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INTERVIEW: PETE EVICK of Bret Michaels Band and Evick, May 2014

Sometimes the “boys in the band” are as much fun to talk to, if not more, than the guy up front.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it was great chatting with Bret Michaels when he was in town a couple months ago, but it was a blast getting his guitarist/band director/tour manager Pete Evick on the phone for a few minutes on a hum drum Monday afternoon…

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Toddstar: Thank you so much for taking time out for us today.

Pete: No problem.  Thank you.

Toddstar: Let’s talk about your role in the Bret Michaels band.  You’ve just passed your nine-year anniversary.  How’s the ride been so far?

Pete: It doesn’t feel like nine years that’s for sure; its kind of mind blowing.  The answer to that question is: I’ve been a touring musician my entire life.  I’ve never really done anything else and once you go to that level with the legend… the way I like to explain it is every question I’d ever possibly would have had has been answered.  If it was all over tomorrow, no one can say what if this, or don’t you wish you knew what this was like?  I have all those answers.

Toddstar: Obviously your own talent in your band Evick, when you opened up some of his tour before, opened up this door for you.  That’s to say something about your talent as well.  I know here in Detroit we love you, in addition to your role in the band, but Detroit is kind of special with you and your connection with Bret isn’t it?

Pete: Yeah.  Detroit’s technically where it started and I’ve done some stuff with Evick too in Detroit.  We have a lot of friends there.  Everybody’s really, really… Detroit’s a music town, though it’s one of the last left.

Toddstar: That’s true.  Well luckily I was fortunate enough to come see your most recent show here.  You guys just rolled out the new track and you guys have done so much over the last couple of months, but what I really like is that you still keep your things yours.  Not everything becomes Bret.  Let’s talk about what you’re doing right now.  You’re an entrepreneur with a candle company Shining Sol (http://shiningsol.com/).  What can you tell us about Shining Sol?

Pete: You know it’s interesting you ask that and funny that you even know that.  The first year and a half of the company, I tried to not let anyone know it was me because I wanted the company to get lifted off the ground without relying on success of anything else, if that makes sense.  The story with that company, it’s pretty crazy.  I have a townhouse in the Washington DC area and I had a stone fireplace built but you can’t really have a real fireplace.  I had this stone fireplace built in my home but I only burn candles in it.  I didn’t want a gas fireplace.  It’s a long story but I had this beautiful piece of stone built in my house and I burned candles in what would be the fireplace area.  Yankee Candle, which is the largest candle company in the world, had a candle that was supposed to smell like a fireplace, and I got all excited and I bought it.  I’d be burning it and then I had to buy three of them to get it to burn as much as I wanted it to smell so to speak.  About five nights in a row I just started thinking man, I’ve never ever done anything in my life but play music.  I don’t have a single hobby.  I don’t have a single interest.  Music, music, music, music, music.  I wonder if I could make a better version of that candle.  I just started learning how to make that one candle smell like a fireplace and my kids kind of got into it.  By the time I figured that out, I’d learned so much about the candle industry, and my kids loved to watch.  They loved watching Bret win the celebrity apprentice and they’re really into business in entrepreneurism by watching that.  I thought it would be neat to start this little company with my oldest son and it grew from there.

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Toddstar: It’s grown to a company that’s got 26 different scents out there, which you can get at Shiningsol.com.  Now you’ve got these two different lives.  These are two different ends of the spectrum as far as somebody having a day job and a night job.

Pete: Well you know what?  I’ve spent my entire life with my ears ringing and my entire life surrounded by sound and the other thing it’s the quietest thing in the world you can do.  It was something I was just doing in the middle of the night and it became more of a, to be honest with you, it became more a marketing thing because you take everything… I grew up as a Kiss fan.  You take everything you know about Kiss and how Gene Simmons marketed the world, and lets be honest, Bret’s my best friend.  He’s an incredible marketing machine and you take all that, and the candle industry is a word-of-mouth industry.  Yankee Candle is a 2 billion dollar company that doesn’t run adds.  It doesn’t do any marketing.  They’re just word of mouth, and I thought to myself, let me take everything I’ve ever learned from Gene Simmons or from Bret Michaels, the marketing of rock and roll, and see if I can prim this industry upside down.

Toddstar: I’ve been lucky enough to sample a Shining Sol candle and it’s every bit as good as your guitar playing man if that’s any…

Pete: Well thank you very much.  Thank you.  The, how do I say it, just like any musician who’s afraid of selling out, the challenge is going to be keeping the product quality and keeping it real, and at the same time hoping to get big enough to be huge.  I want them to… as of right now it’s a couple of people that make them, me and my family and my friends, and it’d be nice to have a production line, and employees.  I’d like to get as big as Yankee but I would also like to make sure I keep it… I’ve always liked to employ people that are important to me.  People that have been here from the beginning, keep it close, keep it family, but still be able to expand it and become a giant in that industry.

