Though I admit these days I’m most likely to be overheard screaming a Lady Gaga song or obsessing over Rihanna’s bikini, there’s something I must say to y’all, in my humble defense: Most of my life, before I moved to Milan, I was a Music Snob. The annoying, self-righteous kind-the kind you’d feel embarrassed to show your iPod’s most played list to-so what the hell went wrong? Francesco Gaira, singer of garage punk band Scorpio Rising, makes me reflect on these times.
Being introduced to The Clash at an early age, (thanks, Dad), and in result feeling a strong urge to impress the “Punk Kids” in town, (nothing hotter than smelly boys with holes in their pants), I went out of my way to learn about “Punk” and forced my pre-teen self into that “scene,” which, though I was a bit too gentle for, completely changed my life. This scene taught me how to act “tough,” to be a “riot grrrl,” to home-dye my hair, create a whole look out of safety pins and get my ass destroyed in a mosh pit, all while making fun of those who liked post-Danzig Misfits or didn’t know-God Forbid-every Black Flag song. And it was great. And I felt cool. And since my tiny town in North Carolina had this scene I was so sure, and so excited about, the one awaiting me here. I thought Milan, as this “Big City,” would be full of the real shit. I was convinced every weekend I’d be getting punched at a concert or meeting some gross crusty band or falling in love with a junky. Only that didn’t come true. Here, all I found were club kids [club drugs], designer shoes and slimy after parties. And I blamed this on Italy. I blamed it on Italians, who, in my opinion, were too busy eating pizza and following Anna Dello Russo around to do anything legit. But it turns out maybe I just hadn’t me the right ones.
Recently, I got ahold of Francesco Gaiara, aka “Gazza,” the Milano Mod I’ve seen around everywhere but hadn’t actually talked to until I ran into him at the Dolce&Gabbana party and forced him to take me home, where we drank vodka, chased cockroaches and discussed music, his band and why sometimes it’s a good thing to Live In The Past.
Hey Gazza, what’s with your nickname?
Friends just called me that since I was a kid-I like to think it’s in reference to the wildest English Football player, Gazza Gascoigne.
So how’d you get into music?
I started buying old records in the 90’s and quickly got involved in the mod scene.
Lots of guys play instruments to impress girls.
Well, I’m just a singer.
What’s the Girl of Your Dreams?
Good looking, interesting, loves Rock and Roll.
Tell me about your band.
Before I was in Vomit Tongues and now I’m in Scorpio Rising. The sound is garage punk with other influences.
Like, I’m really into soundtracks-Italian soundtrack music from the 60’s and 70’s-as well as B Movies, old gothic horror stuff, esoteric books and old Rock and Roll.
You mean like Lana Del Rey?
LOL. I’ve been in Milan for four years and have yet to find a good alternative or punk rock music scene. What’s the deal?
There are really good bands here, but not so many-so you have to search for them. The problem is we tend to stick together and hide from everyone else.
Why is it so hard to find subcultures in Milan? Like genuine ones and not just Fashion Kids wearing “Cramps” or “Dead Kennedys” t-shirts without even knowing they’re bands?
It’s difficult because the young people now, especially in Milan, aren't willing to discover or search for something-before it was more difficult to find music-you had ask for records or fanzines by writing to the band! There was no Tumblr showing watered-down pictures of subcultures or free downloads from blogs, you know? Everything is so available and so mixed together now that nobody knows or cares where it comes from.
Yeah I remember as kid I’d have to go to a record store and ask really embarrassing questions about bands and be made fun of for it. Like, I had to struggle and be “worthy” of them in their eyes, you know? Otherwise I was a “poser.”
Right. But that doesn’t happen anymore.
So which current bands do like?
The Spits, Reverend Beatman and the Vinyl Stitches.
What do you think of current fashion?
I only like the style of the 40s, 50s and 60’s.
Where do you get your clothes?
Some old mods gave me their old clothes-genuine stuff. Sometimes I buy secondhand but it takes lots of time.
So what’s your dream?
I want to be a stylist.
What? That doesn’t make sense!
Because you hate fashion!
I can mix old with new-anyway past styles are coming back.
But I thought you wanted to be a famous Rock Star.
The Vomit Tongues were kind of famous! I mean, I don’t know-I could do both.
What’s your advice to aspiring musicians?
Everything starts with what's happened to you-what you feel-love, hate, whatever-just take all of that and GO!
Where do you go out in Milan?
I organize parties and concerts at Smoking Kills, Bar Cuore or Milwaki Bar, which is like a 50’s Diner.
Paz De La Huerta once said, “The present is the only thing that’s real.”Do you ever feel it’s bad to reference the past so much? Don’t you sometimes feel like it might be holding you back?
I think the past is the future.