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July 2018 - Handsome Pete

Lansing Based Band Blazes a Handsome Trail of Rock 'n' Roll

Story by LCC Radio Reporter Sarah Spohn

Handsome PeteJust three years ago, Handsome Pete was a local Lansing cover band, playing nineties alternative in bars all across the state. Today, they’re a Q106 Homegrown Throw Down favorite, and poised to be a Capital City favorite. Their latest track, Captain Lonely, is already proving to be successful, thanks to a loyal, rather than lonely fanbase. Made up of Aaron Blick (vocals), Derek Boda (lead guitar), Adam Thierault (rhythm guitar), Kirk Monroe (bass), and Eleu Lopez (drums), the band has no Pete, yet they’ll argue – they’re all handsome.

Making the transition from a steady gigging cover band to playing original music can be a tricky path to navigate, but Handsome Pete has paved the way for their musical career to really set sail. The group spoke about how their beginning came to be. “Aaron, our vocalist, already had some songs written before we got together and started jamming covers. We had written more, and built upon those original songs of his when we were doing covers; however, Aaron mostly showcased them off acoustic during cover gigs,” they said. “It wasn’t until the Homegrown Throw Down that we focused more on the original material, and fully made that step to being an original band.”

Members of Handsome Pete are mainly self-taught, growing up listening to a range of influences, ranging from classic rock like Led Zeppelin, heavy rock, and ‘80s metal. Today, their original sound is a unique blend of genres. “We would tell people the sound is too diverse to sum up into one genre,” Handsome Pete said. “Sure, you can throw a blanket term and call us rock, or hard rock, or even alternative, but we have for the most part -- a non-defining genre. We have songs that are more modern-sounding, with others having a ‘90s alternative feel. There is definitely something for everyone to enjoy.”

Local crowds have certainly enjoyed the Handsome Pete sound, naming the band the 2016 Homegrown Thrown Down finalist, 2017 Hard Rock Rising Winner, 2017 Rockin the Shores Battle of the Bands Winner, WRKR Rock Your Vote Winners, and Next 2 Rock Top 5 Regional Finalist. The band has opened up for national touring acts including Heartsick, Wayland, Sponge, Saving Abel, Quiet Riot and Grand Funk Railroad. “What we love about the scene is the fans and people we get to meet at shows,” Handsome Pete said of their Michigan music fans. “They have been nothing but supportive of us.”

Handsome PeteAll this has occurred in just a matter of years, and the guys are still holding down jobs apart from the band’s rising success. According to the group, if they play their cards right, Handsome Pete will be a full-time band. After all, the best advice the quartet has been given is “Act like you’re going to do this the rest of your lives.” They’re determined to work harder, stay focused and to never give up on the dream. That being said, the dream can sometimes come at a price. Being an indie artist, Handsome Pete members often take on other roles aside from their respective instruments. “There is a lot of day-to-day business matters, as well as booking, social media promotion and presence, and so on … That said, and as of now, we are our own manager, booker, promoter, etc. That may change in the near future,” Handsome Pete said, “We are working with industry professional Steve Walker with Contraband Company at a national radio campaign, and him and his team are working their butts off emailing and making phone calls all over the country to various stations setting up airplay for our single ‘Captain Lonely.’”

Though their material usually is high-octane, and guitar-driven, Lansing was given a special treat when the band played a stripped-down version of their tunes at Beerfest last month. The group rehearsed, and changed the tempo of songs, giving a whole new take on familiar material. “We had a good response,” the band said. “Lots of new listeners became fans. It was a good crowd enjoying our music.”

Gearing up to release their second album, Small Miracles, the Lansing band experienced a totally different writing process for this record compared to their debut.“This time around, it is more of a collective as far as writing, whereas with the first album, we had a ton of material already written by Aaron.”

Small Miracles was partly recorded at The Loft in Saline, Michigan, operated by members of Detroit alternative rock group, Sponge. The single “Captain Lonely” was recorded by Mick at Zoinga Recording in Southeast Michigan.“The recording process was also different than the first CD. We used a technique referred to as 're-amping' which basically gives a better tone and sound for guitars. Recording there was more of an old-school thing, cutting many of the same takes over, and over, ‘til we hit a run-through of the song just right.”
Handsome Pete
To celebrate the release of the record, Handsome Pete is hosting an album release show at The Loft in Lansing on July 13. Openers include Off the Ledge, Revolution in Progress, Damned by Dawn, and Overdrive Orchestra. The energetic outfit is anything but merely going through the motions, as their lively concerts continue to win rock fans over all across the state. This year, Handsome Pete has even more festival lineups planned, including their first time at Dunesville Music Fest in Lake Ann, Michigan on July 27.

Just as there’s “no rest for the wicked,” Handsome Pete keeps on truckin’ with a soon-to-be-launched national radio campaign, booking tours and bigger shows. “We will see where the radio campaign takes us, and go from there,” the group said, “and even then, we have no intention of slowing down.”


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