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SHOW NOTES / LINKS
Carl King’s Steve Vai Interview on Guitar World
Pete Peterson’s Website
Pete Peterson’s Bandcamp
Travis Orbin on YouTube
I’m Carl King, and this is The Carl King Podcast, where I talk about music, filmmaking, and general creativity stuff. To support this podcast, head over to Patreon.com/carlking, and join for just $1 or $5 per month. Special thank you to my Illusionist $51 level patrons, both Hank Howard III and Chewbode.
Quick shout-out to my music endorsements: Vienna Symphonic Library, Fractal Audio, Ernie Ball Strings, Toontrack, and Millennia Media. All 5 companies make amazing musical gear that I love to use.
Now let’s prepare to get ready to get started!
CARL KING THE HUMAN UPDATE
Very Good Friends of Carl King, today, we’re taking a trip back in time. You are about to hear what I call a “LOST EPISODE.” No, it’s unrelated to that television show with the nonsensical ending.
I mean, this is a special episode that was recorded, but somehow ended up in the data deep-freeze. I have several of these, and the good news is, they’re just now getting thawed out. And I think that if you stick with me, you’re REALLY going to like this one. And you’re going to have a favorite new musician.
Real quickly, briefly, carefully, before we get into that, I have a single Carl King News update.
Remember that Steve Vai Interview I did way back in Episode 1? If you haven’t listened to it, go do so. Anyway, I’m happy to announce that GuitarWorld.com featured that episode of The Carl King Podcast on their website this past week. That was pretty surreal. I’ll put the link in the show notes. And now that the Carl King News is officially over, let’s jump up and down, and stumble into this week’s feature presentation.
PETE PETERSON INTERVIEW
Has anyone here heard of an insane guitarist named Pete Peterson? I have. 3 years ago, I met up with him to talk unusual 7-string guitars, his outrageously creative music, and to ask him why he rode his bicycle FIVE HUNDRED MILES. That’s right, he had — just the day before — finished FIVE DAYS of pedaling from San Francisco to Los Angeles. That gives you some idea of his intensity and work ethic.
So listeners, I want you to brace yourselves. Grab ahold of something. With both hands. Because I’m about to play you a clip of Pete Peterson’s music.
This is from a song called BUGZ, spelled B U G Z. And it has Travis Orbin on drums. By the way, look up the music video. Unbelievable. How did they do it? I don’t know. But listen to this.
You can find out more about Pete’s music on his website, PetePetersonMusic.com and on his Bandcamp. So go and get it.
OK, now that you know just what kind of creative madman we’re involved with, let’s go back to March 2019, and listen. Warning: we start off with a lot of technical guitar talk, but hang in there. It gets GOOD. Now let’s go.
CK: You know, a lot of people have talked into that microphone.
PP: Important people.
CK: Devin Townsend talked into that microphone, I think.
PP: No way?
PP: What an honor.
PP: Hopefully I can live up to the expectations.
CK: I want to ask you why you would ride your bicycle all the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles just to be on a podcast.
PP: Because it was hard.
CK: And you tend to do a lot of things that are hard to do?
PP: Yeah. What’s the point of doing easy things?
CK: I guess because there’s a greater reward in doing things that are easy.
PP: There’s not really any reward at all for riding a bicycle that far. Just lots of pain and not having to pay for gas, I suppose.
CK: Do you listen to music as you’re riding your bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles? How many miles is that?
PP: It was about 500.
CK: That’s it? 500 miles?
CK: Oh. That’s not that impressive.
PP:Yeah. Regarding the question at hand, I usually don’t listen to music when I’m riding my bicycle although at one point I was riding over a levee of some sort, so I really had to put on When the Levee Breaks and actually sing along for quite a while. Actually for quite a bit of the ride, I was singing random songs and almost writing stupid tunes along the way.
CK: So you just sing to yourself? Or do you sing inside your head?
PP: Oh no, I’m singing out loud, completely out loud. I was singing some Queen. What was I singing? Somebody To Love.
CK: You’re a guitarist.
PP: Yes, of some sort.
CK: But you also do some … I think you do some singing, right? Don’t you sing on your music?
PP: I do sing on my music, yes.
PP: Yeah. I try to pass off as a vocalist as much as possible.
CK: Let’s talk about that polka dot guitar.
PP: So that’s my King of the Mountains guitar.
CK: What does that mean?
PP: Well, King of the Mountains is actually a jersey given to someone in the Tour de France for doing really good at climbing up mountains on their bicycle.
CK: See, we’re back to the bicycling again. That’s interesting.
PP: Yes, I tend to become obsessed with things, and bicycling is, beside music, as one of the top obsessions. I painted a guitar as the King of Mountains.
CK: Wait a minute, you painted that guitar?
PP: I did.
CK: You painted polka dots?
PP: I did. I painted polka dots, bought the guitar on eBay for about 300 bucks. It’s a 7-string Jackson. I think it’s actually made in Japan, and I have no idea what the model name is. All I know is it has 22 frets, which was the deciding feature. But yeah, it was just plain black and-
CK: Hold on now, you said that’s the deciding feature, and I’m going to pretend I don’t know what you mean by that, but tell me about why you wanted 22 frets instead of 24. For those listening at home, 24 frets on a guitar allow you to go up to the full octave from the open string. You can go up to the 12th. That’s one octave. Another up to the 24th fret is two octaves above the open string. So, 22 leaves you a couple of semitones short-
PP: Off of two full octaves, yeah.
