Jared Scharff is a New York-based guitarist. Calling Scharff a mere guitarist might be a bit of a disservice though… He’s a multi-instrumentalist, but he’s been making a name for himself as a modern virtuoso guitarist. You may be familiar with him - he’s been the guitarist in the Saturday Night Live house band for ten years now, a gig that had him performing alongside numerous fantastic musicians. Dave Grohl, Jeff Beck and Mick Jagger? Yeah! Musical Luminaries, really, and Scharff jams with them like it’s no sweat off his back at all.
For the past few years, Scharff has been putting a video series online called Unnecessary Shredding, a series where he adds riffs over top of contemporary modern pop songs like “The Night is Still Young” by Nicki Minaj, “Don’t” by Ed Sheeran and “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift. Scharff states that "I'm not trying to shit on these songs. I love pop music and I love these tunes. And really, jamming over other people's music is something I've done since I was a kid in my bedroom ... only now I'm an adult and I'm putting it on YouTube." Check out some of his Unnecessary Shredding jams here.
Scharff is currently readying to release a pair of companion EPs of instrumental material under the moniker, Pearl Lion. Entitled Light and Dark, these EPs will showcase two styles of material, Light being songs that are emotional and melodic and Dark derived of heavier beats and atmosphere with some crazier shredding.
Scharff took a bit of time out of his busy pre-release schedule to field a few questions with PureGrainAudio around Pearl Lion, and these two upcoming EPs.
What do you consider to be your most challenging evening on SNL so far? Jared Scharff: The most challenging evening doesn't really exist because every show is different and has its own set of challenges. Some nights are more about just rocking with the SNL band, some nights we have to play music for monologue or monologue and sketches, etc. All depends. The "heaviest" night was definitely the 40th Anniversary show. The crowd was filled with the biggest stars in the world and it was pretty nuts to see people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson in the audience. It was also VERY exciting to back up Paul Simon that night. That was a special moment for me.
Name a concert you attended that changed your perception of what a live performance could be? What aspect(s) of that show impressed you? Scharff: I just caught the last Phish show at Madison Square Garden and was blown away. The ENTIRE crowd stood up and danced the entire show. The entirety of Madison Square Garden was up the whole night. I've never experienced that type of community and happiness in a room that large. It’s hard to put into words but it was a special thing.
Check out Pearl Lion's video for the song "NYC"
How long have you been working on the material that will comprise the Pearl Lion EPs? Was the material all recorded in a single stretch of time in a studio, or is this an assembly of different allocations of studio time? Scharff: The Pearl Lion double EP has been a labor of love and quite a long process. Initially, it was more of an "I'd always wanted to do this so I'll just take my time and do it when I'm inspired to do it" type thing. But after about a year or so, once I heard the first mix of my first completed song ("Sunshower") I was blown away and felt "this is the thing I've been wanting to do for so long!" So once that happened I kicked it into high gear, chose to make a double EP and continued to write and record until I had the product I wanted to put out into the world.
How will Light and Dark be released? Will there be a physical component to these releases? CDs? Vinyl? Cassettes (as they seem to be enjoying a renaissance right now). Scharff: I'd love to do a limited Vinyl run at some point. That's always been a dream for me. Otherwise, good 'ole digital releases for the moment. Are cassettes a thing again? That would be amazing!
Will your gig at Saturday Night Live allow you to tour Pearl Lion? Scharff: I do plan on touring with Pearl Lion in the future. SNL is only about 21 shows a season, and we have the entire summer off. Pleeeenty of time! ;)