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Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

According to a recent press release: “A lot of things inspire writing and recording experiences – good times and bad, falling in and out of love, a turn of fortune … and the threat of war.  Pete Evick, who, not only has been Bret Michaels band director and lead guitarist for the better part of two decades but also has had his own successful career since his late teens used that threat of war to “get off my ass and into writing and recording mode.” The first thing Evick did was get into the studio and, with the help of EVICK drummer Chuck Fanslau, bassist, Mike Echols and Young Devereux on sax, laid down a hard hitting version of German pop star Nena’s classic “99 Red Balloons.”   The song is meant as a call to action for the human race in light of the Russian attack on Ukraine.”  As a child of the 80’s, the threat of nuclear war and potential conflict with Russia has been ingrained in his heart and mind for his entire life. As a child, Evick had to receive therapy to deal with his near-crippling fear that the bombs were dropping at all times. Pete also took the time to write and record the first new EVICK music in a decade.  The track, “My Best Days,” was written to be an inspiration to those who feel as if they have already lived their prime. There is always more to come, no matter how old or what adversity, there is always something better on the way.” Just to keep things up and up for publicity and PR, I actually contacted Pete’s publicist and asked for an interview.  He was a little surprised to see it was me he was calling at the allotted time. We get guitarist, entrepreneur, and longtime friend Pete on the phone to discuss new music, candles, opportunities, loyalty, and much more…

Toddstar: Well, as we joked about before I started the recording, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for me, Pete.

Pete: Well, I would stop everything anytime you ask. What a pleasant surprise.

Toddstar: We got to hang out not too long ago down here in Florida, catch up a little bit. But there’s some new stuff going on in your world. And I want to hit first with the single you released a little bit ago just under your own name as a solo artist, the cover of “99 Red Balloons.”

Pete: Yes, sir.

Toddstar: There’s so much backstory to that with you, with anxiety as a kid. You and I, we’re that same age, so we grew up when Russia and Nuclear threat and all that stuff was reality. That shit was real when we grew up.

Pete: It was. You remember, right? It’s interesting. For a lot of years, I’d put that behind in my head, the fear and how terrifying it all was to me. And I started to believe that maybe only I knew this stuff or felt this way. And as I released this song, I’m finding that there’s an entire community of people out there like yourself and other people that did share the same fears that I thought I was alone in feeling.

Toddstar: I know you did this to help bring awareness to Ukraine and hopefully good will always triumph over evil, but how much of the song once you started going through it almost became more of just catharsis for you to be able to do this, that help kind of heal yourself too?

Pete:   Well, the truth of the matter is the song is therapeutic to me and it was therapeutic to me as a child in 1983 or 1984 when the song was popular. Even though I wasn’t into the Euro pop or Euro punk sound – I was a diehard eighties rock metalhead by then. I was into Quiet Riot, Van Halen, Twisted Sister, and all that stuff in that era. But this song spoke to me. MTV used to play the German version a lot, but I caught the American version a couple times and then kind of found out what the song was about. And I felt not alone. I felt like Nena was speaking to me like, “Hey, I feel this too,” or whatever. And so I really, I really held onto the song, and it was therapeutic to me as a child. When all this started going again, I couldn’t believe it was 2022. I was looking at headlines on all the world’s news and the headlines and the news crawler said nuclear and they said, Russia. I thought “Are we just going back in time over and over again?” It twisted me on so many levels. I basically retreated back to that song like I did when I was 13.

Toddstar: You brought our old friend Chucky play drums on it.

Pete: Yeah, and I had my friend Mike Echols play bass on it instead of Ray. If Ray would’ve played bass on it, then I would’ve just called it Evick. Ray’s still part of Evick and he’s still a huge part of my life. My buddy Mike Echols is just a super cool funky bass player. He just plays a little bit different and I thought it’d be cool to add a little different player into this song since it wasn’t an actual Evick song.

Toddstar: Another thing that made this different from an Evick song is you put some sax on this one too.