CK: Yeah, you can’t quite go two octaves. So, I prefer the 24 frets even though I don’t ever play that high. It seems cool to be able to go double, fully double.
PP: It does have a satisfying roundness to the number of frets, however-
CK: Yeah, and when I play a Fender Strat, that’s just like 22. I get like, “Something isn’t right.”
PP: There’s something about where that neck pickup is located and the frequency content that it can pick up. If you were to take a Strat and make it 24 frets, even though it has a single coil in the neck, it still wouldn’t sound quite like a Strat because it’s a little bit closer to the bridge pickup and, well, it’s a little bit closer to the bridge, that end of the string. So you lose a little bit of the smoothness and the signature Strat tone. So that is why I sort of only want 22-fret guitars [inaudible 00:07:45]-
CK: And that’s a specific thing. You had a guitar maybe that was 24 and you were like, “Damn it, this doesn’t sound like a Strat,” or you played on a Strat and you thought, “Hey, I could have this tone if I had only 22.”
PP: Yeah, it was hearing really good Strat tones … Let’s see, I guess Stevie Ray Vaughan is a typical example, like that bluesy, half overdriven Strat neck pickup sounds really good to me. You can’t really get that on a guitar with a humbucker, but the sound of a humbucker with 22 frets, I think, in my opinion, is better than 24 frets, because the pickup is just a little bit further up the neck.
CK: You talk about playing with single coils and humbuckers. I tend to … and I might be a typical person. When I play clean, I play with a single coil, and when I play with distortion, I like a humbucker. Do you find that you like a tone with the single coil with distortion?
PP: I think it depends on the situation, but I can definitely get down with doing fully distorted, very heavy sounds with a single coil, and I have quite a few times, yeah. I have a 7-string Telecaster and a 7-string Strat. Both have single coils in both positions, and yeah, I’ve used them to do pretty heavy metal-type music. The only problem is they’re just noisy, so-
CK: Yes, they are.
PP: … you pick up a lot of 60 Hertz hum from your electrical wiring in the house.
CK: Yeah, but what about the stacked humbuckers. Have you experimented with that?
PP: I bought a set of stacked single coils one time.
CK: Yeah, that’s what I mean. The vertical humbucker, right?
CK: Is that what we’re talking about?
PP: Yep, the stacks. I actually ordered a set of custom shop stacks. I tried to install them, and for some reason I couldn’t get them installed properly, so I sent them back and I just went straight single coils. It’s probably just stupidity on my part.
CK: Everyone at home, if you’re not a guitar player, you might not find that topic very interesting, but …
PP: Who doesn’t play guitar though?
CK: Everybody plays guitar I guess.
PP: I think basically everyone does, yeah.
CK: Everyone does, yeah, and everyone that we’ve ever met plays guitar. For those listening at home who are not guitarists, the pickups in the guitar act as sort of … in an electric guitar, they’re sort of like a little microphone. They don’t necessarily work in the same way that a microphone works. You probably know more about this.
PP: They translate a piece of metal moving near the magnet into some type of voltage, a sound.
CK: So it’s the way that you make your guitar go into an amplifier through the cable. It’s the counterpart to the microphone.
PP: And it doesn’t rely on air shaking around like a microphone does, which is-
CK: It’s just the movement of the metal.
PP: So it could hypothetically work in space. You couldn’t use a microphone in space.
CK: See? I didn’t know that. That’s useful to know. 7-strings in pickups. Was there a time that you ever had a problem getting a decent 7-string tone? Like a low B? Is that what you tune to?
PP: I tune to a half step down from there, so-
CK: A half step down, so that would be A# or Bb.
CK: Did you ever have a problem with the pickups getting that sort of low tone?
PP: No. I did notice that my Strat neck pickup does not sound just like a 6-string Strat neck pickup and that probably has something to do with the fact that the pickup is larger and the guitar is larger, so the ton’s not going to be exactly the same. The biggest problem I’ve had with 7-strings, especially with the 25 1/2″ scale ones is intonation of the lowest string.
CK: Is that where you end up with that “bow … bow …” kind of thing? Or is it just intonation in general on the frets?
PP: It’s on the frets, like if you try to play a chord or something like that, the note you’re playing on the thickest string will be very sensitive-
CK: To pressure.
PP: All of the overtones above that will clash if they’re not perfectly intonated, so it’s … Actually that’s where Elixir strings sort of helped out because I think they dampen some of the higher overtones of the strings and keep them from clashing with the higher notes in the chords. I’ve more or less fixed those issues now.
CK: Wait a minute, you fixed the issues?
PP: Yes. I was actually tuning to A for a long time and I tuned up a half step to A#. That helped some of it. So the lower you try to tune with a shorter scale guitar, the tougher it is to get the intonation right.
CK: Yes, because the string is going to be looser.
PP: Yes. And you can go to thicker strings, but then that changes the content of the overtones as well. So, it’s trial and error, actually, to get a guitar that will play good chords down in those low registers.
