Jared Funari never dreamed of being a musician. A road trip at age 17 after he graduated from high school changed that.
“After high school, a friend of mine convinced me to buy a guitar, and that was right when I just hit the road and traveled the country,” Funari said. “And she’s like, ‘You need to own a guitar before you go.’ And for the first year or two that I played — I was never traditionally taught or anything, so I had no idea what I was doing — I was absolutely horrible. . . . When I was on the road, whoever I met that played guitar, I would just pick up a little bit from everyone.”
It wasn’t until Funari returned to Albany after a couple of months on the road that he began seriously pursuing songwriting and performing. In the near decade that’s gone by since, Funari has built a name for himself with his one-man-band show, assisted by looping devices and a nearly 6-foot-long pedal board. He has opened for such big-name acts as The Ting Tings, and most recently Uncle Kracker last month at Northern Lights in Clifton Park.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Bread and Jam Cafe, 130 Remsen St., Cohoes
How Much: Free
More Info: 326-2275, www.breadandjamcafe.com
Now, Funari is gearing up to release his first solo album, “You are the Sun,” following up a series of EPs he has been giving out for free at shows for the past five years. He’ll turn 26 next Saturday, April 17, when his album is officially released with a show at Valentine’s. For those who can’t wait or can’t make it, Funari will perform a “dry run” of that show at The Bread and Jam Cafe this Saturday, although copies of the album will not be available yet.
The 12-track album began life as another EP, but was bumped up to an album as work on it progressed. The recording process eventually ended up taking 10 months.
Jared Funari album release party
With: The Emergency Empire, Mirk and the New Familiars
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 17
Where: Valentine’s, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany
How Much: $10
More Info: 432-6572, www.valentinesalbany.com
“I had to have put out, at this point, probably nine or 10 EPs,” Funari said. “I’d never done a full-length album, and we had started recording this EP again, and then it just kind of got to that point, where after investing 50, 60 man-hours into it, it was like, I’m just going to go ahead and record an album.”
“You are the Sun” ends up showcasing Funari’s progression as a musician and songwriter over the past five years, in a nearly chronological fashion. The songs range from cuts that have been on previous EPs, such as “Snow” from “The Interference EP,” to never-before-heard new material. “It’s definitely a variety of a collection on it,” Funari said.
Funari got started like most singer-songwriters, playing solo shows with just his acoustic guitar playing accompanying his Thom Yorke-esque tenor. His first recording session prompted him to integrate looping into his stage show.
Although in some ways Funari was quick to figure out the technology (“I’ve always been kind of a mathematical person,” he explained), he did face a number of challenges. Today, Funari uses two custom-built loop stations, which allow him the freedom to change tempos and create fades in his loops, but when he was first starting out, it could be difficult to not have all the songs sound similar to one another.
“That’s always been a fear of mine,” Funari said. “I’ve never wanted to do that, so I invested a lot of time in always trying to be able to break up the song to give it structure, so it doesn’t fall into that anonymous loop, broken-record sound.”
Funari’s writing process is all over the place — occasionally, he’ll write using his loop machines, but he also creates songs in his head without any idea how to re-create it live, eventually hammering it to work with his setup. The atmospheric, layered sound of his material recalls latter-day Radiohead, and with good reason — Funari’s a huge fan. “I actually have that [Radiohead] modified bear emblem logo, I have a tattoo on my back — it was the first tattoo I got,” Funari said.
Now that Funari finally has an album, he’s looking to tour outside the Capital Region more often, with some mini Northeast tours already booked for the summer. The Bread and Jam show and the Valentine’s release show will feature Funari playing with Jeff Green, who may become a permanent fixture in a touring band of sorts. However, Funari isn’t sure if he’ll completely abandon solo performing.
“I’m getting to that point where, for the bigger shows I play, the higher energy shows I play, having — I’m not saying a full band — but having one or two other musicians possibly playing some parts that I would otherwise loop would add a lot more energy, and might be beneficial,” Funari said. “But at the same time, I do like being a solo musician, and I feel like I actually benefit on some cases. I know a lot of people will book me for shows because I am solo.”
Categories: Life and Arts