September 2016 was the debut of a great project. Mona Lisa Smile came to the stage for Concert For Anna and delighted those in attendance. I got the chance to ask Mike Piroch some questions about the band that’s new but plays the music that I personally grew up with and younger generations still love.
Mona Lisa Smile is a music project brought to the Pittsburgh Area by the already mentioned lead vocalist, Mike Piroch, Vic Choltco (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Dylan Bowman (Rhythm Guitar), Charlie Hughes (Bass), and Dave Silcose (Drums). They enjoy the idea of honoring the music that defined a generation, and I love the memories their music brings back. Even now Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots and the like are played on the radio and covered because of the feel that era of music gave all who listened. Luckily, Mona Lisa Smile keeps the energy and love in the music that was the real driving force behind its rise to stardom.
It’s not often I get to have a question and answer moment with just one member of the band, so tonight’s feature drove me to go “Old School”…like the magazine’s I used to read when I was young and just learning what I liked about music. Q & A Forum seems the best way to go – so grab your flannel, combat boots, or patched up jacket, sit back and find out more about this amazing band!!
FAM: Honoring the 90’s music….oh how I love to hear that since those were my days!! Is it the music you grew up with too?
MP: The short answer would be yes. But to elaborate, my high school years were the tail end of the 1980’s and the early 1990’s. I never could “buy into” the hair/pop metal of the 80’s, so I gravitated more toward the thrash/hardcore/alternative/punk of that time. But when I got a hold of some early Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, etc., it was like the sky opened up for me, lol!
FAM: From everything I’ve seen you guys give one heck of a stage performance!! Anything you want to tell me about your shows? Like, how you can survive under baking hot lights and keep up such a high energy show? 🙂
MP: What’s great about performing songs from artists of that era, at least from my personal perspective, is that you kind of lose yourself in the place and time in your life when you were first enjoying it if you have a genuine affinity for the music. The energy comes from the memories of that time in our lives. I’ll always be 18, at least for a few moments, when an old Pearl Jam song comes on, even when I become an old man.
FAM: I’m not certain about this, was Concert for Anna your first show together? I was at the benefit and everyone was talking about you, then and in the next few weeks, as if you had just come out.
MP: A Concert For Anna 2016 was the debut of this project, but all of our members are veterans of the Pittsburgh music scene from some pretty well known acts over the last 10 – 15 years.
FAM: There is quite a bit of history for your members in the music scene, how long have you been musicians?
MP: Most of us have been musicians for around 20 years, with the exception of our youngest (25 years old) guitarist, Dylan. Our members have been/are members of other acts such as Creep, TKO, Saybrook, Chronic Groove, Staley’s Comet, Silk9, and Here And Now, just to name a few.
We formed this based on a shared love of the music. Most of us have other projects, but this is something that is special to the collective 5 of us. It’s an outlet for being able to express our love for this era in a way that we can’t completely accomplish in the other bands we have.
As far as how I personally got into it, I really just identified with what I was hearing from the music I was listening to back then. I knew that I was able to perform at a young age, and I guess I felt “called” by the way it made me feel colliding with my ability to do it.
FAM: Message to fans or those who are just finding out about you?
MP: If you loved the Grunge and Alternative Rock songs/bands of the 1990’s, you’ll love what we’re doing in Mona Lisa Smile. It’s really a tribute to that era. It’s great to see everyone enjoying the idea of it and some fans even showing up at the clubs we play in flannel shirts, Chuck Taylors, ripped jeans, old band shirts, etc. I think we’ve struck a nerve with this in a good way.
Ok, Pittsburgh, you’ve “heard” the man, and you learned about the band….now go hear them!! Check out their Facebook page, give it a like and make sure you see a high energy show you will NOT want to miss!!! Thank you to Mike for this wonderful opportunity to learn more about Mona Lisa Smile and the music we all love!!
Jana Lee Macheca (aka Lady Jaye) is the owner and editor of First Angel Media as well as professional photographer and writer. Having worked in national and local levels of music media her goal is to provide professional coverage for bands of all levels.