Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Swerve - Skysaw Live Review

Skysaw at Hard Rock Cafe - June 28, 2011

...The highlight of the show was "Cathedral." Chamberlin and Anthony Pirog traded riffs throughout until Chamblerlin let loose with a solo that brought the audience to their feet with wild cheers encouraged by Mike Reina. Chamberlin is a musician first, and his skill allows him to forsake the theatrics of other drummers. The ease with which he plays most songs allows the audience to underestimate him until he lets loose with a solo of this caliber.

While it would be great to see Skysaw play Pittsburgh again, hopefully they will land a venue more appropriate for their talent and sound.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Videos from Jimmy Chamberlin's Skysaw Live

From the 28th June @ the Hard Rock Cafe 2011. Thanks to VastOceanCommuter

'Another' [...Be Specific] Interview with Jimmy Chamberlin

Over at the Washington Post thus;
...You're just going out on short tour. Are you thinking about a full tour later?
...There's lots of ways to put a band over these days. Doing it 200 people at a time doesn't make a lot of sense to me economically, spiritually and energetically. It doesn't add up to what it used to. You used to go out and play to a thousand people and look at [sales figures] the next day and see that 800 of those people went out and bought the record ….For me the idea of going out for two, three years to build a band in sweaty nightclubs, having done that for most of my life and being in my 40s now [is untenable]. It's not that I don't enjoy playing, but I think three good ideas are better than 50 shows ….Part of the reason I left my old band is because it was all encompassing, and I didn't have time for my family. It's just a different set of values.
When you say your old band, do you mean the Pumpkins or Zwan?
No — I was talking about the Pumpkins. Part of the reason that I left the Pumpkins is because it was becoming all-consuming. Being the only member of that band who had two kids and a wife, it was a hard decision, but ultimately it was a decision I'm comfortable with.

Was it hard to decompress from being a Pumpkin? There must have been a level of post-traumatic stress involved.
There was no post-traumatic stress, but there was a level of decompression. It took a while to be like, okay, I do have a family, I do have two kids and a wife. From the start of [Pumpkins album] “Zeitgeist” to the time I left, we had been full tilt for three years. When you have a four year-old son, that's 75% of his life...

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Jimmy Chamberlin - Songwriter

Putting the Sophistication back into Society

Check out the full interview, over at Songwriters on Process,  right >here<
Selected morsels >below<

On Skysaw; With a song like "Sad Reasons" on this record, I sat down in my office and just played the song from start from start to finish on my guitar... It didn't involve a lot of process other than making myself available to what was going on around me. That song in particular was a telling exercise because I was interested in how it would change over time after I recorded it and again after I delivered it to the band.  But the first version I laid down in my studio in the basement is the one that made it to the record."
On Tonight Tonight; "...the muse can take many different forms. Ideally, the greatest gift it to be hand-delivered a song from the cosmos and have it be the version. Billy Corgan often writes the same way. Like with "Tonight Tonight," he said he just woke up one morning, went down to the piano, and played it. And much like with a lot of those drum parts that happened in the Pumpkins, the first time he played it for me, the drum part you hear is the first drum part I thought of."
On playing the guitar; "I'm not that sophisticated of a guitar player to be able to come up with ... the riff of the century."
On Tolkien, Thelonious Monk and Mark Twain; In the arranging and production of songs, when I'm building them from the chords up and putting layerings of production in a song, I want to feel like I'm building this Tolkienesque world of music that's available to people on many layers... Thelonius Monk was always good at playing something that on the surface appeared simple, but as you delved deeper you realized that the chord structure on which the melody was based was so complex.. The idea behind playing the drums is to play something simple enough so that people can rhythmically attach to it, but as an artist my job is also to satisfy myself with a sophistication that exists within the music.  Mark Twain invites you into his world with seeming simplicity, but once you get into his writing, you realize how complex it is.
 On Zeitgeist; When I was with the Pumpkins and we did  Zeitgeist, it had been almost seven years since we made the album before it.  So having to go and play that style of drumming again, I was often I was at loggerheads with myself because I was saying, "I don't really play like this anymore..."  It became difficult to mine that stuff from 1996 and relearn how to play like that.  It would be like writing in the style you did when you were a sophomore in college.  That would be difficult since you've moved on...

Again, go check out the full thing. It's rather insightful indeed.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

More Skysaw Rehersal Photos

Again, courtesy of Kiku - check them out here.

Day 1 shots here.

Skysaw at the Metro - June 25 2011

Will post reviews and pics, if and, when I find em.

