Ethos Live Interview: Scarabino on the single "Setbacks"

Long Island pop rock trio Scarabino released the music video for their single "Setbacks" this morning. Formed in 2015, the band has strong influences in 311, Muse, and Coldplay. With roots in jazz, the band molds their pop rock sound into something that is progressive and interesting yet likable by any fans of music. 

Ethos Live: When Mike and I are swapping our new musical discoveries with each other, we like to play a game. It doesn’t have a name but we pick 3 bands to ascribe the bands sound to- one contemporary band, one local band, and one classic band. Which three would you choose for someone discovering Scarabino for the first time?

3 bands of influence:
Contemporary band – Muse, this is the band that we bond over the most
Local Band – Vista, as far as our song structure goes, melodies, riffs etc.
Classic Band – hard to say, we don’t directly take influence from classical music

Ethos Live: The name of the band is obviously after frontman/guitarist Michael Scarabino. What was the process of turning this from a one man band adding AJay and Juliana, making it into the three piece it is today like?

Scarabino: It took a lot of persistence and patience. At first, I had an agenda to produce music since 2015 after already struggling to start a band. AJay and I met that summer and musically clicked. We met right on time for him to record his bass lines for the EP I was working on at the time, Unreckoned Reality. Once the record was released in April 2016, Ajay returned from attending SUNY Oswego and we pursued finding a drummer. At that point, we wanted to get on the stage as soon as possible. I tried out 2 different drummers before we met Juliana in the following May. She fit in perfectly and we began with getting us all into playing the EP I made as a solo artist. Although I made it myself it was the sound we all wanted, so we played it out for the summer until we began writing original music as a 3 piece band. So overall it was a challenging process, one that definitely challenged my patience but I kept faith in starting this band thanks to the good praise I received from the people I sold Unreckoned to. We sold 100 copies of it that year!

Ethos Live: You’ve been playing as a full band in the Long Island Music scene since last May when Juliana Pitto was added on drums to the band. What are some of your favorite local venues to play at? What has been your favorite show you’ve played to date?
Scarabino: Our favorite venues are Amityville Music Hall, Revolution in Amityville, 89 North in Patchogue, and Obriens Pub in Coram. Each place has a special environment and atmosphere in their own way, and we always have our best shows at those spots. We’ve had quite a few bangers but I’d say our best show so far was at Amityville Music Hall on January 29th. It was the release the show for our newest single, we launched our website earlier that day so people can stream the single on it. But the atmosphere in the place was unreal! We had a good turnout and the whole place gravitated to us for our set, we played our hearts out. And the set ended with a thundering crash of my guitar across the stage! Many came up to us to say how great we performed, and they loved the new songs.


Ethos Live: Your song “Setbacks” has such a groove that makes it easy to dance along to. What are some of the bands and particular songs that influenced the writing and production behind Setbacks/ Here and Now? What are some of your influences as the band’s vocalist?

Scarabino: "Setbacks" has a wide range of influences. Ajay and Juliana put some of their jazz influence to work for the drum/bass buildups. If you remember the movie Donnie Darko there was a song featured in it called "Under The Milky Way" by The Church. I liked the chord progression in it, so I took a lot of influence from that, the chorus was inspired by some of Muse’s rawest anthems like "Plug In Baby" and "Resistance." The same goes for "Here And Now," we wanted something with an upbeat pace and bouncy riffs all around. Writing these songs as a trio helped shift the band’s sound away from something that had only one mind at work, and we know it had a good effect with all the great feedback we’ve gotten. As a vocalist, I model myself after Chris Martin from Coldplay, Nick Hexum of 311, and Matt Bellamy of Muse. Even an artist like Ellie Goulding, her melodies are well done, even as a male singer its easy for me to sing her stuff in my own octave.

Ethos Live: Can you describe a little bit about your rig- your band’s instruments and equipment that is elemental to your tone?

Scarabino: Juliana has a standard drum kit that she plays very well with, she’s in the process of upgrading to newer pieces so we’re looking forward to that. Ajay uses a lot of fuzz, octave, and synth effects for his bass, it gives our songs more backbone. In our band, bass is arranged like it’s a rhythm guitar so we need that extra punch from him. He decks his basses with lights to add to the show. I use a digital piano as well as my guitar rig. My pedalboard has a Line 6 processor, a Korg Kaoss Pad, and 4 other effects including a wireless transmitter. I have 2 custom guitars. One I built myself from scratch I call it the Glitter Angel. It has special circuits on the board, a Fernandes sustainer and an XY MIDI pad that connects to my Kaoss Pad on the board. The other guitar is a Matt Bellamy signature model with a sustainiac sustainer and a zvex fuzz factory pedal installed in it. We use so many effects to deliver a wide range of sound at all times. Although we’re effect driven at times our playing is very organic, and we always make sure to stay that way and not go too crazy on electronic sounds.

Ethos Live: The word ethos describes the basic morals that form one’s customs in creating their culture. Describe Scarabino’s work ethic as a band- what makes up Scarabino’s cultural input?

Scarabino: Our band since day 1 has had an agenda of working to push our limits as musicians and as people to deliver music that is innovative and energetic. We practice frequently to put on the best live shows we possibly can. Our energy is fueled by our music idols, and our bond as fellow musicians. I often say that our band's formation was like a perfect storm. As people, we are highly like-minded and have the same drive to pursue our dreams. Myself as an artist I always push myself to create something special that hasn’t been heard before, and whether that’s a performance or a show, this is a mindset that we live by. 


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