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Meaningful Consciousness with
Sons of Silver
"The band has a variety of opinions, perspectives, and ....we are actually very accepting....I want someone to push around my principles and force me to think. I respect that....If people would just pause and listen to each other, we'd all see the humanity that's in all of us."
"You do this thing called Music, because it's a puzzle you will never solve, there are always new areas to learn about, new areas to explore."
Abbe Davis, May 3, 2019
The lead singer/songwriter of Sons of Silver is Pete “RG,” a relaxed and earnest type of guy. The fire in his belly is Music, and he has been at it for a while with his songwriting-while also producing and engineering for years. Sons of Silver stems from Pete's last name, Argyropoulus, which means, Sons of Silver. Also in the band is Pete’s wife, producer and keyboardist/vocalist, Brina Kabler. Let me note here, the band is a mix spawned from the Grunge/Post-Grunge scene: Dave Krusen (1st drummer of Pearl Jam, and drummer with Candlebox), Adam Kury (bassist with Candlebox), and Kevin Haaland (pronounced “Holland,”) previous Skillet lead guitarist.
In a few weeks, Sons of Silver will tour; performing their new songs, including the brand new hit single, “Never Enough.” Their album is slated to release this year by September. The band and Pete believe in raw, honest rock music; at times sultry and placid, other times riff-driven with hints of an 80’s feel or classic style. The Clash is one big influence of theirs.
Here's Pete's path: His parents were musicians in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, thus, he enjoyed playing drums, clarinet, keys and in high school, guitar. In college, he did what most guys do if they play guitar, he joined a covers band. Soon he (along with Adam Kury on bass) created the band, Last December (by the late 90’s) as the lead singer and primary songwriter. Yet by 2007, after their successful album, Hailstorm, he decided to do a solo career, and also went to work for a top publishing company,writing music and egineering in Los Angeles.
From 2013 to 2014, Pete's band (Pete RG) had a successful album in Lighting Strikes. People dubbed his sound as a cross between Americana, folk, Country and Springsteen, In short, they weren't sure how to place him yet.(1.) The hit single was, “Still Here.” (2.) The effect of that song can best be described as, “Wicked Game,” meets “With or Without You.” This album had many meaningful songs featuring Pete's soulful, gritty baritone vocal lead. A lot of his shows by 2016 were alongside that of the band, Candlebox. The plot thickens.
Dave Krusan and Kevin Haaland joined the band, and they were ready to create some mood-stirring rock. Their album in 2015, Reaching for the Moon, was catchy rock, often compared to the style of Springsteen.(3.) In 2016 the band toured Europe and changed their name to Sons of Silver. Their new album in 2017, Tender Souls, was praised and noteworthy.(4.)
Sons of Silver has since toured across North America in key cities, and in Europe successfully. They are weeks away from touring the U.S. and I caught up to Pete this week to speak with him:
AD: Congratulations on "Never Enough," we all enjoy that tune. Where does the band begin in a few weeks?
PA: The first show is Nashville, then we will mostly be central and northeast from there to Cleveland, and then going over to Philly, NY and everything in between. We will also have radio/promo things to do.
AD: So how is it to be on tour with your wife?
PA: It's great when we all have to share hotel rooms. I would much rather be sharing my hotel room with my wife, more than anyone else in the band; even though I love those guys. It's good, except for when she wants to occupy the bathroom more than is fair, I would say.
AD: Yah, that's a girl thing. I go through that with my husband. Husbands and wives really need to have separate bathrooms.
PA: Yah, or at least two sinks.
AD: True.That would create a peaceful marriage. How did you and Brina meet, cause ya know, we don't get that a lot, not since McCartney and his wife, or Pat Benatar and her husband.
