Michael Rescigno is a guitarist out of Madison
Park New Jersey who now resides in Los Angeles California. His father was a big
band singer, so Michael was exposed to a lot of music in his youth. After trying
out numerous instruments, he decided the guitar was for him. Living in the New
York tri-state area, there was no shortage of world class rock bands playing
concerts, so "Raz" and his friends took in many shows and eventually would meet
one of his favorite musicians, Joey Molland from The Beatles protégé band
Badfinger. When "Raz" and his buddy "Hutch" wanted to take their own music a
step further, they picked up and moved to Los Angeles to try and sell their
originals. Their band "Raz Nasty" was very successful and before you know it,
Joey Molland and other well known musicians were jamming with them on stage.
Skip to 2015... The Raz Band now has a new album out called "Madison Park" and
Joey Molland and Joe Vitale (From Joe Walsh, The Eagles and CSNY) are now in the
band. I recently corresponded with "Raz".
R.V.B. - Congratulations on your new album
"Madison Park". The name came your hometown in New Jersey... can you describe
what it was like growing up there.
M.R. - Thank you very much for taking the time
to interview me, I truly appreciate it. Madison Park is a development of about
710 homes with the streets named after Colleges. It's a small town in Central
New Jersey located at the beginning of the Jersey Shore area. Madison Park's
homes were built in the mid 1950's. We had a local elementary school in the
center of "The Park" where we played stick ball, a Firehouse with Volunteer
Fireman as well as a Volunteer First Aid Department. Three Baseball Fields. A
Little league, Major League and Babe Ruth baseball field, Pop Warner Football.
Lots of woods, ponds, turtles, snakes and streams. A church that rang bells at
noon and a firehouse whistle that blew at six o’clock. We rode are bikes
everywhere. We would play sports in the streets like Touch Football telephone
pole to telephone pole. In the winter there was sleigh riding at Suicide Hill in
the cemetery. And the best part of it, all the kids that were within a few
years of each other in age knew each other. Many great memories of people that
I have known my whole life.
R.V.B. - Did you come from a musical family?
What inspired you to pick up an instrument?
M.R. - Yes a very musical family. My father Bob
was a big band singer. Dad sang under the name Bob Roberts instead of Bob
Rescigno. He sang with many big bands in the New York City area in the 1940's
through the early 1950's.
His last 4 recordings featured Legendary Pianist Hank Jones,( Lifetime Grammy
Award winner), Edgar Sampson on Sax, (writer of "Stomping at the Savoy) and
members of the Tito Puente Orchestra. Dad also recorded songs written by Ray
Interestingly enough, in the current internet
age we live in, I've met many Rescigno's and a large majority of them are
involved in the music world somehow or someway.
When I started playing for real, I picked up a
guitar to put music to the poems I had been writing. I had messed around with
Keyboards, Clarinet, Harmonica, banjo. But I'm a guitar slinger kind of guy. I
play "Nancy" my 1968 Gibson Les Paul Custom. I am definitely a Gibson Guitar guy
with Marshall Amps.
R.V.B. - Was the guitar your only instrument?
What kind of songs did you tackle at first? Who were your early
M.R. - My guitar is an extended part of me which
allows me to get the music that I see inside my head out. At first I learned
chords and wrote my own songs. I would also play songs by The Beatles, Stones,
Who, Creedence, Badfinger, Joe Walsh, Chuck Berry. They really influenced me as
a guitar player. Later on I got into Hendrix , Beck & Page. I like Slash
as a guitar player. I loved Lennon as a Rhythm Guitar player, I love Keith's
Open G stuff. John Fogerty's tone, Joey Molland's ability to come up with
R.V.B. - How did some of your early gigs go?
what type of venues did you play?
M.R. - As a kid I would play anywhere we were
allowed. We always thought we were much better than we were. We played High
Schools, Swim Clubs, parties, Colleges, live on College radio.
R.V.B. - Did you go to New York city a lot to
catch concerts? Who did you see there?
M.R. - I saw so many great concerts in New York
City. I saw John Lennon at the Garden from the 15th row. Bowie at Radio City
as Ziggy. Lou Reed at The Academy for "The Rock & Roll Animal" concert
recording. Todd Rundgren Jamming with Joe Walsh & Barnstorm at the Academy
of Music. The first time I saw Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe & Rockpile was at
The Bottom Line. The Stones at the Garden when Clapton came out on the encore
& played Sympathy For The Devil & Keith played Bass. I saw Electric
Light Orchestra go from playing little places to selling out the Garden. Joe
Vitale & the Madmen at the Academy of Music and Flo & Eddie at the
Bottom Line. Badfinger at Central Park. I've got lots of
R.V.B. - Why did you move to California and how
did you network yourself into the music scene there?
M.R. - I asked Hutch if he would go to L.A. We
wanted to start playing our original songs live so it was either N.Y.C. or L.A.
It was October and we knew it would be warm in L.A. We also thought L.A. would
have a cool music scene, (which it did) and of course Joey Molland was there.
And we were going to find him.
When we first got to L.A. we hung out on the
Sunset Strip and we met many people in the music business and in bands. We
started a band with three girls, then we ended up recording with a cool cat
named David Della Rossa. David had been in a band "Bandit" who I believe were
signed to Casablanca Records. After nine months we met Joey, some of our New
Jersey buddies moved out to L.A. so we formed a band, "The Contents", then Joey
Molland produced The Contents. Over an eighteen month period The Contents
played many gigs in and around Los Angeles including Gazzari's, The Troubadour
& Madame Wongs in China Town and West L.A. We were also working with Mark
Richardson at Sound City and that was our home base. After The Contents broke up
I formed "The RAZ Nasty Band"
R.V.B. - The RAZ band... how did it originally
form and did you concentrate on originals from the start?