Pete: That’s my buddy Young Devereaux, who is a phenomenal musician. Sometimes I do acoustic gigs, me and Eric Brittingham do a thing called This, That and The Other where we do a lot of eighties metal covers or eighties rock covers but we just do them acoustic. If Young is nearby, we call him in, and he plays all the solos and stuff on the sax. I didn’t want to make it a metal song with metal guitar. It would’ve been really predictable for me to play those parts. Those are synth parts on the original song, and it would’ve just been the most predictable thing in the world for me to do them on lead guitar. So I thought, what can I do just to be a little bit different? I love every opportunity I can ever have to play with Young Devereaux.

Toddstar: You released that and then you moved over and then you do the Evick thing and dropped “My Best Days.” How did this one come together? And more importantly, is there more behind it?

Pete: There are. Not a full-length record yet, but I’m just going to release singles as I write them and finish them. There’s more music, but basically “My Best Days” was an important message to me. And I think it’s important to a lot of our generation and my peers and people. During COVID, it got to this place where everyone was talking about the old days like better days aren’t coming. The whole world was like, “Oh, I wish it was 1988 again,” or “Oh, I wish it was 1984 again,” or “Oh, remember the good old days.” I do remember the good old days and I loved it. I had a wonderful time growing up and I have a wonderful memory of my entire history. But if that’s all there is, then put a bullet in my head, man, I’m ready to check out if the best has already come, let’s move on. You know what I mean? I thought this can’t be. So I decided to write this song and maybe someone else needs to hear this. If one person hears it and feels the way I do, that’s great. If one person or a million people, as long as someone out there hears it and says, “Oh, I’m not alone in feeling that my best days are still ahead of me.” I thought it was something positive in a very, very dark era in the entire world.

Toddstar: You talked about COVID a little bit and how that kind of struck everything down. You actually took to the internet and started doing internet shows. Was that more of just keeping your skills up or was it more just to keep yourself sane or was it to help the fans out? What was the whole thought process when you went to the Stage It platform?

Pete: I had been doing Stage It shows prior to COVID, but I did not do this once-a-week thing. Last week was my hundred and second show, I believe. With my book, which you and I have talked about in the past, the older I get and the more I think about life and us as humans, the big picture is that so many of us feel alone and we all think we’re freaks. We all think that no one in the world feels anything like we do. Our own personality and our own uniqueness is very, very important, but we’re not alone. We all feel different things, we all feel similar things, and we’re human. With everything I’ve done probably in the last five years of my life, since I wrote that book, it has been very eye opening to me that my personal mission is just to make people not feel alone. I’m not trying to save the world. I’m not trying to end homelessness or world hunger. It’s none of that. It’s just every human being in the world at some point in their life feels like they’re the only person that feels or thinks the way they do. I believe that that in itself, while unique, is also similar. The fact that we all feel that is a similarity, and it’s important to not feel like you’re alone. Again, I’m not talking about alone, like “I don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife or a partner.” That’s not the alone I’m talking about. I’m just talking about alone in our psychology and the way our brain feels and the inside. And I think it’s important for us as a species to know that we’re not alone, we’re together.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

Toddstar: That’s an important message to put out there because there’s so much of the opposite going on, especially in today’s day and age with bullying and everything else.

Pete: The division is amazing. I’m a conspiracy theorist. I hate to say it, but I feel like there’s some puppets, not Democrat or Republican. I think there’s a level above that in the pyramid that is just pulling some strings to create some division, to create chaos. I think there’s a giant something going on that everyone’s a puppet that thinks that they’re not the puppet right now. It’s sick, what’s happening. The division is insane and that whatever they’re doing is working is embarrassing.

Toddstar: Life has changed so much for you over the last we’ll call it almost 20 years. We have been friends for almost 17 years. I still remember that first show in Detroit back in, was it 2005? I think when you debuted the Bret Michaels Band.