Toddstar: Well you talk about keeping it real so we’re going to shift back to your music.  You’ve always kept it real.  Aside from the Bret Michaels band and your role there, you’re the jack-of-all-trades, you’re the bandleader, you handle the tour manager position you handle everything.  Does it give you time to still do your own musical thing?  Are there any other projects that you’ve got going?

Pete: It does.  I do but I don’t do a whole lot of it anymore because I’m fulfilled with what we do with Bret.  Me, and Bret are a team, and he’s so… it’s inspirational to write songs with him.  It’s exciting to sit with a guy that sold 30 some million records.  I don’t know if I can say this right, but why would I write with someone else when I can write with him?  If me, and him write something or I write something and he doesn’t like it, then I’ll do that in Evick or I’ll do that in something else, but it just becomes a hierarchy.  As of now if I have a good idea, I go to him first.  If he doesn’t like it then it becomes an Evick song.

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Toddstar: Just about a year ago, you guys dropped gentleman friends or Bret did and you guys had the new single that came out this year.  Is there more music coming?  Is there something else we can expect to see?  What’s next for you with Bret?

Pete: “A Beautiful Soul” is the new single.  It came out of nowhere.  Bret was inspired over Christmas break when he went to the hospital and he met these two people and the song poured out of him.  I was fortunate enough to be able to play and produce it, play on it and produce it.  As of right now it’s almost at 4 million unique YouTube views.  It’s doing incredible.  It was number two song only when it debuted it was number two only beaten by Alecia Keys, which was the Spiderman Two sound track song.  Right now there’s that and then we have a song called “Get Undone,” that just probably gonna be the next single.  Right now its just song based.  We’re just working basically, you know, because me, and Bret both will write such different things.  Bret’s the king of not being confined to a certain genre.  You know Every Rose” crossed over to country almost 30 years ago and so if Bret wakes up and wants to write a country song, or if I wake up and want to write a rap song, both of us very much do that.  Right now neither one of us is really focusing on an album as much as just exciting new songs one at a time.

Toddstar: Very cool.  And you’re doing a bunch of dates during the summer and luckily I’ll get to see you here again in June here in Detroit.  Do we get to hear “A Beautiful Soul” when you guys come through town again?  Are you guys incorporating that into the set?

Pete: “A Beautiful Soul” is in the set list.  You know it’s a very unique produced pop song and its very intricate and there’s a lot of dynamic to it.  Obviously we’re a live hard rock energy band, and it’s interesting, the live version while we play it to the tee, what you hear it’s the same exact song.  There’s a little bit different perspective of it, live, it’s a lot of fun.

Toddstar: Well live you’re in the Poison stuff.  It’s funny to be able to sit back and listen to you guys play, which again, I got to do at the Soundboard casino not so long ago, it was just a lot of fun because you still hear the poison sole the way it’s done but you hear your own stamp on it.  Is that something when you play these songs over and over, that it’s just kind of a vault to where it’s got Pete’s signature on the end of it?

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Pete: It’s interesting you say that.  I’ve never hidden the fact that Poison was one of my favorite bands of all time.  Me, and my drummer Chuck, who’s the drummer of BMB (Bret Michaels Band), we’ve been together 30 years ourselves, and the first song we ever played in the high school talent show was “Cry Tough,” from Poison.  I was incredibly influenced by CC anyway and those songs.  When I first joined the band I certainly played them as close to the record as I could but I also take influence from Eddie Van Halen, and Dimebag Darrell, and Zakk Wylde, who all have very unique styles.  You’ve heard them all do covers of other people’s music and it always sounds like them.  Even, for instance, when Zakk Wylde would play those Randy Rhoads solos note for note, it was still clearly Zakk.  I think that I will never be the world’s best guitar player and I don’t compare to Zakk or Randy Rhoads or Edward Van Halen, and CC DeVille, but I’m blessed with having a very unique style.  I guess what you hear is you hear me playing exactly as I play.  I don’t fake it.  I do exactly what I want to do.  The solo’s over ten years, nine years, have evolved but I do still play the important licks.  You cannot, not play, the “Every Rose” solo the way CC wrote it.  You can hum it just like a vocal melody, just like the “Fallen Angel” solo.  I play the important parts, the parts that everyone sings along to, and then inside the gaps of that, I put my own thing on it.  It’s kind of like a hybrid.

Toddstar: Well you mention some great guitar players and I don’t think an interview with you would be complete without mentioning Eddie Van Halen.  Anybody who knows you, has met you, has seen you, as I’ve done, to see the big tattoo that you have, it’s kind of hard to argue that Eddie was definitely an influence of yours.

