Jimmy Gnecco: Hi. My name is Jimmy Gnecco and I am a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. I have been putting music out under the name Ours since 1992.
Aos. What age did you get into music Jimmy? Did you get involved in the local music scene or join any high school bands?
Jimmy Gnecco: I always loved music. From the time I remember even having a thought, music was a part of my memories and emotions. I grew up racing bmx bicycles which had me doing a lot of traveling and also a lot of time out on my own riding. Music was always there to keep me company. When I wasn’t out on my bicycle I practically lived in the roller rink. I loved it so much there. I was always dancing and singing along. I decided to take the step into playing the guitar when I was thirteen, and singing followed shortly after. I was in the high school jazz band throughout my four years there, and I had my first band called Lost Child in 1988.
Aos. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in music and what instruments do you play?
Jimmy Gnecco: I was in the eighth grade when it hit me. It became an obsession and I haven’t looked back since. I play the guitar, bass, piano, and drums, and I’m willing to play just about anything else that you put in front of me.
Aos. Your the Lead Vocalist and Guitarist in American Rock band ‘OURS‘. Tell us, How did ‘OURS’ form?
Jimmy Gnecco: I was playing around the area for a few years and found a few other guys who were as committed to it as I was and we had about a four or five year run playing together. On the tail end of that band I came up with the name Ours and just continued with it no matter who I was playing with. In 1997 I found a few other guys who were committed to playing, I showed them my songs, we rehearsed a lot, played a few shows, and then a record company bidding war began. I signed a deal with Dreamworks as a solo artist who would make music under the name Ours. Basically a Nine Inch Nails model. I was hoping to have a steady band, but it had been hard up til then to get anyone to fully commit, so I signed that way. Some of that same crew is still with me today and they contribute in their own way.
Aos. ‘OURS’ released first album titled ‘Sour‘ and then you guys did not reform again for several years. Did each band member go off and find inspiration elsewhere before returning and releasing the impressive official debut album ‘Distorted Lullabies‘ produced by Steve Lillywhite.
Jimmy Gnecco: Well, as I had mentioned, when I signed with Dreamworks it was an entirely new band. About four years went by from the time we finished Sour and I signed. During that time I wrote new songs and played with a bunch of different people trying to get it together. For Distorted Lullabies I had a few other friends play on it with me, and one of my favorite guitar players Boz Boorer joined us for a few weeks as well. I was essentially alone when I started the process of making that record. For a year leading up to it, I didn’t have a band, I just spent time writing. It would be that way for most of the four years that the record took to make. I spent seven weeks of the four year process with Lillywhite (who I still adore), but that was just the start of the record. Making that record was intense. I would go on to record a bunch of the songs again and on my own and with my recording partner Mike Marri. The record is a mix of many different approaches, but each time, we used the same type of gear, and I wrote the same type of drum parts, so that’s why it all seems to fit together. All of the creative elements were coming from me for the most part, so the approach was consistent. I actually produced the record if we were to break down the process, but due to the dynamics of how things go with labels, I wasn’t allowed to take the credit for it. Ultimately, I was ok with that because I just wanted it to be right, and I had nothing but love for Lillywhite. He did his job in that seven weeks. I am a complicated one. It isn’t always as simple as jumping in a room and knocking it out. Sometimes that works, but other times, the songs need time. They come from a place of living them, so they need just that. They need to be lived before they can be written and completed. It takes a great team to fully understand that side of things. Rick Rubin always did. He and I are very alike in that way. That was more of the type of situation that worked for me. Anyway, once I recorded Sometimes, the label got excited. They got some feelers out there, radio immediately added it, MTV wanted a video, and so I had to lock down a band right away. I had most of the pieces, but I had to find a guitar player who could play the record like I did because I could only do so much. In my eyes there was only one guy I knew who could. My old buddy that I spent five years with in the band that originally became Ours. So we talked a bit about the music, about the new dynamic of the situation, and he decided to jump on for a bit. I also added a keyboard player because I had played some on the record that I would really miss if they weren’t there live. That spot was filled by someone who I consider to be my little brother. He basically learned to play to be in Ours, just like the bass player did. All pretty much my family, learning my songs, and jumping on board to support my vision and hopefully create some new music with.
