Piqued Jacks. A name that rolls out like laughter, a moniker that tells a story of tunes and friendship traveling back to 2006. From the quaint medieval village of Buggiano, this band set out to conquer the world with their alt/funk-rock vibes and energetic performances, crossing seaways to showcase their riveting tunes. We interviewed bass virtuoso Francesco “Littleladle” Bini ahead of their live set in Pistoia’s rockin’ H2NO venue on December 10.
Michelle Davis: Tell us a bit about yourselves, your story and inspirations.
Francesco “Littleladle” Bini: Let’s start with our name. That’s probably the best way to define who we are. So, one day I dropped my bass, bending the jack inside it. When I pulled it out we couldn’t compare it to anything but a…boner (please note: we were just 16 years old).
We wanted to refer to that funny episode in a non-explicit way. “Piqued” stands for “interested in something” which is, in our case, making music. Of course, we’re not just interested, but passionately, deeply excited by music. Being friends since childhood, our bond became stronger and stronger thanks to music and we started to take things much more seriously. We released two EPs, then in 2012 we had the opportunity to fly to Los Angeles to work with the American musician, Grammy nominee and producer Brian Lanese on the EP Just a Machine. It was a life-changing experience which encouraged us to explore and work harder.
In the beginning, our main inspiration was the funky vibes of Red Hot Chili Peppers. We also love Dave Grohl and his music-making philosophy. Lately we have been listening a lot to Biffy Clyro and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
MD: From Buggiano to infinity: you have played before important international names like Interpol, Atoms for Peace and you’ve performed 3 times at Austin’s prestigious SXSW festival. What could you ever wish for for your future? Did treading foreign stages change your perspectives in any way?
FB: Of course you picked some of the best things we’ve ever done, but we like to think that there’s still much to be accomplished and improved. Those experiences didn’t change us a bit: they just made us more confident about our potential. “No false hope but blind faith” say the Foo Fighters! We’ll continue to climb those infinite stairs as we have always done, and that involves conquering yet another edition of SXSW. That said, every gig outside Italy has been special for a thousand reasons, from the first week in Austin in 2013 to our latest UK tour last month. They have never been easy, but the memories they leave us with are priceless.
MD: Tell us a bit about Pistoia’s music scene and how you perceive Florence in its role of Tuscan musical hotbed.
FB: It is full of talent. It’s so sad to see how independent music is so poorly considered. Too many restrictions that hinder growth. Unfortunately, we haven’t encountered what could be defined a consolidated music community nor a talent-enhancing environment. And this issue doesn’t only concern Pistoia. Truth be told, in ten years of activity, we have played in Florence only once for now (this year), so we can’t say much about it, apart from the fact that it has been easier for us to play in the US than there. We won’t give up, that’s for sure!
MD: What does being a self-produced, unsigned, indie band in Italy entail?
FB: It means that you’ve made some bad choices! Joking aside, it always depends on what kind of music you play. Sometimes we hardly understand how this world works, especially in Italy. For us being independent mainly means that you have to struggle and stay loyal to your inner passion, cutting your teeth on the lack of answers, on criticisms and indifference. On the other hand, the fans really make it worthwhile.
MD: Why did you decide to recently release a revamped acoustic version of previous album Aerial Roots?
FB: Because our fans asked us for it! We’ve always put a lot of effort into rearranging our songs in a completely different, acoustic way. It was actually a very interesting process, not to mention the fact that it allowed our music to reach new audiences that prefer softer, more folksy tunes. Next year there will be some actual new songs, we promise.
MD: Are you ready for your concert at H2NO in Pistoia?
FB: Absolutely thrilled. The H2NO in Pistoia is one of our favorite places in Tuscany, a place which—jumping back to the other question—makes you happy to be an independent musician in Italy. It will also be our first electric gig in a pretty long time, and the first concert at home after a lot of shows in the UK or abroad. We can’t wait to play for all those lovely, flawless familiar faces. And since we’ve been looking for a new drummer, there will be some new and fresh energy on percussion.
See Piqued Jacks live at H2NO on December 10.