INTERVIEW: Pete Krebs (solo musician, Hazel, Golden Delicious, etc.)
Cavity Search Records
By: Alex Steininger
Alex: What are some of your musical influences?
Pete: Well, I listen to a lot of different things. Rock and Roll wise, when I was young and starting to play I listened to Television, The Stray Cats, The Beattles, and The Rolling Stones. I also like early R.E.M. Then there was the whole punk rock scene. It twisted my brain sideways. Also old string bands, 20's jazz, the old stuff you know.
Alex: What do you think of the Portland scene?
Pete: The Portland scene, is, and always has been strong. It's a backwater kind of place. I mean that in a good way. It's not a big town or a big city. It's in the middle. We are very culturally advanced. I've seen what it's like for other people in other places, and we do good. There is a lot of support and interest. There is a lot of different kinds of music, so here everyone is allowed to progress in weird ways. They progress in a bunch of roundabout ways and it's great. Now that we're in the post-Nirvana-Major Label thing the music is weird. Everything gets crossed pollinated and the music starts to progress in all different directions.
Alex: Do you have any favorite local bands and/or artists?
Pete: I like The Wipers a lot. Elliot Smith, even though he moved to New York I'll consider him a Portland artist.
Pete: I liked Crackerbash when they were around. Little Sue...Little Sue is great! I'm a big fan of musicians. I'm very lucky, I get to play with a lot of cool people.
Alex: What are your thoughts on the recent success of Dandy, and why aren't the good Portland bands climbing the charts?
Pete: I hope things work out for them. They, for whatever reason they did what they did, got a pretty good deal. It takes money to make money and live on. Now with the post-Nirvana thing record labels are pulling budgets back and of course they want to get a return on their money, so they put a lot of money into promoting the albums. In today's society money buys a lot of things, and can get you on the charts. But eventually, if the band sucks, people will catch on. I know two people in the band and they are very nice people, I wish the best for them. Now about other bands not getting signed...13-14 years ago nobody was making records. Durma Bums were making a 45 and I thought it was pretty cool. There are no majors supporting these other bands, it's still smaller labels and situations. Although I do think its important to realize the do it yourself method. It's another route where you get to work with people on the same level as you. Working on the same level is cool. If you have a problem you can call the label and yell at them, but with the major labels you have to go through all their bullshit. They have the bodyguards, secretaries, and all that. It's just a big hassle.
Alex: Which label do you like recording for Sub Pop or Candy Ass?
Pete: Sub Pop got big while we were on it. They signed us of the money they made on Nirvana. Jody's label is Candy Ass, so of course she's gonna do what she's gonna do because she's on the record. I like the smaller labels. There's no bullshit and no waiting. Your forced to be held accountable for everything.
Alex: What are your musical goals for the rest of '97 and looking into '98?
Pete: Well, I don't know. I want to learn how to play music really well. Music is what I do for a living. I plan to play with a lot of people who know a lot about music. I want learn...learn more than I know now. I want to also play. Playing for a living is fun. I also want to do another solo album as well as another Golden Delicious record.
Alex: How do you find time to be working in three active projects?
Pete: Well, I don't have a straight job. Music is all I do. I wake up, eat breakfast, play some music, it's like school. Three papers to do, read ten books, and you have three months to do it in. I actually am in more than three projects!
Pete: (laughter) Well it's the same momentum. You have to be aware of situations that aren't working, no matter how happy. If you stick with it you'll get burnt out. When I'm writing Hazel songs, solo songs, or Golden Delicious songs I need to slip into a different mode. Change the tape in the brain stereo. I sit back and tell myself, "OK, I'm playing this, writing this." It's easier than it sounds.
Alex: Out of all your projects, do you have a favorite? Or are they all a different release for you?
Pete: No, I don't have a favorite. I do things I enjoy doing more subtle...all are different from each other. Each are different from each other in their own ways. I like the one I'm currently doing at the time. Its a very hard question to answer, I enjoy it all.
Alex: What goes into good music making for you? People?
Pete: You mean the ingredients of a good song?
Pete: Good music is made by people who enjoy what they're doing and aren't consciously trying to be something they're not. I tend to like music that expresses itself first. A primary ingredient would be people doing different things. The music needs to reinforce itself and have it's own personal stamp. Without the personal stamp the music is weaker. So I would say the most important thing is the individual stamp.
Alex: What is your favorite city to play and why?
Pete: Austin, they have a lot of friendly people. Portland, obviously, its where I'm from. Um...
Alex: New York? It's what everyone always says.
Pete: It's not really my favorite place, maybe because I haven't played there a lot. I've only played there 4 or 5 times. I don't have the New York bug like everyone else. Athens, Georgia is a cool place to be. Yeah, yeah Athens and Austin. Seattle is like a second home to me. I've played there like 200 times.
Alex: When you travel, what do you do for fun?
