An interview with one of the Capital Region’s most prolific bands
By Gavriella Rutigliano
Sirsy is once again on the road, but the pop-rock band from New York’s Capital Region is kind enough to Zoom into an interview to discuss their latest tour, their newest music video, their fans, some plans for the future, and reflections on their past 22 years as a musical duo.
The “little band with a big sound,” as they’ve sometimes been described, was recently nominated for music video of the year for their song “Astronaut,” as well as solo or duo artist of the year in the 2022 Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Awards – aka the Eddies.
“Being from Upstate New York, it’s nice being able to go outside and have it be warm, especially this time of year,” Rich Libutti jokes, as he and his partner in life and music Melanie Krahmer Zoom in from their hotel room during the band’s longest tour in five or six years.
Even before COVID hit, Melanie, a two-time cancer survivor, was kept on a “three-month leash” due to treatments requiring her to come back to Albany, but luckily a successful surgery last fall eliminated that need. Now, the band can be on the road for longer, allowing them to revisit old friends and fans, including in Oregon and Washington, two places they were not able to go in recent years.
“We’re super excited because they have a great music community up there, and we’ve been wanting to go back. We have fans in that area who we haven’t seen in years,” says Melanie.
Fans from all over the country (and the world) were able to tune into Sirsy livestreams weekly during the pandemic, which resulted in a much deeper connection between the duo and their fans.
“There were lots of people who watched every week, where normally we would only see them once or twice a year,” says Rich.
“It solidified those bonds,” Melanie says. “Even though we couldn’t see them…”
“We felt like we were all together,” Rich says, finishing her thought.
The bonds didn’t just grow between musicians and fans, but within the Sirsy fan community itself. “These are people who have never met at an actual live Sirsy show, right? Because they’re not all from the same spot, but they all feel like they know each other, because while the [livestream] was going on, they would all chat with each other, and we all shared moments in their lives,” says Melanie.
This led to the creation of a Facebook group called “The Sirsy Extended Family,” so even when livestreams weren’t happening, the fans could still talk and support each other. To Melanie’s delight, “When we started doing live shows, some of them started making road trips so they could meet in person at different shows.”
On April 28, Sirsy will play a special livestream concert at the home of a family they call “Team Green,” with the family participating in the show. “We did a bunch of comedy skits during the peak of our pandemic live streaming,” says Rich. “We already have an idea cooked up; we just haven’t told them yet…. We’ll see if they’re up for it.”
Four days earlier, on April 24, the 2022 Eddies Music Awards will be held at Proctors in Schenectady, New York, where Sirsy’s single “Astronauts” is in the running for Eddies’ Music Video of the Year. Produced by MagicWig Productions, the video was a labor of love for the duo. Rich worked for weeks to edit it and create the stop-motion intro, which left paper stars and hearts scattered throughout the couple’s house, which the duo will probably still find when they return from their tour.
What have they learned from spending so much time traveling on the road? Have as much fresh fruit and vegetables on hand as possible. And take quick stretch breaks while driving hundreds of miles a day. “It’s like we bring an apartment’s worth of stuff…but the little creature comforts make staying in all the different places more bearable,” Rich says.
Many years ago, the pair were near strangers taking part in a female-fronted/disco cover band. They can’t remember exactly when Sirsy started, but their first gig as a duo was around January/February of 2000, and their first album Baggage was released in September 2000. Coincidentally, that was when this interviewer was born, which causes the duo to burst into shocked laughter. Rich dramatically sweeps his arms in an x-motion and jokingly declares the interview over. Melanie dramatically mimes stabbing her chest and declares, “That’s a knife to the heart, Gavriella.”
“We don’t have any kids, so we really look at it like Sirsy is our little baby, and our little baby is…” says Melanie.
“Old enough to drink,” says Rich, finishing the sentence.
When asked about the changes that have happened over time in the music industry, the response is technology. “Kids, there’s a thing called ‘paper,” Melanie starts in a jokingly sarcastic tone. They then describe how they would need to print out flyers with their bios and accomplishments, as well as CDs and DVDs of their demos to ship out to venues to try and get gigs. The money making was physical too: while CD sales used to be the majority of their income, now Spotify gives “like one cent for every 2000 plays,” although there is still some money in online streaming, such as Bandcamp Friday’s, where 100% of the sale is given to the artist. (Sirsy has one exclusive single available there, titled “Hey Disaster”). Most of Sirsy’s funds come from other avenues, like merch sales. As Rich says, “We sell a lot of t-shirts.”
Sirsy will be on this leg of their tour until the end of May, when they return to rock the Capital District in June. They are slated to play the inaugural NipperFest on July 23rd at Music Haven in Schenectady.
They duo has two new (unreleased) songs called “Seven Seas” and “Hell No” slated for possible recording this summer and are in the process of writing other new ones, including one called “Stupid Little Heart.”
Check out the “Astronauts” music video if you haven’t already and watch the Sirsy Facebook page for information on livestreams, tour dates, and other updates.