PORTLAND MUSICIAN CORNER With DJ Sonic Szilvi – Interview with Saint Jacks Parade

About two years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting several members of Saint Jacks Parade at a birthday party. At that point I had never seen them live, but meeting and getting to know them prompted me to explore their music further, and to see them play a live show.

Watching this band live is a great experience. Paul Davies’ vocals translate all the emotions into words with such intense passion that it can give you those good shivers. Bassist Chatchay Ramone will get you moving and dancing by jumping off the stage while he provides the rhythm together with the newest additions to the band, guitarist Marty Vincelli and drummer Roby Williams. Not to forget Regina LaRocca, whose lead guitar riffs will mesmerize you. This band is about making you feel good, with beautiful melodies and rocking instruments.

I’m sitting here with two of my favorite people in Portland, and two of the greatest musicians in the local scene, Regina and Paul.

Q: I’m excited about this interview, because I have the feeling that I’ll learn a lot of new things about your band, as will our readers. So, first of all, I’m curious, how did Saint Jacks Parade become a reality, and where does the name come from?

Paul: Before Saint Jacks Parade I was doing open mic jams and connecting with other musicians, wanting to put a band together. One night, I had this dream about being on stage performing in France. I turned around and I could see my band mates, but I couldn’t see their faces, who they were. At the end of the set the whole audience was screaming “Saint Jacks Parade! Saint Jacks Parade! Saint Jacks Parade!” It was totally magical. At this point I didn’t think we were going to be called Saint Jacks Parade, but the name stuck with me and that is who we became. After thinking about why this name was given to me, the answer became pretty obvious. The band comes from all different walks of life, joined together for a purpose. A parade is basically that, people coming together from different places and directions and focusing on one event, and that is what we do.

Q: You all have been musicians from very early on. How did that come about?

Paul: My background as a musician began in church. As a kid, I was really shy at first, but performing and singing made me confident. My first encounter with a guitar came because my brother was in a band. When he left home, he put his guitar in the attic. I was around eleven, just tall enough to reach the cord on the attic door to yank it down. As a mischievous and curious boy, I had to explore, and of course I found my brother’s guitar. I was so excited, and couldn’t believe that he actually left it behind. I was hoping my mom and dad would let me have it. I ran down to ask my mom, who said that she would ask my brother and get back to me. The next day the guitar was mine. Many years later my brother told me that he was never asked about it. As for my first training it was in country and folk music.

Regina: I also started playing the guitar when I was eleven years old. I wanted to become a musician because my parents, themselves musicians, always had parties in the living room. My dad would play the acoustic guitar, everyone would sing songs, drink wine, and have a great time. My main motivation for playing guitar was for the wine-drinking music parties to go on after I moved out. And they have! I just wanted to sing originally, but someone at school told me that my singing wasn’t that great. I thought I’d better learn an instrument. But I still love to sing. As for training, my father is a classically trained pianist, and my brother is a musician as well. I had a guitar instructor and he taught me mainly flamenco style. Then, after four years of playing guitar, I was tricked into playing bass. It wasn’t my choice. I played guitar in a high school band and it seemed that every time we lost a bassist they were like “just play the bass until we find someone.” This went on for a while, and I then realized that all these bands in Portland needed bass players. My playing the instrument would get me to play shows. So I ended up playing the bass for about 30 years! I just couldn’t get away from it, everybody wanted a bass player. In the early 90’s, I started playing guitar in one band, while still playing bass in others. Then I took a break from rock music for a while, playing acoustic dark folk music for nine years or so. I came back to rock music when I joined Saint Jacks Parade.

Q: For someone who has never heard any of your songs, how would you describe your music? What do you want your music and lyrics to convey to the listeners?

Paul: Saint Jacks Parade fits best into arena rock and neo new-wave ballad rock. Each song can stand on its own legs. It has its own meaning, personality, and an energy that almost anyone can relate to. We want to reach people and move them, dramatically and emotionally, with our music, our songs. We want to be the cause that has that certain affect on people, like when you go to a huge concert, or some amazing movie, and you walk away wowed so much that it creates a seed inside your mind that you go and build your dreams on. I can tell ya’ right from the gate, we are all very much dreamers here. That’s just a part of being the artists that we are.

Q: What is your most memorable Saint Jacks Parade story?

Paul: I think that you never forget the first time on stage, you never forget your debut. But another mind blowing event was when I was introduced to our first drummer.  We pulled up behind his car and his personalized license plate read “D-SAINT”. That was just crazy, ridiculous, like the universe was presenting us with this mile marker. Like it was to supposed to happen.

Q; What are you working on currently? And what can we expect from Saint Jacks Parade in the future?

Paul: Right now, we are working on a new song called “Cyanide,” about the poisons of the world. It’s kind of heavy, with a really awesome groove and a great hook. It’s just a really wonderful song. The band loves it, and I know that if the band loves a song, it has one hundred percent going for it. We are also looking into playing at bigger venues, or new venues we haven’t played yet, like the Kennedy School, Crystal Ballroom, The Bossanova and such. Venues that are big enough, and still host bands like Saint Jacks Parade, King Black Acid and… Nuclear Green. (DJ Sonic Szilvi Laughs. Nuclear Green is her band, currently on hiatus).

Regina: Also, we are going to record a single. We may introduce a keyboard player, but we are not sure yet. We have a bunch of ideas on the horizon.

Q: One final question:  if you had “access” to a genie to grant you one wish for the band, what would that wish be?

Paul: I think for me the coolest thing would be to being able to see what difference our music made in people’s lives.

Regina: I wanna do a giant festival In Edinburgh, Scotland. I wanna go touring Europe. I had a blast doing that with one of my previous bands. In the end though, it doesn’t matter where you play, as long as you do play, and are in the “zone” when you do it.

Thank you for taking your time to do this interview with me! Thanks also for allowing me to jam to your new song in the making. What a blast! I know I’m excited for the next Saint Jacks Parade show, and I invite all you readers to check out this super cool band. You can follow them on Facebook and listen to some great tracks at ReverbNation or Soundcloud.

DJ Sonic Szilvi, a European native, joined the Portland music scene a few years ago, currently playing bass for two active bands and one on hiatus. She recently joined the Freeform Portland family as a DJ. Sonic Szilvi co-hosts the weekly show Dark Noise Radio with her good friend DJ Devon.