Person L rises from pet project to underground hit

The Chicago Maroon spoke to the band about Fugazi and their other influences

By Cristina Carrazza

Some people might recognize Kenny Vasoli as the lead singer of The Starling line, a band known for its mix of punk–pop and indie influences. But more recently this singer–songwriter has turned to his current project, Person L, as an outlet for experimenting with more organic, original sounds. After Person L's self–produced debut, Initial, Kenny and Person L began to make a name for themselves outside of The Starting Line fan base. Gearing up to release their second effort, The Positives, on November 17, the band is ready to prove that they are more than a one-album wonder. To support the release, Person L is currently on tour with John Nolan. The MAROON spoke with Kenny to learn more about his thriving act.

CHICAGO MAROON: How would you describe your new album, The Positives?

Kenny Vasoli: We recorded with my good friend Aaron Marsh (from the band Copeland) earlier this year. We’ve been writing for this record for quite awhile, probably for a year and a half. We really wanted it to be organic as far as sounds and textures. The songs have a lot of different influences from post-punk to garage and '60s rock and funk and soul.

CM: The first record you did with Person L, Initial, was self-released. You’ve mentioned that it was an outlet for you to experiment with different sounds. So how was it working with Aaron on this record?

KV: It helped me focus a lot more. Doing the last record took more than a year. I started working on it November of '06 and didn’t get it out until August of '08. I’m such a procrastinator. I take a lot of time with it. The great thing about working with Aaron is he simplified the whole process. He knows what to do and when to do it. He has the stuff in order and knows how to get the speakers to play what he hears in his head. He has a great feel for texture and that was a very important thing for this album.

CM: You’ve mentioned that this new album is what classic Person L is supposed to sound like. So did this make it easier to convey the sound you were looking for?

KV: Absolutely. I wanted it to have a real, living, breathing organic feel to it. I didn’t want it to sound like everything was separated. The thing with Aaron that worked so well is that we had the same vision. He knew what I was going for right away. He loves those kinds of records as well and he did a great job at getting us there.

CM: Talking about Person L’s music in general, you describe it as being something outside of the norm, that hasn’t been done before. You want to make music that is different and experimental.

KV: I’d say that is a good way to put it. The goal of this band is to stumble upon an original idea. It’s not to say that what we do is completely original because we take big bites out of artists that influence us. We try to focus on the unsung heroes of our musical tastes. Bands like Fugazi and Curtis Mayfield. People that were successful but never got their due in the grand scheme of music. I think we’re trying to be one of those types of artists. We strive to be innovators. We’re not sure if we’re there but we’re trying to be. We’re not really doing it for commercial success, I mean it would be nice to fall in the flame-list category and have a lot of people listening to us. But we’re more focused on being the best band we can possibly be.

CM: So you’re about to start a tour with John Nolan. What can people expect from the show since this is Person L's first time touring with The Positives?

KV: We’re going to play the majority of the new record. My expectations are that it gets good turnouts and that people like the songs live and in turn buy the new record. I think it’s a good record. I’m really proud of it. I think it translates a lot better live than the songs we had before. They’re a lot of fun to play and I think people would appreciate them better.

CM: Like you were mentioning before, specifically with the organic feel you were going for, you wanted the record to sound like the songs were being played live.

KV: Exactly. I think the songs will be more cohesive. Before, it was me doing the majority of the tracking. But now, we came in with the band and everyone had their own parts. So playing them live will really show them off.

CM: Any closing remarks?

KV: I hope everyone enjoys the music. I hope everyone is doing well out there.