The band's debut album, set for release in May 2001, is the sound of beauty carved out of despair, of silver linings wrought from darkness. "As long as I can remember, music has always hit me," Gnecco says. "When I was a child, we traveled a lot, and we listened to the radio so I got to hear a lot of oldies, like the Jackson 5 and other Motown artists. I loved sad songs, the intensity of the emotion. I want my record to bring out emotion and soul. The main reason I play music is to have a conversation with people through the songs."
With guitars that spiral in on themselves with raga-like intensity, a voice that can flip from a graceful falsetto into a bloodthirsty howl without notice, and melodies that wind through the songs with a logic all their own, Gnecco transforms torment into beauty, evoking mystery with power. He says of "I'm A Monster," which he recorded in his bedroom in New Jersey on a four-track with producer Mark Endert: "The song is about being bullied. It's about someone who didn't fit in and felt bad about it all their life, and when they finally stood up for themselves, they felt worse."
Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Gnecco grew up on the power ballads of late-`80s album-oriented rock. After graduating from high school, he worked as a pizza delivery guy and liquor store salesman, all the while pouring his life force into music with single-minded focus. "The first rock band I fell in love with was U2," he says. "The mixture of emotional release and melody, along with drama, hit me emotionally. Growing up, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and John Lennon affected me greatly because each one used their personal pain in a positive way to show love. I admire that."
An album of passion and skillful songcraft, Distorted Lullabies was produced by Endert, Steve Lillywhite and Gnecco. "Mark really livened up the mixes and brought out the energy in the songs, and Steve Lillywhite was a pleasure to work with, a complete gentleman," says Gnecco. "He really has an amazing talent for keeping the flow going in a positive vibe."
"I made a decision for the album to have a beginning, middle and end," Gnecco continues. "The goal was to make people feel and think because I know that hearing a really sad song can make you reflect on yourself and even become a better person."
Distorted Lullabies is an album of varied emotions. Gnecco describes "Fallen Souls," for example, as a way to remind himself to live his life "as though through the eyes of an innocent child, who still sees the world with hope and wonder." At the end of the first verse, when he sings, "The beast flies tonight," he's using the lyrics as a metaphor for "the negativity that can creep into your life, the cycle that brings out the worst in people." He adds: "Sometimes you are aware of this negativity and you don't know how to break the cycle. Sometimes, you aren't - and the consequences of that is what `Fallen Souls' is about."
"I don't know if I'll ever be the cheery songwriter type," Gnecco says with understatement. "With these songs, I want people to feel happiness, sadness, bitterness, anger - to provoke emotions from people. I'm not preaching. I'm not trying to be clever. My songs are just subconscious thoughts coming out. The thing about music is, it's emotional, it's visceral, it's not right or wrong. It hits each individual in a different way. That's how I want people turned on."