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 Juilliard 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, 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.
Which instruments do you play?
“My main instrument is trombone, but I also play trumpet, piano and guitar. I play a little bit of drums, some bass, I sing and write songs.”
Which bands are you currently in?
“Currently, I’m in the Trummytones, a family-oriented music band and Bim Skala Bim, a ska band. I’m also playing with Spring Heeled Jack out of New Haven. And then I freelance all over the place.”
Do you write any of your own music?
“Yes. For Bim Skala Bim, I was sort of the fill-in writer. I had two songs per record that I would write, because the lead singer and the guitar player were the main writers, so I would fill in the gaps and come up with the instrumental songs. And on occasion, I would write the regular pop song. I was more of a background singer but front man on the trombone. Then when I moved to my next band, the Pilfers, I became more of a lead singer and I shared the role with our main lead singer. I probably wrote five songs on the album out of 12. It was more of a move up for me as far as lead singing, which is completely different than background singing.”
“The way you need to project your voice. When you’re singing in the back of someone, you try to mold your voice to theirs and their little nuances. But when you’re up front, you have to find your center and you have to project in a way that’s not background. …You’re the lead. And if someone is singing behind you, they have to now follow your lead. So it’s a whole different feeling inside – the vocal chords and the chest area.”
As the lead singer, does it change your performance in terms of your showmanship?
“Yes, of course. It’s a whole different feeling. When you’re singing in the background, you have something to hide behind. When you’re the lead singer, you’re out in the open and there’s no place to hide. A lot of singers will use a mike stand for something to hold onto, because it’s petrifying at first, but you get used to it after a while.”
Do you get nervous before a performance?
“No. I think I get more nervous when there aren’t enough people. When there’s a gigantic crowd, that’s when I’m into it. I can actually relax because if there’s a big crowd, they’re there for you, which is a nice feeling.”
Do you have any new music coming out?
“Yes, my band Bim Skala Bim has a new album out called ‘Chet’s Last Call’ and that’s up on iTunes and Amazon. And I’m still in the midst of finishing up the final details for a new Trummytone album, which will be available on iTunes soon. We also have a lot of live shows coming up in 2014 like the one at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and a festival in Brooklyn called Hip Tot.”