guys, I've listened to the amazing Chicanery album in its entirety and
all I can say is that here at duranasty.com we are all enthusiastic about
the new stuff so we’d like to know more about the project that brought
Warren Cuccurullo and Neil Carlill to work together.
Salvo at duranasty.com: So guys, you met in London in
the late 90's when Neil laid down some vocals on the ‘TV Mania’
project, can you remember how did you actually meet?
Neil: I remember getting a call from my manager to call
Warren. I'd just been watching the British TV show called Countdown and
I got the conundrum of the day [which I had never got before]. The conundrum
was GUITARIST, and I called Warren straight after.
It was a real suprise to arrive at Warren's house [Known as Privacy]
in Octavia Street London , the windows were blacked out and heavy security
bars were in evidence. This was of course the studio and I went in drank
some cider and started singing ‘Big Stress’.
Me & Nick [Rhodes] were in the process of finding a lead singer for
the 2nd part of the TV Mania project, we had the first albums worth of
stuff mixed already at that point which was 1999.
was in the studio and the track we were working ended and I was able to
hear a song playing from the tv in the kitchen... the voice was perfect
for what we were doing, I ran inside and caught the end of ‘Monkey
Suit’ by Delicatessen, that was it!
tracked him down through the label and he came by Privacy to hang and
lay down some ideas, it went really great, and things progressed, then stalled from there...
I say that because i couldn't locate Neil when I starting working on music
here in Los Angeles, he was very much in my thoughts... I was so pleased
when we hooked up again, and that is when he sent me demos of his most
amazing music to date, 4 of those songs are on the Chicanery cd.
many things have happened to both of us, and all through it the machiavellian
schemes of others have never stopped the music"
guys, why did you choose Chicanery as name for this band?
Oh it's such a perfect name for the times we live in. Isn't the human
condition a deceptive and manipulative one? Chicanery is all around us,
and the album we made is a reflection of everything we felt in all the
years we've known each other. So many things have happened to both of
us, and all through it the machiavellian schemes of others have never
stopped the music. We're still here which is chicanery itself.
I loved it as soon as i heard it, I think it was Neils wife Gwens idea...
it really suits us, musically and lyrically.
is all around us, and the album we made is a reflection of everything
we felt in all the years we've known each other"
Neil, your lirycs are poetic, dreamy and visionary at the same time, would
you describe them as a reinterpretation of reality or just pure surreal
poetry? What’s your main infuence in writing? Are themes like psychology
and the human condition sources of inspiration for your introspective
They are a re-interpretation of my own reality which is all coming directly
from my sub-concious. I love James Joyce, I love Captain Beefheart, you
have to make the words count, but the order in which you put them is the
really fun time. It's all code, puzzles, concentrated meaning. It has
a surreal coloring but it's much less random than you'd expect. Alfred
Jarry, the Dada poets, Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Hock, Max Ernst and Georges
Perec are all friendly words for me.
is a complete genius, he can write a captivating melody to a squeeky door,
his stuff hits you in a way that catches you off guard"
Warren, after some beautiful guitar-oriented solo records [I didn’t
miss any of your solo works!], it’s great to see that you are back
doing some band-orientated music. I guess the core of these songs were
written back in 2005, maybe finished more recently, correct me if I’m
wrong. Can you describe the writing process for these 13 tracks? Did you
have writing sessions with Neil or did you just compose the music and
then you got Neil involved who laid on his vocals?
Neil is a complete genius, he can write a captivating melody to a squeeky
door, his stuff hits you in a way that catches you off guard... so, when
I send a cd of ideas to him, I have no clue as to what he's gonna do with
it, that said, we can write in any way, ‘I Came Back To
You’ was a live jam.
project had a good deal of long distance/internet sessions, and then we
all got together for a few weeks and finished it off.
is an International album crossing time and Duty Free zones"
Guys, where did you record the album? Did you use a a proper studio from
day one or you recorded all in your home-studio [do you still have one
like ‘Pricacy’ there in LA?]
tracks came from me or Neil then went to Simone [Sello] then into the
big studios for final recording and mixing. These days everyone has some
kind of hard disk recording with their computers...
