After spending years fronting the Los Angeles based indie rock band, Last December, Pete Argyropoulos has decided to go in another direction with the release of his solo debut. The title of the album says a lot about what to expect as the entire project is a departure from what fans had come to expect from Pete. Starting with a change in his moniker (Pete RG was a childhood nickname given to him because of the difficulty pronouncing his sir name) and a shift in his sound, Pete RG has delivered an album any singer songwriter would be proud to call their own.
I had a chance to speak with Pete via telephone last week and discuss his career and this album. This article will therefore be a little more than a standard review of the record and will serve to introduce the readers who, like me, may have been unaware of this great artist up till this point.
Pete grew up in a musical family with his mother singing in a local Venice band that his father played bass in. Soon after graduating college he moved back to L.A. and began following his heart to coffee houses where he worked on honing his chops. He was soon noticed by a publishing company, but instead of signing a contract he formed what would become Last December and cut some demos. The band quickly gained an audience in the area and their first record sold rather well. In addition to record sales the band was helped by their songs being used in a number of popular television shows.
Riding the wave of independent success, Last December released several albums and ultimately signed the dreaded major label deal. Pete conveyed a sense of disgust with the entire process of making and promoting a record with a major label, a story that has been told a million times over. Soon the fun and the emotional outlet felt too much like work. Inevitably the band began to dissolve and Pete looked for other means of making ends meet.
Putting the band and his songs on the back burner, Pete began working in the studio as a producer. He worked with some bands that he liked in the area as well some that served as a way to pay the bills. Eventually the artist inside would not be ignored and he began writing again.
Driven by a divorce to his college sweetheart and the need to continue to tap into the deep rooted emotion that had always been the backbone of his songs, Pete started slowly recording what at first he thought would be the next Last December record.
Fairly quickly into the process, it became clear this was not going to be a band album, but rather something completely new and exciting and Pete RG was born. Taking an unconventional road, the record started to take shape. The first six tracks were written and recorded over a period of months and released as singles via his website. Pete expressed a love for the direction the music business is heading and the wide reach of today’s social media. This method of releasing the songs in my opinion is a direct extension of this movement. Releasing the songs this way allowed immediate reactions from fans and critics alike and the feedback helped make the next song that much better. This also allowed for personal growth as he continued to rediscover himself and find and hone his new voice.
After the six songs were finished and released, he went in and finished the remaining four tracks and readied New Eyes for public consumption. The resulting record is full of excellent self reflecting lyrical content teamed with Pete’s almost haunting baritone. The album really conveys a sense of hope, that when asked Pete said was not really done on purpose, but rather came through because of the direction his life was going. Writing many of these songs aided him along the way of picking himself off the proverbial floor and putting himself back together.
One of my favorites on the record, “It’s Not For Me”, was actually written while Pete was still in college. As he began laying down the new songs for the record he decided to record some old material as well and see what fit. Originally written as a protest to all the people that were pushing him to give up the musical life and move towards to a more traditional line of work. At this point, with a successful career and multiple albums under his belt the song takes on a sense of retribution. RG seems to be saying all of those things you told me would bring me happiness and stability, in the long run they weren’t needed and sometimes following your dreams is the right decision.
Another fantastic track on the record is “Rainy Girl”, a song RG says really started out as a play on words and a melody he liked. The subtle guitar picking and background vocals gives this song a soft and reassuring feeling. Although Pete says that it was not written with any particular “Rainy Girl” in mind, the song still conveys a very personal touch.
Continuing on through the record, the next song that stands out to me is the title track. “New Eyes” really embodies the feeling of hope that permeates the record, although the song did not start out that way. Originally titled “New Lies”, Pete says the song had a much darker feeling. The sense of a light at the tunnel was instead a sense of not wanting to continue on using the lies that everyone was forcing on him. He played it for his girlfriend and she expressed concern that the negativity was overwhelming. Taking the criticism in stride Pete took the melody and some of lyrics and reworked the song. Being in a better place than he was in when he wrote the song, it now took on a whole new meaning. Lies became eyes and the song became a testament to what a new outlook can do for not just an individual but, an entire population.
My absolute favorite track on the record is “Hailstorm”. Written at a time when Pete was not sure where he was heading in life, the song perfectly conveys feeling drained, beaten down if you will by a hail storm. I love the vocals on the chorus on this one, with Pete holding out the title in his smooth bassy voice. Anyone who has felt as though everything is ganging up on them and pelting them from all sides will relate to this song immediately.
After listening to the record perhaps two dozen times in the past two weeks, I am completely sold on Pete RG’s ability to tell a story about his feelings and deliver the message in a way that makes me want to sing along. The subtle guitar teamed with his comforting voice make the entire album very comfortable to listen to in any situation. I am looking forward to the tour that will be coming up soon so that I can see him live. I would highly suggest this album to anybody that reads this website. You can check out Pete RG on-line at www.Pete-RG.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/petergmusic . “New Eyes” is currently available as a digital album for only $5 and well, you can’t beat that price. Go now give it a chance.
Here is the official video for “Hailstorm” :
And for those of you that are fans of the lost podcast series, I asked Pete the important questions when he was on the phone:
Q. Favorite Line he’s ever wrote?
A. “Funny what life can tell that you can’t tell yourself”, from “Hailstorm”
Q. Favorite place to play?
Q. Favorite place to see a show?
A. The Troubadour in Los Angeles
Q. Greatest record of all time?
A. U2 : Joshua Tree
Q. Guilty musical pleasure?
A. At this he told me of the joy he has found in spotify and having the ability to delete playlists and never have to own actual albums, so his guilty pleasure will never be discovered. He did however admit to enjoying the poppy music played in the gym and to having affection for Katy Perry’s song ” Hot and Cold”
To conclude this epic article I want to mention that this will be the featured article for the rest of the month please pass it along to your friends. I want to thank Pete RG for taking the time to speak with me and give us some insight on the record. Also I want to mention that once again, I have been slowing on the posts lately and that will be rectified this month and if you could all welcome daughter number four into this world I would appreciate it.