‘Pick Your Side’, Pete Gardiner’s new single came out just over a month ago, we only found it recently via Musosoup and has been in our playlists ever since!
“Begins with introspective observations and self-analysing lyrics before getting onto the big picture and what’s really going on in the world.”
Pete continues, “the first verse was written out of frustration. I’d been living alone in a caravan for three years with no real association with a town or a community (Long story, but let’s just say I was self isolating long before it was the done thing) and I wasn’t feeling inspired. I felt like I was missing all the elements required to write a decent song. The elements that were so easy to come by in my late teens and early 20s when I was surrounded by the colourful cast of criminally insane characters I called my friends back in Northern Ireland. The melodrama and alcohol laden adventures of whom provided the perfect backdrop for any aspiring songwriter.
But somewhere along the way the realisation kicks in that although my personal life may be a little calmer than it was ten years ago, the rest of the world certainly isn’t. I learn quickly that my boredom and lack of inspiration is completely unjustified and that the drama and chaos I believe to be necessary to write a song worth writing are more present than ever.”
With this introduction to his latest song, we thought we really had to chat to him. So we sent him some questions and he kindly sent us some great answers.
Here’s our Beatbuzz Question(s) Time with Pete Gardiner
Hi Pete, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, we found your music on Musosoup and we are very glad we did, your songs are brilliant and “Pick Your Side” got us hooked with its witty lyrics and catchy melody. We are very pleased to be chatting with you about your music. To start with, please tell us a bit more about your musical journey, when and how you started getting involved with music?
Music has always been a big part of my life. I have fond memories of being 8 years old and listening to Queen and Peter Gabriel cassettes in the kitchen while I watched my dad make his own wine. This memory could very well be the origin of my love for music AND wine!
My older cousin had an electric guitar with a picture of Judge Dread and the phrase “KICK ASS” on the front. He had a massive influence on me too. He lent me a collection of Guns N Roses and Aerosmith CDs and I was hooked. He eventually passed that guitar onto me and once my arms were long enough my parents got me a few lessons. I started writing my own songs when I was 16 and I quickly realised what a thrill it was to write lyrics. A world of possibilities opened up that I’m still exploring nearly 20 years later. Christ, I’m getting old!
When I was 19 or 20 I started playing a few gigs around the local bars and I made a few Eps with my good friend and producer Paul Steen. We sent the songs to every radio DJ on the air and eventually they got the attention and support of our regional BBC radio station who started playing them regularly. A song I’d written called “Crime Scene” eventually made it’s way to an entrepreneur and independent record label owner Neil Utley who was impressed enough to bring me over to London and gave me the opportunity to leave Northern Ireland, quit my day job and work on music in London full time. That was 5 years ago. Now I’m still in England living with my girlfriend in Kent. I’m performing regularly in the bars and venues in Kent and London and releasing songs produced by a London based label called The Animal Farm. That’s the short version of the story. I edited out a lot of the sex and drugs for the benefit of your younger readers.
What is your main goal with your project? Do you write with the sole idea of playing the tunes live or is mostly about the recording for you?
I love performing and recording equally. But when I’m writing it’s just about the writing. I can’t think about performing or recording until much later. Getting a song written from start to finish is enough of a challenge for me without thinking about what I’m going to do with it. I’m not terribly prolific. I feel like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel every time I complete a song and I always wonder how I’m going to do it again. When I do finally finish one, I like to play it around a few places to break it in before I record it. I have to let the dust settle on it. The delivery of a new song takes time to grow into, all the kinks have to be worked out and the rough edges smoothed over. But ultimately the goal of playing the song live and recording it are the same. You want to see what kind of reaction it gets. You want to see if this new thing you’ve made out of thin air was worth all the trouble. That’s why I started writing songs, to get a reaction from people, and if you manage to get the reaction you’re looking for, you’ll want to write another one.
If you could name one single thing you’d like to achieve in your musical journey, what would that be?
You mean apart from a duet with Bruce Springsteen at Madison Square Garden?
Well I’m certainly not too concerned with awards or any kind of official recognition. But songwriting is the only thing I’ve ever bothered to try and excel at, so at this point all I want to achieve is the ability to survive on songwriting and music alone. When I think about why I do any of this at all, I remember how I felt when I heard one of my favourite songs for the first time, and I wonder if somehow someday I could make someone feel that way too.
What was the last gig you attended before lockdown?
I went to see Bob Dylan in Hyde Park last year. It was an amazing night and the first time I finally got to see Bob live. My girlfriend Maddy got us the tickets for my birthday and she is nothing short of a saint for coming with me and enduring the evening without a single complaint. She’s not a hardcore fan like I am and I explained to her that even if she was, most of the songs would still be unrecognisable to her. But it was a special night and Mr Dylan was in great form. He played a wonderful version of Girl From the North Country. That was he song of the evening that was kept most true to its original form and melody and it just so happened that Maddy and I had gone to see the West End show of the same name a few months prior to the concert. It’s a fabulous musical set in the winter of 1934 with newly realised versions of Bob Dylan songs woven into the story line. We loved that play so much we saw it twice and when the man himself sang the title song at the concert it really made the evening. Thanks Bob!
