Bear with me folks. I’m a little worn out from all the shovelling since getting our first real snowfall of the year today. I’m indoors, my son is asleep, I’ve got a dark roast keeping me company and something tells me it’s a good night to check out some music.
I’m listening to “Personal Belongings”, an instrumental guitar oriented album by the great Mario Biferali, one of Montreal’s true Indie Rock pioneers. His name sounds familiar when you hear it, then someone puts on one of his songs and you go… “Oh yeah I know that song, he wrote that?” Mario gets involved with as much music as he can, just because he loves what he does. He’s toured the country many times with his rock band Krystal and has shared the stage with Downchild Blues Band, Vince Marino (Mahogany Rush), Savoy Ellingtons and childhood hero… Aldo Nova. His music is in rotation with CBC Radio across Canada as well as other radio and satellite stations in North America. And, if you’re traveling with Air Canada, you’re probably listening to him right now as his songs have been adopted by the Airline as part of their in-flight entertainment. Mario has been featured in Guitar One magazine, has recorded music for video games, and his lullaby music was licensed by International World of Toys for their “Lullaby Pillows” for kids. His songs can be heard on compilation CDs including the very successful “Twas The Night For Smooth Jazz”, a Christmas compilation CD that was sold in chain stores across the US. Yes, Mario has truly done just about everything he set out to do, and few Montreal artists can boast this kind of resume.
I got to chat with Mario a little bit and asked him about some of his highlights. He mentioned being hired to do all the guitar playing/close-up shots for the movie Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story, which aired on VH1. He says it was a huge treat, being a big fan of the band.
“Believe it or not, the Music Supervisor was having a hard time finding someone to replicate those parts and who knew all those Def Leppard songs from the 80’s. (You have to remember that this was in the late 90’s after Nirvana hit so no one was really into the 80’s stuff anymore…. Anyway, the Supervisor was at a music store asking around for a kid that knew all those 80’s tunes and my friend over heard the guy and told him. “You should get BIFF, he knows all those tunes”. I got the call and did the shoot simply because I already knew the songs”
I love the fact that a guy who has had such a decorated career would choose getting to be in the background playing songs from his favorite band as his highlight. Really brings out the kid at heart, and since I was a kid when Mario was touring around with Krystal, a signed band from the same neighborhood I grew up in, I couldn’t help but ask him about it.
“Those were crazy days and we toured up and down Canada opening for I Mother Earth, Lee Aaron and a bunch of other bands of the day. It was amazing to get signed, get distribution, film a professional music video, and to have my sister, who is a flight attendant find our Krystal CDs in France and Germany. I am most proud that we were the same band members for 12 years. I still work with Fred DiSanto (Guitarist in Krystal as well) at Godin and we still bunk together on the road when we’re at NAMM or other Godin related events, except that the hotels are a little nicer now. Also, we were featured in Metal Edge as well which was THE magazine in those days. At one point, the band started to fade, I decided I wanted to record my Personal Belongings CD and that’s what happened”
On a side note, Fred DiSanto is a friend which Mario and I have in common. On top of being a great guy and a solid guitarist, Fred can blast a ball past the goalie to hit the top corner of the net when you least expect it. It’s great to see they stayed close through the years.
So what’s next for Mario? He recently launched onemilliondownloadsforcharity.com where anyone can download his song “Till I See You Again” for 99 cents with all proceeds going to the Montreal Children’s Hospital and Generations Foundation. I asked him to tell me about his charity. I know people usually tend to get close to a charity that they or a loved one has been affected by. So, I expected to hear about a personal experience. But the forward thinking he displays with his “let’s just help because” attitude provides allot of insight on his generosity.
“One day I just figured I’d donate a song to charity with the challenge of 1 million downloads. How cool would it be to donate a million bucks? I figured I had the song and it didn’t cost me anything except setting up the site. I donate 100% of the funds split between the Children’s Foundation and Generation Foundation. When you’re sitting there at the Montreal Children’s Hospital because your kid is sick and you look around at all the staff, the TV’s for the kids etc…you realize that someone has had to donate this stuff and that we all need to do our part. As for Generations Foundation, they serve hot meals, snacks and milk to 6000 kids every day at schools all over Montreal. These are kids that need help and although I can’t sign over a zillion bucks I can certainly try and do my share. These people are like me and you, just that they’ve encountered hard times. We all try our best. Imagine if your kid was going to school hungry. How could they concentrate? How could they learn? Everyone gets into music to touch people. This is just my little way”
Mario has had great career, full of accomplishments, friendships and experiences. He is presently collaborating with Montreal producer Rad on a new instrumental CD which blends Electronica, Lounge, Latin, Ambient, and Blues influences, which will be available in 2011. In the meantime, several of his guitar instrumentals from his “Personal Belongings” CD can be heard on the “Hooked on the Fly” film Series His achievements are truly impressive. Mario is a real inspiration and really creates a sense of possibility for someone wanting to follow his path. When you ask him how he got here, what drives him and what keeps him going? This is what he’ll tell you…..
“You often hear, do what you like and good things will happen, it’s hard to have that bind faith but that’s what it’s about”