Sitting in the control room at The Tone Factory Recording Studio, Patrick Vitagliano’s rapping his knuckles against his partially shaved head, which is crowned by a close-cropped mohawk.
“He had a hard time getting through my thick skull,” Vitagliano says of working with producer and Tone Factory owner Vinnie Castaldo, demonstrating said thickness with his fist. “There’s a vision, and it’s hard to get me off that vision.”
What is it that Vitagliano sees in his mind’s eye?
Lots of Catholic schoolgirls, Marcia Brady and three-eyed ladies in Martian singles bars, all coming around to his come-ons, as voiced in the alternately sarcastic and sweet, funny and wistful power pop of his band, The Bones.
Vitagliano speaks softly and carries a big, self-aware smile as he describes how The Bones came to be.
The initial idea was to start a hard rock cover band, but plans changed.
Instead, they decided to take some of the cheesiest music they could think of, namely ’80s dance pop, and turn it into something that skull-ring aficionados might appreciate.
“It’s sort of tongue in cheek,” says Vitagliano, a sizable man dressed in black, “the way that we’ll look out at an audience full of rocker dudes with their Metallica and Slayer shirts and see them singing along and banging their heads to Cyndi Lauper.”
Eventually, The Bones, who are rounded out by bassist Mike Wilson, drummer Scot Coogan and recently added guitarist Jeff Duncan, began working originals into their sets, songs that Vitagliano had penned over the years. Vitagliano used to tour the East Coast as a guitar comic, but eventually tired of going strictly for laughs.
“Writing comedy shtick comes very easy to me, but what I found was that what got the laugh didn’t have any longevity to it,” he says. “So under the funny veneer, every song has to have a redeeming musical quality.”
On this Tuesday afternoon, Vitagliano and bassist Mike Wilson are at Tone Factory completing the final mixes for the band’s debut, “What Would Ginger Do?” the release of which will be celebrated Friday with a gig at Count’s Vamp’d.
The Bones don’t sound like Cheap Trick per se, but like that band and clear descendants Enuff Z Nuff and Fountains of Wayne, their strengths are all the same: studiously crafted, fat-free rock ’n’ roll.
Vitagliano’s lyrics are mildly debauched and often delivered with a wink.
But, as with every knowing smile, there are some teeth behind the smirk.
“There’s even hidden levels of depth in the funnier stuff,” he says. “There might be a comedic lyric on the surface,” he adds, “but it’s always followed up by something that bites a little bit harder.”
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0476