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Secret Agent Men

An interview with Thomas Pervanje of Spy-Fi

By Bob Ignizio

 

Spy-fi l to r: Bob Yeager, Thomas Pervanje, Scott Anderson, and Mike Zofcin

Spy movies and TV shows, and the music that accompanies them, have been a part of American pop culture since at least the fifties when the TV show ‘Peter Gunn’ burst on the scene.  Then in 1960 James Bond moved from the pages of Ian Fleming’s novels to the big screen with ‘Dr. No’, giving the world the definitive piece of “spy music” in the “James Bond Theme”.  Bond’s success soon led to a veritable flood of similar movies and TV shows. “I’m sure everyone has a theme song, so spy-detective music covers a lot aesthetic ground.  If I had to sum it up in one word, I would pick intrigue,” says guitarist Thomas “Tommy Tremolo” Pervanje.  Along with keyboard player Scott “Moe Zart” Anderson, drummer Bob “Einstein” Yeager, and bass player Mike “Batman” Zofcin he is part of the band known as Spy-Fi, specializing in playing music from the golden age of espionage entertainment.

Thom had already played in various roots rock and surf music bands when in December of 1995 he had an epiphany.   Thom says, “During the “15 Days of Bond” on TNT, I was jamming along with the movie and started playing around with the James Bond Theme.  After that, it became apparent that the movie soundtracks were not only interesting music; they were also a lot of fun to play.  In August of 1996 I presented my idea to the guys and they thought I was nuts.  I played a vinyl copy of ‘Come Spy With Me’ by Hugo Montenegro for the guys in the band.  The lounge arrangements of the spy-tunes really grated with their musical sensibilities, but they stuck with me as we plowed through a few of the tunes.  After a while, we started having fun rocking them up, and Spy-Fi started from there.  Scott came up with the name in deference to High Fidelity, and it stuck.”

Although Spy-Fi play mostly covers, they mix their own material into the set as well.  “There are about 6-10 originals that we perform.  Most aren’t in the “spy” vein per se, but at least three pay homage to the spy-detective genre.   I don’t know if that was intentional, but it does provide texture and contrast to the covers.  One of the things I like about this type of music is the horn-arrangements.  With that type of inspiration, the direction one can write is wide-open.  A couple of the other originals are more in the instrumental surf style,” says Thom. 

The band is concentrating on recording right now, but in the past they’ve played gigs everywhere from The Beachland Ballroom, The Lime Spider, a couple of instrumental music festivals in Los Angeles, and even Borders book stores. With their time in the studio almost at an end, Spy-Fi expects to emerge with a 2 disc set.  Since the band is recording in Thom’s own studio, they’ve had the luxury of taking their time.  “We have 25 or so songs in the can at the moment.  Most have all the tracks we need to mix down.  A few require a couple of keyboard overdubs or a clean up of guitar here or there.  We have approximately 6 finally mixed, including “The JB Theme”, “Secret Agent Man”, an original called “Slingshot”, and “Rumble”,” says Thom. 

As a special treat for both the band and their fans, guitarist Vic Flick (the guy who played guitar on the original “James Bond Theme” among many other accomplishments) will be contributing some of his playing for the CD.  “We have a couple of backing tracks that Vic sent us, but we haven’t yet decided how we might incorporate them.  We’re in the process of building our own studio.  When it’s finished, we’ll be inviting Vic to come join us.  He’s said he’d do it, so I’ll let you know when that happens!  We’re so honored that he even speaks to us,” says Thom.

Although Thom has no plans to quit his day job any time soon (he’s an architect), he does hope that between the band and his recording studio he can start actually making a little money off this music thing.  Thom says, “The band members all have careers, wives, families and I think for them it really couldn’t be a full time opportunity.  I do hope to expand the recording/producing arm of the studio, though, and have at least 4 bands already interested in working with me.  Spy-Fi will be back to performing locally and working on new material, both original and covers.  And check out our website when you get a chance, and also Vic Flick’s - and tell him I sent you!”