As the bassist for Fugazi, Joe Lally’s fluid, low-end playing was a defining element of the group’s unique sound. For the 15 years the band was active, Lally and his bandmates redefined the sonic possibilities of punk rock, but even for those accustomed to their flights of stylistic fancy, the pastoral, jazzy minimalism of Lally’s two solo records – 2006’s There to Here and the recent Nothing Is Underrated– were shocking. Recently relocated to Rome, Lally spoke with us about life beyond D.C., his current musical interests and the joys and challenges of collaboration.
Orlando Weekly: Why did you move to Italy?
Joe Lally: My girlfriend is Italian and had lived in the States with me for almost 10 years. It was time she went back, so it’s mostly a family thing.
Are you still involved in [Fugazi’s lifelong indie label] Dischord-related stuff like the archive releases of live Fugazi shows?
I had to give that to Dischord to run. It should be an online, downloadable entity. We need to get all the shows in good condition up there [so] people can choose from them. It will happen some day.
Are you involved in any musical projects in Italy?
Just my own. The third record is banging around in my head now, so I’m trying to figure that out. I also found people in my neighborhood who can play with me pretty consistently. I’m hoping that I can play with the same people for a while and we can develop and change the songs as we like.
Are you doing more collaborations like Ataxia [with John Frusciante and Chili Peppers touring guitarist Josh Klinghoffer]?
Ataxia was a real fluke. Those two are so busy it’s amazing that it ever happened at all. I’m not in a position to play with different people all the time. My daughter is 6 and I like to call the shots [regarding] when I am practicing and touring.
Have you thought about doing full-band rock, or does the minimalist approach seem to be the way you’re writing songs these days?
I can go either way. I had to start out quietly in order to understand how to perform on my own. I still hear things toned down, but I can also see that it might lead to a louder music too.
The new record has a more personal lyrical tone. Was that intentional or was that just how the songs came out?
It’s just the way they came out. It’s all like an experiment in a way. I put things together and then see what it turn[s] out firstname.lastname@example.org