What was the musical environment like at the time while growing up? What was the music that first caught your ear and made you say, "Hey, I want to do this."
GP: I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. My dad played guitar and was in a cover band that did country club parties and things like that, so there were always a ton of singles lying around the house. "Take Me to the Pilot" by Elton John got innumerable spins on my toy record player. There is little doubt however, that the first album that made me want to play music was "Fragile" by Yes, and that music is still very inspiring to me. When Kiss came along that changed everything. They put monsters and music in the same package and those were two things I was, and still am quite passionate about. Later as a high school kid I’d say it was the usual suspects: The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Rush, U2, The Cars. I was also into Bruce Cockburn and my favorite group of all time is to this day The Police. It wasn’t just their music, but their story—how they came together, the first gigs and tours—that inspired me and made me think seriously about pursuing music as a profession.
Tell me what drove you to create "Pop Monster" – was there something missing in your work with Edmunds Crown that you wished to express solo?
GP: There wasn’t anything necessarily missing with Edmund’s Crown, although there was a constant self imposed pressure to write straight up rock songs, because we wanted our shows to have a lot of energy.
At the time I made Popmonster, Edmund’s Crown had sort of fallen apart. I didn’t have any sort of solo artist agenda, and I didn’t have a lot of time or money to spend making a new record. What I did have were a bunch of songs in my head! I literally told anyone who asked "I’m just doing this project to be rid of these songs!" So I did them at home, in spurts, with very little preparation. It was the least self conscious project I’d ever done and I just did whatever I wanted with it. I had no idea how it would be received- and I really expected it to be viewed as sub-par to the Edmund’s Crown material. When I started seeing some reactions to it from bloggers like you and others I was really blown away! It was a very pleasant surprise.
What do you find works best for your creative process when bringing a song together? Does it evolve from jams, riffs, lyrics?
GP: What works best for me is just to try not to be self conscious, and just get the idea out as honestly as possible. My songs are usually written in the car. I don’t know why. Usually it’s a chorus or part of a verse that comes to me. I have like 90 seconds of digital recording on my cell, so i just sing it into that and save it. A few days later I can usually tell if it’s anything worth keeping or developing, which is usually done on guitar but sometimes bass or piano.
When I’m actually recording a batch of songs, the process of doing that also inspires totally new songs. "Fall Into Your Arms" was written that way. It just kind of came in a flash while I was working on other material for "Pete".
How did the EP get the name "Pete?"
GP: Last August a friend was treating me to lunch at Ichiban on 2nd Avenue, one of my favorite Nashville sushi venues. This was right around my birthday and I had just finished recording Popmonster which was one subject of conversation. So the bill came, and it was pretty high… I mean this was lunch. So I said, "Let’s split it." My friend said, "No way. It’s your birthday." I was pretty insistent, and finally he said, "If you feel that bad about it why don’t you just name a song after me on your next record." So I thought about that for a second and said, "Tell you what, I’m not going to name a song after you, I’m going to name my next record after you."
I love that guitar sound from "In My Head" — what kind of guitar do you use?
GP: That’s a Fender Telecaster with a Seymour Duncan vintage pick up in the neck position and a Joe Barden in the bridge position. I installed them years ago and I screwed up the wiring so now, when the toggle switch is in just the right spot you get this cool out of phase sound!
Will the band Edmunds Crown ever return?
GP: I kind of doubt it but who knows? I mean The Police got back together so anything is possible. By the time we did "Regrets of a Company Man," the band was on pretty shaky ground. Our drummer had to leave the band in the during the making of that album and I ended up playing everything on six or seven of those tracks. But I love playing with those guys and I think we had something special, so who knows?
Will you do any concerts in support of "Pete"?
GP: I am trying to plan some shows for the Fall, but because I have a family, a day job and do quite a bit of freelancing it’s gonna be a juggling act! That said, it really comes down to finances because I’m quite interested in getting out of Nashville and into some other markets. And I’d really prefer to have a band as opposed to a solo acoustic kind of thing. I’m totally open to any ideas so if you’re reading this and want me to come to your town shoot me an email!
Tell me your most embarassing moment during a concert performance.
GP: I am a super klutz so there are a lot of moments to pick from. I suppose one that comes to mind is the black eye I gave myself when a band I was playing with opened for the Romantics in Wilmington, N.C. It was a sold out show and the biggest crowd we’d ever played for and I tripped and smashed my eye into the microphone. I had quite a shiner and had to keep explaining it over and over for a week.
Thanks so much Greg, I can’t wait for the next fulll length album!