Aos. How did the band cope with receiving media attention after the first record and especially after the success of single ‘Sometimes’ on MTV?
Jimmy Gnecco: Everyone for the most part was pretty level headed. Two of the guys in the band, the drummer and the bass player actually played on ‘Sometimes‘ so they were proud, and as I mentioned the guitar player and keyboard player were happy to be on the ride and supportive. Everyone was very sweet actually. They were all excited. Maybe more than I was I think.
Aos. A few years before ‘Distorted Lullabies‘ was released one of your closest friends and singer-songwriters / guitarist Jeff Buckley sadly passed away in a tragic accident. What was your relationship like with Jeff, I have read that you both shared a lot of similar musical tastes and you have wrote many songs (Which ones) about your friend since his passing.
Jimmy Gnecco: Jeff’s passing in 1997 was crushing. I wasn’t one of his close friends, but I had just begun to hang around. There were things on the horizon, but then it all changed. My heart still breaks when I think of him, his family, and how much he had to give. Crushing. I wrote As I Wander and Saint about him, and in a strange way I Heard You Singing as well. I Heard You Singing is about how other people were moved by him. Indirectly about him, but still.
Aos. Mercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy) was the band’s third major label success. This album was produced by Rick Ruben in Los Angeles. What was it like working with Rick Ruben and what unique qualities did Rick bring to the album? Any Studio production tricks?
Jimmy Gnecco: That record was a dream. Rick basically said go make your record. We would spend time working on the songs together which I had mostly written already. We would sit and talk about the arrangements and if anything needed another part or less parts. He doesn’t like the studio so he wasn’t there for even one day of working. He came in to say hello, wish everyone well, and told us to enjoy it. He was adamant about us having a great drummer, great engineer, great songs, and a great time. I love that man. Even never coming into the studio, he knew what was going on in the songs, and his process was an effective one. There’s a reason why he is so successful. It’s not a fluke, and many people are jealous of his success so they beat him up. He’s not an engineer so he doesn’t spend 12-24 hours a day in the studio like we do. He gives perspective on things, and he keeps it by not being there. Everyone works differently, but that is his process, and for me, it was perfect. He works with strong artist who have their own vision, and he lets them do it. Then he lets them know where he thinks it can be better. This is what many of the business types don’t understand. They all want the success and think that you can buy it, but it’s more complicated than that. It’s delicate. He understands that and so do I. Labels can give us money and certain things, but they cannot create that spark that comes from where it does with greatness. The greats have understood this and acted accordingly. The wannabes come into the business, read some new book, and think that they can be a big shot. Rick is a big shot for the right reasons. I will always have his back.
Aos. ‘OURS‘ have released the following albums: ‘Sour‘, ‘Distorted Lullabies‘, ‘Precious‘, Mercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy) and ‘Ballet the Boxer 1‘. What has been the band’s favourite album and what is your most personal record?
Jimmy Gnecco: Ok, so Sour wasn’t really a release. It was more like a demo that we took forever to make and then begrudgingly put out as we were breaking up that band. Distorted Lullabies would be the band’s first official release in my eyes. That record was very difficult to make and I would say I got it about 65% to where I wanted it. Maybe 70. Precious was an odd process and not a record that I love, though I like a lot of the songs on it. Mercy was the first time that I felt like we completed a record. Now here’s where it gets tricky. That doesn’t mean that I think the songs are better or worse. It just means that for that group of songs, I felt like I completed them. Boxer is another one that I feel sounds how I think it should. For those songs, it was complete. They are all equally as personal for me. I’m not sure what they rest of the current band thinks. By the way, the current guitar player Static has been with me since 2003. Race who plays guitar, bass, and keyboard has been with me since 1995. April who plays piano since 2003, and Chris Goodlof who plays bass and guitar has been with us since 2012. This is what we call Ours today. Still no drummer.
