If you’ve ever held a baseball, football, basketball, or any other type of professional sports card in your hand, you would, of course, turn it over to look at the career stats of the featured athlete. Take Reggie Jackson, for instance: 9,864 at bats, 2,584 hits, 563 home runs, 1,551 runs, 1,702 RBI (that’s “Runs Batted In” for you Magic: the Gathering card players), and other useful facts that may aid you in those “Trivia Nights” at the local sports bar. But either way, all of Reggie’s accomplishments can be summed up in numbers on the back of one card. Ditto for Joe Namath, Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, etc., etc., etc. Now, imagine if musicians had their own cards. Well, that actually happened back in 1991 when Pro Set released their “Super Stars Musicards” collection. Quite a diverse mixture was this curiosity, where you could trade Elton John, Cream, and Journey for MC Hammer, REO Speedwagon, and the Doors. On the back of each of these now-forgotten collectibles were a short paragraph that gave a very brief history of the featured performer(s) along with another photo. Not exactly useful if you’re wanting to use them for a discography listing. No, each group or solo artist would need several or more cards just to give you a more thorough account of their career. And depending on who that is, it could merit an entire collection. Well, that actually happened back in 1978 when Donruss produced a KISS set, but was that really over artistic achievements? Um, no. However, one such musician whose artistic achievements (and talent) could merit such a set is Brooklyn, NY-bred bassist Johnny Pisano, the living, breathing definition of “in demand”, and quite honestly, has to be the hardest working human being in rock ‘n’ roll today.
If you were to ever take a gander into the Rolodex of Johnny Pisano, chances are your face would melt into a fleshy milkshake, “Raiders Of the Lost Ark” style, due to your unworthiness of prying into such sacred information. This is a man who’s either recorded or shared the stage with (take a deep breath) Bruce Springsteen, Billie Joe Armstrong, Little Steven Van Zandt, Alice Cooper, Joan Jett, Deborah Harry, Kate Pierson, Cheetah Chrome, Peter Criss, David Johansen, Handsome Dick Manitoba, Ryan Adams, Willie Nile, and many, many more. Johnny’s various talents of bass playing, songwriting, and vocal contributions can be heard on Ryan Adams’ “Rock ‘N’ Roll” and “Love Is Hell Part 1 and Part 2”, Marky Ramone & the Intruders’ “The Answer To Your Problems”, the Alarm’s “Strength 2015”, and Jesse Malin’s “To Be Somebody (Bellvue)”, “The Fine Art Of Self Destruction”, and “The Heat”. Johnny also played an integral role with the legendary Willie Nile for such tunes as “American Ride”, “Hard Times In the UK”, and “World War Willie”. Plus, there’s various other singles that Johnny’s had his hand in, and too numerous to list here. Oh, and there’s the television appearances: “Late Night With Conan O’Brien”, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”, MTV, “The Artie Lange Show”, and VH1’s “The Morning Buzz”. He’s also appeared (playing his bass) on such TV shows as “The Affair”, “Damages”, and “White Collar”, just to name a few. You can also add “aspiring actor” to Johnny’s credits, as he’s appeared as an extra on “The Sopranos”, “Gotham”, “Law & Order”, and plenty more. There’s no arguing that this guy works his ass off with all of the session work, the touring, and the TV appearances, not to mention that he’s also pulled some stints on Broadway. But despite the miniscule amount of down time, Johnny’s still found a way to write his own songs…
Johnny’s 20-plus years of rockin’ internationally has been a (naturally) massive influence on his debut album, “Everybody Gets A Slice!!” under the banner Johnny Pisano’s Punk Rock Pizzeria, which finely displays his knack for being a clever lyricist. The opening track, “The Know It Alls” brings to mind the high-energy rock of such bands as the Superbees and the Boss Martians (after they ditched their surf/garage sound). “Pilicious Bitches” erupts next with its old school punk vibe, feeling like it could’ve been one of the best songs that the Adicts or the Jello-era Dead Kennedys never recorded, complete with Johnny thrusting some maniacal vocal work. “All Fucked Up From Growing Up” reveals an excellent lean into the pop punk territory of Green Day and Dropkick Murphy’s non-Irish sounding output that will surely become a crowd fave at Johnny’s shows. “Maloveilove” has a killer ’80s vibe that brings us nostalgic types back to the cruising strips of our teen years, and it’s a perfect example of how diversified Johnny is on this album. “The Streets Of Sao Paulo” is an infectious feel good anthem, while “Midlife Crisis”, “Superhero”, and “Don’t Think” help provide a righteous soundtrack, regardless of the situation. The festivities slow down with the reggae-tinged closer “One Guitar Mon'”, proving yet again that Johnny is impressively versatile. Although there’s pizza references aplenty here, this album is pure meat ‘n’ potatoes rock ‘n’ roll that’ll leave you wanting plenty more of the same from Mr. Pisano. And let’s hope that some creative entrepreneur devises a marketing plan to open up a chain of Johnny Pisano-endorsed punk rock pizzerias where we can collect those Johnny Pisano trading cards.
“The Know It Alls”:
You can order “Everybody Gets A Slice!!” and other Johnny Pisano items on his merch page on Etsy.
Stay up to date with Johnny by following the official Johnny Pisano’s Punk Rock Pizzeria page on Facebook.
Featured photo taken by Cristina Arrigoni.