Neil: I recorded some of the time in my attic studio
in Salem, Mass, then of course in L.A. with Warren, at Red Rum Studios,
I Came Back To You was a live Jam at Warren's house, just the two of us,
we recorded a lot of material like that [which will see the light of day
at some point]... We recorded ‘Cut me From the Mirror’
back in 1998 at Privacy, an International album crossing time and Duty
duranasty.com: Neil, your biography reports that you
also play acoustic guitar and keyboards, so are the keyboards in this
records all yours?
No i only played Keyboards on 'Hit the Wall' and 'I.O.D',
I played acoustic on four songs. A little bass. A haircut here and there...
Warren, in this album you collaborated with Terry Bozzio,
Duran-friendly Joe Travers and Ustad Sultan Khan.
This is not the first time you got an indian instrument in your recordings,
I remember you playing a sitar during the ‘Medazzaland’ sessions…
How did you get the Sarangi virtuoso involved in the
he was in London in july 1998 and we spent a good deal of time recording
a bunch of material together, [the infinite spirit on my myspace was another
one of the pieces we did] He loved the chord changes and wanted to sing
and play over what was to become cut me from the mirror. Neil got involved a few months later...
Plays music with his whole being... He breathes the notes into the room... There
is an effortless grace about the way he approaches music, it's not a conscious
thing, it comes straight from his soul".
Neil, I know Warren from a long time, he’s a tireless precise virtuoso
musician and songwriter. Share your thoughts about him from a professional
point of view. What did you learn from him?
I tried to pick up some guitar tips from Warren but quickly decided I
was too old to even try and play that well.
Warren Plays music with his whole being, he played all the percussion
on ‘Midnight Owls’ with his hands and his
body. He breathed the notes into the room, it was extraordinary to watch.
played electronics on 'Luminal Dark' and he played the
pedals and the wires, I have it on video and anyone who sees it will have
a better understanding of what I mean.
is an effortless grace about the way he approaches music, it's not a conscious
thing, it comes straight from his soul, you have to stop thinking and
connect with that spirit if you want to be a part of his musical experience.
can compose from a distance [East and West coast respectively] or we can
sit down in a room and play with no preparation. It's a very rare thing
to find that in a musical partner. He's Uniquely rare [which is double-plus
Warren describe Neil using three adjectives?
artsy, tartsy, lovely...
"Warren is Uniquely rare ,which is double-plus
music industry is already in the toilet"
Warren, you have been in the music business for 35 years, you have been
writing and recording with and for some of the greatest names of the rock/pop
scene being a creative force in successful bands. The music business has
changed a lot in the latest 10 years or so, and it’s quite difficult
for young talents to emerge, it’s even more difficoult to get a
record deal these days, even for established musician and artists like
you. So I just find great that someone at Universal still
has ears for good original music and had signed Chicanery. Also your most
recent album ‘Playing in Tongues’ has got
a good distribuition in Europe through Edel. Please share
your thoughts, from your point view, of today’s music industry,
where is it going?
It's already in the toilet. Cd sales are virtually non existent, good
luck making a decent living in music, it's pretty much impossible...
invested over 100k doing these records [Nliten, Chicanery, Playing In
Tongues] and have only seen 6k back, not really financially feasible.
We'll see what happens, but I have zero expectations...
says: "the shadow of a hand on my face is the shadow of Warren's
must be the only band in the world whose members
do not own a cell phone!"
Neil, I see that you are more inclined to interact with the world through
the social networks and the web in general. What do you think about the
way the music circulates on the web? Do you think illegal downloads damages
the artists, from a profit point of view, or is it all positive since
it’s just a way to make the music [as form of art] more accessible
to the public? Share your thoughts.
