Q&A with Mucca Pazza

Mandolinist Gary Kalar shares what it's like to be in the marching band that thinks it's a rock band.

When you think of a marching band, do you still think of high school social rejects? If so, let us introduce to you Mucca Pazza, a 30-piece instrumental band from Chicago. The members wear mismatched band uniforms and play funky music on marching band instruments.

They'll be playing at 11:30 p.m. tonight at The Blue Note, and in preparation of the band's return to the True/False Film Fest, MOVE called up mandolin player Gary Kalar to discuss what it's like to be in such a unique group.

[MOVE]: How did the idea of a rock 'n' roll marching band come about?

[Gary Kalar]: Before the band started, a lot of us had worked together, particularly in the theater scene of Chicago. After a while, everybody decided to start playing for our own fun, so we got together in this parking lot of an industrial area on a Sunday, and we sat outside and had donuts and orange juice and just played music in the sun. It was great.

[M]: What's it like performing with a group of 30 members?

[GK]: The most complicated things is everybody's schedule. Everybody has real lives. We just go into a studio, whether (it's) our own that we've cobbled together or a professional studio, and then we just play through the songs. We pretty much just do it together in a big room like the old days. And one time we recorded in a wax cylinder at the Edison museum (also known as the Thomas Edison National Historic Park) in Orange, N.J.

[M]: Speaking of busy schedules, how often do you guys get to perform?

[GK]: It's just kinda like recording, the major obstacle for us getting out of town is everybody's schedule. So when we have offers, or when we try to solicit gigs that are out of town, if we have the people for it, we'll do it. A lot of time we don't have enough people.

[M]: What brings you back to True/False this year?

[GK]: Well, there's a number of reasons, and there's a history between us, but mostly because we think it's an awesome film festival, and we're happy and proud to be a part of it. It's fantastic.

[M]: Where does Mucca Pazza get its quirky energy from?

[GK]: I think we just want to do what we're doing, and we're really excited to do it, and that's where it comes from. We get a lot of amazing responses from people, and it keeps it exciting and it's motivating. There's no secret crystal power we're all tapped into if that's what you're asking. There's a few of us who are doing things in the theater regularly, but it's never something spazzy like Mucca Pazza is.

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