Pete RG was raised on music and a love for Greece. If you ever watched 90210 and Dawson’s Creek, you’ve heard his songs. And what’s with the Neil Diamond reference? Read on!
Pete RG: new album, tour
Pete RG will kick off his fall tour in Chicago on October 12.
Meet Pete RG
Peter Argyropoulos, a.k.a. Pete RG, was born and raised in Los Angeles near Venice Beach. He traces his Greek roots to a tiny village near Andritsaina, Ilias. His father, James, moved to Chicago with his family when he was young. Inspired by rock music in the 1960s, James took up the guitar. Together with Pete’s mom, Bambi, also a musician, the two played the club circuit with their band in L.A. in the 1960s. When Pete was born, it was time to get “serious” and his parents got “real jobs”. The family, however, continued to enjoy and play their music. Pete grew up surrounded by music — 60s and 70s rock, particularly the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin; and of course, Greek music.
“I think my favorite is Dalaras, though I really love Haris Alexiou.”
In the 80s, his dad took him to see Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, and The Clash.
“Then in the 90s, I got into some grunge and punk. I listened to Radiohead, too. They’ve all inspired my sound. I call it a ‘traditional Americana-ish sound, Springsteen and Mellencamp-ish, spiced with punk influence’.”
On being Greek
The music business can be dog-eat-dog, but Pete credits his family for keeping him grounded.
“I grew up in a large Greek family. Including my two brothers and I, we have 15 first cousins and most live nearby. I spent every weekend with my grandparents. My mom’s not Greek, but I grew up with my dad’s family, and Greek traditions were the center of my life.”
As a young man, traveling to Greece had a big impact on him.
“When I was 4, my dad started taking me to Greece every year. As I got older, I realized that it was such a huge part of who I am. I came to appreciate my heritage for how unique and special it is. I’m so proud of what Greece has given the world. I’m proud to be Greek.”
Getting involved in music
Surrounded by musicians from birth, he was always musically inclined. He got involved in music at school.
“Since my dad played guitar, I always had an interest in playing an instrument, myself. My first instruments were the recorder and clarinet, like many school kids. Then I played violin and even a bit of drums.”
Pete was always a top music student, but previously had no interest in pursuing it professionally. He thought he’d go into business.
“In high school, I picked up the guitar; it was like an epiphany.”
He moved to rural Pennsylvania to attend a small college. There, Pete played in cover bands to earn money. Since his first college friends weren’t musicians, he’d wander the dormitories, listening outside dorm rooms to see if he could hear anyone playing an instrument. When he did, he’d knock on the door and introduce himself. He met a lot of people and was eventually recruited to join a few cover bands. The first band was called Incognito.
“We played fraternities, clubs. It really developed me as a musician. After a while, I got tired of playing everyone else’s songs. My dad is also a songwriter, and really encouraged me to write my own material.”
Growing up in L.A., he was used to sun and warmth. Pennsylvania winters were frigid and gloomy. It started to get to him, and he wanted to go home. This longing for warmer climes and the first ray of sunlight that came in that March inspired the first song he ever wrote, “The Sun Does Rise”. He’s been writing feverishly ever since.
Of his writing, he says, it’s “poetry set to music.” Over time, he’s honed his skills and has become a prolific songwriter.
Learning the business
After college, he recorded demo tapes and shopped them, garnering the attention of various publishing companies.
“One of the publishing companies sent me to work at Keith Olsen’s studio with his protege, Peter Love. Keith had produced a wide range of artists, from Fleetwood Mac to AC/DC to Pat Benatar, often with Peter as his engineer. Peter had produced a number of up-and-coming LA bands. I learned so much from both of them. The lessons are invaluable. Keith, in particular, kept reiterating ‘the 10-year rule’. He’d say, ‘You don’t even start to get good until you’ve been at your craft for at least 10 years. Some people take 20.’ Partly competition, because it’s fierce, it takes a lot of trial and error and incredible perseverance. The business can be cutthroat. You have to love what you do.”
Last December; writing for TV
After recording at Olsen’s studio, Goodnight LA, Pete joined a few of the musicians he’d worked with during the sessions, to form the band Last December. They played around LA for several months, honing their sound. Pete’s songs began to take on a new character. Inspired with new songs and a developing sound, they returned to Goodnight LA, with Peter Love as producer, and recorded their first album, “Without Wings”. This caught the attention of music supervisors that put songs in commercials, TV, and film. With their album barely complete, their songs were being contracted for shows like ‘Beverly Hills 90210’, ‘Dawson’s Creek’, and ‘Party of 5’.
“It was incredible. Then we got calls for more songs. When the album came out, it sold 12,000 copies in a matter of months. We didn’t even have a record label.”
They eventually signed to a label. In the long run, it wasn’t the right fit, as they didn’t have the freedom to evolve. Feeling stifled, after four years, they disbanded. Pete continued to write for TV and began producing other artists.
By 2012, Pete recorded new music, and yearned to return to the stage. The Pete RG ‘project’ was born. The name comes from his nickname — his non-Greek friends couldn’t pronounce ‘Argyropoulos’, so they’d call him ‘Argy’. It morphed into ‘RG’.
Pete takes the lead on vocals and guitar. The current band, together since early 2015, includes musicians with impressive pedigrees. Adam Kury, of Candlebox fame, plays bass. He brought in Dave Krusen, the original drummer for Pearl Jam (he played on the first album). Veteran musician Kevin Haaland plays guitar. Brina Kabler, Pete’s fiancee, plays keyboard and sings back-up. She’s also his engineer, co-producer, and, he says, his “musical muse”.
Pete RG’s first EP, ‘Lightning Strikes’, released in Winter 2015, garnered strong college radio play and press. They hit the road soon after. To keep the momentum going, the following October, they released ‘Reaching for the Moon’. Tours of the northeast and the northwest followed.
Released September 23, ‘Tender Souls’ includes five new tracks, plus songs from the two previous EPs. Stylistically, Pete described it as something fans of The National, War on Drugs, Springsteen, and U2 will like.
“Neil Diamond fans actually like what we do, too, because they say I have a similar voice.”
Pete RG will kick off their fall tour in Chicago on October 12 at Schubas, 3159 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL. Check fall tour dates for shows in your area.
For 10 years, Maria served as the Associate Editor and Senior Writer for The Greek Star newspaper. Her work has been published in GreekCircle magazine, The National Herald, GreekReporter, HarlotsSauce Radio, Women.Who.Write, and more. Maria has contributed to three books: Greektown Chicago: Its History, Its Recipes; The Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook; and the inaugural Voices of Hellenism Literary Journal.