By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
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By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
Based on his reputation, you'd think you're at the wrong place. The old wood-frame house in the heart of the Tempe 'hood has the feminine air of a homemaker, not that of a rock 'n' roll hellion. But sure enough, sitting in the living room on a large white leather couch is Patrick Sedillo.
Sedillo, better known as Patti Pierson, front man for local combo the Piersons, chuckles at the mention of his surprisingly posh digs. He's recently upgraded from bachelor pad squalor into the residence he now shares with his fiancée. In fact, he's set to be married in a week; the house is already littered with boxes and bags containing items earmarked for the upcoming nuptials.
Behind the celebratory trappings, a pair of photos rests on a bookshelf. The first is a four-square black-and-white picture of the Piersons -- Sedillo, drummer Tony Chadwick, guitarist Jimmy Campisano and bassist Scott Moore. Above that, pinned next to a prayer candle, is a color shot of Moore, alone. It seems fitting that he should occupy a position above everything else; concerns over his health have been paramount in the minds of his family, friends and a local music community still reeling in shock since hearing news of his near-fatal accident five weeks ago.
Although he's ostensibly being interviewed about Last Train Down, the Piersons' new album, and the group's first in more than three years, Sedillo's thoughts constantly return to his fallen mate.
"It's been the most bittersweet time, because I'm getting married, putting out an album I'm proud of and the band was getting to a really good place. We were playing to more people every time, no animosity between us and . . . and then this happens."
You can see Sedillo struggle as he tries to explain the turmoil of the past few weeks and the uncertainty that lies just ahead. The November 22 release of Last Train Down was supposed to be the band's vindication. Proof that it was no longer the drunken ne'er-do-wells of local legend. That it could finance, produce and release an album on its own -- without the aid or hindrance of outside forces.
But beyond that was the desire to wash away the bitter taste of a disappointing sophomore record, and, in Sedillo's words, "take some dignity back that we felt we'd just given away after years of playing so many nights over and over again."
"It's a lot of fun to be in a band. But after the show, the music's gone; it evaporates. We thought we should channel that energy into one great album and go out with a bang instead of a whimper," he says. "Not officially break up, but kind of be like X, do a couple of shows a year, rock out and get on with our lives.
"I was getting married and settling down, Scott was playing with the Beat Angels and having a lot of fun with that. Tony was getting certified as a stock broker. Jimmy's been talking about starting his own band. We were all slowly and amicably going to go our separate ways."
The band had set an October 8 meeting to make some final preparations for the album. "We were all looking forward to deciding what songs were gonna be on the record, decide what's gonna be on the cover, choosing photos, doing the thank yous -- the fun stuff," he says.
The day before the scheduled sit-down, Sedillo was jolted out of his sleep by a pair of Tempe police officers desperately trying to reach Moore's family in Virginia. The tightlipped patrolmen only informed Sedillo that Moore had been involved in a serious accident. Arriving at the hospital, a frantic Sedillo was told to assume the worst. "We didn't know if he was going to make it through the night," he says, still breathless at the memory of those early hours.
Moore had been crossing Mill Avenue late the previous night when he was struck by a pickup truck. Details on the accident have been sketchy, and the official police report won't be filed for several weeks. As to the 29-year-old's current condition, he's been moved out of the county hospital's intensive care unit. While his status is still serious enough so that only family members have been allowed to see him, Moore is taking the first steps on what looks to be a long road to recovery.
"He's survived the hardest part, and that's a good thing," says Sedillo, staring off into the distance. "I played with him for nine years and I haven't seen him for a month. Every once in a while it just hits you, like a panic attack. Like when I saw them announce it on [KTVK's NewShow] after it happened. Sometimes . . . I feel really empty. It's funny, people used to think because we both used the last name Pierson that we were brothers."
Five years ago, the Piersons did seem like a family of brothers, only the kind who were always at each other's throats. A 1995 New Times interview of the group just before the release of its debut disc, Humbucker, revealed a band that quickly degenerated into a barrage of drunken insults, button-pushing and bottle-throwing given the right mixture of attitudes and alcohol.