CK: You and I are in a competition. We have a drummer that is in common, Mr. Travis Orbin, who has played with both of us and he’s sort of our common connection. Currently you are winning in the competition and I hope to make some attempt to change that. I hope to eventually win.
PP: I thought you did win.
CK: Well, no, because he told me that you are winning.
PP: See, that’s news to me. I thought the latest record that you guys did together was more complicated than anything I ever threw at him, but I’ll take the title if it’s mine for now.
CK: My newer record, there’s a lot of theme and variation. The Grand Architects of the Universe? Is that what you’re talking about?
CK: It’s just a lot of theme and variation on simple themes. There’s different permutations that come and go, and they intertwine and overlap and there’s some counterpoint, but not on a micro scale. Like if you take any four bars from that album, they’re probably all very easy to play.
PP: I see.
CK: I mean, it’s almost entirely 4/4, and there’s very little shifting tuplets or anything like that. There’s some 5s thrown in here and there, but Travis tells me that you are winning because you’ve hired him to play music that is way more challenging than the stuff I’ve hired him to do, so I’m hoping at some point I can reclaim that spot, that important place in life of having challenged Travis Orbin more than anyone else. But I think you currently hold that title, and I think you could probably easily beat me again if we were to start … Starting right now, like, “Okay, go home and make an album,” you might still win.
PP: I might be petty enough to actually simply compose music just for the sake of it being difficult for Travis to play, which is actually kind of the thing that sparked our collaboration from the get-go. He sent me on Myspace letting me know that if I ever was up for it, he would be willing to record any of the most quote-unquote “inane rhythms possible.”
CK: What does the word “inane” even mean? If Mike Stone is listening to this, Mike Stone, send me a text and tell me what “inane” mean. Okay, back to the conversation.
PP: Essentially being an extremely serious artist, I just threw a bunch of random, very fast drum notes into Cubase, I was using at the time.
CK: Oh, okay, Cubase.
PP: I sent it to Travis and he’s like, “Bad news, man. I think I can’t play that at 140 beats per minutes. I’m going to have to take it down to 138,” or maybe it was 132 or something like that. And he sent me this over text, and I was just like, “Okay.”
CK: See, you already achieved what I hope to someday achieve. Back in the Myspace days, you had already done it.
PP: Get some pushback from Travis?
CK: I want to get to where I write him four songs for an EP … I want to do this album called The Impossible Thrash EP and I want to write thrash music that is so impossible for him to play that he’ll just refuse.
PP: I don’t think he would.
CK: And I told him that already, so he could easily just, “Ha ha, I refuse,” but he’s not that kind of a smart ass. He would actually try to do it.
PP: I think you set it up perfectly, so that if he does refuse, he loses some face.
CK: He loses face by not playing on my Impossible Thrash EP that no one will ever listen to.
PP: It’s a question of honor.
CK: It is for him though. What’s with that guy? I was just talking about that with my wife today. This morning we were talking about Travis, as we always do. We were talking about self-discipline and things like that, because the two of us work from home, so we have to always self-discipline and motivate ourselves to continue working when there’s no boss standing over us, staring, like, “When’s this going to be done?” So we have to plan out our day and execute our daily work plans, and we were talking about Travis and the thought of, “What motivates that guy? Why does he want to do what he does?” And this obviously isn’t a Travis Orbin interview, but you have the same experience of working with him. Do you have some of those observations about working with him?
PP: Yeah, I think he has an important obsessive nature when it comes to doing this, and it’s good that he’s willing to be so dedicated. I remember the first time I actually ever met him in person was at a … I think it was a [Skites 00:19:07] Airplane show or something like that, and it was the first time I’d ever seen him in person after we recorded Bugs and Idiot Christmas.
CK: I like that name.
PP: Those are two of the songs that he recorded for me first. So I go and say hi to him. He’s in … I think it was in Worcester, Massachusetts, and I figure, “Oh, hey, I haven’t seen this guy in a while. Maybe we’ll hang out for a bit.” But he’s like, “Sorry, man. I’ve got to spend half an hour hitting the practice pad first.” And I was like, “You know, I respect that. It’s dedication. That’s what gets results.”
CK: It’s funny, I had a similar experience. His band, Darkest Hour, was playing in LA a while back and I was just in the middle of writing a bunch of cartoon stuff, taking a bunch of writing classes and trying to improve myself in that area. And he came to town, and since we … He and I text obsessively. Him and Mike Stone are my main text buddies, and Travis was coming to town, so I thought, “Oh cool. I’ll get to see him and hang out. We’ll spend some time fucking around doing whatever, getting some food.” And I didn’t check in with him early enough in the day because apparently he has a daily routine that starts at I don’t know what time but he has to go to the venue, soundcheck, and then he has to work out and practice until the show. And so I drive down to the venue and I get to this shit hole underground club in Downtown LA somewhere or Echo Park or Silver Lake or something, and it was absolutely the kind of place I would never go unless I was just trying to go down and say to hi to Travis for whatever reason. You would never find me in a place like this. It was under a bridge.