Pete: That’s right.

Toddstar: I’ve learned things about you over the years, but let’s dig deep. What’s more important to you… a legacy of being somebody who stood behind your convictions or your musical legacy?

Pete: Let me just go right to this question. The music is a tool that I’m using to achieve something. It’s always been that way, because the second you play guitar, the second you sing, or the second you’re an entertainer, you are bringing people together. When you’re at a concert, you look around and you go, “Oh, these are my people.” Not the band on the stage, but those in the audience. You look to someone next to you and you know that for that hour, you and that person might have different political views, you might hate different sports teams, you might not like the same cars, you might not like the same foods, and you might be complete opposites. For that hour and a half or whatever, you are there to see the band performing and you’re not alone. Legacy doesn’t really mean much to me because I’ll be dead. I would much rather see any results that I might have small or large while I’m alive. I’m not trying to make a dent on the music world. It would be nice, but that’s not the goal. I’m 50 years old and I’ve made a dent in my own way. I’ve achieved all of my goals. I’ve done things that I never dreamed I would do. I’ve played in front of crowds of 125,000 people. All because of Bret. It’s all because Bret let me come along for the ride, but I’ve been there, and I’ve done that… I’ve had number one videos on VH1, I’ve had Top 40 records. I’ve had all that and I’m still standing right here in my hometown of Manassas, Virginia on a cell phone, out in the street, talking to you. So, what I’m after isn’t really musical or some kind of legacy. I’m just moving along in life and hopefully bringing something positive to somebody.

Toddstar: You’re living your best life. We’ve had that conversation.

Pete: There you go.

Toddstar: There’s something I’ve learned about you recently from Facebook that I never knew. It made sense to me after I read it. I’d always wondered “I’ve taken so many pictures of Pete, man. There’s nothing on the internet or reposted.” Loyalty’s important to you. I know it’s important in your personal life. I know it’s especially important to you in your professional life. Was there a point in your professional life that you can remember that taught you that lesson to make sure that the loyalty? Again, I saw your post about photographs. Somebody had taken a picture of your Dean guitar and you posted it, you’re like, “I normally stick with these three guys, but I have to put this one up.”

Pete: The answer to that is, I’ve certainly been screwed over, but I don’t let that get me down. It’s quite the opposite actually. There was not a scar or damage done that made me twist that way. I’ve always been that way. I got the shot playing with Bret Michaels and I could have just run with that myself. I brought my own band with me. I managed to make that happen. When Chucky and Ray decided they’d had enough, what did I do? I turned around and brought two more people from my hometown. I’ve always had that sense of loyalty. A lot of times growing up in my life, my loyalty may have held me back because I may have played with lesser musicians. I was always told I should go on and do other things with other people. I always stuck with my people. I’ve been screwed over a lot. You cannot be in the music business without being lied to, cheated, and fucked man, you can’t. When I met Bret… Bret has a sense of loyalty that is deeper than mine. He made me feel not alone in that and made me feel more inclined to wear it on my sleeve instead of just keep it in the back of my brain.

Toddstar: It’s a testament to you as an individual. You speak so highly of Bret. Other than his loyalty view, what is it about Bret that the two of you kinda like brothers?