Pete: Well, I read a lot. And listen to music. It all depends on where I am. If I'm in the states I play pinball and pool. Or I'll just wander around. I like talking to people. It's fun meeting new and cool people on the road. Going on the road and playing music is like the army days: hurry up and wait! It's all a matter of how to occupy time. Your brain gets home sick and you got to keep that out of your mind. It's a great opportunity for books that you've put off and have been meaning to read.
Alex: What do you enjoy and hate bout the music business?
Pete: The Music business is fun. I enjoy the business aspect to a certain extent. I enjoy working for myself. You learn how to manage your money. Your always taking three steps ahead and one step back. I hate what it causes people to do. People change. Money enters and things get weird. It sounds like a contradiction...because I make my living on music. It's a messy situation. There are a lot of people out there who just want to rip you off and don't have your best interests at hand. There is a small amount of money, and the wealth isn't evenly spread. People change and it's harmful to others.
Alex: What are the high points and low points of your career?
Pete: A high point would be the first time, many many years ago, I played with a drummer. Before that it was just me in my room with a guitar. With the drummer I played one of my songs and from there on I knew what I wanted to do. A low point would be a certain period, years ago, when I was fed up with the music thing. I didn't move forward for three months and I just wanted to quit. I'm glad I didn't.
Alex: If you could change anything in your past, musically, would you? And if so, what?
Pete: No, not really. That's almost a life question--like do I choose to live life with regret questions. No, I choose not to live with regrets. You learn more through each process that got you there. Everything is enjoyable, so no I wouldn't change anything.
Alex: What made you want to go into music?
Pete: I don't know. Just being a kid growing up in a small town. When I wasn't riding my bike I was listening to music. I would go out and get all these records from Elvis, Beach Boys, etc. Hand down records from neighbors, and some of them I don't even know where I got them. Like how did I get Aerosmith? When punk rock hit I was ten years old. I went out and bought every punk record I could. One regret I have is when I was younger everybody told me music wasn't a way to make a living, it was a good hobby. I wish I had more support. Maybe then I would have taken a more scholastic approach to music.
Alex: What inspires you to write songs? Life?
Pete: When I started out I exclusively wrote songs about things going on in my life, but eventually learned more and friends...my song writing later inclined towards talking about people I knew and my friends. I write a lot about how people relate to each other. It subconsciously comes out, I don't sit down and write about a specific thing. It's more nebulous. It's all a corner stone to greater picture.
Alex: What do you want the listener to get out of the music?
Pete: I don't know. Whatever they want. People listen for different reasons. Some listen for the words, and some want the whole package, while others love to hear killer guitar solos. Whatever the listener wants to get out of the music is all right. I don't think I'm a great musician or song writer. I just do what I do. I can't see myself ever doing just a word record or guitar record.
Alex: Do you have a certain road experience that stands out in your mind? Either a bad experience or good experience. Any experience you just have to tell everyone when your sitting around telling stories.
Pete: Lots of them! (Laughter)...man that's a huge question. Bad situations are like when the van crashed. Or when you have a flu like thing and it's threatening to kill you. Maybe your in a city when a big disaster hits like they had a big earthquake, flood, fire, tornado, hurricane, and so on. A good road experience is when you meet cool people that are well known. You've been a big fan of theirs for a long time and you finally get to meet them and it's cool, especially if they are nice. Your sitting there one-on-one with them and it's cool. With Hazel I've experienced stuff I might not have seen if I wasn't in the band. We did a photo shoot for Rolling Stone, made videos for MTV, it's all exciting. You get to see yourself and read about yourself and your work being reviewing in magazines.
Alex: Hazel had a video on MTV?
Pete: Yeah, three of them. But getting away from the touring aspect. With the band I've gotten to play almost every state and Europe. It's just a great experience. I've gotten to do a lot of stuff I might not have otherwise gotten to do.
Alex: Is there any band or musician out there right now you would love to tour with?
Pete: Yeah, I mean I'm a big fan of Son Volt. Bad Livers, Elliot Smith, I would love to do that again for sure. Those are the three that come to mind.
Alex: I noticed while you were in Europe, Golden Delicious was out gigging. When your not around does someone fill in for you?
Pete: Sometimes. There is six of us, and the music comes from a place where other musicians we know can plug in and add to it. The Mandolin fills in holes. That's what's cool, most bands need everyone. Golden Delicious, although not entirely true, pick up the slack. If one member is gone everyone fills in for their part. It makes it a more collective idea, and gives it a freedom to step out and frees things up. It re-enforces the band. Mixes things up a bit.
Alex: If one of your projects were to take off and start receiving heavy radio play, would you put the other two projects on the back burner?
Pete: That's a tough question...before I jumped in that big, I would make sure I had time for all the other things I love. Some bands tour 8-9 months, but with my life I couldn't do that. Maybe when I was 20, but I know what a burnout it could be. If someone was showering me with attention, I would make sure that whoever was giving me the attention knew I had a full plate, and if that was cool with them I would go a 100%. But I don't really think of any projects in the terms of being on the back burner. I love them all. It's what I do.
Alex: Is there anything you would like to cover that you feel I left out?
Pete: No, no. You hit everything. It seems like you had a fair amount of questions.