PA: We met 10 years ago at a recording studio and she was an engineer/runner moving up in the ranks. I was renting studio space, and I was sort of spreading myself thin; going back and forth between studios, producing and engineering a lot. I came up through the ranks of music as a songwriter. Yet, I got tired of wearing a lot of hats, so I was looking for an engineer, and I liked Brina's taste. I kept asking her to come in and listen to stuff to get her opinion on tracks. Then I was like, "Hey, how about your cleaning up these vocals for me?" or, "How 'bout fixing these drums?" Slowly we began to work together more and more, and one day, I was working with my bassist/friend Adam, and he says, "Hey, you know, she's pretty cute."
AD: (laughing) There's always that ONE friend. Like, he had to point it out to you, "Hello?"
PA: Exactly. I was working like a mad scientist not noticing anything about the world around me. So, I said "Yah, ya know? Now that I come to think of it..." That's how we ended up together. As far as us performing, I was also working with a friend of mine doing acoustic music on the side, and Brina was working on the engineering, and then she was like, "Well, I'll sing on some songs," when we played some shows live. Then we three decided to do it as a band, so it would be a little more fun. Soon, we needed someone to play keyboards, so she played keyboards, and it took on a life of its own.
AD: Very cool that you can be together and share that. Your background is interesting to me, because, as a songwriter, you come from various styles (folk, Americana, singer/songwriter) When you left Last December, how did you hone in on your own solo style, like with the first album, New Eyes?
PA: I started over. I had to leave whatever I wasn't satisfied with behind. I also had to work by myself, to find my own center. I found myself, having built Last December with moderate success, and getting chewed up and spit out by a major record label over a 4 year period of time, feeling discombobulated. I didn't really know who I was anymore. I'd been hearing so many voices and been offered so many opinions, that I'd lost my foundation. To start over again, I had to say, "OK, I'm gonna do this how I did it in the beginning, I'm gonna grab my acoustic guitar, I'm gonna sit by myself, and learn some new techniques. From that I'll learn some new songs and take it from there."
AD: When you left Last December, what was the motivation then, to go do a solo career? Had you been thinking of that for a long time, like while you were with Last December.
PA: I never thought about it while I was with Last December because I wanted that project to succeed. Yet, once I stopped doing that and was producing and engineering, at heart...I'm really just a songwriter and artist myself. Producing is something I do out of necessity. It's cool, but it's not really my passion and, likewise for engineering. I enjoy the technical aspect of it and the fact that I can do it, and I don't need to rely on someone else to do it if I have a certain idea in mind, yet, that's not my calling. If that's all I was left with, I would not be in the music business really.
AD: I hear you. It's pretty intrinsic to who you are?
AD: If someone has never heard you before, and people liken your voice to Neil Diamond, the Boss, or Bono, (I'm not saying that that has validity, how people want to label you, yet...)
PA: Oh, I think it absolutely has validity to be compared to those guys. (laughing)
AD: Well, yes, it defines your style, yet, is that what you mean?
PA: No, I'm saying that those are all really great names I wanna be affiliated with.
AD: Oh, no, they are. They are great. What I'm trying to ask here is...
PA: No, I was teasing you.
AD: Oh. I'm sorry, it's just been a crazy day. (laughing) Oh, ok, so you don't mind if they call you
"Neil Boss Bono?"
PA: Absolutely, they're right! (laughing)
AD: They are awesome, and I've seen all of them live. It was phenomenal.
AD: If you were to explain your own style, or your band's style, to someone who has never heard you, what would you call it?
PA: Hm. That's a tough one, but I would say straightforward rock, similar to classic rock,
like Bono, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen. Those are definitely strong influences there, yet a modern take on it. As far as topics go, I'm more influenced slightly by Hip Hop and Punk Rock (that those guys weren't influenced by).
AD: So who did you listen to growing up?
PA: My parents played a lot of Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin. My stepdad always played a lot of Gordon Lightfoot (popular 70's ballad singer/songwriter who wrote songs like, "Sundown," "The Ghost of the Edmund Fitzgerald," "If You Could Read My Mind,"etc.) Every Sunday morning I'd wake up to Gordon Lightfoot.
AD: OMG, I love him. The best.
