In Session: Alex Perone, of Pryce & Perone
EAST GREENBUSH – While by no means a rallying cry for the overall climate in which COVID has fostered, it is worth noting the various things that have arisen because of it. This is certainly the case for the duo Pryce & Perone. Though they’ve worked together through the years – they’ve known each other close to thirty years now – they re-ignited their working relationship during the initial lockdown. Creating an album via remote recording and collaboration is no easy feat, but they’re here to do it again; doing so well with their maiden-voyage, Corner Piece, in 2021.
Becoming accustomed with their music last year, it was my pleasure this weekend to sit down with Alex Perone to discuss the upcoming release, as well as a litany of other topics. To catch the interview, continue reading below.
Lucas Garrett: Alex! Thanks for sitting down with us today.
Alex Perone: Of course, man.
LG: Nice to meet you, so-to-speak. I’ve known Matthew a while, but this project is a lot different than what I’m used to him doing. Tell us a bit about it, and how it started.
AP: We’ve known each other since we were kids; probably like eleven. We weren’t friends until senior year of high school, and then we became immediate friends; best friends, really, since then. It’s been just over twenty years now – which is crazy to say. We’ve worked on lots of projects together; played in numerous bands together.
We met in a creative writing class and our relationship really started with collaboration. This iteration came about at the very end of 2020 – I had written a Christmas song and it came out pretty good. I played it for Matthew and he said, “Man, there needs to be guitar on this.” I said, “I don’t play guitar!” Then he went and recorded a pretty rippin’ solo and it sounded great. I didn’t even realize what kind of recording capability he had. It sounded so good that we thought, “What if we just did an album?”
I don’t think we wrote anything “new” for the first album.
LG: That album was Corner Piece, yeah?
AP: Yeah. Also, in 2021, Matthew wrote a children’s book, No Puzzles Tonight, that I illustrated. We really liked the idea of this “puzzle” theme; continuing and harkening to our history. The idea that the corner piece is a really important piece of the puzzle. The album cover is a picture of us playing in a band from 2008 or 2009; a long time ago.
We’re working on a new album, now.
LG: Why don’t you tell us about the new album?
AP: We’re recording this completely separately. Matthew lives in East Greenbush and I’m down in Queens. We record everything remotely. It’s tricky; if we were in the studio together, it’d be easier.
LG: How do you feel about the intricacies of remote recording? I’ve had good and bad times with it. What do you think about it?
AP: I don’t think it’d work as well if Matthew and I weren’t so close and if we weren’t used to talking all the time; we talk every day, anyway. Because we’ve worked so much in the past, we can clear away any difficulties in the communication. When you’re best friends with the person it makes it a lot easier. What I find difficult is finding times when we’re both in the zone and available to work on the music. It can be frustrating because we can’t always speak to each other “live,” but we’ve gotten pretty good at the process. We’re pretty much on the same page with a lot of things.
However, when we do get to see each other and play music, we’re like, “Wow, this is so much easier!” Hahaha.
LG: So, I gotta say – after hearing your last album and some of your new stuff – I love your voice, man. It’s great.
AP: Thank you!
LG: You also play piano real well, too.
LG: That’s you on the recording, right?
AP: Yeah. That is me on the recording; I’m doing everything except for guitar – that’s all Matthew. And, the drums are from a machine. Everything else is me. Most of the other instruments there are all MIDI patches through my keyboard. It essentially becomes a MIDI controller.
LG: Did you learn how to play on your own, or were you taught?
AP: I mainly taught myself. I remember being eight or nine; we had some keyboard in the house and I can remember seeing Les Misérables. My parents took me to see that and I just remember sitting at the piano and plunking out one of the songs by ear. My parents were like, “You just did that by ear, huh?” I’m like, “I don’t know what that means, but I guess!”
LG: What really stands out for me on these tunes is your voice.
AP: I appreciate that, man. That comes from years singing in musical theater, mostly.
LG: I can tell you know how to use breath support and your diaphragm very well.
AP: That gets pounded into your brain when you’re doing vocal training. I took one semester of piano lessons. He was an adjunct professor, but he was also someone I knew personally.
LG: So, it was pretty informal?
AP: It was informal. His name is Kim Patterson; he’s the best. A great piano player and great dude. When the class first started, he said, “What do you want to get out of this class?” And, I really wanted to play and sing at the same time. He taught me technique that allowed me to play open chords and sing. I feel bad saying that I only took a class for one semester, but the rest I really taught myself.
LG: Let’s get back to the album. You’ve released two of the songs off it thus far, right? “Ride of the Huguenot,” and “Some Sunny Day.”
AP: Right, we have those two, and two more that are getting done. Then, after that, we have a plethora of material to choose from. We’re not beholden to anyone but ourselves; if we’re not feeling it, we don’t push it. I have a feeling we’ll be in the same realm as the last album. It’ll be about nine or ten songs.
LG: What kind of music will it be?
AP: In terms of style, both of us are very influenced by a lot of different styles; primarily classic rock and jam band music. Being a fan of jam bands makes you a fan of a lot of different types. Matthew loves Bluegrass; he got me into Bluegrass. I would just say it’s rock and roll, jam band, stuff.
LG: When I was listening to “Ride of the Huguenot,” before the music entered, I was reminded of Jethro Tull. Do you know the album, Warchild?
LG: There was a song, “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day…”
AP: Yeah, yeah!
LG: He was making tea and singing to himself and it reminded me of that.
AP: It’s funny, when I was writing that song, the spark for that one was prog rock.
LG: I guess I heard the right thing, then!
AP: Sort of! You’re not far off. Pink Floyd is my number two favorite band of all time. When I’m trying to do something proggy, I lean into Pink Floyd a bit. I thought to myself, “What the hell, why don’t I really lean into it?” A lot of those noises were inspired by their album, Wish You Were Here. Funny thing about that intro section – I had to make that. I realized that if my eleven-year-old nephew were to hear that, he’d go, “What is that sound?” That’s not the sound of television anymore. I needed to find clips that weren’t trademarked or anything, so I went to Matthew’s YouTube channel and I pilfered some audio from his channel. I was really happy with how the intro, and the song overall came out!
LG: It’ s a great song!
AP: Thank you!
LG: Anything else you’d like to talk about?
AP: I’m excited to keep working on the album. We’re more ambitious with this one. Like, with “Some Sunny Day,” there’s a part where I do a seven-part vocal harmony.
LG: Well, thank you for your time today, and I look forward to hearing more from you guys!
AP: Thank you, man! It’s been great!
LG: Have a great day, Alex!
AP: You too, man! Take care.