M.R. - I have always concentrated on original
songs. I have been writing since I was as kid. After The Contents broke up I
formed "The Raz Nasty Band" with Hutch and a few other guys. We cut the
"Criminals Off The Streets" EP which featured songs I had written. We recorded
& mixed it at the legendary United Western studios in Hollywood. It was
mastered by Bernie Grundman at A & M Studios.
Over the next couple of years the RAZ Nasty Band
had a very fluid membership. After several incarnations of "RAZ", we eventually
evolved into today's version of The RAZ Band. One of the really cool things
is while the five of us have been
playing together forever, "Madison Park" is the first album by us as The RAZ
R.V.B. - Where did you meet
M.R. - I met Hutch in a sandbox when we were 4
years old. We were in the same classes from Kindergarten through fifth grade,
played Little League together, went to Cedar Ridge High School and we were both
on Gymnastics for all four years. Hutch was the team Captain and I was the
troublemaker. From the time we were little kids through today we've been
R.V.B. - How did you meet Joey Molland and did
you record in the studio or play live with at first?
M.R. - I met Joey when I was 16 at a Badfinger
show in Atlantic City. After that I would say hello to him at Badfinger shows.
I re-met Joey after a Badfinger show in Hollywood at The ROXY. They did four
shows, two each night, I went to all four and was backstage hanging out both
nights. At the time Joey lived on Coldwater Canyon. As much as possible I hung
out at the Coldwater Canyon house. Joey and I would jam, we'd talk about song
writing, arranging, things he learned over the years. His recording experiences
with John Lennon & George Harrison. My early recording experiences with
Joey were at the Coldwater Canyon house. We recorded on his Studer Revox sound
on sound two track that Apple Records gave each member of Badfinger when their
hit song "Day After Day" went gold. Then I borrowed the Revox and we went to
Hutch's house and set up in the garage and stuck the Revox on the outside of the
garage door. Our friend Joe Reisman was the engineer and we recorded five songs
with a makeshift band including the late great Dr. Billy Lemas. When I brought
the Revox back to Joey and played him the songs he told me to get some of my
friends together and form a band and he would produce us. So that's what I did
and then Joey produced our band "The Contents". Joey would also jam with The
Contents at some of our early shows.
R.V.B. - How did Joe Vitale work into RAZ? He's
a multi talented musician... does he contribute on other instruments other than
M.R. - I first met Joe Vitale at a Joe Walsh and
Barnstorm concert when I was 17. Same thing as I did with Joey Molland, almost
every time Vitale was playing in town, (N.J./N.Y./Philly), I would go see him
play and make sure to say hi. A few years after we moved to L.A., I re-met
Vitale at a C. S. & N. show. From there we started to hang out whenever he
was in L.A. Then Joe offered to produce RAZ. At that time RAZ was a three
piece band…me on guitar, Hutch on drums, Jim on Bass and the songs were
reflective of what we sounded like live. Joe was our Producer on our "Tough
Love" cd plus he played keyboards, flute and sang. Joe also played drums on the
song "Only Forever". Joe has played on all RAZ albums since. The current version
of The RAZ Band formed from years of playing together live and on
R.V.B. - How is it playing live with punk legend
M.R. - Carla Olson is very talented singer
songwriter, guitar player, producer etc. I originally met Carla and Kathy
Valentine in Hollywood shortly after Hutch and I moved here. They were both in
the Textones at the time. However, after the early LA years Hutch and I
re-connected with Carla in the late 90's. It was a blast performing with Carla,
she rocks. Working with Carla in the studio is also great. She sings lead
vocals on the song "Sitting On My Bed" which will be released on "The Best of
RAZ" by Gonzo MultiMedia after the new year.
R.V.B. - The song "$1.50 for your Love"...
isn't that asking for a pretty cheap date?
M.R. - The song is very tongue in cheek. The
message is that we'll do anything for our loved one. You know, jump in front of
a train, jump off a bridge, move mountains. However it's not about the money,
(yeah sure lol).
"$1.50 For Your Love" came about when we were
rehearsing at the Alley Cat Studios in North Hollywood. Jim Manzo the bass guy
in the RAZ Band said, "I got a $1:50 for you" I immediately said " I got a
$1.50 for your love", then I came up with the chords. When we recorded the
song, Joe Vitale was there to ensure that the back tracks were recorded
properly. I asked Joey Molland to come up with a Keith Richards guitar lick.
Like Keith did on Happy or Tumbling Dice. Actually that Stones time period, "Let
It Bleed", "Sticky Fingers" and "Exile On Main Street" was very influential in
my thought process for this song. As usual, Joey came up with the perfect lick
and played a superb slide on the bridge. Vitale added piano and backing
vocals. Then we brought in Paulie Cerra to play multiple Saxophone parts. I
explained to Paulie what I was looking for with the horns and once I mentioned
the Stones , Paulie said he knew a guy, Paul Literal who played trumpet in the
Stones touring band. So at midnight Paulie calls Paul, Paul comes down and then
they started working out the parts to fit the idea. I really like this song and
honestly think the Stones could have a hit with this if they recorded