
      propelled Chicago hip-hop onto the national stage, major labels
      developed a keen interest in the city's scene -- and Bump J was one of
      the first local MCs to sign a contract. Atlantic's Free 4 All imprint
      was scheduled to put out his debut album, Nothing to Lose, this
      spring, but now the year's nearly over and several subsequent release
      dates have come and gone. Bump (real name Terrance Boykins) won "Best
      Midwest Mixtape Artist" in March at Justo's Mixtape Awards in New
      York, and in August he played a handful of shows sponsored by Vibe
      magazine and Doritos. His music has turned up in McDonald's
      commercials and in video games like NBA Live 2005 and Madden NFL 06,
      and there's been talk of a Bump J clothing line from Ecko -- but still
      no CD. All the label has released so far is a teaser track, "Strip
      Club," that's been getting played on WGCI, B96, and Power 92 for the
      past few weeks.

      Bump's management and label reps say the biggest reason for the delays
      has been Atlantic's packed schedule for 2005. The label decided to
      wait till it could devote its full attention to the album, and
      according to the current plan Nothing to Lose -- which features
      contributions from Kanye West, Twista, and Young Jeezy, among others
      -- should be out in March. An "official" first single will drop in
      mid-January -- either "That's My Song" or a still-untitled track
      produced by West. Bump plans to make a promotional tour in February,
      with concert dates to follow in the spring. For now you can hear him
      on a new Rhymefest track that's just been released to radio, "Chicago
      Rillas." Rhymefest, another local MC with connections to Kanye (he
      cowrote "Jesus Walks"), has a full-length called Blue Collar due on J
      Records in early '06.

      --BOB MEHR
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