By Nick Christophers
No one can deny the great music of the 60’s and 70’s, when legends were born. There are very few present time artists who even come close those acts. Thankfully there are some current artists who appreciate the music of that time and fuse it with their own flavor. This is what Lord Sonny the Unifier has brought together with his new release “Final Notice!”
The heart and guts of Lord Sonny the Unifier is Gregory Jiritano who was into music at a very early age. He picked up the guitar at eight-years old and never let go. The guitar was bought by his mother while on a trip from Mexico. Greg’s desire to follow his musical dreams had him start a band at age 12 and was playing clubs at sixteen. But an unfortunate incident altered his motivation. His studio caught fire and he lost a lot of his work. He could have easily turned his back on the music game but relented.
Along with his bandmates Carmine Covelli (drums), Tyler Wood (keyboards) and Derek Nievergelt on bass, he got back on his feet. His music has been compared to such acts like David Bowie, The Clash, Black Keys, Sean Lennon, Queens of the Stone Age, Motorhead, Jack White and The Killers. They combined their talents and released the new album in October 2018 called “Final Notice!”
Greg’s only formal training came from a family friend who taught him how to read music at eight years old. But what the old man really accomplished was motivating Greg to keep his fingers moving and to master the guitar which paid dividends later on. He eventually would manage to start playing clubs at sixteen years old. Back in his time acquiring fake ID’s was easy. So his band would head to 42nd Street in Manhattan and score ID’s that made them College kids.
It all worked out and they booked shows in Manhattan and Long Island. Even though most of the time they were getting ripped off by club owners they didn’t care since they were having so much fun. Eventually Greg and the band would work towards better things. They had to come up with a name for the band so Lord Sonny the Unifier was born. So far his music has been compared to the likes of The Clash, David Bowie, Sean Lennon and the Black Keys.
“I always liked the name Sonny because of its odd contradictions and its double meaning, The famous Sonny Corleone (in Italian Sonny is a nickname for Santino) and the phonetic sunny. So you’re an Italian mobster with a sunny disposition, not bad, and I’m Italian so it works. I also had an Uncle named Sonny who was a silent 6 foot 6 giant with slicked back hair who never said a word except when the basketball team he gambled on lost. He lived in a fancy house in Queens so he was mostly a winner. He must have been a subconscious influence, he was a real character. I also loved those ancient names that had those descriptive tags: Eric The Red, Vlad The Impaler, Peter the Great, Ivan The Terrible etc. Ancient Historic Classics you can’t argue with that. Once that struck me, the next came easy. I imagined I was an ancient Land owner who unified warring tribes into one county or some such nonsense. I knew it was a pretty good name when I first told a few cool friends in bands and they said simply, ‘that’s a good name’. They would have been silent if the name was as oatmeal as “The Doors” (I know they’re a great band!).”
Even though it all looked rosy for Greg misfortune creeped in when a fire destroyed his studio and all his work. He at first thought to abandon his work and move on to something else but the musical Gods had other plans for him. In the studio he had a 24 track 2”Otari tape machine and a 32 channel CAD mixing board with the racks of analog outboard gear. Besides that he had a collection of classic microphones and guitar amps from the 50’s to the 70’s not including thirty classic guitars. It was a costly venture that went up in smoke because of neglect by the landlord. It would take real passion and desire for him to build up what he started. He soon took to writing demos on keyboards and utilizing the computer and it was Greg’s time to come back.
Greg’s music is very much influenced by the sounds of the 60’s and the 70’s. He was always taken in by the innovators of those years and how they were the artists not the craftsman. What attracted him to their music was how these bands made amazing discoveries in music and the richness of their lyrics. This is evident in his new album “Final Notice!” which has been receiving grand reviews from music critics since its release in October 2018.
“My general approach to lyric writing is, anything I feel is worth screaming about is ok to sing. Being surrounded by such profound madness makes lyrics sometimes difficult to focus with coherence. When trying to break through this madness being subtle and “poetic” often gets lost in the maelstrom of daily life. I’m finding that my newer songs are more to the point not only lyrically but musically as well. There seems to be no time for subtlety, no time for swelling introductions, it’s all lift them up by their hair and start them spinning as soon as you count in.”
Greg has also brought a modern issue into his music with the track “The Right in Your I” which touches upon the epidemic of bullying. The video for the track actually sheds light on how the ones in power use their positions to keep others down from ever getting ahead. This is an issue that hits Greg in the heart which he felt needed to be conveyed in his lyrics.
Greg has managed to capture a time period in music with a modern twist that so many have tried to accomplish. His music is one to explore and enjoy for anyone who either grew up with the classics or who can appreciate their artistic message.
Categories: Profiles of Interesting New Yorkers