Here's one to be going on with;

Interview with Jimmy Chamberlin - Dynasty Podcast

CVU86 - Jimmy Chamberlin by DYNASTY PODCASTS

In this, one of the last ever Local Q101 interviews (?), Chamberlin talks about the current state of the music industry, touring, the future of Skysaw and more.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Skysaw - Behind the Scenes...

My friend Kiku has posted some great behind the scenes shots of Skysaw rehearsing for, presumably, their appearance at JBTV and the record release show at the Metro. 

They are good

SKYSAW - Cathedral - Soundchecked for JBTV

& a fan shot clip of "No One Can Tell" just popped up;

Update: The Set

Am I Second
Sad Reasons
Great Civilizations
No One Can Tell
Tightrope Situation
All I Hear Is Snow
Nothing's Ever Easy
Capsized Jackknifed Crisis

Friday, 24 June 2011

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Gannin Arnold DVD - 2 Weeks...

I just got word that the Gannin Arnold live DVD, featuring Jimmy Chamberlin on 5 tracks, will be out in about two weeks.


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Great Civilizations Reviews - Collected Here

I'll try and grab as many as I can, as they trickle in; hit up the comments if you see one I miss.

...Great Civilizations is rich with drum rolls that grab your attention, convicted guitar melodies and heart-felt lyrics. The whole album is an acclamation, a moving anthem. The tracks are arranged in a way that controls the mood; one song leading up to a frenzy the next turning the mood to a more reflective tone... >The Owl Magazine
...Chamberlin isn't able to play drums like it's 1995 (as he told this reviewer last Monday) but you'd be hard-pressed to convince listeners otherwise on album highlight "Capsized Jacknifed Crisis." His ridiculously fast but smooth stick work, and the pop rock behind this well-produced piece of work are pleasurable to listen to every time.... By the time you get through these 10 tracks, if you're like this writer, you'll appreciate and dig Chamberlin's new direction more than you thought you would and will definitely want to hear a follow-up to Great Civilizations, one of the more impressive debut records of 2011   >BlogCritics 
Skysaw’s debut album Great Civilizations is a tour of prog, arena, and quiet keyboard rock.  Pirog’s guitar hooks are fast and relentless; Chamberlin’s drums are tight and martial.  [Great Civilizations] reaches for the booming symphonies of Rush's Fly By Night or Moving Pictures. But only a handful of its 10 songs achieve those heights... One wishes Skysaw had included “Cathedral”, a seven-minute spectacle of shredded fury and ricocheting drum crashes the band has been playing at recent shows and one that could make Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart envious. > Washington City Paper this ten song set that proves immensely listenable from start to finish and actually scales higher peaks as it works its way forward...Great Civilizations does occasionally bow to its handle with some sweeping sentiment. Indeed, songs such as the effusive "No One Can Tell," a soaring "Nothing's Ever Easy," and the ever-insistent title track diminish any cause to quibble about Chamberlin's intent...Great Civilizations excels on its own merits, a damn fine debut due the kudos the press is bound to toss its way. > BLURT
...Skysaw struts through modern rock with the kind of confidence you'd expect from a musician as sharp as Chamberlin (the song "Capsized Jacknifed Crisis" evokes its title primarily because of Chamberlin's superbly wrecked drums), and there's a wonderful '60s delirium along the music's edges -- backwards guitars (guitarist Anthony Pirog) and woozy bass wobbles and MGMT-worthy psychedelic voices (vocalist Mike Reina). > Chicago Sun Times [3 and a half stars]
Skysaw seems to be great prog simply because they do not try so hard to be great prog. Instead, they walk that fine line between complexity and accessibility, pooling their impressive musicanship to craft melodic riffs and textures that have the momentum of a roller coaster. As a result, Great Civilizations is accessible enough to be worth checking out, and deep enough to be rewarding in the long term From the Pharmacy of Dr. Spin

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Interview with Jimmy Chamberlin

Chamberlin talks Song-writing, Skysaw and Smashing Pumpkins

Over at "The Swerve Magazine", apportioned here;
TS: How is the collaborative process with Skysaw different than with the Pumpkins?
JC: With Smashing Pumpkins we were primarily working on the work of one writer and the rest of the band was in charge of arranging the material. With Skysaw everyone kind of writes. Everybody brings songs in and we all work on each other's songs. It's really more of a band situation. More of a collaborative effort insomuch that everybody; myself, Mike Reina and Anthony Pirog, are all songwriters. With the Pumpkins, it really got to the point where Billy was writing so much material that that's all we really worked on.
TS: You wrote a lot of the music, and then brought Mike in the handle most of the lyrics, is that right?
JC: Mike wrote all the lyrics on the record, and that's not to say that there's not lyrics that I've written for the songs that I wrote, because some of the songs on the Skysaw record have alternative lyrics. I have always felt as a musician and a song writer that, unless it's a cover, if it's a song that Mike's going to work on, I feel he should have an investment in the lyrics and what the lyrics are saying. Obviously, for me to tell him, "Here's the lyrics, I want you to sing about this uncomfortable experience" . . . I didn't want to do that to anybody [...]
TS: After working with Smashing Pumpkins where Billy Corgan is the frontman in the spotlight, what is it like to shift into more of a leadership position?
JC: [...] I feel like being in the Pumpkins was a harder job than being in Skysaw just because I had 20 years of legacy to uphold all the time, and I felt like I had to be a certain kind of person to be in that band.  That necessarily wasn't the person I had become as an individual. With Skysaw it really gives me free reign to be myself and not have to deal with any preconceived notions of what the people in Skysaw are like. Being in the Pumpkins, you are a Pumpkin, so to speak. You go to work. You put that hat on, and you become that person. With this, it's a lot more open and I feel it's more representative of how I feel day-to-day.
TS: What was your inspiration in writing the Skysaw album?
JC: It's just asking yourself, "What does my life sound like now?" If I don't want to be in this situation, and I want to create something new what does that new situation sound like? And I think once you go down into your studio and pick up a guitar, you start to figure out, "Okay, this is what it sounds like. Now I can expand on this and kind of take it to the next level."

I found myself with a bunch of songs and needed and outlet with which to purge myself of those songs, and that was really Skysaw.  I go through cycles. When I write a bunch of pop songs I have to find somewhere to jettison them so that I can move onto the next thing. The same thing with the Complex. I found myself being drawn to a lot of early 70s prog/jazz fusion, and in writing that stuff it was necessary to find a vehicle in which to jettison that stuff.
Anyway, go and read the whole thing - tis worth it.


Event Details
50 random people (plus a guest) who RSVP will be chosen as winners and
will be notified via email within 48 hours of the event with all the
pertinent details. Tapings are in the River North area of Chicago and
all guests must be 18 years or older, or accompanied by an adult.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Just thought i'd post here, for posterity n all...

Great Civilizations
Release Date: June 21
Dangerbird Records

SKYSAW is the new project helmed by Jimmy Chamberlin, who wants to make one thing clear at the outset: “This project is not the vision of one person. It’s a band, a total collaboration. After being in the biz for 25 years, I know unity holds the power and gets the job done. Skysaw is a full democracy, the sum of all our personalities. If it becomes huge, great, but it’s really about creating an environment to grow some musical ideas. No matter what happens, I’m still happy to keep doing it. It feels good to be in a room with these guys on a purely musical level.”

The seeds of Skysaw were planted after Chamberlin left the Smashing Pumpkins in 2009. Sitting in his home studio, musical ideas began pouring out at a rapid pace. “I recorded 25 or 30 tunes, instrumentals without lyrics. One day I told Bill Thomas, who helped set up my home studio, ‘If I could find a songwriter with a great voice who lives in his studio, I’d do another band.’ He told me about Mike Reina.

“I got Mike on the phone and he sent me some tracks with a dark Beach Boys meets Tom Waits feel. I knew if we could combine what I know about rock dynamics and what he knows about melody and songwriting, we could do something original. I flew him to Chicago to record a song and get to know each other.” Chamberlin and Reina had similar ideas about blending progressive rock with cohesive melodies and simple vocal harmonies. They started writing the songs that became Great Civilizations.

“We worked on the album for a year and a half and Mike kept telling me about Tony,” Chamberlin continues. “We finished a song called ‘They’re Watching’ and left a space for a guitar solo. We sent it to Tony and what he sent back was blistering. I was sold. We invited him to join and he’s been a fantastic asset to the band.”

The music on Great Civilizations is full of the contradictions that make compelling music, at once light and densely layered, simple and progressive, expansive and down to earth. “Capsized Jackknifed Crisis” shifts between a dreamlike verse and a dramatic chorus, propelled by Chamberlin’s powerful drumming and Pirog’s icy guitar accents. “This song shows my Eno influence,” Reina says. “The band is named after the first track on Another Green World.” Chamberlin’s half time rhythm and Pirog’s aggressive, almost metallic guitar generate the overwhelming tension that makes “No One Can Tell” so compelling. “I layered up loops, pedals, backwards guitar parts and lap steel to fill out the sound,” Pirog says. Reina’s vocal captures the tension of a man watching his life fall apart, while pretending that everything is normal.

