Singer/songwriter Jesse Pino is no stranger to the music scene. The Vegas native musician/martial arts instructor first started making music seriously in 1998-99. In 2013, he won Las Vegas RAW Artist Musician of The Year.
Interview by Jorge Lara Photography by Scott Scmidt and Danielle Debruno
VIM: Greetings Jesse, first of all, congratulations on your RAW award, what have you been up to since winning the award back in 2013?
JESSE PINO: Hey Jorge! thanks for featuring me in VIM Magazine. It's a huge honor and I'm humbled. Yeah winning the award was a surprising experience. I was not expecting it at all, but I'm honored that RAW thought I was worthy. Well I've been busy writing new songs to release my first full length record. It's a slow process but it's worth the wait.
VIM: At age 15 you formed the melodic punk band Nadaclue. How was that experience like and what was your inspiration for starting the band?
JESSE PINO: Music was in my family thanks to my dad, so I grew up with it. I started singing and messing around with the guitar when I was 10 and by the time I was 15 I decided to start a band with some friends. In my teens I listened to a lot of 80's and 90's punk rock and that is what led to my first band Nadaclue. We loved to play melodic fast punk with cool hooks & harmonies. I think we were pretty good for the time and age haha, you would have to ask some old friends about that one though. I have some VHS tapes of our shows and there was one demo song we recorded but I have no idea who has it. I fell out of touch with those bandmates a long time ago.
VIM: For ten years you did guitar and backup vocals for Left Standing with your two older brothers Chris and Danny. How was it working with that family dynamic?
JESSE PINO: When Nadaclue disbanded I went to trying only being lead vocals with no guitar in a different band, but I missed playing guitar. Left Standing was already around for a while and everyone in that band, including my older brothers, I admired a lot. When I received the phone call to join the band it was like a dream come true. We released a few Ep's and 3 full length albums during my time with those guys. The Dynamic had some great highs and some crappy lows as most bands do, but it was different because LS was a family - we ran that band like a family, and those guys will always be family.
VIM: Your music idol is Joey Cape. What local bands do you enjoy and admire?
JESSE PINO: Yeah Joey Cape is rad dude, seriously. Its more nostalgia now than anything. I have been a fan of Lagwagon since I was a kid, and every project Joey has been a part of I have enjoyed. There is just something about his melodies, lyrics, and arrangements that have always connected with me. A few summers back when I was on my first solo tour I had the pleasure of having breakfast with him and he showed us his home - that was surreal. Wow there are a lot of great local bands and artists in town now. Some of my favorites that come to mind are Mercy Music, No Red Alice, Almost Normal, A Crowd of Small Adventures, The Dirty Hooks and Shayna Rain.
VIM: In 2011 you released the Burn EP, how was that experience like?
JESSE PINO: That was a great experience actually. The Burn EP to me is like my training wheels on my first bike. Those collection of songs were my first batch and I'm proud of them. I'm stoked that many people enjoy the EP because when you release your first songs you never know what people are going to think...and I'm glad there's a group of listeners out there that enjoy my music.
VIM: What would you say were your artistic inspirations while growing up?
JESSE PINO: Hmm, that is a tough one. Musically there's too many, but to highlight some important ones, I would say The Beatles because they taught me how to write a song - Bob Dylan because he taught me how to be punk rock, and the Gipsy Kings because they are the reason I ever became aware of music in the first place. For non music related inspirations I would include Bruce Lee, M.C. Escher, Ray Bradbury, Norman Rockwell & George Lucas.
VIM: Among your many talents, you are a black belt instructor. What has that discipline taught you?
JESSE PINO: Yes it's true. I'm currently a 5th degree Black Belt under the ATA(American Taekwondo Association). I've been training in martial arts since I was 8. I'm pretty humble about it, I don't mention it much, but I can say one of the best things that the martial arts has taught me is how to be a good human being. Something I work on everyday.
VIM: You had a solo acoustic show at Downtown Container Park and have performed at the M resort, how were those venues for you? What has been your favorite venue to perform? Any venue that is on your wish list?
JESSE PINO: Yeah those venues have been so much fun. Container Park is a great place to play. It's nice and wide and for an outdoor venue it's actually pretty good. Sometimes outdoor venues can be very challenging. I don't think I necessarily have a favorite place. I've played every venue big or small in this town. Some of those venues are now relics or are no longer around. Honestly I don’t think any musician or artist is going to complain if they have a great sounding room with a kick ass front of house guy or gal. We all want that, but if I can connect with my audience and we can have a good time plus a moving experience than I think I did my job. It could be the Ryman Auditorium or the footsteps of your front porch. Lets just enjoy some tunes and have fun. There’s a ton of venues out there I would love to play. Locally the Cosmo & Brooklyn Bowl are two venues I definitely want to play.
VIM: You performed at the Kurt Cobain tribute show in April, what song did you perform?
JESSE PINO: Yes that was a fun show! I played two songs. I did my own acoustic renditions of All Apologies & Something in the Way.
VIM: What next on your plate? Any wish fulfillments? What would you say is your decree for life?
JESSE PINO: Next task is to release this new record. I'm wrapping up the final touches of the first single "Love Pyre." I'm very excited to see this record realized and actually completed and I can't wait to share it. It’s definitely going to have more of a full band sound but I’ll still have those acoustic driven songs. Ha my decree for life? Just live it I suppose. Some may perceive me as a super confident person, but I’m human just like everyone else. I have doubts and fears all the time, but every time you push forward and get over one of those fears it makes you that much stronger. I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t give up – Persevere.