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OK, Here's The Situation

Prodigal rocker Christopher Tucker is back with a brand-new invention.
by A.D. Amorosi
Philadelphia City Paper
February 27, 2003

"I love hearing melodies in my head that sound older than the hills but have not yet been written. Lost classics, really," says singing songwriter Christopher Tucker, 31, of the modern-but-aged sound he's forged with guitarist Joe Castro in The Situation. Their debut disc, The Reece Nasty EP -- with co-production frippery courtesy Space 1026's Julian Grefe, Geo Sound's George Manney and Smashing Pumpkins engineer Jamie Cerniglia -- has a futuristic nu-mod-garage sound, old wine in a startlingly new bottle.

Despite the fact that, as we speak, Tucker is in the hospital watching his girlfriend give birth to their son, Jackson ("I call him Handsome Jack"), he is cool and collected speaking of The Situation's yin-yang. "I write about love and disassociation. I like proving opposites are not so opposite from each other, that good would not be good without evil. You need one to have the other. You can deal with fucked-up shit if you learn how to reason that you need that in your life so that you can be happy."

Tucker's sense of fucked-up-ed-ness plays a big part in his biography. As the multi-instrumental leader of The Verge (and, after a necessary legal name change, Elan), Tucker went from preachy, literary songs ("in retrospect, a bit embarrassing") to a Smiths-like power pop formulated with Joe Castro in Delaware in 1999.

"I called him 'Joey Marr' because of his jangly guitar style," says Tucker of his six-string-slinging cohort. The groove was growing good, but Tucker -- sick of Delaware and pretty much everything else -- split for Los Angeles with no warning. "I've done a lot of incredibly infantile things, especially before I moved to a major municipality and developed a sense of humor. Big fish, small pond stuff. You get the picture."

Once there, Tucker reformed Elan as a one-man band plus whatever mop-top figured into the scheme (Tucker always did everything pretty much himself anyway). He hung tight with guys from The Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre, the linchpins of L.A.'s Anglo-pop scene. While co-writing tunes with BJM, their label, TVT, came calling on Tucker after getting ahold of the now legendary Elan demos -- an LP's worth of pop classics, The New Demonstration of Songs, that CMJ magazine touted in their unsigned band alert as a must-have.


"The demo was finished but the band had run its course for me -- when I told the drummer he couldn't keep a beat we got into a fistfight and he kicked my ass," says Tucker. "By noon, the day before CMJ came out, every major label had called trying to sign a band that no longer existed.

"They wanted me to get studio musicians and all that shit and that's not my scene. It may have been, like, a career mistake or whatever but I don't regret it. Barring my girlfriend, I have a very difficult time with people telling me what to do."

Once back in Philly, Tucker rejuvenated his relationship with Castro and other old Delaware pals Laz and John Paul Travis for what would become The Situation.

"The bands I had in L.A. were all variations on The Situation, only I directed all of the parts. I wanted to form a band that would last a long time and that I didn't always have to tell what to do." Fast-forward to the finished result, Reece Nasty, and you find a band -- and its principal member -- singing love songs for people who are in, out and incapable of love, "and for the people who are too busy to remember that at some point in their lives, they were one of those three things."

Taking its name from a business card plucked from a wallet left behind in a drug deal gone awry ("The card says, 'reece nasty, splittin' wigs'), the EP has a batch of singed and seared pop soundscapes: the arrogant "Why I Can't Relate," the heartfelt "The Best Prescription Pill Available." But what Tucker has now (that extends itself to the EP) is a sense of confidence based not on one man's ego or ability, but rather, the communal factor of finally fitting into a band of equals.

"I couldn't have written the parts for 'Prescription Pill' and 'We All Know It.' Everybody writes their part and we decide together. The Situation is made up by the sum of its parts and not any one part of its sum."

The Situation holds its record release party Fri., Feb. 28, 9 p.m., $7, Ukrainian American Citizens Association, 847 N. Franklin St. (between Seventh and Eighth sts. and Poplar and Brown sts.).


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