Front man Vinny Nobile knows a thing or two about performing. After all, he’s been doing it ever since he was 8 years old, when he first played his trombone in front of a crowd of 500. Since then the classically trained musician – he received a diploma in classical studies from The Julliard School and a bachelor of music, jazz performance from the New England Conservatory – has earned his musical chops touring all over the world, playing with many bands, including the critically acclaimed Boston band Bim Skala Bim, whom he has toured and recorded with for more than a decade. In all the international trombonist and vocalist has released more than 15 CDs of original music and has opened for such acts as Madness, the Foo Fighters and Ziggy Marley. In 2004, he won the coveted John Lennon Songwriting Contest for best song in the children’s category.
I recently caught up with the accomplished musician at his home in Byram and asked him some questions about his versatile career. For more, see my interview in WAG’s November “Voices” issue. – Patricia Espinosa
How many bands have you been part of/recorded with?
“Oh my goodness, at least 10. I’ve played with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I played on their first record. I played with a band from Detroit called the Suicide Machines. I played on their first record also. I’ve played with the Toasters, the Pietasters from D.C. I’ve been on stage with The English Beat, The Specials, The Bad Manners Reel Big Fish, Suicide Machines, Less Than Jake, Toasters and Pilfers (a band he co-founded.)”
What was your favorite band to open for and what was the venue?
“I liked opening up for Madness. That was fun. It was at Irving Plaza in New York City. Then there was Ziggy Marley at the University of Vermont. We opened at least five or six times with him in the New England area. We’ve also warmed up for Bob Marley’s old band, The Wailers and The Violent Femmes, No Doubt and Green Day. “
What was the biggest crowd you played for?
“The biggest crowd I played for was 80,000 people with a band called Less Than Jake and we played the Reading Festival and The Leeds Festival in England and that was warming up for the Foo Fighters and Muse.”
What are your fondest musical memories?
“In the beginning, it was me and my dad in the basement playing the blues, because he’s a piano player but an attorney by trade. Every night, we would go down to the basement and we would jam on the blues. So that got me into jazz and improvisation. God bless him… He spent so much time with me and my brother, who plays trumpet… we just had such a great time.”
What are your musical influences?
“Ah, I have so many. As far as trombone is concerned, I’m a big Miles Davies fan. I also like J.J. Johnson, Hank Mobley, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie…all the jazz guys because that’s what I grew up on. And vocally, I listened to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Tormé, and Joe Williams.
As far as the rock ’n’ roll stuff, I really loved a lot of the punk rock singers like Joey Ramone and Billy Idol. “
Tell me about your musical taste.
“I like everything from Beethoven to Billie Holiday to Pantera (an American groove metal band), which is the heaviest of the heavy and Biohazard, a crazy punk rock band. So I would say I have a pretty wide range.”
What inspires you?
“I love to perform. I love to get people on their feet. I love to make them dance. I love to make them jump up and down. So I would say, inspiration is getting people to move.”
What else do you do besides play music?
“I have a day job as a paralegal. I also teach privately around the Greenwich area. I have 15 to 20 students who I teach throughout the year, from trombone, trumpet, piano, guitar, bass and drums. I even have a violin student and an electronic music student. I can teach basically anything. It’s really a matter of their level and what they want to do. If they tell me, “I want to learn how to write music,” I can teach them how to write music.”
For more information about Vinny, visit trummytones.com or