Pete: At 41 years old I grew up.  I was born in 1972 and the interesting thing to me was a started playing guitar really, really early.  At five years old and that was about the year around ’78 was when Van Halen one came out and I just grew up with it.  So, it’s interesting to me.  I know tons of other guitar players that are a generation behind me that all ready played guitar, and when they heard Van Halen they had to reinvent everything they did.  It changed everyone’s style of thinking, everyone’s way of life, and I didn’t go through that.  I grew up right when that train started to ride.  I was so into Eddie’s technique as a young child, I just liked what I heard, that it just became a way of life for me.  I wasn’t learning all his tricks as if they were the hardest tricks in the world to do if that makes sense.  I just wanted to play those songs.  At that young I was so impressionable and so eager to learn that his style wasn’t this overwhelming strange approach to me.  It’s just what I wanted to do if that makes sense?

Toddstar: Oh it does.  One thing you got over all those names you mentioned is the biggest shit-eating grin when you’re on stage.

Pete: [laughs] You know I feed my two children by playing my guitar.  I’m one of those, I don’t know if you call it lucky or unlucky, I don’t have a list of jobs that I did before this.  Especially in the tragic state of rock and roll and live music as it is, the fact that my children eat because I play my guitar, I smile everyday.  I can tell Bret would smile like that everyday, if he were in Aerosmith, which is one of his favorite bands.  I wake up everyday and stand next to a legend that I grew up dreaming about.  I used to pay money to go see them play in the same places I play with him now.  All those movies like Rock Star, and what’s the new one, the play?

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Toddstar: Oh, Rock of Ages.

Pete: Rock of Ages.  All those movies I’m the real thing.  That really happened to me.  Do you know what I’m saying?  I’m grateful just like Ripper Owens was.  I stamp the page with a rock and roll legend everyday and play the music that actually made me play music.  If I wasn’t smiling you ought to kick my ass.  To be somebody that makes a living playing music, if you were given that talent you better smile, and you better do your job.  Don’t complain about that because it’s a gift.  The world’s a shitty place right now man.  I don’t care who you are, it’s a stressful time, and it’s our job.  The gift we were given was our job to make you forget about whatever bill you were supposed to pay or whatever the shape the economy’s in or Obama care.  Whatever your problem is my gift and my job is to make you forget about that so, I better be smiling and I better make you smile.

Toddstar: Well you do that and the one thing I have to say of all the rockers I’ve ever met doing this, and I’m an accountant for a living, but you are the most grounded dude.  Whether I’m standing outside ticket will call saying ‘Hey Pete,’ and you’re saying, ‘you’re all taken care of’, or you’re walking me backstage, you are one of the most gracious rockers I have ever met in my life and that I wanted to make sure you understand because you can tell you don’t take it for granted.

Pete: Oh man you just gave me goose bumps.  I’m glad you see that.  It means the world to me.  I hope you print that.

Toddstar: It will be in there.  It was in there when I wrote the review of the show at the Soundboard Casino (REVIEW HERE) you guys did and it’ll be in there now because I’m hopeful we’re be talking about this June 27th when you guys play the Stars And Stripes Festival in June.

Pete: I saw it.  Thank you very much for the kind things you did say and will continue on, and I’ll be just as gracious that day I promise you.

Toddstar: I know you will.  All of this being said Pete, if you had to make a comment on what does the meaning of life for you right now at 42 years old give or take, what is the meaning of life for you?

Pete: You know I don’t know that I can answer that.  Can I just babble for another hour?  Rock and roll is in my blood.  It’s the only thing that’s ever been there.  Me, and Bret both make a joke we are almost like sharks.  You’ve got to keep swimming or we’ll die. I don’t know how to sit still and I don’t know how to not create.  More and more like I just answered that other question, the meaning for life for me is passing it on. Like I was saying before, we’re all given some kind of gift.  Some of us never find what that gift is.  I found out what my gift was early on and it’s our job as a ski season, a race, to give those gifts to people, so whatever it is.  Whether it’s you writing about it or me singing to people, the meaning of life is to pass it on, to take what you’ve been given and give it to somebody else.

Toddstar: I couldn’t have said it better myself Pete.  Again, we appreciate your time and I look forward to and I will definitely be in touch before you guys hit Detroit the end of next month.

Pete: You got it buddy.  Thank you so much.

Toddstar: Thanks man.  Talk to you.

https://www.facebook.com/PeteEvickBMB

http://shiningsol.com

https://www.facebook.com/ShiningSolCandleCompany

http://www.bretmichaels.com/site-news/news2

https://www.facebook.com/BretMichaels

Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

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.

Comments (2)

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  1. Gail Saravalli charlotte nc says:

    Pete is one of the hardest working guys in the business. He puts his all into the show. He is a pleasure to watch. You cant go just once, they leave you coming back for more!

  2. Gail – I would have to agree with you 100%. Pete, in addition to working his butt off, is one of the most sincere and genuine rockers I have had the pleasure of meeting! Thanks for reading!! Toddstar

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