Aos. ‘OURS‘ have toured with many bands throughout your career including Marilyn Manson in 2008. What was it like touring with ‘Marilyn Manson‘? How did the ‘Marilyn Manson‘ fans take the tour? Any stories you can tell us?
Jimmy Gnecco: The Manson tour was interesting. They aggressively hated us. It was like playing an anti-ours rally every night. Five thousand people a night chanting you suck faggots and throwing coins at us. We were excited to do it, we love Manson even though we play a different kind of music, and we hoped for the best. We got the worst, but that’s how it goes sometimes. It would have been better for the audience if we gave into the hate and reacted, but I refused to…until I didn’t. Manson was kind to us and we will always appreciate him for it.
Jimmy Gnecco: I approached it quite different. I was like tying one hand behind my back. I purposely avoided many things that I would and could normally do so that it sounded different from an Ours record. I played everything on the Heart. In hindsight, I should have put less songs on it. It’s a very sad record, so it can be emotionally tough for people to listen to if they aren’t up for a ride like that. Probably some of the best songs I’ve ever written on that. Making records like Distorted Lullabies and Mercy take a lot out of me because of their nature. The Heart was meant to be more of a purging and to put some acoustic style songs out there. Mission accomplished.
Aos. You do a cover version of Queen‘s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ which sends quivers down my spine. Lead by your captivating emotional falsetto, How did this cover come about and what reaction do you get from people? Did this track lead to working with Brian May on the song ‘Someone to die for’ for the film Spiderman 2 soundtrack?
Jimmy Gnecco: As an artist certain songs can appeal to us, and the same goes for being a singer. There are those songs out there that we just feel like we can get behind and own. Those just happen to be two that I would mess around with over the years. Both amazing songs, and very moving recordings of them. My entire goal when I sing Crying is to not get in the way of the beautiful song. The Brian May thing came from Rick Rubin. Rick wanted me to sing this song and it was his idea to get Brian. Oddly enough two of my favorite guitar players are Prince and Brian May. Rick called that one.
Jimmy Gnecco: You know, I’m not entirely sure. I can get pretty low and kind of high on a good day.
Jimmy Gnecco: I met Paul in 1996 through a mutual friend names Greg Calvert. We talked for a bit about doing something together and then started to do things here and there. I always loved A-Ha and then Paul’s band Savoy. I wanted to be the singer for Savoy. I’m happy that we got to do some music together and forever grateful for touring with A-Ha. One of the biggest highlights of my career and life.
Aos. Do you have any favourite Movies (Old and New) Jimmy? Do you ever take inspiration from these films for your music creativity / music videos?
Jimmy Gnecco: Hmm…well I always loved The Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, The Wiz, Willy Wonka, Enter the Dragon and Grease. I had a run where I watched The Crow every night before I went to sleep. I don’t like violence, but I absolutely loved Sweeney Todd. I saw it multiple times in the theater. I thought they did a stand up job. Everyone was great. Also, naturally all of the Star Wars movies. That’s a way of life.
Aos. What music do you enjoy listening too?
Jimmy Gnecco: I enjoy music that is honest, deep, sexy, fun, sad, and up lifting. A lot of soul music, Elvis, The Doors, Achtung Baby, Prince , Michael Jackson, Abba, Olivia Newton John, Willie Nelson, Bee Gees, Pink Floyd, Rihanna. It’s endless. I like when people pour out their hearts and when they can make me dance and feel good. Funny enough though not a big rock guy. I don’t listen to much rock music other than Nine Inch Nails, Queen and occasionally Zeppelin.
Jimmy Gnecco: We’re in the process of recording many songs. Not entirely sure where they will all land, but I have enough songs to put out at least another five records. I’m also in the process of recording and producing a few other artists. I just need more time.
An absolute pleasure having the wonderful Musician Jimmy Gnecco from American Rock band ‘OURS‘ talking, sharing and contributing to ‘
Architect of Sound‘. We would like to wish Jimmy and the band ‘OURS‘ nothing but the best with any future Albums, Tours or any Solo projects.
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