Fresh off a plane from New York City, Matt Fazzi of the locally bred Happy Body Slow Brain, says it’s good to be home for the holidays. Though he now lives in Queens, NYC, Fazzi grew up in San Jose and says he is looking forward to spending time with his friends and family, and perhaps even playing a little music hometown.
“It’s the place where pretty much every band I’ve ever played in has practiced—with the exception of Taking Back Sunday,” the multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter says of his childhood home in the city’s Evergreen neighborhood, which, he adds, produced more than its fair share of raucous rock & roll. “Thank god for my neighbors.”
Indeed. For well over a decade, it would seem that the Fazzi household has been the epicenter of some of the best music to come out of San Jose.
As a freshman in high school Fazzi was recruited to replace an outgoing guitarist in the Jaded Monkeys, a local band that played regularly around town. From there, he co-founded the successful pop-punk outfit Tragedy Andy, which took Fazzi on statewide and national tours before he was even 20 years old. By the time Tragedy Andy had disbanded, he was already working hard on Facing New York—a challenging, progressive alternative band, which landed him a spot opening up for Taking Back Sunday and took him as far as Japan.
When Fred Mascherino, vocalist, guitarist and main songwriter for Taking Back Sunday, left the group, Fazzi was tapped as his replacement—giving him the “keys to the kingdom.”
Moving from the proggy Facing New York to the pop-oriented Taking Back Sunday was a bit of an adjustment for Fazzi. But he took it in stride, working to make compact tunes with catchy melodies.
Fazzi, who was never made a full member of Taking Back Sunday, was dismissed from the band in 2010 after the album he contributed to, New Again, failed to sell like previous albums. He didn’t waste any time getting Happy Body Slow Brain up and running.
“I’m in a much happier place,” Fazzi told Metro in 2010, just five months after leaving TBS, and all signs point to him still being pleased with the hand fate has dealt him.
“I’ve been fortunate,” Fazzi says of his career trajectory. “One band has always led to the next.”
In addition to his cat-like ability to land on his feet, it only makes sense that he’d be happier in HBSB. He certainly has more job security. He’s the boss, after all.
“It’s my little baby to do what I want with,” Fazzi says of the project, which he initially began in 2007, while still in Facing New York.
In the four years Fazzi has been pursuing HBSB full-time, he has released an LP, Dreams of Water, and an EP, Sleepy, and an eight-track live album, Live.
Fazzi has described HBSB’s sound as “GrooveRock,” and it’s as apt a label as any. Combining the chops he developed while playing “really selfish music” in Facing New York, with the stripped-down, poppy songwriting he learned in Taking Back Sunday, he crafts tunes that feel both sprawling and compact—ornate and fully embellished, yet to-the-point and groove-heavy.
“I’m trying to find that middle ground,” Fazzi says—”taking some of that musicality of a band like Facing New York, but trying to absorb some of the pop sensibility of Taking Back Sunday.”
This Saturday, Fazzi brings his genre-straddling project to The Blank Club. He’ll be joined by long-running San Jose post-rock quartet and the excellent amalgam of local indie veterans, Dinners—making the show a fitting send-off to the club which will close its doors for good at the end of January.
“It’s cool for me, in a way, to come full circle,” Fazzi says, noting that Syrus Fotovat of Amonie has been a fan and friend since the Tragedy Andy days. “We go way back to my old roots and my very beginnings.”
Fazzi adds that Amonie is only one of many great bands he has either seen play in San Jose—at places like the now-defunct Cactus Club—or to come out of San Jose.
“I’ve been lucky to witness a lot of great musicians,” he says. “They make me proud to be from San Jose and rep San Jose.”
Happy Body Slow Brain play The Blank Club on Jan. 3. More info.