Chris Perricelli Q&A

November 16, 2020
Chris Perricelli's band may be called Little Man but he has a big sound.

“Imagination comes out of the quiet mind, like a cloud upon the sky. There’s a letting go of self-criticism and with it comes free exploration.”

You have such a vintage guitar-rock sound, much like Jack White. I’ve also read that T-Rex is a big influence. Who are some others?

Yes, definitely similar to what Jack White does. I love his stuff for sure. I grew up on the Beatles but mostly Led Zeppelin for that wide arc of rock and live rock energy, Jimi Hendrix for the psychedelic guitar rock, Bowie and T. Rex but I also love artists like Sheryl Crow and the Dandy Warhols.

You rock so hard but I’ve read that you also spend a lot of time in meditation and applying Eastern philosophies to your life. How do the two things inform each other — the imaginative mind and the quiet mind?

The conscious world and life itself is a teacher; that’s part of a spiritual way of life. Buddhism and Zen are part of my lifestyle, yes, as there’s the ego lessening practice and accepting things as they are that comes with meditation and that’s a good balance with some the promoting I do to sell the band. It’s normal daily life, living in and being a part of it and recognizing that I’m not a separate person but part of the whole. Imagination comes out of the quiet mind, like a cloud upon the sky. There’s a letting go of self-criticism and with it comes free exploration. There’s a time for that when you’re wanting to be creative and then there is the quiet mind that comes with practiced discipline. But the mind thinks, it bubbles things up, that’s just what it does. In meditation it’s more of just being a non-judgmental witness to the thoughts as they arise and leave and not forcing so much to get rid of things but that can be part of a practice.

How many guitars do you own? Which one is your favorite?

Oh gosh like 10 maybe. My main ’77 Fender Stratocaster for sure, it’s got all the vibes in that wood.

When did you get the idea of branding yourself as Little Man?

In many mythological stories there’s a small statured person or being of some sort that the hero comes across on his journey and it’s a spiritual guide of sorts or there’s something given that is of help. That fit. I’m small and worked with the spiritual content of a fair amount of my songs. I learned about the mythical character in the late ’90s. It is definitely a challenge for me personally that to some people there’s a “persona” that’s Little Man and the musician is what most people see at a show or on social media and I’m recognized as such but I’m just Chris, it was meant for the whole band at first but it’s synonymous with me now. But when it comes to promoting and marketing what I do and my brand it helps take the weight off to have some sort of separation.

You went to college in Chicago. Did you gorge on blues music while you were there?

DePaul University, yeah. For sure, I lived near a couple blues clubs on Halstead and would hit them sometimes. Played along to a lot of blues music growing up prior. Great for learning guitar. I came really close to playing the Chicago Blues Festival with Carey Bell one year.

You spent time as a guitar tech for the Ike Reilly Assassination. What did you learn from Ike and in that time while you were developing your own sound?

I had Little Man already back then in Chicago but I took a break to tour with Ike and got some road experience and got to know that first hand on how it all worked. I was busy! Mostly learned about tour management and what it takes to perform and be on every night and for interviews and the pressures of that. Ike handled it great. Love those guys, good friends, awesome experience. That got me to Minnesota.

You first picked up a guitar at age 13. Did you feel a connection immediately to the instrument?

Absolutely! Eddie Van Halen (RIP) got me started and I learned by ear at first figuring things out and then took lessons for many years.

Your first band was called The One Eyed Kurtz. What kind of music did you play?

We played originals and Classic Rock like The Cult and The Eagles, Rush, Santana. Then I graduated into a cover band with these guys twice my age playing in clubs while in high school. Got all my classic rock chops learned there as well as learning to be a performer.

What do you do when you’re not writing and playing music?

I read a lot, get out on walks, cook. I like to make pizzas for friends. I’m pretty laid back. Vintage clothes shopping and thrifting.

Tell me about your connection with clothes and your style and what that means to you?

I’m smaller so I like clothes to fit and most of the vintage clothes fit me well in size and I like clothes to be unique and interesting in some way, and visually pleasing. A person’s personal style is interesting to me. When performing what I wear is big help like a costume that inspires a performance. Look at Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Bowie, awesome style. Unique detail, color and pattern I find to be inspiring. Music and fashion is a great pairing.

How have you been keeping your creative muse flowing during the pandemic?

I’ve been playing more guitar at home for sure, just playing, no thinking just kind of stream of conscious improv. That’ll usually spark up some ideas to explore further to make into a song. Personal inner work too reveals some good topics for writing as well.

What’s next for you?

This new video was just put out, worked hard on that and the director David Kurtovitch and crew did an amazing job with it so I can get out some unique content! Trying to write more songs to get back into the studio with producer John Fields. Coming up with creative ways to bring music to people. It’s difficult with the pandemic especially with this winter coming up and not being able to play private or backyard shows outside safely. More live streaming perhaps or maybe I’ll do something completely different who knows, what flows flows, where it goes nobody knows. All options open!

— Photo by Emily Utne