by Sarah A. Peterson
The summer is just heating up for Visalia’s country/rock maestro Brandon Pasion and his band (including drummer Pete Buotte, bassist Lenny Sciacca, guitarist Dwayne Janzen, and Travis Brooks on Dobro guitar, banjo, keys, and backup vocals) with the release of their debut EP All I Ever Want.
Kings River Life caught up with Pasion to talk music, family, friendship, and the evils of performing cover songs, ahead of his July 16 appearance at Tachi Palace.
KRL: How long have you been making music?
Brandon: I grew up in a very musical home. My dad plays jazz guitar and sings, my mom sings great harmony, and pretty much all the relatives on my dad’s side sing, so our family gatherings are always pretty entertaining.
I sang from an early age with them, and then around sixth grade or so, I started playing drums and a little bit of keyboard. That was good enough to get me involved at the local church my dad worked at. I later had the opportunity to work for a church singing and playing music, and I’ve done that full time for almost 12 years. So…the short answer to your question is…my whole life!
KRL: What instruments do you play?
Brandon: So I started playing drums as I mentioned, but then I moved to ‘Keys.’ It took a few years to teach myself how to play in any key other than C. About 10 years ago, I noticed I wrote songs differently if I wrote them with an acoustic guitar, and I would say at this point, that’s my main instrument.
KRL: What is your particular genre of music?
Brandon: Some of our songs feel like country. Some feel like rock. Some feel like a mix of the two. I suppose it would be country/rock, but we don’t really have a lot of the twang that standard country has.
KRL: Who are your biggest musical influences?
Brandon: My dad is the biggest by far. He showed me how to be musical. The value of singing on key with good tone, and not trying to sound like someone else, which is always a temptation when you’re getting started.
Two other big influences were easily Garth Brooks and Ray Charles. I remember when Ray Charles released a country album; I thought he would pair up with Garth. Of course that didn’t happen, but can you imagine!
KRL: Whose music did you listen to while growing up?
Brandon: Garth Brooks, Michael W. Smith, Ray Charles…pretty much all 90s country. Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Randy Travis…and Vince Gill…love that guy.
KRL: Did you always want to be a musician?
Brandon: I knew I wanted to be a singer from a very young age. I didn’t know if it would really happen, but here I am! I’ve worked a lot of different places, but over the years, my dream of being a professional musician has never left me.
KRL: What is your songwriting process?
Brandon: I write a lot by myself, but the most fun I have is co-writing. I have the opportunity to write songs with one of the world’s best song writers, Larry Bastian. He’s best friends with my grandpa, and they still love hanging out. Both are incredible poets and will not leave a song alone until it is perfect.
With our type of songs, it’s like a puzzle. All of us believe there are perfect words, and perfect ways to say what we want to say, we just haven’t discovered it yet. When I’m writing with Larry and my Grandpa Vince, I would say it’s an efficient process. But it’s wonderful, and relaxing.
KRL: Where have you played locally?
Brandon: I’ve played at the Cellar Door in Visalia, Bravo Farms in Tulare, and Tachi Palace, where we’re playing again July 16. Also, city festivals and fairs, like in downtown Hanford and Chowchilla.
KRL: What are the best parts about making and performing music?
Brandon: The best part about all that hard work…the song writing, the rehearsing…is that every crowd we step in front of loves us. Every crowd is moved, and you can tell it’s at a deep level, which makes this very special.
Our band talks about the necessary evil of doing covers…while people don’t know our music quite yet. But we’re very clear about one thing: we’re not a cover band. You will be entertained. But you’re going to hear some amazing original music that comes from us, that you won’t hear anywhere else!
Check out more local band & musician profiles in KRL’s music section.