And I started texting him, “Hey, you just going to leave me standing out here like a regular dildo or something?” And he’s like, “Oh, there’s no room back here, and I’ve got to practice and I’ve got to work out.” I’m like, “Really? I just drove down here and now you’re going to work out. I’m here, few feet away probably. At least come out or something.” But no, he had to work out, so I was like, “All right, well, fuck it,” got in the car and drove home.
PP: Oh man.
CK: After being there probably less than five minutes. But the evening turned out well. I got a lot of thinking and writing done on my project. It didn’t bother me at all, other than, “Oh man, I thought I was going to get to hang out with him a bit,” because we hung out on the last tour and he ended up staying up at my place. Anyway, it’s true. He has this military outlook on it almost.
PP: Yeah. I think you could get into a situation where there’s a slippery slope where just because you like someone enough, you change up your routine a little bit one time and then you could slide into a place of no discipline and-
CK: Like me.
PP: Yeah, like me too, recording one song every six months or something like that. So I think you need to avoid that, and he’s pretty successful at that.
CK: Yeah, he doesn’t seem to let up. I think that I’ve seen myself go through several cycles of depression and he just keeps at it. He’s always over there working out, practicing. He’s got to work on legs. It’s 2:00 AM and I’m like, “What’s going on?” “Just got done working on legs,” or whatever. It’s crazy.
PP: Consistency pays off.
CK: Yeah. What’s your situation with that? You do other things other than music. How do you stay motivated and keep doing your thing? I mean, you just rode a bicycle from San Francisco to LA. I can’t imagine doing that.
PP: That goes back to being able to become obsessed with things. I think that’s what that is. I got a bicycle and slowly but surely got more and more and more into it and-
CK: But how is that something you become obsessed with? Because all you’re doing is sitting on a seat and moving your legs, right? Or is there something else to it?
PP: No, that’s about it. You’re sitting there and you’re just in pain for six to eight hours a day. It’s called Type 2 fun, which is-
CK: Whoa, okay. I don’t know about Type 2 fun.
PP: It’s fun that’s not fun while you’re doing it but it’s fun afterwards, after you make some tiny achievement.
CK: Did you invent Type 2 fun?
PP: No, no, that’s a … I think it’s a fairly well-known concept in the outdoor exercise type fitness world.
CK: No one has ever told me about it. Is this withheld?
PP: It is a secret society of sorts, the Type 2 fun people.
CK: Like we’re sitting here right now and there’s probably other people around. If you were to walk outside, you could probably give a little nod and the other person would be like, “Type 2 fun. That’s my guy right there.”
PP: If you saw someone with the right footwear, perhaps, you could probably tell if they’re into Type 2 fun or not.
CK: So that guy who was hurting himself riding over the hill today in Burbank and Hollywood, or between Burbank and Hollywood, I said, “Hey, should we pick that guy up?” He was on a bicycle, and you said, “No, he’s having fun. He’s probably having fun right now.”
PP: He was probably having Type 2-
CK: You meant Type 2 fun.
PP: Probably, although he was on a mountain bike, which I think mountain bikes are usually used for Type 1 fun, excitement in the moment, not necessarily pure suffering that you feel better about after the fact.
CK: Now, can you tell me, what type of fun … Is there Type 3 fun, first of all?
PP: Not that I know of.
CK: Okay, we haven’t invented … We don’t have the technology for Type 3 fun yet.
PP: It could be a creative type of fun. I don’t find making music fun. I don’t know about you, but I find coming up with musical ideas to be fun, but executing them to a sufficient degree of lacking lameness is very not fun. That could be Type 3 fun. Once it’s done and I think it’s sat out there in the world for a long time, then you go back to it and listen to it, then it’s Type 3 fun.
CK: Type 3 fun.
CK: Oh man.
PP: It’s not fun while it’s happening-
CK: I somehow missed the entire explanation of what Type 3 fun is. It’s not possible for me to hear what it is.
PP: You’ve probably encountered it way too often. Do you enjoy recording your music?
CK: No, I do not. Everything I do, I tend to sit down in the seat and I open up a project and I say, “Okay, I’ve got to do this right now before I can get back up out of this seat.” I don’t want to have to take a break. I don’t want to save the project and close it, because the files might disappear. The files might explode or the project could become corrupt. The plugins could disappear and scramble up and the music will be gone. So I often have this anxiety of I need to sit down right now in the next two, three, four, five hours and finish exactly what I’m starting right now before I get up to go to the bathroom or get a drink.
PP: So you have a concrete endpoint for your work in a given session.
CK: Yeah. Like I had to write a podcast musical theme a couple nights ago, or was it last night? It was last night. I realized, this is the only chance I will have to write this, is right now, tonight, to finish this thing before I go to bed because the rest of my week is full of stuff and I’ve got to go to a convention on Friday. I’ve got to do this podcast theme right now. Holy shit. So, boom, open up the document. All right, I’ve got to start writing. I’ve got to compose. What’s it going to be? Start doing it and then try to not get up out of the seat until it’s mastered and done. Of course, I failed because it took me three or four hours and I had to get up and go to the bathroom a few times.
PP: But having that concrete goal is probably … that’s a good thing.
CK: And no, I don’t enjoy doing it. I don’t enjoy the process.