Well, things have changed so much since I first released a record [in
1994]. I try to embrace what I need to these days.
think illegal downloading damages the artist, just like tape copying did
before, but i still think music lovers will try and buy music.
internet business model for music is depressingly similar to the way it
always has been, there are a few big sites which control most of the sales.
will dictate the success of the artists. There is a tremendous amount
of data to sift through these days so it is as hard as it ever was to
we must use the tools and adapt. Social networking sites make it possible
to know people without ever really making a real connection. It's like
a big virtual reality board game.
think Chicanery must be the only band in the world whose members do not
own a cell phone! Land lines forever! But please join the Facebook Chicanery
page and follow us on Twitter
Neil, what do we have to expect from Chicanery besides the album that
will be released on may 11? Are you going to support
it with a string of live dates? Are you doing some kind of videoclip for
any of the most representative songs of the album?
Yes live dates, we have archive video of us playing and running up walls
so expect a video for the second single... ['Ice Page Repo']
duranasty.com: Do you guys think this collaboration will
bring more fruits or is it just a one-off?
It would be quite a one off... thing is, we have at least an ep's worth
of material left over from uncompleted tracks, they will be finished off
for future release, I'm already shopping for new toys to make new Chicanery
Well, we've been collaborating for 12 years now so we know there's more
to come. We're 5 songs into a new album already so watch some space to
be specifeid later this year, We'll be playing the Seniors Tour for some
time to come.
duranasty.com: Warren, I hope you are conscious that
you still have a special place in the heart of all the Duran Duran fans
for the great contribution you brought in the band with your talent as
musician and songwriter and for the great human side of your personality.
You left London and Duran in 2001.
You are now based in LA, a woderful place to live, I can only imagine…,
you keep writing and producing good music, [you still play the guitar
on daily basis as you used to do, right?], and you also have some good
business going on there.
So, the question is, are you satisfied at this point of your life, have
you got any regrets? Is there any other goals you want to accomplish?
I'm seriously loving life, I still practice daily on guitar... I do want
to go out and play music live again, fingers crossed for Chicanery!
I'm really enjoying playing with my old Zappa bandmates twice a month,
we call ourselves Theoretical 5. We might start doing
live streaming improv jams, there are some clips on youtube already. Regrets???
not really. I'm here for the ride...
Tommy Mars [keyboards,vocals]
Warren Cuccurullo [guitar,samples]
Arthur Barrow [bass]
Larry Klimas [saxophone]
Andy Kravitz [drums,percussion]
duranasty.com: With a 35 year long career on your shoulders,
starting from playing drums and guitar as a young child in Brooklyn to
working with Frank Zappa and Duran Duran, I’m sure you would have
more than one story to tell; did you ever consider to write a book about
your intense life and music experiences? Have you ever been approached
by any book-editor to write the story of your life in the music business?
I'll do a book if i get approached… believe me, it's beyond much
of what's been out there before, no drugs or booze necessary...
really. I'm here for the ride...
Duran Duran years with Warren Cuccurullo in three pics: 1990,
1993 and 2001, the latest version of the Duran Duran [with Joe
Travers on drums and Wes Wehmiller on bass] right before the reunion
of the original Duran members.
Emi's project to reissue most of Duran Duran's back-catalogue is going
on with Big Thing wich is scheduled for a September 2010 release. This
is probably the first Duran album were you could contribute some great
experimental guitar work, even if you weren't a proper member yet, [in
old interviews the band said nice things about your contribution in
the creation of songs like All She Wants is].
I haven't heard anything about re-release the other DD albums yet [the
90s ones], but I guess it might happen sooner or later and of course
you were full part of the band in those years: Liberty, The Wedding Album, Thank You, Medazzaland.
and Pop Trash...
Yes, of course Warren, but that was on Hollywood Records [Edel in Europe],
that's why I didn't mention. I guess you guys own the rights of that
album [PT] so you can do whatever you want with it? Correct me if I'm
re the Pop Trash masters, yes we do...
So, returning to the question, Have you been somehow involved in the
'Big Thing' reissuing and, more interesting, would
you like to be involved in this whole Emi-Duran Duran reissuing project
when they'll release the albums of the 90s?
Warren: Liberty was the first album where I was writing,
about your reference to 'All She wants', the distorted riff is Johns synth
bass through a rat distortion pedal.