Who are the artists or public figures you follow at the moment and you believe being the most relevant right now and why? Can be more than one of course.
This is a terrible question for me. I could lie to you and pull some names out that I’d googled or heard once on Spotify but the truth is I’ve got no idea who’s relevant and who’s not. I’ve spent my life making sure that I never keep up to date with musical trends. I was a nineties child but all I listened to was eighties music as a kid. When I was 13 and the Nu Metal and New Wave punk bands were happening, my friends were all listening to Limp Bizkit and Blink 182 and I was listening to Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Guns N Roses and Pearl Jam. Then instead of gradually getting up to date I went the opposite way and started listening to The Stones. Then Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen came into my life and their back catalogues are so vast I’ve barely had time to listen to anyone else since. And if I do listen to someone else it’ll be someone from a similar time like Tom Waits or Joni Mitchell. My problem is, (and I know I sound like an old man here) I can’t find anything that blows me away like the oldies do, at least not in the main stream. I’m certain there are a lot of amazing songwriters out there (there’s always good wine in every generation) but you’re not going to hear them on the radio. You’re going to have to wade your way through the over saturated waters of YouTube and Spotify and find them for yourself. I’m over 30 now and that sounds like a lot of work. But I think it’s been good for me to never get too attached to what’s current. I’m very impressionable and I could very easily end up on a band wagon and start writing songs with an agenda. That’s when it’s starts going wrong!
How have you been spending the lockdown? Obviously hoping you and your family didn’t have to deal with the virus at all. Have you been more or less creative and productive during the last 3 months? We heard from many artists this hasn’t been the most productive of times for them as they felt they “had to” produce just because they had more time on their hands rather than feeling “naturally” more creative and it didn’t quite work out as they hoped. How did it work out for you?
I can understand why they’d say that. You can’t choose a time to be creative. I mean don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely something to be said for getting up everyday and trying, but the truth is the best lines, the ones that bring the song together, they come out of nowhere. If I knew where the best ideas came from I’d go there everyday. That being said you can ride a wave of creativity for a while where you’re in a certain mindset and no matter where you are or what you’re doing with your day you’re constantly thinking about the song you’re working on and people think you’re being rude because you have to keep getting your phone out of your pocket every 5 minutes to make notes. I love days like that, where the song is taking shape in your head and you’ve got enough of an outline to know you just need to fill in the blanks to make it work. During Lockdown I haven’t written much but I’m hoping that’ll change soon. I’ve been doing a live stream every Friday at 6pm and every week I play a few originals and a few covers. Ironically, having a weekly stream has allowed me to interact with people on a more personal level than I do when I’m playing in a bar. We have a drink and talk and have a laugh between songs and the viewers make requests and it’s just a really fun hour and a half for me. I’m learning a couple of new songs every week to keep the set lists fresh and it’s reminding me of when I first started as a kid learning my favourite songs and playing them for my friends and family. I feel like when I finally get to play in the bars again I’ll be a better performer, refreshed and reignited. Learning new songs is also making me feel like I’m on the verge of writing again. My dry spell feels like it’s nearly over. That’s the way it always works with me. I go for months without writing anything and then a few ideas present themselves and away I go. But to actually answer your question honestly, I’d say the lockdown hasn’t changed anything in regards to my productivity. I’m the same lazy bastard I was in February.
Releasing music during a lockdown has not been the easiest of times I am sure, without being able to support it live. Are you already thinking about live dates or are you just living in the moment?
I can’t imagine playing live for a long time. I’d be thrilled if I could get back to it even before Christmas. That’s looking like the best case scenario at the moment. That’s why my live streams are important. My goal is to try to grow the audience for the live streams as much as I can, and if I can pick up some viewers and fans here in the South East that would be a great help for when I start playing live again as they could start coming to see me play in person. But it’s just too hard to speculate how things are gonna go over the next few months, I just have to try and use the time as best I can and take things as they come.
Have you been writing new music? I know the song has just come out but wondering what your plans are, release wise, in 2020?
Well the original plan for 2020 was to release a new single every two months but I think that’s on pause for now. This single was the last song I got to record in the studio before lockdown so at the moment I can’t release anything. I have a few unreleased songs written that aren’t too bad so as soon as the studio opens up again I’ll try to get in there as quickly as I can and put something out. It’s a shame the virus doesn’t wipe peoples’ memories otherwise I’d just release my last four or five singles all over again.
Before we let you go, can you recommend a couple of great new bands/artists you are into at the moment? Maybe artists you shared a stage with or anything you are listening to.
There are some great Northern Irish songwriters who come to mind. These are people I know or have gigged with who are up and coming and well worth checking out. The quality of the songs they’re writing are as good as any I’ve ever heard and they deserve a hell of a lot more recognition than they’re getting. Check out Dolbro Dan (Dan Mulligan), King Cedar (Steve MaCartney), John Andrews, Sonja Sleator, Amanda St John and a truckload more that I don’t have time to name!
Make sure you check out and follow Pete Gardiner at the links below:
Spotify – Pete Gardiner
Youtube – Pete Gardiner