PP: So it’s kind of Type 3 fun.
CK: Like I wish I didn’t have to do it.
PP: Yeah. I feel exactly the same way. I feel like the ideas are just kind of like a burden and even fleshing them out into full songs sometimes isn’t fun.
CK: Like I feel like I’m at a point in my creative process, as Devin Townsend would say, process, my process all the time. It’s always about the process. I have a lot of confidence in my creativity, for the most part. Sometimes I’m unsure but mostly as long as I have the requirements of what I need to do, I can sit down and I can execute exactly what that thing is and what it needs to be, according to the specs, and that’s kind of how I work.
PP: That’s very engineering-y.
CK: Yeah. It makes it easy for me to execute a project as long as I can sit there in the seat and keep doing it for four or five hours, and then it’ll be done. I feel like there’s kind of like no limit to the amount of things that I can sit down and do. It’s just a matter of picking one of them and doing it, like recording the Waffle Apocalypse song is like, “Okay, I need to fill 30, 35, 45 seconds, whatever it is, with this idea. Now let’s work on that thing, execute it, done, move on next to the video editing.” And it’s just this series of programming. Does that make sense?
PP: Yeah, I think that makes sense.
CK: I think you have more of a chaotic process maybe.
PP: I do. It’s much less structured. My strategy is to actually leave the project open on my computer all the time.
PP: It’s basically open 24/7.
CK: Oh man, that’s stressing me out.
PP: I’ll usually only work on it first thing in the morning before I go to work. Just open it while I’m having-
CK: In the kitchen.
PP: In the kitchen, having my first two cups of coffee before I go to work.
CK: You’re known for recording in your kitchen.
PP: Yes. I don’t know why-
CK: Wasn’t there someone who stole your idea and started doing kitchen music videos?
PP: Who did a kitchen music video and stole my idea?
CK: Or maybe you stole their idea and I was thinking of their thing.
PP: Oh, I posted something about this on … Weezer, they put out a music video where the drummer was wearing a chef’s hat and for some reason I took a bunch of photos of myself wearing a chef’s outfit back before I released the song Translational Frames, which the lyrics have a lot of culinary references. I’m not a chef and I can’t really cook very well but-
CK: Because you haven’t become obsessed with that yet.
PP: Yeah, I’m preventing myself from becoming obsessed with any more things because if you do that, you go off the rails and you lose your-
CK: Well, what are some other … Wait, did we finish up that topic? Because I don’t want to stray too far off of this.
PP: Of the Type 3 fun?
CK: Type 3 fun, I still don’t understand what that is. You said a moment ago you keep your document open and you work on it in the morning in your kitchen, and so continue that thought.
PP: Yeah, so I guess my hypothesis there is that usually the hardest part of starting to work on a project is opening it up and getting ready to actually work on it, so-
CK: Oh, that’s interesting.
PP: So I try to make that as easy as possible. I use Reaper as a DAW now. I leave Reaper open 24/7-
CK: I wondered what that was that you use. I see screenshots sometimes. I think [inaudible 00:30:33]-
PP: Yeah, I like them from a … It’s a very stabile application and their licensing is extremely fair, so I really like Reaper.
CK: Are you sort of an open source person?
PP: I am. I do some software development … Well, I do software development for work and I also do some as a hobby, some open source contributions when I have time once in a while, so I think that’s an important thing. Reaper is not open source, but it is fairly licensed, which is-
CK: What does that mean?
PP: It means they don’t charge high prices for the licenses. I think a personal license is something like $50 or $60 and you get free upgrades I think through two major versions, or one or two-
PP: Like I said, it’s extremely stable and it can run on Linux, which I don’t do at the moment, but if I could someday, I would record on a Linux machine, leaving the project open.
CK: Leaving the project file open at all times.
PP: Someone told me one time about writing their thesis or something in grad school, that you’ve just got to open it up and take a look at it, and I think that’s true with music as well. You open the project and even just pressing play and listening to what you have so far will give you some stuff to work on.
CK: That’s a really good point, because I do a ton of my writing as far as screenplays and things like that, I write a lot in Evernote on my phone or I write in my app called Things on my iPhone, and that allows me to, if I drive my wife over somewhere on an errand and she needs to run into a store, I can sit down, pop open a script and just look at it for a moment and go, “Oh, I should have used that word there,” and then suddenly I’m into writing mode.
PP: Yeah, you just have to make it as easy as possible to start working and I’m finally, actually getting into a decent routine of being able to spend a decent amount of time on music within the past, I don’t know, six months or so. That’s been part of getting those habits into place.
CK: You also spend time optimizing wind turbines.
CK: Is that correct?
PP: That is correct. That is my day job, writing software to analyze-
CK: Oh, you write software to analyze wind turbines to optimize them.
PP: Yes, to help them capture more energy and live longer lives and get us more electricity. And they’re existing wind turbines, they’re not wind turbines-
CK: They’re not Type 3-
PP: … that are in the factory.
CK: … Type 3 wind turbines?
PP: No, they are Type 1.
CK: Type 1.
PP: They are existing wind turbines, having fun in the moment.
