Still life with commercials is a three piece with Geoff Farina (ex-guitar player of one of the most influent american bands of the 90s: Karate), Massimo Pupillo (playes the bass with ZU and has been collaborating with the EX, Mike patton, Nomeansno, Melvins) and the jazz drummer Zerang (over 60 releases with some of the most innovative musicians of the international avant scene).
Michael Zerang was born in Chicago, Illinois and is a first generation American of Assyrian decent. He has been a professional musician, composer, and producer since 1976, focusing extensively on improvised music, free jazz, contemporary composition, puppet theater, experimental theater, and international musical forms. He has collaborated extensively with contemporary theater, dance, and other multidisciplinary forms and has received three Joseph Jefferson Awards for Original Music Composition in Theater, in 1996, 1998, and 2000. He has over sixty titles in his discography and has toured nationally and internationally since 1981 with and ever-widening pool of collaborators. He was the artistic director of the Link’s Hall Performance Series from 1985-1989 where he produced over 300 concerts of jazz, traditional ethnic folk music, electronic music, and other forms of forward thinking music. He continued to produce concerts at Cafe Urbus Orbis from 1994-1996, and at his own space, The Candlestick Maker in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, from 2001 – 2005. He has taught as a guest artist at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in performance technique, sound design, and sound/music as it relates to puppetry; rhythmic analysis for dancers at The Dance Center of Columbia College, Northwestern University, and MoMing Dance and Arts Center; courses in Composer – Choreographer Collaborations at Northwestern University; music to children at The Jane Adams Hull House. He has held workshops in improvisational music and percussion technique and teaches private lessons in rhythmic analysis, music composition, and percussion technique.
Geoff Farina is probably best known for the abstract lyrics and genre-flouting guitar style he developed over his 12 years with Karate, or as one-half of The Secret Stars, the seminal early-90s duo that passed around home-made cassettes of songs now covered by the likes of Ida and Death Cab for Cutie. More recently Geoff has composed original film music for Cinamazero’s annual Schermo Sonoro festival in Pordenone Italy, and is currently part of the Roman punk/folk group called Ardecore, or “Burning Heart,” a theme taken from one of the traditional Roman folk songs they perform. His music has also appeared in films such as Staccato Purr of the Exhaust, a film featured in the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, and Andrew Gillis’ 2000 film Security, Colorado, the 24th film produced under the constraints of the Danish Dogme 95 Manifesto. Geoff is currently involved in a Clarkson University project to preserve an archive of concert recordings engineered by Juma Sultan, one-time percussionist with Jimmy Hendrix. The project recently won a National Endowment for the Arts “Access to Artistic Excellence” grant, and will preserve concert recordings of Sam Rivers, Albert Ayler, Pharoh Sanders, Sonny Murray, James Ulmer, and other now-legendary improvising musicians of the late-60s and early-70s.
But Geoff is first and foremost a creative musician. In the past 15 years, he has composed for and performed on over 35 recordings, and performed more than 1000 concerts in 20 countries at events ranging from Denmark’s Roskilde Festival to MTV Europe’s Supersonic. Geoff has collaborated with many musicians and groups including Michael Zerang, Zu, Chris Brokaw, Dan Littleton, Luther Gray, Nathan McBride, Allan Chase, Taylor Ho Bynum, Rebecca Gates, performance artist Jed Speare, visual artist Jodi Buonanno, and dancer Alissa Cardone. Geoff has been featured in New Music Express, Mojo, Spex, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Guitar One, La Repubblica, and was recently interviewed by Neal Conan on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation.
Geoff earned a BA from Berklee College of Music and an MA from the University of Massachusetts, where he wrote his Master’s thesis on the history of consumer analog synthesizers. He has studied with Guggenheim fellow Roswell Rudd and guitar virtuoso Ben Monder. Geoff has worked as an assistant to Bill Finnegan, designer of the Klon Centaur overdrive pedal, and he also writes about guitars and guitar-related hardware for Tape Op magazine. His early articles on amplifier modification were recently anthologized in a book called Tape Op: The Book About Creative Music Recording.
Massimo Pupillo is a bass player, improviser and composer, from Rome, Italy . Since 1991 he’s an active engine of the italian experimental- avant–free music scene. He s been a member of the well- known experimental collective Gronge untill ’97 and then with two members of that band started the trio ZU, gaining status of cult band worldwide. With ZU he released 11 albums ( and lots of singles and compilations) on labels like Chicago’s Atavistic , Holland’s Red Note, french Amanita, San Francisco Frenetic, etc… The album ‘Igneo’ (2002) was recorded and produced at Chicago’s Electrical Audio by Steve Albini, (producer – engineer for Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Pixies, Page & Plant, etc… ) He played more than 1000 concerts in Europe, East block, Russia, USA, Canada, Asia , Africa, in different contexts like rock, jazz, and contemporary music festivals.With Zu he’s been on tour sharing the stage with such bands as The Melvins, Fantomas, The Ex, Lightning Bolt, Ruins, Dalek, Nomeansno, Vandermark 5, The Thing, etc…Zu have been in the jazz polls of USA radios as reported by the magazine Jazziz , and in the jazz top 10 of Village Voice (NY) and Musica Jazz (Italy) Zu collaborates live and in studio with the best musicians of the avantgarde scene, regardless of rock or jazz definitions: Mike Patton, Nobukazu Takemura, Damo Suzuki, Dalek , The Melvins, Mats Gustafsson, Peter Brotzmann, Ken Vandermark, etc Beyond Zu , Massimo plays also with: Original Silence (with Sonic Youth members Thurston Moore and Jim O’ Rourke, Mats Gustafsson, Paal Nilssen- Love and Terrie Ex ), cd out on Smalltown Supersound —B For Bang with Katia Labeque, Giovanni Sollima, Nicola Tescari, David Chalmin, Meg.—OFFONOFF with Paal Nilssen Love and Terrie Ex, cd out on Smalltown Superjazz—Dimension X with Chris Corsano (Bjork) and David Chalmin (B For Bang) cd KML—Ardecore, revisiting traditional songs from Rome , 2 cds on Il Manifesto Dischi—Black Engine, with Zu , Eraldo Bernocchi and FM Einheit of Einsturzende Neubauten fame , cd out on Wallace.— 7K Oaks with Alfred Hart ( Cassiber, Otomo Yoshide New Jazz Ensemble ) Luca Venitucci and Fabrizio Spera ( Ossatura)—Quartet w/ Peter Brotzmann, Paal Nilssen, Love, Toshinori Kondo.
Other collaborations with The Ex , Ken Vandermark, Hamid Drake, DJ Olive, Han Bennink, Mary Oliver, Walter Wierbos , Nils Petter Molvaer, William Hooker , Otomo Yoshihide, Amy Denio, Gianni Gebbia, Lukas Ligeti , Fred Lonberg- Holm, Joe Lally and Guy Picciotto ( Fugazi ), Michael Vatcher, David Scott Stone ( Melvins), Okapi etc…