PA: With Last December one time, I remember, I went to a studio and recorded a few songs with this well-known producer; whom I became friends with. I went on to work for him as an assistant and co-producer. So, the first thing he said to me, after recording a couple of songs was, "I finally figured out who you remind me of." I said, "Who?" and he said, "Gordon Lightfoot," and I was like "Oh, maaan."
AD: (laughing) Yah, even your speaking voice reminds me of him.
PA: Look, there's just a natural genetic thing that is the tone.
AD: So at 14 years old, I hear you were playing all of these other instruments, what got your to begin playing guitar?
PA: My parents were musicians and it was always around me.
AD: Tell me about that, what did each of them play? Where did they do gigs?
PA: They had a 5 piece band; bass, drums, guitars, keyboards, and my mom was the lead singer, my dad was the bass player. They played throughout Southern California in the late 60's.
AD: What was the name of the band?
PA: The Mixture, because the band members were diverse, and from different cultural backgrounds, at a time when things were more homogeneous.
AD: Was it like the movie, "A Mighty Wind," where the audience waits for your parents to kiss at the end of a folk show? Have you ever seen that movie? (laughing)
PA: Noo, I haven't.
AD: It is hilarious. Like if you had parents who were folky musicians, you would totally love it.
PA: I'll fully check that out, "A Mighty Wind."
AD: Yes, it's a comedy. Cause I had parents who were all hippy granola, but they were never in a band. What style of music did they play?
PA: They were Rock. They started out as a covers band, so they did a lot of Jefferson Airplane and Beatles.
AD: So your mom had a rocking voice, eh?
PA: She did. She was a little more on the Grace Slick style of things. Then they evolved and they started writing there own songs. I think it all started to fall apart because they weren't making enough money, and a couple of the guys started doing drugs. Typical band meltdown. Yet, they still kept music at home at all times. My dad was always playing, my mom was always singing. Eventually, my parents split and my mom remarried my stepdad, who was a big music fan and record collector. Music was always around me.
I had never played the guitar, yet had played many instruments. I had nothing much to do one day, so I picked up one of my dad's guitars and started playing it, and he was like, "Well, if you're really gonna take this seriously, here," and he threw a Beatles songbook at me, and he said "Learn these songs first." That's how it all began.
AD: (laughing) That's nice. I like it. When you toured alongside Candlebox as Pete RG, is that how you met the guys for Sons of Silver? In 2015, how did it begin?
PA: Adam Kury, our bass player, he and I had been in Last December. I had gotten a publishing deal to work with a prominent producer/engineering team in Los Angeles, and I was just playing the singer/songwriter gigs with another guitar player-for a good friend of mine. They sent us to work with this producer, who arranged for us to work with a bass player and drummer, Adam Kury and Scotty Kormis. So then we all decided to make a band, and did a demo session. Adam and I stayed close and did sessions after Last December, and he had been working with Dave Krusan when we went out to do some shows, so that's how we got Dave.Dave had just been on a tour or two with Kevin Haaland, so that is how we got Kevin on guitar. There was immediate chemistry. So, when Candlebox was doing some tours at the onset of our band, they asked us to open for them. That's how it all happened.
AD: That's great. Wow. Meant to be.
PA: It was a big opportunity.
AD: Terrific, all from publishing, right?
PA: Basically. One thing led to another.
AD: Pretty cool. Do you guys ever sit around and compare stories, or talk about Post Grunge music, since Dave is from Pearl Jam, Adam is from Candlebox, and then Kevin from Skillet?
PA: No. We mostly talk about growing up and how we all got into music.
AD: Makes sense. Then, you had your own label, or you still have one, correct?
PA: My label is 4L Entertainment, yes, and Alex Moreno is the general manager. We just did a video for Universal.
AD: That's great. Congrats.
PA: Thank you.
AD: Did you work with TV?
PA: Last December had success, with licensing our songs to TV. That launched us into touring around the country.
AD: Ah. Which TV shows or songs, would we know them?