CK: So you don’t physically go up to a wind turbine and say, “Hey, wind turbine, I’m going to climb up on a ladder or climb up the side of you and look at you and optimize you.”
PP: No. I climbed a tower one time and-
CK: Just once.
PP: … that was pretty crazy. Yeah, I spend most of my time sitting in front of a computer, but I did climb a tower one time and that was pretty intense.
CK: Would you take your bicycle to the top of the wind turbine, and is there some sort of connection between bicycling, the circular motion creating a soft of a wind turbine in a way … I don’t know if that really is a wind turbine, or going up to a wind turbine, or Pete Townshend of The Who?
PP: Sometimes a bicycle wheel will sort of act like a wind turbine if you have it on the back of your car and it gets spinning. Sometimes the wind coming off the back of your car will keep the wheel spinning. And what were we talking about Pete Townshend for?
CK: He does that windmill thing.
PP: Oh. Yeah.
CK: The windmill on the guitar. Do you do that in the kitchen?
PP: I don’t. I would probably hit something. I don’t have enough space for that. But yeah, all three of those things are powered by human energy as the prime mover. Actually, wind turbines are not. They’re powered by the wind.
CK: Well, they could be … Well, yeah, you’re right.
PP: They all derive from solar energy though, really.
CK: But doesn’t everything?
CK: Is that true?
PP: That’s the commonality. Humans-
CK: But is it true that everything … No, not everything comes from solar energy, or does it?
PP: Well, except for-
CK: All life.
PP: … nuclear reactions, I suppose. You could say-
CK: Nuclear reactions don’t come from that?
PP: … the energy present inside atoms of uranium was not put there by solar-
CK: How did you learn about energy and … how did you even get into that?
PP: That’s what I went to school for. I went to school for mechanical engineering.
CK: Mechanical engineering is what it’s called.
PP: Yeah, yeah. Specialized in fluid mechanics in grad school, which-
CK: A thing that Dick Cheney once said about fluid … Sorry. This situation is fluid.
PP: Dick Cheney said that?
CK: Yeah, the situation is fluid. That’s how he said it.
PP: I have a feeling that he’s not an expert on fluids, but he’s probably an expert on waterboarding or something.
CK: Jesus. You were talking about urban sprawl. Is that the term?
CK: No. Yes?
PP: Yeah, yeah. Urban or suburban sprawl. I don’t know [inaudible 00:37:00]-
CK: What’s that about? You talked about coming to LA, you talked about grocery stores and cars …
PP: Yeah, it’s the M.O. of development when you’re thinking in a-
CK: Modus operandi.
PP: When you’re thinking in a car-centric way, you will design a place to be sprawled out where you don’t have dense housing and you basically have all of your citizens rely on driving their cars significant distances every single day to do normal tasks, which is a bad idea if you’re thinking in terms of energy security, and I would even argue in terms of social cohesiveness.
CK: I have to agree with you. I hate cars. We’re sitting in one right now. Thankfully it is not exploding after I just insulted it. This idea of you want people stacked more vertically on top of each other as much as possible.
PP: That’s usually the direction that you have to go, yeah.
CK: Instead of spreading them out all over LA, you would maybe like LA to be one tall building in the center of-
PP: Maybe a couple.
CK: A couple of very tall buildings.
PP: My dream would be … Imagine this. Imagine the center of the city has … They don’t have to be very tall buildings, but six stories, let’s say. Lots of six-story buildings.
CK: By the way, Pete came out here from Boston. He road his bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles. We’re not talking here in Hollywood and we’re talking about how Los Angeles is spread out very far and that you need a car to do everything. Go back to what you were saying. If there would be a road accident, you can refer to professionals like the ones on this homepage.
PP: And because of that, people are suffering every single day in traffic, which has-
CK: It makes no sense.
PP: It has psychological and environmental consequences. So anyway-
CK: This sounds a lot like my War On Fun declaration.
PP: Yeah actually there’s a pretty cool podcast called The War on Cars that I discovered recently and I consider myself a bit of a foot soldier in … I actually worked for a car company for a while and cars were the main reason that I even got into engineering in the first place. So, I used to really, really love cars. But anyway, my dream for how the world could be is a very dense urban core and then you have farmland outside of a-
CK: What does that mean, a dense urban core?
PP: It means people living in close proximity with businesses-
CK: Stacked vertically.
PP: Stacked vertically on top of businesses.
CK: Tall buildings.
PP: Multi-use zoning. Tall buildings. Relatively tall buildings. Like I said, they don’t need to be skyscrapers, but dense enough to where you can walk to a grocery store. I think that’s kind of like the litmus test for if you have good development, if your place is properly zoned, if most citizens can walk to a grocery store. And then outside of that, either farmland or just preserved forest. I mean, that would be kind of cool. And they’re all linked together with rail.
CK: Back to planning the future.
PP: Yes, hopefully the future is dense and doesn’t force everyone to own a car.
CK: My theory was that you have a bicycle which is a very efficient machine. It’s very lightweight. It doesn’t even weigh as much as us, right?
PP: Right, yeah, it’s only around 20 pounds or so.
CK: Yet it can move us from one place to another very efficiently. A small motorcycle, still pretty efficient and light. Suddenly we make the jump to a car, which makes no sense to me-
PP: Yeah, especially when-
CK: … in the weight ratio. Like so much of the gas is moved to move the car and the gas.
