It is a very tricky thing to introduce you to Gregory Pepper. In fact, it was so intimidating that for awhile I put it off. Finally, I stopped being such a baby and decided to ship this interview with Pepper because by now he's probably thinking: "WTF, Schutt?! What ever happened to that interview you asked me to do??"
Here goes ...
Who is Gregory Pepper?
He is a man of many nicknames: Peps, Pep Pep, Pepper, GP.
He is a man of many bands and band names: Gregory Pepper and His Problems, Common Grackle, Big Huge Truck (to name only a few).
He comes from the Royal City of Guelph, Ontario. Guelph (pronounced "gwelf" ... if you don't know, now you know) is the best little gem of an Ontario town. I lived there for seven years. I call it the "Austin, Texas of Canada." It's filled to the brim with amazing musicians and artists and there's a real, honest-to-goodness live music scene there. That's where I met Gregory and how (through the suggestion of a friend) I got to be one of "His Problems" ... specifically his guitar and backing vocals problem, and, sometimes, his bass problem.
He is a sly, strange, and hilariously captivating illustrator and visual artist. He plays many instruments. For sure, I know that he sings and plays the piano, the drums, the guitar, and the bass. He is also a swiss-army style engineer and producer.
He is -- above all -- a very convincing dude. He made me do this ...
That's Pepper on the left rocking the bass and me on the right rocking the little black dress. Even my mother couldn't make me wear a little black dress on stage. True!
There's not much I wouldn't do for this crazy dude! Obviously. I mean, I wore a VERY short dress whilst playing VERY, VERY loud guitar for him! That is devotion. That is sacrificing for (his) art!
I could regale you with tales of our adventures -- practicing for hours in the basement of his house in Guelph, touring through Canada and the eastern seaboard of the United States ... But, I think I'll save those for a later date.
Instead, I'll get this interview out into the world so more people can hear Pepper's music and get on board the love train that is headed in his direction.
GREGORY PEPPER ... The Tenacity Interview
(This interview is part of the TENACITY series. Read the FAQ here.)
1. Tell me a story about or describe to me your lowest musical moment, were you were at rock bottom, the most frustrated, the most discouraged.
It probably happens once every couple of years. I'll get writer's block or lose a band member or whatever and basically deflate. I only own one electric guitar because I'd sold the rest of my collection in one of these low points. It's not even really symptomatic of a particular event. I just get totally disillusioned with music in general and turn on myself, like, repulsed by my entire catalogue.
2. What change or changes did you make? How did you get out of that place? What made a difference?
It actually helps to walk away for a while. Focus on drawing, maybe go on a bender. Pretty soon those old feathers have moulted and you suddenly get jazzed something new. Like, for a little while I only wanted to play sludgy doom metal, so i said "OK, brain: If that's what you want i'll put these fingers to work". Right now I'm only writing sickly sweet bubblegum pop. It's weird, man.
3. Tell me about your most meaningful or your biggest musical triumph? It can be very personal or very public. How did it come to happen?
That's a tricky one, in part because I'm a totally obscure bedroom pop guy but also cuz I wouldn't even want to set a high water mark. Success - I assume - can be a pretty scary thing.
4. Tell me how being a musician has made you a better person?
I would say this about any type of art - and I don't limit that term to just painting or whatever. Cooking, trimming the hedge, giving your homie a haircut, it's all good. Doing stuff makes you feel less crazy, especially if you manage to express something intangible while you're at it. "Better" is all relative though, right? You're not winning any humanitarian awards but at least if you have some sort of outlet the desire to punch people in the face should subside.
5. To whom would you like to ask question #4 to -- living or dead? Why would you want to ask them? What do you think their answer to question #4 would be (as succinctly as you can state it)?
I enjoy a good chuckle so I suspect that if you asked that question to The Beatles in a circa 1964 press conference one of them would respond with an effortless repartee. Perhaps something sarcastic about money or haircuts?
6. Do you have a musical challenge you'd like to issue to my readers? Some small / do-able practice they could try for 1, 7, 14, 21, or more days? Something that you worked on that made a difference to you as a musician, songwriter, person?
Yeah, we'll end this on a positive vibe: Quit saying I hate that band or this song sucks. Try to find something you like about every piece of music that gets imposed upon you during the day. A lot of times there's a real sweet melody in that background music playing at the department store or an emotionally vapid top 40 song might have an incredible snare tone. It takes a bit more effort than knee-jerk criticism but it's all the while less draining.