In my preparations to interview Pete RG before his four-show run this month in NYC, I took the time to listen to his newest EP “Reaching For The Moon” a handful of times and reread my review from his show at Pianos in March. Digesting the five song album, I concluded that the EP is tight, danceable and at the same time really good rock n’ roll. In looking back at the review of his live show I cringed a little as I likened him to a “Neil Diamond on steroids,” but Pete ended up assuring me that it wasn’t the first time in the chat below.
Pancakes And Whiskey: Thanks for speaking with us today, what have you been up to since the last time we chatted in March?
Pete RG: After the tour we were glad to get back and got right to finishing the new EP working 14 hour days, seven days a week for two months. Then Brina and I went on vacation to Greece as I have family there and is a great and inexpensive trip. Now that we’re back we’ve been rehearsing and cramming to getting ready for the northeast run and October dates after.
Talking about the new album, ‘Reaching For The Moon’, what I took from it is a sense of big time love and redemption, but little loss, care to talk about that?
I think that would be pretty accurate. To be honest with you, I haven’t had a lot of time to reflect on it. These songs came out really fast in two weeks or so regarding lyrics. They were all written in the same time frame and while working on the first song, I basically came up with the other four. A lot of it is about love and redemption, and it’s also about promise and really looking forward as this is an exciting time for me having moved into a new home and my recording studio is flourishing.
What is it like working with established veterans like Dave Krusen (Pearl Jam) and Adam Kury (Candlebox) on the new EP?
First things first; It’s always good to work with top-notch musicians. I’ve had the good fortune of producing a number of indie acts and even Disney acts. One thing I learned along the way is that working with people who are good musicians, I’m not just talking about how they play their instruments or their proficiency, it’s their whole vibe and their approach: it really frees you up as a writer and as a producer.
Guys like Dave and Adam bring the proficiency; they bring the openness and experience and have tons of ideas. Although they’ve doing it for a while, they also bring a love of music that’s completely undiminished like they are still fifteen years old. They are great guys who are really good friends; if you’re going to be making good music, you have to do it with people you enjoy being around. They also instill a little extra confidence in you because you know when you’re laying it down, this is as good as it gets.
You’re about to go on tour, is there a certain city or venue you are looking forward to the most?
NYC is always at the top of the list, it’s one of my favorite places in the world. I’m an L.A. boy, but I’ve always loved going to New York, even wanted to live there for a period of time. It will be nice to get in a van and travel up to Boston, to go down to Philly, to go upstate and see the small towns along the Hudson River and even Vermont. The bottom line is, we’re really excited for our shows in NYC.
While we’re talking about NYC, is there a difference in music scenes between here and L.A.?
I’ll be honest with you, I love L.A., it’s my home, but I really don’t like playing here that much. I don’t know any bands or artists who really do. There are great venues and there are some excellent audiences to be found, but the nature of L.A., because it’s spread out and there are so many bands here – the audiences tend to be a little less enthusiastic. For instance, I once saw U2 at the Meadowlands and again here on the same tour at the Staples Center; the audiences were like day and night. The east coast show was far more energetic and enthusiastic for the audience which was more willing to be part of the show.
Long trips in the van need a playlist, how does that work out with the band; do the choices rotate, what’s the game plan?
That’s the ultimate question! Brina is usually the DJ, but are all on the same page musically. We love a lot of indie, the old-standards like Nat King Cole, even a little jazz. We don’t listen to much classic rock anymore because we’ve heard it all you know. Sometimes we’ll make a Spotify playlist or find a Pandora station to check out.
Besides your instruments, what are the essentials when heading out on tour?
I gotta have earplugs and a sleeping mask.
So, you’re playing a handful of shows in NYC this month, will the sets differ for each, what’s the plan?
Yes the shows will differ. We are playing three shows at Pianos – the 12th, 19th and the 26th. The set on the 19th will be an acoustic set with brinna, the guitarist and me. We are also playing Kings County Saloon in Brooklyn on the 22nd – which was originally scheduled for the 18th, but had to change it around due to a conflict in Philly as the Pope had a speaking gig a few blocks away. I got a text while on vacation informing me it had to moved and I just laughed, because we just got blocked by the Pope!
If you could have one musician (past or present, dead or alive) join you on stage, for one song – who would it be, why and what song would you play?
It would have to be Bruce Springsteen – everyone knows, at least in the rock world that he is the greatest, ever. I had a friend one time that got invited back stage to a U2 concert and Springsteen showed up near the end. He rehearsed with the band for two minutes in between encores backstage and went out and performed the song live. Immediately after, Bono turned to my friend and said “he’s the best ever.”
The song would have to be “Glory Days,” – would be perfect if it were in the NYC/NJ area.
Since we are called Pancakes And Whiskey, it’s obligatory I ask – Do you drink whiskey, and if so, do you have a favorite hooch?
Red Breast 12. My story behind that is really simple – I was at a whiskey bar in L.A. and told the bartender that I’m not really a whiskey guy and need your help. He lined up 8 mini-shot glasses and told me to pick my favorite, and that process continued a few times and in the end every single time I picked Irish Whiskey and picked Red Breast more often than not, so that’s my favorite.
At this point we made some small talk about the shows, the fact that Pearl Jam is playing on the same night as him on the 26th and my reference to him sounding like “Neil Diamond On Steroids.” He told me a story about working with Neil Diamond’s original producer Jeff Barrian, who once remarked that Pete reminded him of Neil. I guess I’m not the only one.
Article: Shayne Hanley