PP: Yes, cars are very, very heavy compared to motorcycles and bicycles, of course. And yes, they are faster and they’re more comfortable, but when you’re trying to move a bunch of people along a stretch of road, you have a lot of people that are in these big cars, just themselves, so it’s a waste of space. And then when you get to your destination, you have to put the car somewhere, so you-
CK: There’s a car alarm going off right now.
PP: I think we offended a car.
CK: Yeah, it’s yelling. And then we end up having these 6,000-pound cars-
CK: … with one person in them that weighs 100 pounds or 150 pounds.
PP: Designed to protect the occupant and not anyone that the car might encounter in some sort of collision.
PP: Yeah. That brings up another point of trying to navigate the licensing process. I sort of think that they will let almost anyone get behind the wheel. It’s not very strict. It’s not very difficult to get a driver’s license, and we have people operating these heavy machines and, I don’t know … Am I taking this too seriously? Are we being too serious on this podcast? This is a topic that is maybe a downer for some people.
CK: No, I don’t think that it’s a downer at all.
PP: I feel like it riles up people’s emotions, myself included.
PP: Yeah. People [inaudible 00:42:10]-
CK: Well, because … You’re not feeling that way because you’re protective of cars, but other people seem to identify with their cars. Like, “This car represents me.”
PP: Yeah, and I totally relate to that. I mean, I spent most of my youth building car projects, swapping out engines and axles and things like that, so I know what it’s like to care a lot about a car, which is strange.
CK: Well, I can maybe feel that way about a guitar, but not … Maybe it feels okay to be that way about a car, but about a car, I just feel like I just don’t … I think they’re way too expensive, they’re way too inconvenient, it’s absurd that it costs you so much … Of course, houses are an absurd cost as well, just housing and cars are … How can it possibly cost that much?
PP: Yeah, and if you set up a society where you can free people from needing cars, people who are into equality of opportunity, you can imagine that your gateway into economic viability is no longer held back by owning this $20,000, $30,000 machine to get you to go be productive at a job. If you can take public transit or ride a bike or walk to work, you have more opportunity and it’s a more equal opportunity for you. So, it’s a bit of a social justice thing as well.
CK: About music, I don’t recall but I remember your name being around in my sort of circle for quite a long time. Like maybe you messaged me or bought some of my records way back. Is that true?
PP: Yeah, I think so, back in the Myspace days and then probably the early Facebook days as well.
CK: Did you ever use a cat as your icon?
PP: Did I ever use a cat as my … I don’t think so.
CK: So you weren’t the person that had a cat with a watermelon on top of its head?
PP: No, I don’t think that was me.
PP: Must have been the other Pete Peterson.
CK: It might have been.
PP: There actually are quite a few. There’s a Pete Peterson apparently that has an E instead of an O in the Peterson. Petersen. He’s some sort of jazz musician, probably much better than me at everything musical.
CK: But what brought us together originally? What was the thing? Did we like some similar stuff?
PP: Yeah, it was YouTube actually. I found the old Sir Millard Mulch fake … Were those fake Ibanez promotional videos?
PP: Fake Ibanez promotional videos.
CK: Because when Ibanez won’t give you a deal, you just say, “Well, I’ll make my own deal …”
PP: Yeah, and-
CK: “… with Ibanez, without their permission.”
PP: And it happened to include Morgan Ågren who I found out about via Meshuggah, of course, listening to Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects and then watching Morgan Ågren videos on YouTube. The one that he did with Fredrik on The [Trum 00:45:16] Show, I must have watched thousands of times or something like that.
CK: This is interesting that someone like that can make a video and you and I will have grown up watching it and it would have been so important to us.
PP: Yeah, and then it leads to something like sitting in a car talking into a microphone about it. It’s very chaotic that that led to me buying the Sir Millard Mulch album and then from there I’d never listened to Mr. Bungle before and then I listened to Mr. Bungle because of the Mr. Bungle references on the Sir Millard Mulch album. And then that influenced me a lot and I ripped off a lot of their style and aesthetic.
CK: But how would you say you ripped off their style? What does that mean?
PP: I don’t know if I necessarily made music that was exactly like Mr. Bungle’s style but I think the genre-blending type of stuff that they did-
CK: Sort of genre-hopping, like the verse is reggae and then we go into metal kind of thing?
PP: Yeah. Before the Pete Peterson Project, the band that I had before was a little bit more blatant about that. I try not to just jump between genres. I think that is kind of gimmicky at this point in town and it is kind of like a Mr. Bungle ripoff.
CK: Well, that’s what made me angry about Estradasphere.
PP: Yeah, I remember you had quite a vendetta against them.
CK: Yeah. Well, it was one of the first things I experienced when I moved to San Francisco. I got there and maybe that night or the night after I went and saw Estradasphere playing at the local bar and I was just furious because they were just playing funk music and drunk college kids were dancing, and I was like, “This is not what this is about.”
PP: And then all of a sudden it was like growling death metal or something?