Pete: Well, I feel that way for sure. I think he feels that way. Bret is the only guy on this planet that I feel has given instead of taken from me. There’s no anger for that, but I’ve been the leader of my band from day one. I’m a Leo and I’m arrogant. I have a giant ego. If I’m doing something, I tend to be in charge, even if I don’t start in charge. I understand that’s hard for a lot of people. I annoy a lot of people. My point to this is that most people, once you become a leader or a boss, you’re expected to give to everyone else, you’re expected to write the paychecks. You’re expected to make the phone calls. You’re expected to do all these things. No one ever really thinks to give to you or say thank you to you. Bret was the first person in my life that didn’t need anything from me. He was giving to me; he gave me the opportunity to live out every rock and roll dream that I’ve ever had. I’ve always told people after 19 years of being in Brett’s band, it’s not about the money. It’s not about the fame. It’s not about the fortune. I have the answers to every question I ever wanted to know. When you’re a kid and you’re going, what’s it like to be on MTV, what’s it like to have a Top 40 record on Billboard, what’s it like to do an interview with Guitar Player Magazine, or what’s it like to play sold out show at your local amphitheater? All those things that I have answers. I know the answers to every single one of those questions now, and that’s because of him. A lot of guys that are hired guns in those bands don’t last that long… me and Blando (Jeff Blando of Slaughter). We see things very similar and it’s unique because he’s a bazillionaire with a private plane and living in a house that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the mountain ranges in California. I’m still a suburban America guy in Northern Virginia driving my little Ford Bronco. and like I said, talking to you from my iPhone out here on a cul-de-sac. Despite those differences, he’s my friend and I owe him everything for that.

Toddstar: It comes across whether you’re backstage, onstage, hanging out, whatever you’re doing, I’ve seen it more than a lot. I know it’s genuine. The only issue I have with what you said is you mentioned that you have an ego and all this and all that because I’ll tell you what, there’s nothing better than going to a Bret Michaels show, hanging out, and my friend Pete grabs me and gives me that hug, you know what I mean? I like the fact that you’re not looking for anything from me and I’m not looking for anything from you. Well, maybe a guitar pick (laughs), but we’re just hanging out and just being friends.

Pete: When I say ego and stuff like that, unfortunately, I don’t think that’s bad. You have to have that to climb through anything and get to the top. If you don’t, you’ll get crushed. Whether you want to be a manager at McDonald’s or you want to be the biggest rockstar on the planet, if you don’t have that drive to crawl on top… you need that ego.

Toddstar: That’s a really good point. We’ve talked about music. I want to be able to let you plug a labor of love, we’ll call it for you. I love working in my home office because I’m always surrounded by Shining Sol candles. How’s that whole thing going, man?

Pete: It’s great. I’ve told you twice now that I’m standing out here in a cul-de-sac. I’m standing out here at my warehouse. I’m sitting here talking to you and to be honest with you, I keep looking up at this warehouse building. I’ve never stood here while doing an interview before. I’m having a sense of pride and smiling at all we’ve built, it’s a team. It’s not just me. It takes a lot to do what we’ve done, and you can’t do anything without a solid team behind you. I have great people and I couldn’t be prouder. We have a manufacturing facility, our warehouse that I’m talking to you from right now, we have three stores in three different states, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Rehoboth, Delaware and Manassas, Virginia. We have our online presence where anyone can buy candles from all over the United States. We have 250 other retail partners that sell our stuff all around the country. The sense of pride is ridiculous… to think that it’s something that I just started doing one night in the middle of the night in my kitchen.

Toddstar: I’ll let everybody know if they want to feel cool for 10 seconds, they can go to Shining Sol Candle Company on Facebook. You and your partner are always doing live sales streams. You respond to just about everybody that makes a comment. If anybody wants a shout out from Pete, go to the Facebook page and watch those videos.

Pete: Right on.

Toddstar: Pete, I can’t wait for some more music. I’d love to see an Evick tour. I’ve never been lucky enough to see you on stage doing that. I’d never caught when you were doing the opening gigs way back when with Bret, but I’d love to see an Evick show, but more important, I just can’t wait to see my friend Pete and hang out and shoot the shit.

Pete: You know, Virginia’s right between Florida and Detroit, you could stop halfway one time.

Toddstar: That’s so true, man.

Pete: Me and Chuck are out this summer doing a bunch of acoustic shows all over between Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, and probably some other states. I imagine Chuck’s jaw would drop if he saw you walk in. So come on.

Toddstar: I will be keeping my eye on those dates. We’ll end this and say until next time, Pete, I can’t wait to shoot the shit with you.

Pete: Thanks, Todd. Always good to speak to you.







Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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