The Pino Farina Band’s newest single, “Microsun,” out Friday, was in the works nearly five years ago, but it feels like it could have been written yesterday.
Farina and his bandmates — John Cwiok on bass, Michael Poupko on strings and Johnathan Schiller on drums and vocals — will share it as part of a two-night set of release shows at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights this weekend.
Forged as a desperate plan to escape the ongoing news cycle at the time — a heated election period, coupled with endless news about shootings, wars, social issues and health scares (even pre-COVID ones) — Farina said the alt-rock song details a dream to slip away from the chaos.
“It’s enough to make you crazy if you really let it,” Farina said. “It’s just constant. And it was just too much, you know? It was stressing out my family. We were just like, ‘The world is (expletive) nuts. It’s going crazy.’ There was this moment where we just wanted to get away to a small town … creating our own little bubble and just having our own sun shining on just our family.”
“Microsun,” the newest single from the Pino Farina Band, looks at creating a bubble to escape life’s craziness. – Courtesy of Terri Murphy
Farina, who was raised in Buffalo Grove and now lives in Huntley with his wife and two kids, didn’t end up moving away to the small town he mentions in the lyrics. Instead, he found a new measure of musical success.
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Back at his start, Farina started digging into the music scene when he and Stevenson High School classmates Cwiok and Poupko formed Pünsapaya, a band that earned Rock Album of the Year at the Chicago Music Awards for its debut album, “Prepare to Qualify,” in the mid-2000s. Drummer Schiller, from Mount Prospect, joined around that time, and the band changed its name to Dearborn and released its sophomore album, “Always in Disguise.”
But because of life changes, Farina decided to step away for a hiatus as he and his wife raised their two kids and he started building his career as a union electrician.
But the pull back to music was strong.
“The kids got a little older, and music never left my being,” he said. “It was something that I always thought about, and I always created at home. When the kids were sleeping, I’d always sneak away into the studio and just write and do things just because that’s what I do.”
Farina said he and his former bandmates had been working on music individually, and at some point they started sharing files again and talking about performing. Around 2018, he and the Dearborn crew played a one-off reunion show at the old Tonic Room.
“That sort of rekindled the whole spirit of the band. ‘Wow, we missed this. Why aren’t we doing this anymore?'” Farina said. “So we started writing and collaborating again together, and just really got the itch. This is what we do. This is what we love. And it just sort of brought us back.”
Pino Farina and the band try to escape life’s madness with the new single “Microsun.” – Courtesy of Dylan Ludwig
Farina also credits fellow Chicago-area singer-songwriter MER for helping ease him back onto the stage. MER is known on the music scene for his regular artists’ showcases at Chicago’s Cubby Bear and House of Blues.
“After being away for about 10 years, I was really nervous about getting back and performing,” Farina said. “And he was really sweet and inviting, and really encouraging to sort of get me back up on stage. I played the Cubby Bear showcase on a Thursday night, and I was nervous as heck. But I’m glad I did it, you know? It really sort of started the ball rolling again for me.”
But the uphill climb back was about to become a little steeper. Just as the group — now the Pino Farina Band — was starting to write music and play again, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Chicago and suburban venues.
“We were forced to find new ways to share and keep doing what I love doing. And I found a really new audience. I found a new method of communicating and being able to play for people during a time where nobody was really able to do anything,” he said. “And coming out of that situation, the Pino Farina Band really started to take off a little bit more as far as more opportunities. … It’s kind of this catapult from the livestreams of the Facebook world and stuff that really sort of ignited a fire again under us. It’s just been really exciting.”
The Pino Farina Band heads to Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22. – Courtesy of Jim Obos
Since then, the Pino Farina Band has been playing at least three live shows most weeks. Farina said they are also looking at digitally rereleasing music from the band’s past, as well as some songs that had never been released.
And for the second year, Farina will be joining Schaumburg native John Blasucci for the national tour of his “Luminare” holiday program, with a stop at the Arcada Theatre in December.
The release shows at Hey Nonny this weekend will include two different sets of originals with a few covers mixed in, with both featuring the new single “Microsun.” Friday night’s performance will feature special guest cellist (and Underbelly Hours podcaster) Adela Skowronski on many of the songs. And guests will also receive a commemorative poster and a CD of the song.
“There’s just a lot of exciting things happening for us right now,” he said. “It went from zero to 100 miles an hour since COVID really, and it’s just been life changing.”
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The Pino Farina Band
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22
Where: Hey Nonny, 10 S. Vail Ave., Arlington Heights, heynonny.com