Jason Narducy felt the calling for a career in music when he was 8-years-old after watching The Who’s “The Kids are Alright” for the first time. A year later he’d get his first guitar and shortly after, formed punk rock band Verboten with friends — which is often credited for inspiring Dave Grohl to pursue music. But Narducy is a lot more than a trivia question having to do with Foo Fighter frontman Grohl. In the words of music critic Greg Kot, he’s a “first-rate songwriter and band leader.”
After college, he formed an acoustic duo with cellist Alison Chesley called Jason & Allison. They later became four-piece rock band Verbow and put out two records on Epic Records before going on hiatus. Narducy’s roots may be punk and rock, but he has proved himself very versatile over the years: He played with jazz pianist and singer Patricia Barber’s Blue Note Records debut and sang The Star-Spangled Banner at a Chicago Bulls game. He’s also toured with Bob Mould, indie-rockers Superchunk and Telekinesis, as well as Robert Pollard of Guiding By Voices.
Narducy’s project Split Single released their first album “Fragmented World” in 2014 and their follow-up “Metal Frames” in 2016. They will play a free show Saturday at 6:40 the Taste of Chicago’s Bud Light Stage.
The Chicago Ambassador’s Bob Chiarito caught up with Narducy, who also is a married father of three who lives in Evanston.
CA) Will Split Single do anything differently because there may be people who aren’t familiar with your music there as opposed to if you were playing show at Metro or Reggie’s?
NARDUCY) We’ve never played Reggie’s but I guess playing at Taste Of Chicago will be different than a club show because it’s free, it’s all ages, and it’s early (we go on at 6:40 pm).
CA) You’ve been playing music since you were 9 or 10. In Sonic Highways, you talk about playing a show at the Cubby Bear when you were 11. Your dad drove you there – and in those days the neighborhood was a lot more sketchy — The story is that someone was being arrested outside the bar for buying drugs and your dad and you waiting for that to be handled before exiting the car and going into the bar. Probably a lot of other parents would have driven away and not let their kid near any of that. Were your parents always supportive of your music?
NARDUCY) My dad will enjoy reading your criticism of his parenting skills. I’m glad he didn’t overreact to the activity outside the club because that show and the fact that he captured it on video has had a very positive effect on my life. Additionally, we lived in Rogers Park. We had seen worse.
CA) What do you tell your own kids as far as following their heart?
NARDUCY) I don’t pay attention to my kids.
CA) You seemed to be viewed as one of the punk pioneers in Chicago. Do you feel that any responsibility comes with that distinction?
NARDUCY) I don’t consider myself a punk pioneer of the Chicago scene. I was very fortunate to meet like-minded Evanston kids who wanted to play music that most of our friends didn’t understand, let alone our parents. Tracey [Tracey Bradford, Verboten’s vocalist and cousin to Dave Grohl] got us some cool shows because she was so ambitious and fearless. We took some people by surprise because we were so young. There were bands at that time who were important musically
CA) You’ve been in a lot of bands and played with a lot of others over the years. Do you anticipate that Split Single will continue to be around for awhile?
NARDUCY) Yes, I really enjoy this project.
CA) Is Split Single working on any new songs, any plans for another album?
NARDUCY) I have some new songs – we will play two of them at the Taste Of Chicago performance.
CA) If someone can’t make it to the Taste of Chicago Saturday, where and when can they catch Split Single next?
NARDUCY) This will be the last full band Split Single show for a while. I’ll probably do some solo shows in the fall.
Split Single plays The Taste of Chicago’s Bud Light Stage Saturday at 6:40. Also recommended is Chicago’s indie-rockers Bailiff, who play before Spit Single on the same stage at 5:20 p.m. Both shows are free.