CK: Well, they didn’t even do that. They just played it straight. They just entertained a bunch of drunk people, and I was like, “This is not what you do when Mr. Bungle hands you the baton,” is how I felt. Like they were carrying on the tradition of Mr. Bungle.
PP: They weren’t being punk at all.
PP: Where Mr. Bungle was basically, I feel like, flipping off the audience a lot of the time.
CK: Oh yeah, just torturing the audience, and that’s what gave me glee.
CK: Being in the audience that they are torturing, and hearing the people around me getting frustrated was like … I enjoyed that so much to sit there and experience that.
PP: Yeah, yeah. It’s like battling against the normies or something.
PP: Yeah. I really like the irreverence of Mr. Bungle and Mike Patton did that a lot with Faith No More too. Yeah, that punk vibe.
CK: I tried to ask them about that, both Trey and Bär McKinnon, I asked them in interviews, “What caused you guys to go out and do that?” I think a lot of people who may have grown up in LA or something and gone to MI and you try to get a record deal and you try to do this traditional path of, “Please like me, we want everybody to like us,” which I understand. What makes a kid who’s 18 years old get a record deal too Warner Bros. and then go out and just torture the audience on their first tour? Who has the balls to just insult their audience, like trying to clear the room? You know?
PP: Yeah, possibly revenge, but, I don’t know, my motivation for wanting to do what they did is probably more from realizing that I couldn’t be good in a traditional sense of, “I’m going to be good at what everyone else does. I’m just going to do it the best.” I figured out that that’s not possible for me. I either don’t have the talent or the work ethic to get to the top of music in a traditional way, so you can do it in an irreverent way and kind of be cynical and not take it seriously and that can make a good statement as well, because at the end of the day, as long as you just have people that you’re communicating with through what you’re doing, you’re successfully arting.
CK: Successfully arting.
PP: It’s kind of an, I guess, angry revenge.
CK: Do you feel like you’re reaching a correct audience with what you’re doing? Do you feel visible?
PP: I think I have a very small audience, maybe like six people. Yeah, I don’t know, I don’t really think about what the audience is, how small they are. I appreciate having an audience at all, which I owe a lot to Travis for that and his platform, but at the end of the day I’m just making what I feel like I want to make, or just carrying out the ideas, the list of ideas, and yeah, I don’t know. People definitely don’t like all of it.
CK: How far out do you think your ideas extend as far as if you were to have to write them all down? How long would it take you to do them all, that are on your mind right now?
PP: I have, let’s see, four more songs to record that are pretty much fully conceptualized, but I also have a list of ideas, like musical concepts, ways to compose, things like that, that I would like to mix in. And who knows, I’ll try to mix those into the songs as they get made, because just because they’re conceptualized doesn’t mean they’re actually fully written, if that makes sense.
CK: Yeah, sure.
PP: I know what the riff is going to kind of sound like. I don’t even know the timing. I don’t know exactly what the melodies are going to be. I don’t know the vocals, but the song already has somewhat of a identity.
CK: Yeah, I think that over time, at least what I notice, is that as people become better musicians, they can think in larger chunks. I’ve gone past the point now where I think much in songs and I now think in albums and groups of albums, and that’s where you start to get like, “Well, if I can already have five albums in my mind, maybe I need to improve the format and make one really good album, instead of five albums.”
PP: Yeah. I think you also need to be a little bit cautious about, at least this is one of my own fears, about overprocessizing the creative process and getting to a point where making music is routine and you know exactly what you need to do every time, because I think you need to always be on the verge of not knowing what you’re doing in order to get something new and fresh. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, unless you’re trying to be that person who is the top of the top. You don’t really have to do anything necessarily weird or different, you just have to do really well, kind of like the Olympics or something. Always being on the verge of being a dilettante has-
CK: Mike Stone, I don’t know what a dilettante is. Please text me and let me know. Thank you. It was enjoyable sitting in my car with you and getting to chat about this stuff. We’re going into about an hour at this point. We have 21 hours and 54 minutes to go, so let’s move on to the next topic, which is ending this episode.
PP: Yes. Do you have some sort of special way that you end podcasts?
CK: I usually just say bye. But I wanted to just … I think it’s nice at the end, when you say, “Okay, to find out more about this young man named Pete Peterson, how do we do this?”
PP: So if you go to my website, PeteP.me, there are links to Instagram and Facebook and all that good stuff. I even have a GitHub account for my website is open source, if you’d like to copy it.
CK: You can have your very own Pete Peterson website.
PP: Yes, that’s right. So yeah, I’m probably most active on Instagram [inaudible 00:53:21]-
CK: He’s a very adept guitarist, folks. I’ve seen his videos of him playing guitar. He’s adept. He does it in his kitchen.
PP: Yeah. I want to use my guitar as a cutting board someday in a video or something too, so look out for that on YouTube.
CK: Look out for that on YouTube. Was there anything else that you wanted to say or talk about?
PP: No, just it’s great to talk to you and finally meet you and thanks for having me on the podcast.
OK, that’s the end of this Episode of the Carl King Podcast. Remember to subscribe on Spotify, Apple Music, or anywhere else you listen to these dang podcasts. And support the creation of more episodes by joining my Patreon for $1 or $5 a month. That’s Patreon Dot Com Slash Carl King.
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