PA: I couldn't tell you the names of the shows. I can tell you the names of the songs. One of them was a big hit for us called, "I'm Too Young to be So Fed Up With The World,"
AD: (laughing) OK.
PA: "Runnin' To You," "Loved By You."
AD: Would you ever do some of those songs for a show, or is that too commercial?
PA: We wouldn't do 'em because we're about doing the songs of Sons of Silver that we do together. Yet, the thought has crossed my mind, maybe once our band is out there more, to maybe reintroduce those songs, as part of a songwriter retrospective, my path.
AD: That might be very cool. I've seen you quoted as saying your band is about consciousness. When you say that, what does it mean - because we are all at different levels here, and, people are very divided these days?
PA: Ya think? (laughing)
AD: To put it politely, it's just become this massive boil. As a band, what is your collective consciousness, and if you say that, someone might look at you like, "What are you talking about?" so what are you talking about?
PA: That's a good question. There are a few things to this. One, as a band we spend a lot of time talking about social issues, politics and what not. I think a lot of that comes from me, the leader of the band. It's a lifelong passion of mine, politics, social awareness, history. I was a history major in college, and I almost went to work in Washington, D.C., but the wiser side of me took over.
The band has a variety of opinions and perspectives, yet, instead of pointing fingers at each other, we are naturally very welcoming to other people's opinions. I mean this genuinely, we don't do that just because we are all in a band together, we are actually very accepting. I want to hear what someone else thinks, I want someone to push around my opinions, push around my ideas, push around my principles, and force me to think. I respect that, even if we may do it in a heated and passionate way sometimes, yet it always remains respectful. That's the thing about being aware and conscious, it's not all about you, it's about you and what's around you. How you interact with the world, which translates to how the world interacts with you. The news cycle now is a business, so a lot of stuff is thrown at us that is tantalizing.
AD: A great word for how they want to hype things to get their ratings up.
PA: Exactly, so there's a lot of hyperbole thrown around. People only hear the headlines or read the sound bites, and they react to that without pausing a moment to think about where it's coming from, or whom it's coming from, etc. Lastly, because of cell phones/how we communicate, everything is immediate and is thrown at us. We get inundated with negative news. It makes us think the world is ending, yet, while there are a lot of problems, the reality is, there are a lot of good things going on, too. If people would just pause and listen to each other, we'd all see the humanity that's in all of us.
AD: That's a beautiful take to have on things. Your view is reflected in your lyrics, that type of awareness.
PA: I was driving the other day, and I saw a billboard, it said, "The Story of the Clash," a Spotify, podcast series. So I stopped at a light, hooked it up, and started listening. The Clash is one of my favorite bands, in fact, if I could have been in any band, it would have been the Clash. I loved their energy, their lyrics, and everything. That's me, to a T. The band has been hearkening to that band lately, and I think that that's gonna be a strong direction for us.
So then, in this podcast, Chuck D. from Public Enemy is the narrator. And I was like, "That's unusual." So he starts talking about why he is narrating; commenting on how it's unusual. And he says, Public Enemy started out of a recommendation by a music industry friend of his, that Chuck D. should start a band and it should be socially conscious like The Clash. Well, it turns out that Public Enemy is my all time favorite Hip Hop/Rap group, so I was like, "I never knew that."
AD: You're thinking, "Was this billboard written for me to drive by here, right now?" Kismet! (laughing)
PA: Exactly! I was like, "Wow, that's it, this is very reconfirming here, because many topics of our songs are socially conscious. I know others do that, too, yet we are just very focused right now on those things.
AD: Do you see changes in yourself, or your writing? You had a 6 song album all in the key of "C" as a solo artist?
PA: (laughing) Forgot about that! Yah.
PA: Yes and no. There's always an evolution. You do this thing called Music, because it's a puzzle you will never solve, there are always new areas to learn about, new areas to explore. That's what helps get you up every morning. I hope when I'm an old man some day, that I can wake up first thing in the morning, roll out of bed, and say, "What do I get to work on today?"
