PensEyeView Interview with the Chris Paterno Band

We were a little surprised when soul alternative band leader Chris Paterno told us it was tough sledding starting off his musical career, unable to find many open doors on his local Philadelphia scene. We think it may have tied to the fact that the Chris Paterno band is huge! With traditional 3-piece band members (Connor McElwee, Mark Hightower, Doug Parsons), a horn section (Greg Wilson, Mike Clark, Frank Rein), even a mandolin player (Adam Monaco), The Chris Paterno Band eventually found daylight (right after some of these venues got a recorded sample of what this band brings to the table), now regulars at some of the best spots in the city of brotherly love.

We had a chance to speak with Chris about that aforementioned recorded sample – a self-titled EP that arrives soon, complete with already released single, “Pressure”. He told us, “‘Pressure’ was the hardest tune to write on our upcoming EP, but it’s become my favorite, for sure. Doug opens the track with a funky-drummer-like pattern and the horns come in with that James Brown soul. Over top of that, Connor and I laid down some chill-wave guitar to add this tension between the backbeat and the chord progression. The song is about stress and anxiety – putting the pressure on yourself to succeed. The opening lines are ‘I’ve got a shelf full of participation trophies/A closet worn by somebody else, textbooks that are getting lonely/Will I ever be enough?’ Those are very personal lines for me. I put a ton of pressure on myself to achieve my goals, so choosing the exact words to say for this tune was really hard. We wanted it to come out just right and I think we made that happen.” Click to to prepare for the new EP – these soulful sounds with a backbeat that will get your feet moving is a must-hear. But first – do keep reading. There’s still so much to learn in all the answers to the XXQs below.

XXQs: The Chris Paterno Band (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out from others in your genre?

Chris Paterno (CP): Our sound is an alternative-soul; think John Mayer and Stevie Wonder form a band. I love the horns in our group and the way we take pieces from so many genres to make a sound that is truly our own.

PEV: Calling Philly home, what kind of music were you all into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

CP: I think we are influenced greatly by the city of Philadelphia. I personally grew up listing to classic rock and Mo-Town/Philly Soul – Patti Labelle, The O’Jays and more. My mom really brought soul music into my life and its always been my passion. As for the other guys, they listen to everything from Car Seat Headrest to Miles Davis to Tom Petty to Sam Smith. The conglomerate of our musical backgrounds makes this unique mess of beauty. My first concert was Jon Bon Jovi – classic act, classic show.

PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene in your hometown when you first started out as a band? What was your first show like together as a band?

CP: Philadelphia has a vibrant music scene so there’s never a short supply of artists trying to land a gig. Once we cut our debut EP with 9-time Grammy-winning producer Joe Nicolo, we sent it out to some local venues and they were stoked to have us. Now that we are in the scene, we’ve really be lucky to get support from great venues like MilkBoy, Bourbon and Branch and World Cafe Live. Before breaking into the scene, we heard mostly radio silence from venues, but now it’s all good! Our first show was a crazy gig actually. We were asked to play the Philadelphia Freedoms Bloc Party in front of about 2,000 people. We had a great time! We actually played their event this year as well.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live The Chris Paterno Band show?

CP: You can expect a lot of energy, some crazy horn solos, and some awkward dance moves from your boy here. We take the craft of songwriting very seriously, so getting on stage is the time to release and just laugh and have fun. We’ve been called “danceable” by a few media outlets and that’s a huge compliment. We want people to come out and dance with us.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

CP: “Shit, I hope I remember the words…” (laughing). Mostly, I think about how crazy my life is that I’m up on stage looking out at friends and family that love and support me and strangers that are coming out cause they heard about us from somewhere or saw us last time. When I’m on stage, I’m happy and loving life. Beforehand, I can get nervous depending on the show, but mostly I’m thinking about having fun.

PEV: How has playing in The Chris Paterno Band been different from working with other artists or projects in the past?

CP: The CPB began as a rotating group of supporting musicians, but now its turned into a group of friends that work together to create some sweet tunes (in my personal opinion). I would say I’m a more focused and accurate songwriter now than in years past and the guys around me really know how to make these tunes come to life.

PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music? Where do you get your best ideas for songs?

