Fernando Perdomo, progressive rocker: Something Else! Interview

Fernando Perdomo joins Preston Frazier to discuss his newest instrumental progressive-rock release, Out to Sea 2. As this Something Else! Sitdown reveals, however, there’s much, much more to Perdomo: This child of Cuban immigrants has dabbled in Beatles-esque sounds and Americana, collaborated with figures like Dave Kerzner, Todd Rundgren and Curved Air, while producing a host of others (including Andy Pratt and Durga McBroom.) He also discusses his favorite albums and gear … 

PRESTON FRAZIER: Why the shift to the all-instrumental release on Out to Sea?
FERNANDO PERDOMO: I wanted to bring back the essence of Steve Hackett, Peter Banks, Focus, Jeff Beck and Jean Luc Ponty Records back – powerful musical statements with strong melodies being the focus, not technical prowess. I have a strong melodic sound on the guitar which is rare. I have been compared to Peter Banks, Andy Latimer, Hackett, Bill Nelson and Todd Rundgren. Those guys are huge influences on me.

PRESTON FRAZIER: Out to Sea 2 contains the same melodic feel as its predecessor. Was it a recorded in the same sessions? Were there any changes in your compositional or playing approach?
FERNANDO PERDOMO: Nope, new sessions and a handful of older recordings I revamped. It has its own flavor. I think it has a wider range of styles and emotions. The tracks are shorter, but still make complete musical statements. I am very proud of Out to Sea 2. I hope people like it as much as Out to Sea 1, which was a successful experiment 

PRESTON FRAZIER: Where was it recorded? Where the basic tracks recorded by the Out to Seaband?
FERNANDO PERDOMO: Both Out to Sea projects were mostly recorded at my Reseda Ranch Studios alone. I play most of the instruments on both records. On Out to Sea 2, I had more guests who recorded their parts in their individual studios. The two bonus tracks were recorded with the Out to Sea band in Miami, live on the floor of the Shack North Studios. Pro Tools is my DAW of choice. The secret weapon sonically is mixing engineer Zach Ziskin, who is a genius. 

PRESTON FRAZIER: You’ve been busy of the prog-rock cruise circuit. Any plans for a full scale tour?
FERNANDO PERDOMO: I would love to take the Out to Sea band to Europe. My song “De Boerderij” needs to be played at De Boerderij. It will happen! 

PRESTON FRAZIER: Yesterday and Today: A 50th Anniversary Tribute to Yes was one of my favorite albums from 2018. What was your favorite track?
FERNANDO PERDOMO: I love it all. I can’t pick a favorite, but I am proudest of “Soon” performed by Curved Air. I am a huge Curved Air fan. I cannot believe I co-produced a song for them and played lap steel guitar on it. Pinch me! 

PRESTON FRAZIER: Tell us about your background.
FERNANDO PERDOMO: I was born in Miami Beach, Fla., to a Cuban family. I was the first Perdomo born in the states. My mom was a classically trained pianist who became a famous journalist. She encouraged me to take up music. I dabbled in guitar and then I got obsessed in high school, playing in the Miami Beach High Rock Ensemble under the instruction of Doug Burris. I owe my whole career to him and my mom. 

PRESTON FRAZIER: I first heard about you through your involvement with Dave Kerzner’s band. I started buying his albums, and seeing your name on the liner notes. You recorded with a number of big acts before him. How did you get your foot in the door for session and touring work?
FERNANDO PERDOMO: I played in a few local bands in Miami in the early 2000s. Nicolas Tovar, a famous songwriter, discovered me and had me play on some demos. One of the songs became a No. 1 single for Cristian Castro, and my guitar parts were kept from the demo! I ended up cutting the rest of his record Amar Es with producer Emilio Estefan. and went on tour with Cristian. That started a very successful career playing on Latin records by Paulina Rubio, Kany Garcia, El Puma, Beny More, Tego Calderon, and Jennifer Lopez. During this time, I was writing and developing a brand of prog pop. I made a record called Dreaming in Stereo that got lots of college airplay. 

PRESTON FRAZIER: How did you become involved with Kerzner?
FERNANDO PERDOMO: I met Dave in 2009 through Randy Fuchs at Artist Relations. I gave Dave Dreaming in Stereo, and he loved it. We kept in touch. I was a huge fan of Sound of Contact’s Dimensionaut record [from 2013], and told him that I wanted to work with him. When Dave went to make [2014’s] New World, he called me to fill out guitar parts on the tracks. I did way more than he needed, and cut all the bass. 

PRESTON FRAZIER: My first exposure to your solo work was 2018’s Zebra Crossing, but you have five solo albums under your name before that. How have you progressed as a solo artist?
FERNANDO PERDOMO: Well, it’s been interesting. 2012’s Home Is Wherever You Are EP has an orchestra, then the next album Warm de-evolved into Americana and soft rock, then Voyeurs was a mish mosh of power pop and proggy stuff. The Golden Hour was an acoustic driven Big Star-influenced record. Then, Zebra Crossing is my Beatles-fan-goes-to-Abbey Road-to-capture-the-Fab-mojo record. So, I guess there’s lots of variety!

PRESTON FRAZIER: What gear did you use on Out to Sea 2?
FERNANDO PERDOMO: So many guitars – from a 1968 Gibson Sg to Hagstrom Swede’s, my Shabat Lion Telecaster, an Ibanez ES345 copy from the ’70s to my go-to 1974 Fender Mustang to my prized 1968 Guild S100. My Rickenbacker bass, Fender Precision Bass and lots of keyboards and drums. Nothing is fake, nothing is programmed: Old school! I am endorsed by Shabat Guitars, Valeton and Hotone Pedals, Pickworld Picks and IK Multimedia, who make the Ampitube Software I use for all the guitar sounds. 

PRESTON FRAZIER: Finally, what are your five favorite albums?
FERNANDO PERDOMO: It’s so hard to pick! 1. Abbey Road by the Beatles. 2. War Babies by Hall and Oates. 3. Wings Over America by Wings. 4. Hermit of Mink Hollow by Todd Rundgren. 5. Out of Our Hands by Flash.