The core of me as a lyricist hasn't really changed all that much. I'm always reading different things about history, politics, and I'll inject it -from a love perspective- time to time. To give it a little variety. That's where I'm always coming from.
AD: That's great. Along with that, I hear you work on batches of tunes. How do you balance touring, and then everyone wanting to be home with their families, or getting everyone together? How long then, does it take for you to do an album, from start to finish?
PA: That's a good question. That's difficult, to be honest with you. The way we solve that problem is, we don't really record an album's worth of material at one time. We will go and record 2 to 4 songs at a time, and maybe 1 or 2 of those won't make it. For instance, right now we are wrapping up 5 new songs that we started last month. We played a couple of them in our show this past year. Right now we're sitting on album of material. The label will release one song at a time in the next few months.
AD: It's refreshing to see that you throw the songs out there, see if they make it or don't.
PA: It used to be that you wrote the music, recorded it, you'd start doing some promo, and then you'd go on the road for several months a year. Now, it's not like that. You're on and off the road throughout the year, so when you're home you record when you can, you take breaks, and you don't have the time to record an album. Now, my understanding is, that things are more like they were in the 50's and 60's, where you'd record nonstop throughout the course of a year, but not necessarily in big chunks. At the end of the period of time, you would deliver an album's worth of material. This works for us. When we know we'll be out on the road for a period of time, we just work a song up and take it on the road and refine it. Sometimes I won't even have all of the lyrics complete and I'll try some out live, and will ask someone to record it to hear what I did later, to see what worked.
AD: It's an interesting process. How do you get privacy when you are on the tour bus, or traveling, to have space to write out or even do quick recordings of your song ideas? How do you get that head space to channel those ideas then?
PA: Yah, you don't. You get it out at soundcheck or on a day off with your i-phone in your hotel room. That's when you can capture a snippet backstage, hotel room, on the bus, and you bookmark it. I have a well-oiled way of doing that now.
AD: Would you consider yourself a prolific writer, and do you get lost in your many songs?
PA: It goes through bursts of my doing that. If I wasn't doing so much of the business end of things, which slowly other people are taking over, I would roll out of bed every day, [to] write early in the morning at 6 or 7 in the morning. Not turn my phone on for 3 or 4 hours, and just do that, cause when I do get into that mode, it's like a waterfall, a spring of ideas. It's a lot of fun.
AD: Writer to writer here, what do you do with the songs that you had 15 years ago and the ones that come up now?
PA: You steal from them! (laughing)
AD: Do you rely on the people around you maybe? Do you show them 10 songs at a time?
PA: With the band, we come in with ideas. Generally, I'll come in with a bunch of ideas, 8 to 12 tunes, (fresh ideas for the day), and we mess with those and we'll follow that path. Then we record them. Bri and I are pretty good about organizing the idea sessions, and we Dropbox it for us or for the band.
AD: Sounds good. I've enjoyed talking with you.
PA: Likewise, Abbe.
AD: Are there any projections about when you will release the new songs?
PA: Right now we're looking at late August to mid- September release. It will probably be an EP of 4 to 6 songs.
AD: And they're not all in one key. (Reaching for the Moon was all in the key of C).
PA: (laughing) Not all in one key, and that was the weirdest thing.
AD: So wild, but people felt it was dance-able Rock and liked it, so I guess if you mix up the rhythms enough nobody notices? (laughing)
PA: What happened was, the songs were written in different keys, but when we went to record them we were like, "OK, where does your voice sound best?" So the next thing we knew (since we are self-produced) was, "Well, they're all in the same key cause we moved them there."
AD: I love it. (laughing) People found it danceable, so that's not bad.
PA: So be it. (laughing)
AD: It's been great talking to you, we wish you guys the best success and we're looking forward to hearing Sons of Silver live. If you head South let us know.
PA: We will. We're coming.
For more information about Sons of Silver:
Abbe Davis, Music Journalist