CP: My inspiration comes directly from my life. I use my music as my journal, so when you listen to one of our songs, you are listening to all of me right there in front of you. My best ideas usually come when I’m upset unfortunately (laughing). That’s where my emotions come from that drive my songwriting. As the process continues and the immediate emotion fades, I begin to craft the tune away from just emotion and into something that is relatable yet still holds on to that initial passion.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?

CP: Yes – especially this summer. The Chris Paterno Band is now playing venues where I used to and still do go to see acts that I like. It’s absolutely crazy to think about and I’m just trying to soak it all in.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of The Chris Paterno Band?

CP: We are a super diverse group and a lot of people really enjoy the fact that our drummer, Doug Parsons, was my 9th-grade English teacher. Doug was actually the first person I contacted about being in my group. He’s a beast on the kit and a great guy. Funny how life works.

PEV: What can fans expect from your new song, “Pressure” from your upcoming self-titled EP?  Tell us about the writing process behind this work.

CP: “Pressure” was the hardest tune to write on our upcoming EP, but it’s become my favorite, for sure. Doug opens the track with a funky-drummer-like pattern and the horns come in with that James Brown soul. Over top of that, Connor and I laid down some chill-wave guitar to add this tension between the backbeat and the chord progression. The song is about stress and anxiety – putting the pressure on yourself to succeed. The opening lines are “I’ve got a shelf full of participation trophies/A closet worn by somebody else, textbooks that are getting lonely/Will I ever be enough?” Those are very personal lines for me. I put a ton of pressure on myself to achieve my goals, so choosing the exact words to say for this tune was really hard. We wanted it to come out just right and I think we made that happen.

PEV: What is the feeling you get after a song or album is complete and you can sit back and listen to it in full? 

CP: It feels really good. I’m not embarrassed to say that I put my own music, at times, on repeat, because I feel it so much. I’m proud of our work and how our stuff comes out so it’s fun to listen to and remember the whole process.

PEV: What would you say is the biggest challenge for musicians trying to make a name for themselves these days?

CP: I’d say getting attention outside a few degrees of separation from your friends and family. People don’t want to buy in until you’re the next big thing, so you have to prove it to them by wowing live or writing some great stuff. We’re still making our way through the whole thing.

PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

CP: I would love to get down to Nashville and/or Memphis and play some tunes. Just a hot bed of great music and music history. That would be amazing.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play in your hometown?

CP: At first, my parents and family were nervous because I turned down my acceptance to medical school to pursue my music career. But now that they see how much I love it and that we are picking up steam, everyone is really supportive, caring and loving. My parents have never missed a show. My friends come when they can. Playing hometown shows just make you feel good inside because you know that people care about you and that’s an awesome feeling.

PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

CP: Like I said, I was supposed to go to medical school, so in my spare time I work at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It’s a great place of hope, healing and joy. Doug, Mark, Frank, and Mike all teach, the latter three being music teachers and Doug, an English teacher. Connor is a creative writer and Greg plays in a few other groups.

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?

CP: Right off the bat, Stevie Wonder. No question about it. I’d love to work with Ed Sheeran or Pharell to see what they have to say about our style. But Stevie would be more than enough.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

CP: I’m a big fan of the Humble from Yonkers, PA and Brothers & Sisters from Philadelphia. Check em’ out!

PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what do you think each of you would be doing for a career?

CP: I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but music will always be a part of my life. If this whole music thing doesn’t work out, I plan on taking my seat at Jefferson Medical School and becoming a pediatrician.

PEV: So, what is next for The Chris Paterno Band?

CP: We’re finishing out our summer shows and then planning on getting in the studio to cut a live EP this fall/winter. Be on the lookout for more singles from our debut self-titled EP throughout the rest of the summer! Thanks so much for having us! We appreciate the love and support!

For more information, click to


Summer 2016 is definitely in full swing. Urbanites near and far step out of their homes to immediately sweat on the scorching city streets. Luckily, there is a cure for all of those sticky humid days. Is there a better way to cool off than with some good tunes? Ok, maybe a pool or ocean nearby, but c’mon. Philly natives The Chris Paterno Band, Chris Paterno, Connor McElwee, Mark Hightower, Greg Wilson, Mike Clark, Frank Rein, Doug Parsons and Adam Monaco, have unveiled today the addictive new song of the summer, PressureThis is the perfect way to continue the summer right. Take a listen below:

Pressure is every big band’s dream as the horns are introduced right at the beginning. The smooth vocals chime in as a harmony and the ever present horns bellow through. Each occasional twang of the guitar is mellow and sweet for the ears. Listeners will be captivated. Other than the vocals, the horns really steal the show. It brings that blues big band to a indie mindset. While they keep that Philly blues alive, their blend of it all could easily be shared nationwide. Listeners will appreciate the flair and jam-blues within. They make sure to keep the beat moving forward in an smooth way.

The Chris Paterno Band had this to say about their latest work: “Pressure is about the ubiquitous feeling of stress, of what the hell am I going to do with my life and just praying that you can rise to the occasion. The horn lines and the drum groove pay homage to throwback legends, James Brown and his funky drummer Clyde Stubblefield, two men that defined the industry. Over top of that we put this chill-vibe guitar in the verse that says, ‘hey I’m cool, I’m ok, right?’ That leads into a powerful chorus where the two elements, intense horns, powerful drumming and the chill guitar combine.” 

Chris Paterno himself states: “Pressure was by far the hardest song to write on our upcoming, self-titled, debut EP. I live in a world where I put the pressure on myself to be successful, so I really had to step back and get real with myself, choose my words wisely and make sure I’m saying what I really mean. I love the way it came out and would love to hear our listener’s thoughts.” 

From 9-time Grammy-winning producer, Joe Nicolo, who signed the crew to his BlacBird Productions label shared his thoughts: “I love the way the Chris Paterno Band mixes the 70’s Horn sound (blood, sweat & tears) with rootsy folk. People will have a love/hate relationship with his voice, and I mean that as a true compliment. You want to sound unique. Saying that you don’t sound like anyone else is probably the biggest compliment I can give an artist.”

If this was not enough to soak in, go catch these guys live! Their persona from their music should really show and make more fans than ever. It is time for some good music. See below for tour dates:








Jam On.

VENTS Magazine Interview

INTERVIEW: The Chris Paterno Band

RJ Frometa  May 23, 2016

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

We’ve been great! Super busy preparing for our summer shows and finishing up our debut EP! Thanks so much for interviewing us, we’re honored!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Unfaithful”?

“Unfaithful” defines our style – strong horn lines, percussive, funky guitar and bass lines, interesting guitar voicings and raw, emotional vocals. This was the first song that we cut with Joe Nicolo, our producer, in the studio, and it just came to life.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

The chord progression of “Unfaithful” was modified from this old tune I (Chris Paterno) wrote in high school that I just never got out of my hands. I wrote what is now “Unfaithful” about a year and a half ago during a time when everything around me was falling apart – friendships were fading, a long relationship had recently ended, and my family life was struggling – I felt lost and angry. At the same time, I was looking around, observing the culture that is a college campus and seeing and hearing all these stories about infidelity and trust issues. I could see the connection between myself- feeling like so many bridges had been burnt down, losing faith in my friends, family and myself – and the term “Unfaithful.” The bridge repeats the phrase “All we built, burn it down.” That sentence really sums up that time of my life, which gave birth to this tune.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

We’re thinking about it, but we haven’t come to a consensus. What do you think? Should we?

The single comes off your new self-titled EP – why naming the record after the band?

This EP is our introduction and we want it to define our sound. Making it self-titled allows us to do that. There’s no question about it – The Chris Paterno Band is this EP and this EP is The Chris Paterno Band.

How was the recording and writing process?

It was absolutely awesome! As an aspiring musician, your dream is to someday win a Grammy so to work with a producer that’s won 9, was truly a humbling experience. Joe was a lot of fun to work with and he really helped us develop as musicians and in general. I (Chris Paterno) wrote all the tunes, besides one cover that’s featured on the EP, before going into the studio. The rest of the group (Connor McElwee, Adam Monaco, Doug Parson, Nate Sims, Mike Clark and Frank Rein) took ownership of the tracks and just went to town with some great ideas, great licks and amazing arrangements. We had a lot of late nights, but a lot of laughstoo. We can’t wait to share it with our fans, friends and families.

Does Philadelphia plays a role in your music?

Definitely. We like to think that you can hear the Philly Soul roots in our music – The Sound of Philadelphia, The O’Jays, Patti Labelle. Acts like those knew how to evoke emotion, they knew how to be real and they knew how to get a little funky. We try to emulate those artists, while also bringing in some novel sounds/techniques to give our style a modern touch. Its hard not to be influenced by Philadelphia in general – the streets are always filled with characters and the Philly music scene is growing everyday. Its an amazing time to be a Philly musician. Working with a Philly legend like Joe Nicolo doesn’t hurt either!

What was it like to work with Joe Nicolo and how did that relationship develop?

It was an amazing experience. Our mandolin player, Adam Monaco, had done some work with Joe prior to joining the band and he invited Joe out to our second show (ever!). Everybody instantly got a little more nervous when Adam said Joe was actually coming, but we kept it together and nailed the set. Right after our set, Joe asked us if we were interested in working with him. It was just surreal. Once we got into the studio, he was cracking jokes, making us feel at home and comfortable. In fact, we were literally at his house so it was hard not to feel at home. He also took us down to Studio 4 in Conshohocken, Pa for a session – platinum records everywhere. It was hard not to think we made it for just a second hahah. Joe’s like that – he builds you up in the most constructive way possible – teaching you as you grow and pushing you to go beyond yourself and beyond the music. Joe really took us under his wing and has been a great mentor. We are ready to show everyone what we are working with.

How much did he get to influence the album?

Joe definitely put his fingerprint on the EP. He actually sings some background vocals on the EP’s final track, Sweet Thing, too. From a producers standpoint, Joe and I (Chris) really got along and had similar visions. We’re both always trying to push our initial ideas a little bit further out of the box. Joe recently said of my voice  – “People will have a love/hate relationship with his voice, and I mean that as a true compliment. You want to sound unique. Saying that you don’t sound like anyone else is probably the biggest compliment I can give an artist.” And I think he had a great deal to do with us being unique, by trusting us, giving us the opportunity and just hitting that record button with a little magic behind it. He really captured all of The Chris Paterno Band.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

The inspiration for the songs and lyrics comes from everyday life. Music is my journal. I write what I feel and I don’t hold back. Every track has a different theme, each encompassing an emotion, whether that’s disappointment and rage in “Unfaithful” or longing and love in “Morning Light,” that’s genunine and has deep meaning to me and my life. My hope is that these songs are relatable and people recognize they are getting all of me and all of the band when they hear us play – whether thats live or on this EP. These songs are the feelings and themes that define my life.

Any plans to hit the road?

Definitely! We’ve got a packed summer with lots of Philly shows coming up. We are also playing a few gigs outside of the city, and in Maryland. We are setting up a show in NYC as well that we are pumped about!

What else is happening next in The Chris Paterno Band’s world?

That’s a good question! We’re taking it day by day, show by show. We’re excited for what the future holds and have high hopes for our debut! Our moms love the EP so its pretty much guaranteed to be a hit haha. But for real, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, and all that to get updates and be a part of the journey and the band! We love to chat with everyone – every head is its own world of knowledge. Come join in the fun!

Links for our media are below. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about us and share our music with your fan base! We appreciate it!! It’s this kind of stuff that really makes a difference.


Insta: ChrisPaternoMusic


The Novel Ideas, Chris Paterno Band, Brian Fitzy Deliver Emotionally Moving Performances at Milkboy

30 May 2016

by Lauren Rosier

Independent country folk band, The Novel Ideas, delivered quite the performance at Milkboy on Saturday night. 

The Boston five-piece, comprised of Daniel Radin (guitar/vocals), Sarah Grella (vocals), Danny Hoshino (guitar/pedal steel/vocals), James Parkington (bass guitar/vocals), and Karl Grohmann (drums), headlined a show presented by Bandade- a newly formed non-profit organization dedicated to creating a community of musicians and fans alike in support of fighting cancer.

The quintet opened their 50-minute set with the first track, “I’m Not Waiting,” off their latest release, St. Paul Sessions. The live performance of this song was otherworldly. Never have I been affected by a single song the way I was with this one. The combination of the song’s lyrics and Grella’s flawless, emotional voice led me to all-over goosebumps and trembling so strongly, I tried hide it.

Despite a small crowd, the Novel Ideas received tons of love and a stellar crowd response as a result of delivering a heartfelt and captivating performance. 

