Quick Chord: Scranton three-piece keeps it all in the family (technically)
Family Animals drummer Anthony Viola and his brother, guitarist Jesse Viola, started taking lessons in 2000 at Gallucci Music in Scranton. Their best friend and surrogate third brother Frank DeSando joined them on bass and, once the three clicked musically, they knew it was what they wanted to do with their lives. The three Cortez natives began playing out only months after starting their lessons, but their performance didn’t exactly go according to plan.
“In the beginning our shows were horrendous, as you can imagine,” Anthony said. “Keep in mind we were 11 through 14 at that time. The passion kept us going. We’d practice every single day and I feel like we progressed a lot. I feel like we’re getting tighter as a band throughout the years. We have been playing 15 years now so let’s hope so.”
Anthony remembers telling his teacher, Rob Walsh, about his affinity for pop-punk-like bands such as Green Day. Walsh introduced the trio to bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Nirvana. He also gave them a way into a band that would prove to be influential on their original songs, The Beatles.
“Everybody is influenced by the Beatles in some way or another, but we’ve always just loved the way they used a lot of instruments in their recordings,” Anthony said. “They didn’t seem held back by one specific genre, so we drew a lot of influences from them.”
Anthony also named punk rock and progressive rock as a big influence on their band. Acts like The Mars Volta, Dead Kennedys and Mudhoney get thrown into the Family Animals melting pot along with the aforementioned classics, and out comes their own sound. The term’s latest definition, “I Must Have Missed It,” was released on Nov. 14 and takes a cue from the Animals’ appreciation for multi-instrumentalism.
“On the last one (the band has another full-length, an EP and a Christmas album under their belt) we wanted to use real instruments but we didn’t have the money to pay for the studio and the studio musicians,” Anthony said. “This time we really couldn’t find any, but my brother is somewhat of a musical prodigy whether he’ll admit it or not. He plays piano, guitar, drums, bass and he taught himself for the most part. My brother picked up violin and trumpet within a couple months and was able to lay down the track so we have full orchestration on this album.”
Both Anthony and DeSando have degrees in music engineering, so they played on and recorded “I Must Have Missed It” themselves. Family Animals plans to record again in winter 2016 for a release before 2018, cutting their next gap between full-length releases to less than half of the five-year production cycle for “I Must Have Missed It.” The band plans to perform a proportionally large number of shows in the tri-state area to support their latest release before jumping back into recording, so keep an eye on Facebook.com/familyanimals for dates.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts