Not From Wisconsin
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Not From Wisconsin

Ithaca, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Ithaca, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Americana Rock




"Musical Highlights"

Led by singer-guitarist Dave Yantorno, Not From Wisconsin offers pop music with a serious edge. String arrangements swell around somber lyrics, buttressing compact song structures. - Ithaca Times

"HomeEntertainment Not From Wisconsin Releases Second Album; Throws Party"

Dave Yantorno, the songwriter, guitarist, and singer for Not From Wisconsin, describes his band’s music as “chamber folk” or “chamber rock.” Given that his compositions tend to oscillate back and forth between ripping, syncopated rock tunes and slow, meditative, country-inflected songs, both characterizations seem fair. Not From Wisconsin is able by turns to sound as ticked off as Uncle Tupelo and as pensive as Mazzy Star.
Not From Wisconsin is having a CD release party for its second album, And Again, on Thursday, May 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. the Carriage House Hayloft on Stewart Avenue. The recording has been three years in the making, slowed somewhat by the departure of a bass player and then Yantorno’s marriage to the band’s violinist Angela Comprone and the attendant resettling into a new home.
Formed in 2008, Not From Wisconsin released their self-titled first album in 2010. Yantorno said that he had written most of the songs for that collection before the band existed. He introduced them to the rest of the band members, and they wrote their parts, but Yantorno had already created the melody and the basic arrangement.
“Now I know the band,” he said. “I don’t write for them, but we do have a sound and style.”
That sound and style has been produced by the core three members—the Yantornos and drummer Brett Powell—contributing quite different influences. “Angela grew up on classic rock and classical,” Yantorno said of the band’s violinist. “Brett’s strengths are rock and jazz.”
Although Yantorno grew up in southwestern Connecticut, his father’s obsession with cars made him feel like he was growing in the South and gave him an outsized affection for outlaw country music by the likes of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. He doesn't turn aside comparisons of his rowdier songs to Uncle Tupelo, but suggested it was due to he, Jeff Tweedy, and Jay Farrar having the same tastes in forebears, rather than his being influenced by his older peers.
“My growth area is in classical,” said the self-taught musician, “learning more about harmonics and the structure of composition.” By the same token his jazz-schooled drummer is working on stripping back his playing to a simple, open beat for some songs. All these various influences and learning curves make NFW a stronger ensemble, Yantorno thought.
His fast songs, he said, are colored by his affection for Spoon. “They’re one of my favorite bands,” said Yantorno. “They write more angular rock songs with a simple driving beat and some distorted guitar at the center. Brett and I do that really well.”
Yantorno cited Irish singer and songwriter Damien Rice’s 2003 album O as a “low key influence” on his his own quieter, slower songs. According to Yantorno, the Rice record includes songs that sound like they were recorded in an apartment and songs with grand string arrangements. Indeed, the new NFW album includes a string quartet playing J.S. Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor.
While Ithaca is often thought of as a town dominated by dance bands, Not From Wisconsin, as is true of chamber-folk associates like Rockwood Ferry and Mary Lorson, is a listening experience.
“There’s a couple songs you could dance to, if you wanted to,” said Yantorno, but even the ‘up’ stuff is more tense. There may be an electric guitar driving it, but it won’t be upbeat. It just has this tension.”
The musician’s day job puts his Ithaca College sociology degree to work in marketing, which he described as a very “project-based” occupation. “I am now trying to find time to write,” he said. “I used to have more open space. The work that I did, I was just at my desk, and I’d take a breather and grab my guitar and sketch out an idea. I’d capture it with a recording and then get back to it. Sometimes in 15 minutes I’ll have song. Sometimes it takes years.” Yantorno now works on campus, instead of in his home, but he still keeps an acoustic guitar next to his desk.
He started playing guitar at age 5—his older brother was a musician—but music was not particularly valued in his household; it was something that you did for fun, so he had no lessons. “I just played all the time,” he said. “I never put the guitar down.” He didn't start writing his songs, however, until he was in his late 20s, content until then to be a player.
After graduating from Ithaca College in 1996, Yantorno moved to New York City and did well there for several years, playing in several bands (and getting paid to practice, he added) and gigging regularly in Manhattan and Brooklyn. This interval in his life was cut short by a bout with cancer, which included two rounds of chemotherapy. A brief spell back in Connecticut prompted him to move his family back to Ithaca, which he and his first wife remembered fondly from college.
Since founding Not From Wisconsin in 2008, Yantorno has carved out his own niche in Ithaca, returning to New York periodically to play with his latest band.
“Our approach to playing is to create this central noise,” he said. “Everything points toward a middle. There's no ego and there are moments when everyone gets to sparkle. I think we make one sound that adds up to more than the sum of its parts.”
Not From Wisconsin songs are simple, according to their composer. “I used to think everything had to be new,” Yantorno said, “but then I would lose the voice of the song. So I let go of all that, and now I don't feel any need to apologize for simplicity.
“I'm very attached to the songs I write,” he continued, “as if each one is a child. I put time and effort into them to make a statement with each piece. And when we play, we don't waste notes.”
Yantorno takes a role in recording his band's music and what you hear on the records is different from the live sound. While putting together a song in the studio is like making a film, playing it live is like theatre; the story may be the same, but the approach to telling it is quite different.
“When we're recording I try to find the best things for that particular song,” Yantorno said, “but live there are more limitations. It's like a play; it's about who walks on when. One of us will start or we'll all start together and there will be orchestrated entrances and exits, which creates a dramatic space.
“In the studio,” he continued, “I can say what I want in the left channel and I'm looking for some quality more than fancy playing.” Yantorno cited banjo as an example of an instrument that he can't play all that well, but well enough so that if he wants that particular sound, he can add it to the recording.
Yantorno recorded the guitars, violin and bass parts on And Again, but he went to Pyramid Studio for help from Phil Abbott to record the drums. The songwriter is a perfectionist about his recordings.
“This is the version people will hear again and again,” he said. “So I'll obsess about the details. This record I'm super-proud of. There's hardly a weak moment on it.” - Ithaca Times


"And Again" May 2015

"Self Titled" September 2010



Everywhere we go people say, "Not From Wisconsin is a funny name." It is. While conjuring images of Americana, the paradox is the hint that maybe there's something more. There is.

Don't be so literal, we hold nothing against Wisconsin, we just think that Americana means more. Our name could be Not JUST From Wisconsin, but it just doesn't roll off the tongue.

If you like memorable melodies, meaningful lyrics, and a band that puts the song first, then maybe you're Not From Wisconsin too.

Band Members