On the road
Toledo native joins The Sights, opens for Tenacious D
Dean Tartaglia wasn’t even in middle school when The Sights formed. But 14 years later, he’s earned a spot in the soulful Detroit power-pop veteran’s line-up. Tartaglia met singer Eddie Baranek, who started the band at 16, through mutual Midwestern rockers a few years back and, by the time you read this, he’ll probably be onstage with the Detroit band in NYC during their tour supporting Tenacious D. But we’ll let him explain all that. On a brief tour break, Tartaglia stopped into the TCP office to chat about the jump from playing bars to theaters of thousands, Jack Black helping him adjust to the road and how he went from selling merch to playing sax in The Sights.
You jumped on the road with The Sights right after you graduated. How did you connect with them?
It was probably a year and a half ago now. I had known about them for a couple of years; I would listen to them and go to their shows. They actually came to Athens with the Hard Lessons, who play in Toledo a lot. I started going to their shows, working merch, and that kind of led to conversations with their singer, which led to ‘I play saxophone,’ which led to ‘maybe you should come play with us sometime.’ Then Mindfish and The Sights played January of 2011 in Athens and, without even hearing me play saxophone, just kind of from seeing me that night, he gave me a shot in the band.
Then you started playing with them more frequently?
Despite the fact that I had to drive five hours there and back, from Athens to Detroit, I just kind of did it because I grew up listening to The Sights and I always said I would kill to be in a band like that. So, I tried to stick to my word. I don’t know, it just all kind of happened — right when we thought things were settling down a little bit. I was at work one day waiting tables, and then I got a text from Eddy, the singer, and it said ‘Tour this summer, Tenacious D. It’s for real. You in?’
Is Jack Black’s personality as big in person as it is on camera?
It’s what you see in the movies, but it’s not nearly as amplified. He’s indoors; he uses his indoor voice. But, he’s super nice; he’s watched every one of our sets. When we played Sasquatch Fest, we were on right at noon. When we walked on stage there were two people waiting there, by the time we played a few more, we drew a couple dozen more. But, he was front and center during our whole set. He’s been treating us well and I think he knows how weird of a position we’re in sometimes because, as awesome as it is, sometimes we just feel like five guys from the Midwest. Sometimes we feel like we don’t deserve to be there — he has made us not feel that way.
This is your first tour playing bigger venues. What was the transition like from gigs at smaller bars to larger, all-eyes-on-you theaters?
I always try to make eye contact with people while I’m performing; it can change the flow of things. I guess there’s not that much of a difference. I was kind of surprised about it. I just have to look out and make eye contact with more people. I think there have been moments when I get a little too into my own head, because there are thousands of people and I’ve never done that before. It’s really not that different. If anything, they respond better to what you do.
The Sights will open for Tenacious D at the Fillmore on Friday, July 6. Tickets are $25 to $49. For more info, visit www.thefillmoredetroit.com