An American indie, singer-songwriter and producer from Los Angeles, CA Pete RG’s name is taken from his childhood moniker, Argy, an abbreviation of his lengthy, Greek last name, Argyropoulos. His band includes his co-producer Brina Kabler (Keyboards), Adam Kury (Bass), Dave Krusen (Drums) and Kevin Haaland (Lead Guitar). Their latest release “Tender Souls” dropped this past September and was followed by several runs of shows across North America and Europe.
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Sean Ritchie: To start off, talk about Venice Beach, the people there and culture a little bit. What really makes it home to you? What would you suggest a first-time visitor to do?
Pete RG: First, I’m born and raised there. It’s really all I know. I did go to college in Pennsylvania for a few years and spent a year in [Washington] DC. That was great, but at the end of the day my heart genuinely was here in California and Venice in particular. What I love about it is it’s got an edge to it, but it doesn’t have so much of an edge, at least not any more, where you feel unsafe or you feel like you’re living in squalor.
It’s really great being so close to the beach. Living in a big city you have a lot better air; the air is cleaner. It’s not as hot in the summer. Not as cold in the winter. The life in Venice for decades now, as far as I’ve been told, has been a bit Bohemian — very artsy. That still is there. There is now a lot of tech people there, which has helped to gentrify the area. I know a lot of the old timers are upset about that, but my attitude is that it brings some negatives, but overall it’s mostly positive. The area has still maintained its character.
It’s got killer restaurants and coffee shops. There’s no real music scene there, but it’s starting to happen. A few bars are being converted into some local music hangs. The boardwalk is like character central. It makes the Atlantic City Boardwalk seem very pedestrian, compared to the craziness of the Venice boardwalk. Those are some of the things that appeal to me, but in general it’s a cool a neighborhood.
SR: That’s really cool to hear. I’ve never personally been myself, but it’s one of the spots that’s famed in California. Now, talk about your music history. How did you have a calling for it, or get inspired to create music? How did you get exposed to it?
PRG: It was always a part of my life. My parents were musicians. In the 60’s and 70’s they had a traveling band. They never made it big or anything. My mom was the lead singer. My dad was a bass player and guitarist. That was always around me.
My dad’s a Greek immigrant and music is a huge part of most every Greek’s life. Historically, the Greeks have been a bit of an oppressed, downtrodden people, country, region of the world, and because of that music has always been a tremendous outlet for them. It was one of the only avenues. So, those two factors played prominently in my life.
It really wasn’t until I went to college where I was like, “It’s either play in a cover band or get a job at a library.” So, that was an easy choice to make some extra cash.
SR: Now, to fast forward to where you’re at today, I know you’re working on your solo stuff. I saw you have a North America tour coming up. You put out your latest album “Tender Souls” out in September last year, is this a second push?
PRG: It’s a continued push. We did about 20 shows in the fall around the US. We took December off and went to Europe for 15-17 shows in January or February. We returned and did 10 dates mostly in The South. Now, we’re going out doing mostly northeast and southern Midwest shows for this run. That’s kind of our MO right now. We’ll go out for a couple weeks at a time and come home. In this case we’re working on a new album. It works well for us, then we’re not as beaten up when we’re out on the road for a month or two at a time. It can dismantle your life if you’re not careful.
SR: It’s interesting you say that, because more-and-more bands that I’ve talked to have said that. It seems like that style of touring is trending right now — smart touring. It doesn’t always have to be this continuous thing. How has the album been received?
PRG: Yeah, it’s good to hear you say that, because that’s what we’re coming across as well. Most people are coming to the same conclusions. It’s not like the old days where you make an album, record it, promote it for two years and disappear for another two years while you’re making the next one. Otherwise you’re easily forgotten.
The album has been received fantastically. It’s surpassed our expectations. We’ve definitely opened up a lot of markets. It’s been well-received on the radio. In fact, this run we’re releasing a second radio single “Heaven Knows”. We’re hoping that we can get a good, strong run out of it all the way to the end of the year to set us up for what we expect to be a 2018 release of our next album.
SR: Sounds great! On a broader level, there’s a lot of parallels between music and travel, and you being a world-traveling musician have experienced it first hand. How do the two interact for you?
PRG: I would say that every single time coming back from a tour I’ll immediately bust out several new songs, or at least the seeds for them. The touring, not just from playing shows, meeting people or going on radio stations, gives me a lot of inspiration and ideas. Every region has their own qualities to them and it’s really inspiring to see and interact with that. For example, this run I’m going to Pittsburgh and I’m really excited to go there because the city has undergone a bit of a Renaissance. We’ll be going to Louisville to and I’ve only been there once as well. It’s just fun to go places like that. Same thing for when we just went to Europe, as well.
SR: I find music being this international language fascinating, you don’t really have to speak the same language as a person to kind of appreciate it with them. It’s a commonality. I always like to ask well-traveled people what are some places that they haven’t been to, but want to hit. Do you have two or three on your list?
PRG: 100 percent. It’s more than just a language, it’s a way of life and a culture. I want to go to Japan. It’s not the top of the list, but it’s really high up. One of my brothers happened to live there for about six months. He has stories that go on and on. Some of my friends have toured there. I’d love to do that. Australia is another one, I’ve never been there. I have family there. Being my family is Greek I go to Greece most summers. I usually go to the island of Ithaca, which is definitely my favorite spot on earth. This year we’re actually working on a way to stop in Vienna. There are so many places, but if I had to pick my top two it’s probably Japan and Australia.
SR: Lastly, to wrap this up, I wanted you to expand on Greece, because you’ve been there so many times. Talk about the country being such a beautiful place. What are some places you like to visit when you go there?
PRG:For me, I like quieter places. I’m not big into the party islands. I like some of the famous places like Mykonos in the Aegean Sea. My favorite to go to is the Ionian Sea and the western shores of Greece. I’ll go to Ithaca – truly my favorite place. If you want something tranquil go to the Dodecanese Islands. If you’re on the mainland I’d go to Arcadia there are some wonderful mountains there. It’s where my family is from. In general, for me, you can go most anywhere in Greece and have a wonderful time.