Thing Like Any Other
Like many other bands, Starkville, MS-based The Persians play music, and not just any type of music, but rock music, which means the guitar and bass are usually electrified, the drums are often pounding and frenetic, and the singing, though effective, is not operatic. Not on purpose, anyway. The two lead Persians, John Brocato (guitar, vocals) and Todd Hunt (drums, backing vocals) knew each other for years while playing music in the local area before deciding in 2001 that they really ought to play together and just stop with all this 'rival bands' business. So that's what they did, and before long they were playing energetic, moderately loud live shows at places like Rick's Café and the Darkhorse Tavern (Starkville), Memphis Jam (at Mud Island in...um...Memphis), Hal and Mal's (Jackson, MS), Grand Central (Mobile, AL), and the colossal outdoor festival Big Spring Jam (Huntsville, AL). Playing live, however, can be somewhat unproductive if bands don't have something for potential fans to remember them by (business-savvy people refer to this something as 'product'; modern musicians refer to it as 'a CD'). After two years of working up nearly 30 original songs and several obscure covers, they released their debut album, A Thing Like Any Other, in September 2003. The album's songs, it should be noted, have distinct beginnings, middles, and endings; none of them simply fade in or fade out, because that's silly and careless. Some of the songs last longer than others, but the average for all 11 tracks is 3 minutes 27 seconds, which is nice and reasonable. As for the style of the songs, they owe a debt to a bunch of big names, like Led Zeppelin and Elvis Costello and Nirvana, as well as several smaller names, like Billy Bragg, Pavement, and Guided by Voices. Some of the songs are very hard-rocking ('Swimming Herward,' the opener), others are mildly hard-rocking ('Daguerreotype,' which is hard to spell), others are mildly hard-rocking and melodic ('Accidental Physics'), and still others are not at all hard-rocking but are nonetheless extremely melodic, perhaps because they're not so hard-rocking (the well-known 'U.V.A.,' the evocatively titled 'Mashed-Potato Sky'). All in all, it's a good debut album if the band does say so itself. Thankfully, other people feel this way too, including CD Baby and the 30-plus music-download sites on the Internet (such as iTunes, Napster, and Tower Records Online) where A Thing Like Any Other is available. Now that bassist extraordinaire Lee Graham (member of the Puerto Rican Rum Drunks, Hogleg, ad infinitum) and guitar genius Steve Chrestman have decided the Persians are worth their time, the band is looking forward to releasing it's sophomore album, Allergic to Juggling, which will have no fewer than 14 songs, some of them about construction sites, very mean men, and two warring recipes for red velvet cake. WHERE'D THE NAME COME FROM? Ah, yes, the name. John found the name in 1993 right after he broke up with Skeleton Crew (called Torture Orchid at the time - blech). While contemplating some name other than the obvious for his solo days, he saw 'The Persians' on a banner advertising a history lecture at the California Institute of Technology (where he worked at the time) and thought it was perfect. The band's use of 'The Persians' carries no political, social, or cultural significance. They chose this name simply because it's a beautiful-sounding word. It may as well evoke a herd of cats or a fleet of flying carpets instead of Zoroastrianism or a large gulf surrounded by contentious Middle Eastern countries.