The band showcased their perfectly melded harmonies on “Mountain” and “Montana,” a song about one of Radin’s ex-girlfriends (and she didn’t realize it was about her). Songs like “Back And Forth” showcased the vocals of Danny Hoshino and the band’s country folk blend more than any other songs.

Both tracks highlight the band’s beautiful vocals and harmonies, as well as their songwriting skills from their emotional, raw lyrics. The way in which they’re able to weave different genres together delivers a sound that is strictly The Novel Ideas.

Philadelphia seven-piece, the Chris Paterno Band, centered the night of music with a set of songs that tapped into a mix of folk, funk, and soul in tracks like “Pressure,” “Morning Light,” and their latest single, “Unfaithful.” Channeling the roots of American music, the band is able to pull together elements rock, soul, blues, and folk music into a sound that single-handedly stands on its own.

The band recently finished their debut EP and is focusing on several summer dates with a single release every month. For a band that only formed in 2015, and with this being only their third show together, the cohesiveness of their live performance was impressive. The grittiness of Paterno’s vocals paved the way for the band’s bluesy, folksy, and soulful sound. 

The songs “represent us pretty well,” Chris Paterno admitted. “[‘Unfaithful’] is the cornerstone of the EP. It’s got the drive, it’s got raw emotion, and the horns are huge. I think every song has that theme throughout. We’ve got horns, and we’ve got passionate vocals, weird guitar stuff going on, but also there’s a song for everybody, we’ve got a really emotional song that we didn’t play with a lot of space. And then we got this cover that we took an artist and flipped it on its head. It sounds nothing like the artist, it’s an afro-pop tune, with autotune vocals that’s really, very out there.”

Multi-instrumentalist Brian Fitzy opened the show with a short, yet impressive four-song set that showcased his many musical talents, from electric violin, bassist, to beatbox extraordinaire. “Sooner Or Later” is a pop-friendly, singer/songwriter track that pulls you in, while “Why Isn’t” features his truly incredible beat boxing abilities over top of classic musicianship. You’re not quite sure what to expect as Fitzy performs, but he completely wows you with his truly impressive capabilities that he displays during his live performance.

This was definitely a show that featured some of the best, up and coming musical talent; not only in the folk genre, but across genre lines. American roots music hasn’t disappeared. It’s strong, it has grown, and continues to evolve.


Impose Magazine Reviews The Chris Paterno Band's debut EP


{Lively and loose acoustic indie soul at its finest.}


The Chris Paterno Band, The Chris Paterno Band

Philly’s The Chris Paterno Band’s self-titled EP releases this Friday and it is acoustic indie soul at its finest. Throughout the breezy six song collection, the band creates a live, party atmosphere and not just through the brief bit of crowd noise heard on “Pressure”. The Chris Paterno Band instead plays with a lively, loose energy that punctuates the album’s grooves with exhilarating moments of emotion that seem pure and organic, as if the result of some improvised jam session.

The Chris Paterno Band’s eight-member roster comes complete with a horn section and mandolin and this EP allows each musician and instrument to shine. Whether it’s the delicate piano and glitchy percussion of “Farther (We Grow)”, the harmonica and sweet strings on “Lover, When You Gonna Come?”, or the African vocal touches and lead vocal effects of “Sweet Thing”, The Chris Paterno Band combines a variety of production and musical styles to create a rich experience all its own. With their debut EP, The Chris Paterno Band don’t so much reinvent a genre as they do fashion their own unique one from the best parts of the last few decades of folk, rock, and pop, updating Philly soul for a whole new era.

The Chris Paterno Band’s debut EP The Chris Paterno Band will be released tomorrow and is available for pre-order now. You can follow Chris Paterno on FacebookTwitterInstagramSoundCloud, and on their website at

    2016 SongDoor International Songwriting Competition Placements

    • “Pressure” - 14th overall, Alternative/Hard Rock Category
    • “Unfaithful” - 20th overall, Pop Category
    • “Farther (…We Grow)" - Honorable Mention, Soft Rock Category


    Every year, there are about a dozen or so songwriters who rise to the top with multiple entries — all good ones. You were in that group this year. Overall, there were more than 25,000 entries. You can be extremely proud of your achievement. To get multiple Honorable Mentions, especially in different categories, is rare.