After enjoying Pete MacLeod’s album Rolling Stone so much we decided that we wanted to find out more about the man himself.
As luck would have it, Pete was kind enough to spare some of his time to talk about signing to Alan McGee’s 359 Music label, supporting a wide range of artists, headlining his own shows and the writing and recording process.
Firstly Pete, your new album Rolling Stone is out now – it’s every musicians dream to do it so what was it like launching your very own debut?
A positive ambition achieved in my life. That’s always a good thing isn’t it?
For those just discovering you – how would you describe your sound?
Honest and true music from a working class Scottish lad. I’m a songwriter who sings with an acoustic guitar. It’s not complicated and why should it be? I’m not trying too hard. Just being myself and enjoying playing music that I enjoy really.
And what would you say is the must-hear Pete MacLeod track?
Ahh…from my new album tracks 1-10! I suppose the last track on my album called ‘Today I Went Swimming’.
2013 was a great year for you, culminating in Rolling Stone launching in November. If you had to pick one, what was your highlight of the year?
Great question… So many terrific moments last year but I would say seeing my Mum smiling again after losing my Dad to cancer. Musically, signing to Alan McGee’s new record label. A record deal in 2013? Whilst living in Scotland? Did that just happen? Who gets a chance these days y’know?
You have some live shows booked in for the start of 2014, including the legendary King Tuts. What are your plans for the rest of 2014?
Not forgetting the legendary Bakers in Kilmarnock too eh?! More shows I suppose and just enjoying playing my music. Whatever happens before, within and after that is a bonus!
As well as King Tuts you also played the world-famous Barrowland Ballroom in December supporting Shed Seven, how was that experience?
Yes, it was lovely to do that. It was nice to be invited and also to play at such a special venue which is very important to our Scottish musical heritage. I guess we are fortunate to have that y’know?
We mentioned Shed Seven above; you’ve also supported Ocean Colour Scene, The Strypes, Amy MacDonald and had Bonehead join you on stage. What’s been your favourite moment of your career so far?
They were all different and great experiences y’know? I’ve had the pleasure of many great moments with my music. I wouldn’t say they compete with each other on that level. All of these experiences have been one big favourite moment for me.
You’ve had experience of releasing music on your own Mod Rock Music label. How was that different to recording Rolling Stone?
Different in many ways. It prepared me for this I guess, like a degree in appreciating music and other factors involved along the way. Who’s to say what is good and what isn’t in 2014 anyways? Or over the past 60 or so years?
Everyone is a critic so it has and always will be a numbers game. I just do music because I enjoy it. If others enjoy what I do then again, that’s a bonus! I would have continued giving my music away for free or for charity but when Alan offered me a deal I agreed because of what he has done for music; he gives people like me a chance.
We still have to get in the ring though if you know what I mean? We still have to go through the motions like any other artist, that doesn’t change. Maybe in the 80’s that was different when people were buying more albums but today everyone is in the trenches, it’s all still DIY. If you don’t get off your arse then no one will do it for you y’know?
How did signing with 359 Music come about?
Alan told me he wanted to sign me and I said yes. He was going to do it with a major which we both discussed and I said to him that I trust him, whatever he wanted to do I’m in. I told him that I would only sign with two people: Him or Simon Cowell (of course I am joking!). Sign with Alan or continue releasing music the way I was…I’ve tried something different, it feels good man.
As well as the UK you’ve also spent time in California and played in Hamburg, Germany. How have your travels influenced your music?
Yes, that can be clearly and intentionally heard on my record. It’s a smaller world these days too. Technology has brought us here.
Anton Newcombe invited you out to his studio in Berlin to record – how did that come about and what was the experience like?
We just got to know each other a little and Anton is someone that I respect as an artist and as someone who speaks his mind. I trust people that speak what’s on their minds, at least you know where they stand and yourself. It was nice to spend time with Anton at his studio. It was fucking freezing in Berlin when I got there though! I think a studio in Hawaii is a priority for me, I need the sun man. One can dream eh?
What was your process for writing and recording Rolling Stone? Did you demo the tracks or did you go straight in to work in the studio?
Erm, the process evolved itself into everything really.
You know how major labels would use many different kinds of studios over the course of recording an album? Well, I pretty much did the same thing except I’m not a major label and I’m not rich so what you have is the music and my vision of having the songs sounding that little bit different from each other on a listening format.
Everything musically can be classed as a demo anyways as you can play any song in a different style.
For our musically-minded readers, what is your gear set up in the studio and does this change live?
In the studio I’m a different person. I have more time to experiment and I enjoy that relaxed environment. In my mind I become my own producer. When you have time booked in for a studio it’s a financial clock ticking isn’t it? Gear for the studio is my voice, acoustic and whatever suits the song. I use a fucked up laptop that my bass player gave me years ago, I got pro tools on it and did one song for the album. ‘On The Other Side (Part 1). It’s not working just now so I’ll come back to that and fix when the time is right. For the moment I’m in a different frame of mind playing live.
Even making a playlist causes me to sweat – how did you decide on the track-listing for your album?
I took my time and split the album into two sides. An upbeat side and a more chilled side. Like a vinyl side A and side B. If you look at the back of the album then you will see that was my take on it. It felt right to do that.
Were any of the tracks harder to get down than others?
Yes probably if I analysed it enough but it’s all science man. Music teaches me many things in life. I love it.
And finally, where can we hear your music and keep up-to-date online?
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