Kristin – What made you first want to pick up a guitar and start playing? How did you end up hooking up with Michael Mazzarella and The Rooks prior to joining the Grip Weeds?
KP: I was a music fan since I can remember (about three years old). I had older brothers and sisters who were always playing music. I would sneak into their rooms after school and play their Beatles, Monkees and Byrds records over and over for hours. At twelve, I picked up a friend’s guitar and started to figure out how to play stuff, pulling parts off records and going to shows. I really got into Jimmy Page- He had a great sense of melody mixed in with this power and raw energy- It made an impression on me as a shy teenager.
Years later I met Michael from the Rooks when we both were gigging around Hartford, CT. We would do shows together and hang out. He turned me on to a lot of cool music back then. I loved the songs he was writing and figured we should form a band. At some point later on we both found ourselves living in NYC and I think originally he had asked some of The Grip Weeds to back him up on a few recordings. I wasn’t in The Grip Weeds yet…but it was all one big scene back then and one thing led to another.
Kurt – Did you play in any other bands prior to The Grip Weeds? How
did it all begin for you and Rick in Jersey?
KR: Any bands we were in before The Grip Weeds really don’t matter, because none of them were any good or worth writing about! My Brother Rick and I started playing together as kids, once Rick put the drums down and picked up the guitar, as we were both drummers up to that point. The Grip Weeds formed gradually from there as we searched for our sound. When Rick and I started the group, we were at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, and just wanted to play cool obscure sixties covers from The Who and The Hollies. Eventually, we started writing our own songs and slipped them one by one into our live shows, hoping they would work alongside these great old songs. Our songwriting improved to the point where we wound up with a totally original live set, which we then recorded- that eventually started a whole other career of music production!
Kurt – How did the relationship with Kristin get started and how
has it grown over ther years?
KR: We met through playing in the New York City Pop Scene of the nineties- actually, it was at a Smithereens show! I was a young drummer and she was a beautiful guitarist who I thought was way out of my league! But we hit it off in the best way and eventually she joined The Grip Weeds and we got married. We have a dual musical and real-life relationship; sometimes, we’ll be fighting in the studio and go upstairs for dinner and be getting along great! To me, it’s important to maintain that division so that we can have our personal life outside the band and studio, which tends to take over everything.
Kristin – Have you experienced any big challenges in being a female
lead guitarist for the band?
KP: I wish I had more female role models. I didn’t realize I was such a misfit. I always tried to find other female musicians to form a band with but it was difficult to find the level of dedication and musicianship there. I did have an all female group for several years when I lived in Boston. We were very driven and I really got my chops playing with them.The biggest challenge is that it’s very physically demanding playing shows and touring. It’s a constant struggle to keep myself heathly and balanced. It ain’t easy. Most woman at my age are doing other very important things like raising children and keeping families running. I have very few female musician friends who go what I go through.
Kurt – Now that the re-issue of House of Vibes is done, Any plans
for new material?
KR: We started a new album last year, and were originally going to work on both, but the reissue was difficult to put together and took a lot of time and effort, so we had to stop work on the new one. If we didn’t, House of Vibes Revisited wouldn’t have come out for another year! Also, we’re recording additional tracks for an upcoming "best of" compilation on Little Steven’s label Wicked Cool, and we recently recorded and videotaped a "live in the studio" performance, which will see the light soon as well. Once all this is done, and we’ve adequately promoted HOVRE, we’ll get back to our new stuff. Rick and I are still writing new songs all the time- I have written several this year that we’ll want to record. For once, we have much more material than we can release! But I am very excited- I think this next one will be our best album ever…
Both of you – Is touring in support of House of Vibes still fun? Or
is it a pain in the butt and you can’t wait to get in the studio?
KP: This summer we played some festivals but right now we are focusing on building the band through our web presence, press and radio. We always love playing live shows but we definitely have a great recording situation right in our house. Recently Little Steven and his label have taken us under their wing and that may open up the doors to more live work. Our goal is to get our music out to the most people we can and doing a lot of shows without the right promotion and support doesn’t help us. Most of our last shows were put on with the help of our record label, Rainbow Quartz.
KR: I love to play and miss it terribly when we’re not, and even though touring is hard I enjoy it. But that said I’m very into getting back into the studio to continue working on our next album, which was started last year and interrupted. We’ll probably do some local shows and then get back to work in the studio this Winter.
Kurt – Any regrets not being on a major label? Or do you feel that
the smaller labels work harder for you as band?
KR: No- The reality is that major labels don’t nurture artists anymore. If you don’t produce sales right away, you’re out. And now major labels are seen as dinosaurs, as they haven’t yet figured out how to survive in the modern world of digital downloadable music, which is threatening to destroy them. We are in a good place as we’re able to make the music we want to when we want to. Still, it takes a lot of money and effort to promote music, and we’ve been very lucky to have had Rainbow Quartz getting our name and music out there.
Thanks guys, looking forward to the next album!