“SOME SAY I AM A BUSY GUY”
Although Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist Roger Ebner followed this statement with a chuckle, his many musical projects perpetually unfolding in recording studios and on stages are no joke. Best known as a saxophonist for the industrial rock supergroup ”Pigface” since 2016, he has “been all over the map” with a long list of recordings and collaborations since first starting his sonic journey more than 50 years ago.
Ebner’s lengthy and diverse discography includes albums with his projects Yeti Rain, Snarling Adjective Convention and Ebner/Kopecky/Walkner/Blake. Under the tutelage of mentor and fellow multi-instrumentalist Tim Price, he is constantly seeking new ways to expand his musical vocabulary.
“It’s in my nature to improvise and compose with like-minded accomplished musicians. Throwing myself into working with different people in as many intersected networks as possible, drives me to continuously raise the bar.”
After suffering from a mysterious physical ailment that robbed him of his ability to play music for several years, he was finally diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2010. After a few months of proper medication and therapy, he slowly regained his ability to play saxophone. This led him to create Music for Movement, an entity founded to raise awareness and funding for Parkinson’s research. In 2017, WGN-TV aired a segment on Ebner’s story as part of its Living Healthy Chicago series.
“It’s something that I have, but it doesn’t define who I am. Any time you get hit with any form of adversity, you basically have a choice. Are you going to move forward with who you are, or are you going to let that thing you have define who are and become the excuse for not accomplishing anything? There’s not a whole lot of middle ground.”
Ebner’s efforts to foster interest in “Music for Movement” soon led him to cross paths with “Pigface” bandleader and noted music industry educator/speaker Martin Atkins, who hired him to play sax for two 25th anniversary shows in Chicago in November 2016. The gigs marked Ebner’s first time on stage since his Parkinson’s diagnosis. These events provided the perfect avenue for Ebner’s improvisational spirit.
“You pretty much have to keep your eyes and ears open when you go on stage. You can’t get locked into any one way of thinking about how to approach the music. If you do that, it’s like standing in the middle of the road and hoping the semi truck’s brakes are good before you get leveled.”
Ebner’s Pigface debut was the catalyst for a slew of ongoing friendships and projects with fellow participants, Ebner Hunt, Jesse Hunt, Martin King, Mike Reidy, Greta Brinkman, Dirk Flanagan and drummer Joel Gausten. Most recently, he appeared on two dates during the 2019 Pigface tour, including a gig in Kansas City. This latest adventure put him in contact with Grammy-winning “Tool” drummer Danny Carey, who joined the group on the road. The two came to discover they had grown up within minutes of each other.
Ebner is currently writing and producing his second solo release, the follow-up to 2017’s “New World”. Planned for a spring 2021 release, the full recording will be preceded by digital singles that will showcase a considerable change in direction from his previous effort. The first solo release was all instrumental. This next one is a lot more rocking.
This year will also see Ebner continuing his work with the Arinova Rhythm Collective (ARC), the ever-expanding creative community he co-founded with Chicago musicians Chrys Anthem-Wozniak and Vessy Mink in 2018. The union has already resulted in dozens of released tracks with a host of collaborators ranging from Pigface’s Dirk Flanigan to Landmarks Live in Concert (PBS) producer Peter Bowers.
“I just turned 60”, stated Ebner, “and I think the most exciting stuff is still on the horizon. It’s important to never really have the feeling that you’ve arrived. There’s always another step! There’s always the search for another melody. The more you do the work, the more you understand that the work is never done.”
Roger performs exclusively on a Dakota Straight Tenor Sax Model: SDTS-1022
Roger can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org