The Opening Volley:
Brittany - 1, John - Zilch
In December of 2008, John Faye and Brittany Rotondo had never actually met, but had been communicating back and forth for about 6 months on.. **gasp**.. Myspace. Yikes. "She had been threatening to come to see John's band IKE play for ages.. Hey, what's the address of the show?.. Hey, what time do you go on?.. Hey, what's the cover charge?.. John was honestly ready to just give up on her. He recalls: "I had this big show at World Cafe Live in Philly the day after Christmas, and I was offering to deliver tickets to people, so she and I agreed that I would leave the tickets with someone at Dobbs on South St. and she'd pay for them there. Well, the day came when this transaction was to take place, and she was in the club, but the guy who was supposed to sell her the tickets called to say she didn't buy them. Pretty pissed off, I went down there to get my tickets back, and saw her walk right by me." The following exchange ensued:
John: Brittany? .. John Faye.. you were gonna come see my band?
Brittany: Oh, hey man!
John: Yeah, I left those tickets for you..
Brittany: Ohhh, yeahhh sorry about the tickets, I was gonna buy them, but.. I just spent all my money on weed.
Annnnnnnnnd so it begins :)
The Wonder Year
Well, as it turned out, she ended up going to the show on the day after Christmas after all. As fate would have it, John and Brittany found themselves hanging out late-night after the show, quickly discovering their kindred rock spirits. Brittany recalls: "The first conversation we ever had was about The Beatles, The Ramones, art, life, death.. we skipped the pleasantries and went straight to the real stuff." It wasn't long before John took notice of some of Brittany's writing, which she had posted online. As someone who had typically always written on his own, John was drawn to the idea of putting music to Brittany's words. She had stacks of copy books filled with poetry and within one of the books was a poem called "Last Act." He was amazed at how effortless it seemed to sing the words, which called for a darker melody and delivery than just about anything else he'd ever written. Neither of them really knew it at the time, but "Last Act" was the beginning of a string of co-writes that would cement their partnership as a writing duo to contend with. "It was a really fun and new experience to write together but I didn't think it would go beyond those first couple songs, and I definitely didn't expect it would grow into a full-fledged band. Christ, she didn't even know how to play guitar at the time!" OH YEAH. We forgot to mention that Brittany had never played guitar before.. ever.. until June of '09. On her birthday, she received her first guitar, which she aptly named Penny Lane. Once she had that guitar in-hand, all bets were off. John & Brittany became jointly obsessed with creating music together. They would hang out at Philly Sound Studios (owned by friend and fellow musician Mariano Mattei) for hours on end, working on playing "Last Act" together, jamming on new parts for songs as yet unwritten, and just becoming comfortable with the idea that they had real musical chemistry. Within six months, a year to the day after their first late-night hang, Brittany made her debut onstage, joining John's band IKE to perform "Last Act" (which was recorded on their album "Tie The Knot With All That You Got") in front of a sold-out crowd at World Cafe Live. It was a memorable ending to a year that had changed everything for both of them. Those 4 minutes onstage set them on the never-a-dull-moment path they are still following today. From the "nicotine pop" of their 2011 debut EP, to the unrepentant rock n roll sneer of 2013's full-length "Start Sinning," to the intimate, unplugged charm of "Crookedletta, Crookedletta" (also from 2013), John & Brittany are following the bliss of a musical connection that never should have happened. But it did. :)
[sound clip courtesy of "Up Close & Acoustic" with Charlie Silvestri]