“Great Civilizations” has the anthemic feel of a U2 track, with an uplifting vocal from Reina, supported by Chamberlin’s emotive stick work and Pirog’s complex guitar pyrotechnics. “I used the Edge’s delay pedal for this one and added a 12 string guitar part, a flurry of arpeggios and a lot of open string country guitar scales that weren’t easy to play,” Pirog says. “My right had was really tired when we finished that track.” Reina blended keyboard and guitar sounds to create the ominous instrumental harmonies of “All I Hear Is Snow.” His vocals slip in and out of focus, to convey the late night struggle of a man trying to stay awake at the wheel as the weather, and his life, slowly turn to darkness.

Great Civilizations was created with the trio writing, playing and producing the music themselves. “We played the basic tracks live in my studio or Mike’s,” Chamberlin says. “Mike’s a great arranger, but we all had input into every song. We did a lot of self-policing as the album progressed. ‘Is it good enough?,’ is the question you have to ask yourself, but we’re all perfectionists. I’m always touching up my drum parts and Mike does and redoes his vocals till he’s satisfied. We think that care shows in the music.”

Skysaw recently played their debut gig at the Complex in Los Angeles with Paul Wood and Boris Skalsky of Dead Heart Bloom filling out the line up. “The players were fantastic. We were well rehearsed and, to get a crowd in LA to even clap, is amazing,” Chamberlin crows. “We got a great response. People saw we were a real band. Even the record company people, who thought the group only existed in my mind, were impressed. I can’t wait to get on the road and start playing for the rest of the country.”


Jimmy Chamberlin was born in Juliet, Illinois, the youngest of six children. He father worked on the railroad and played amateur clarinet, informed by artists like Artie Shaw and Pete Fountain. “My older brothers and sisters were into music and listened to Dylan, the Doors, Cream, Deep Purple, Led Zep. Everything from Duke Ellington to Jimi was coming out of the rooms in our house,” Chamberlin says. “My older brother Paul was a drummer. When I was 7, I’d play on his drum kit in the basement. I took lessons with Charlie Adams, who played for Yanni later on, until I turned pro at 15.”

Chamberlin played with local rap/rock bands, but his bread and butter was a gig in the polka band of Eddie Karosa, who hosted a weekly TV show called Polka Party on WCIU. “From there I played in any professional group I could find. I was making 200 bucks a week, enough to buy a car and not have to work a day job. I played in polka bands and cover bands doing everything from Broadway show tunes to the Beach Boys. When the Smashing Pumpkins came to see me, they rescued me from blue sport coat cover bands. I was into progressive jazz at the time - Tony Williams and Weather Report. In the Pumpkins, I found my own way to express myself. I could do anything I wanted in that band.”

After leaving the Pumpkins, Chamberlin joined Billy Corgan and Matt Sweeny in Zwan. They made one album and broke up. “Then I started The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex. From a musical standpoint, it was successful and continues to this day, but we haven’t released any music since our first album in 2005.” After rejoining and leaving the Pumpkins again, Chamberlin went home and started writing songs.

“I never wrote that much before and wondered where it was all coming from. I knew I needed someone who could sing and put lyrics to this stuff. Bill Thomas gave me Mike Reina’s phone number and after a short exchange of musical ideas, we agreed to work together.

Mike Reina was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia. “When I was a boy, I used to sleepwalk and turn on the stereo every night. An early indicator of my love of music,” Reina says. “My father played piano, accordion and guitar. He had a nice Gibson nylon string that became my first guitar. I took piano lessons, but when I reached my teen rebel years, I stopped playing. I picked up guitar again in high school when I discovered The Beatles and kept at it. In college, I got a Rhodes piano and joined Inches to flood, a progressive rock band. I wasn’t the singer, but I did write the songs. That got me back into keys and led to synthesizers and an obsession with Roger Waters’ era Pink Floyd. I found a whole world inside my synth; I’ve been synthesizers them ever since.”

Reina was a fan of Phaser, another local outfit. After a conversation with band members Paul Wood and Boris Skalsky, he joined the band. “That was my first professional experience. When that came to an end, I built a studio and started a solo album. When I put together a band to do a one off gig to play some of the songs I’d been writing, it went so well I asked them to come in and add to the record.” Reina called the group The Jackfields. They became one of the top bands in the DC area. “I saw Anthony play one night and thought he was phenomenal. I asked him to join the band and he did. We were in the process of finishing The Jackfields album, when Jimmy called and we got sidetracked.”