No, i'm not involved in any reissues, not yet anyway... no
objections to it.
we speak right now, Tv Mania is being mastered and the artwork is almost
complete... so, 14 years later, it will come out... on vinyl as well!"
Warren, I remember the enthusiasm you guys had when you were working on
the TV Mania project back in the 90s. It was announced as a three act
Rock-Opera, you even talked about bringing it to Broadway, there was also
a catchy title, ‘Bored with Prozac and the Internet’,
and beautiful songs like ‘Camouflage’ that
I had the pleasure to listen in the late 90s in your home studio.
So the question is, why a much awaited project like this, which took a
lot of your creative energies and time, not get a proper release?
Is the project still under consideration for a future release or it has
been definitively put on the shelves? Did you recently discuss about it
with Nick Rhodes?
you remember that energy don't you???
Yes broadway was something we were aiming for with it, we were always
planning to come off the back of a Duran hit... that, unfortunately never
happened, so it didn’t get released, however, as we speak right
now, it is being mastered and the artwork is almost complete.
14 years later, it will come out, on vinyl as well!
Last but not least, Warren, we’d like to know more about your collaboration
with Steve Ferrone, Anthony J Resta and Eric Alexandrakis [the owner of Minoan Music]. We only know that it’s a production
company called ‘The Composers’. I have been told that you
were going to make an album last year, what happened? What kind of plans
have you got in the future? Any soundtracks for films or television projects
in the works?
The composer project has been in the works for a while now, hoping to
have some news soon regarding scores or adverts landed.
we also have quite a pool of past material that we own that's ready for
licensing, looking forward to playing with Steve and Anthony again...
Ok Warren, we are the end of the interview, this last one isn’t
actually a proper question, I like to call it the “answering machine
question”, it’s your space to leave a message to all your
fans around the world, so leave them a message.
mainstream media is lying to us all of the time...
switch them off!!!
kill your television!
It was a pleasure to interview you. Best of luck with Chicanery and all your
Download all the lyrics of Chicanery's album exclusively on duranasty.com
thanks to Warren Cuccurullo and Neil Carlill for the great interview,
the exclusive photographs and the lyrics
Art and photo-manipulation by Salvo
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made with passion from a fan to all the fans of Duran Duran on Planet
part of this interview may be reproduced without crediting Salvo Zuppardo
the editor and webmaster firstname.lastname@example.org | the life and times of
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clips of the 13 tracks
eclectic pairing of experimental music veterans Warren Cuccurullo and
Neil Carlill, the eponymous debut release from Chicanery figures to be
one of the most talked about albums of the summer.
Fusing rich sound scapes shaped by Cuccurullo’s legendary tunecraft
- densely woven around Carlill’s ‘tone poet’ vocals
and lyrics - Chicanery presents challenging, virtuoso musicianship and
a daring-but-precise approach that transforms the collection of songs
into an art form of its own.
Joined on selected sessions by long-time Cuccurullo collaborator Terry
Bozzio and other guests, Chicanery redefines that form with notable tracks
‘The Midnight Owls’, ‘Ice Page Repo’, ‘The
Rung Below’, ‘Hubert Selby Song’ and 'Solid Gold Helicopter'
to name only a few highlights. Chicanery is produced by Simone Sello and
releases May 11, 2010. The album will be available in both digital and
compact disc formats.
first digital single from the forthcoming self-titled debut album from
Chicanery [Warren Cuccurullo and Neil Carlill], 'Hubert Selby Song' is
a literate gem of the first order. Showcasing an irresistably and infectiously
dark vibe, sparkling hooks and tight-as-a-drum production 'Hubert Selby
Song' is a terrific introduction to the coming album. Perhaps best known
for his work with Frank Zappa, Duran Duran and Missing Persons, Warren
Cuccurullo plainly stakes his claim as one of the leading forces of contemporary
prog-pop with Chicanery. Carlill's gripping, sometimes other-worldly vocals
shine throughout, imploring the listener to embark on a singular journey
like no other on the scene today. Flip-side 'Gold Pavillions' reaches
for an altogether different approach - very nearly digging into a funky
downtempo vibe and is worth the price of admission itself.