Anthony Pirog grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC. His father played in surf bands in the 60s and bequeathed his son a 1963 Fender Jaguar. “I taught myself to play Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman’ from a video I got from the library,” Pirog says. “From then on, I played all the time. My dad listened to Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, surf and doo-wop. I took it all in. I was in 15 different bands during high school. By my junior year, I was into free jazz and experimental music.”

A scholarship to a summer session at Boston’s Berklee School of music to study jazz guitar was a turning point. “I knew I wanted to be a musician, but wasn’t sure I could make it. Berklee was only offering 17 slots for that summer session. I decided I’d become a musician if I got a scholarship, so the decision as made for me.” After high school, Pirog stayed at Berklee for two years and finished his degree in Jazz Performance at NYU.

Pirog moved back to DC and became known for his shredding style and an ability to play everything from outside jazz to freak folk. He played in rockabilly, oldies and electronica bands as well as free form solo gigs that allowed him to explore the outer limits of his creativity. “I started a label called Sonic Mass Records to put out my first album, Beginning to End, solo improvisations for guitar. It was atonal, far out and experimental. That led to Janel and Anthony, a cello and guitar duo that I have with my girlfriend Janel Leppin, which got us deeper into the experimental scene. About a year ago, Mike came to one of my shows and asked me to join The Jackfields. I stayed for two years before moving to New York with Janel to play jazz. When Mike started working with Jimmy, they asked me to add guitar on a song they were working on. That got me involved in the project. They’ve given me the opportunity to play rock without limitations, so it will be interesting to see how far we can go.”

For more information, please contact:
Good Cop Public Relations
 Here's a picture or two;

June Album of the Month: SkySaw "Great Civilizations"

June Album of the Month: SkySaw "Great Civilizations"


THE MACHINE SOMEHOW: DOWNLOADS: Added the Skysaw Diamond Ballroom full show to the page. MP3 or FLV.

Saturday, 4 June 2011


Cheers Pistol Pete ... (more info to follow)

Diamond Ballroom - Oklahoma City, OK (June 03, 2011)
1. Capsized Jackknifed Crisis
2. Great Civilizations
3. Serrated
4. Am I Second
5. Sad Reasons
6. All I Hear Is Snow
7. No One Can Tell
8. Cathedral

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Jimmy Chamberlin Skysaw Tour Update - 3


Three shows in the beautiful Carolinas and the band is on fire. We've taken the songs to another level live and the crowds are right there with us. After struggling a bit with the sound in Greenville, Wilmington was a standout show as well as Charleston last night. I am really impressed with the bands ability to translate the music into a live context. It's not the easiest thing to get up and play a bunch of songs that no one has ever heard and win a crowd over. In fact , it can be downright difficult under the best circumstances.  This music clearly has a destination beyond any of our dreams and a heartfelt embrace to those of you who have hitched your wagons to the Skysaw express.

That's all for now but those of you who know me know I could have said much more.

With love and respect,


SKYSAW - [Live Review]

I assume Skysaw takes their name from the Brian Eno song of the same name, because, like Eno, their music is full of tension, yet melody.  And, like Eno, they know the importance of texture.  Singer and multi-instrumentalist Mike Reina’s voice comes out like a mixture of Ted Leo and Peter Gabriel—a forceful tenor able to capture a melody and make it his own.  Skysaw’s drummer is none other than Jimmy Chamberlin, formerly of Smashing Pumpkins—a fact I found out only a day before the show. As always, his style is tight and rapid-fire, but oddly enough, a bit understated.  As it turns out, Skysaw was originally Chamberlin’s outlet for some of his new musical ideas post-Smashing Pumpkins, and Reina worked with Chamberlin to flesh out the ideas along with the other band members.  But Skysaw aren’t the single vision of anyone, as it’s clear that the band is well-rehearsed and embodies a symphonic space all their own.  I’m anxious to hear more from them in the future.

Jimmy Chamberlin’s new outfit, Skysaw, come to Metro on the 25th. The former Pumpkins drummer brings former Jackfields Mike Reina and Anthony Pirog with him, for a more pop-oriented project than his ongoing fusion gig, Jimmy Chamberlin Complex. “This is more about songwriting, orchestrating, being in a band with collaborators,” he says, “as opposed to going out to play jazz fusion, which is a part of me, just not this part.” For now the goal is to play handfuls of shows and record, record, record. “I know I’m having a great time now. We’re on the road, I’m setting my stuff up, we’re in a van with a trailer. I’ve never really asked much more of music that that. We don’t have any preconceived notions or grandiose expectations, especially in light of the current music business profile. The goal is just to have fun and put out as much music as we can, and maintain an economic profile so that we can keep doing it.” Great Civilizations (Dangerbird) arrives on the 21st.