Pete Lesperance | interview

When it comes to musicianship Harem Scarem is a band that has always outdone themselves and the proof lies within the albums. 1993's Mood Swings is considered by many as one of the best melodic rock albums out there. In the last couple years Harem Scarem have returned with some of their strongest releases: 2002's Weight of the World and 2003's Higher which have only proved that a band of Harem Scarem's caliber stands the test of time and with the songwriting alliance of Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance there are no signs of the group slowing down.
So what does guitarist Pete Lesperance do when he is not busy with Harem Scarem? Well for one he has worked with bands like One Short, Fiore, and Stupid Angel to name a few but at the moment Pete is gearing up to release his debut solo album: Down In It.
Pete recently took some time out of his busy schedule to catch up with Shipwreck Island Studios and here is what he had to say....

Harem Scarem has been extremely busy for the past couple years releasing a bunch of albums from 2 studios albums (Weight of the World and Higher) 1 live album (Live at the Gods 2002) 1 Early Years/Demos album and not to mention Harry releasing his first solo album. Now add in that band mate Creighton Doane will release a new solo album in May and you're on your first solo outing with Down In It. I'm sure many fans want to know how you guys can crank out album after album of melodic perfection and still sound fresh and consistent?
Pete: I'm not sure if it's melodic perfection (or any other kind for that matter) but we are all really focused on what we do. Music is our lives and it's what we do every day all day. The stuff you mentioned is only part of what we do. Harry, Creighton and I all work with a number of artists on many different levels. Production, recording and writing for and with them. Artist development has become a big part of what we do on a daily basis.

Is it too early to ask if you have started work on the next Harem Scarem record? Is it in the planning phases? Or is everyone taking some R&R time after the success of two back to back phenomenal albums?
Pete: Harry and I are going to start throwing some ideas around for it in the next couple months.

Some of your influences for picking up the guitar were Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai, if all three of you had the time to get together and have a jam session what songs would you like to jam on?
Pete: I'm really out of the whole guitar thing these days but if I had to pick one it would be Ain't Talking 'Bout love.

Currently what are some of the discs in Pete Lesperance's CD player, any particular fav albums that you can't get out of the player even if you tried?
Pete: High rotation on the I pod!!!! Rufus Wainwright- All 3 of his albums. Stereophonics - Just Enough Education To Perform Jack Johnson- On and On

Looking back on Harem Scarem's career is there any one thing that you have done that you feel is your best achievement? Is there something that you still want to accomplish?
Pete: Survival in a tough business and continued survival in an even tougher business.

Pete Lesperance and Harry Hess make one powerful songwriting team, you guys write from the heart and put out music that everyone can relate to. Which leads to this question if the opportunity came along would you contribute your skills as musicians to a movie since a lot of your material could easily be used in one?
Pete: Absolutely.... I think it would be a great opportunity and a great challenge. For us it's all about the song writing, so that would be a great extension of that.

What is one piece of advice you would give an upcoming guitarist/musician?
Pete: Be prepared for a long road with a lot of work, love it more than anything or quit.

2002 saw brief stops in Europe and Japan in support of Weight of the World and then in mid-2003 Higher hit. Fans are wondering if there are any plans to go out on the road for a while and tour off the new material?
Pete: Not on the Higher record but hopefully after the next there will be a reason to go out again.

Ok now comes a tough question: Out of all material you've recorded (Harem Scarem and Rubber albums included) is there any particular album(s) that stands out as your personal favorite(s)?
Pete: Rubber - Rubber Scarem - Voice of reason

Let's talk about your first solo album: Down In It – What can fans expect from it?
Pete: It's 11 songs written over the last 3 years (I've still got enough left to almost finish the next one). Definitely a modern rock record with a melodic sensibility. It's something I'm really proud of and I have a lot of the artists I work with and respect guesting on it.

How will Down In It differ from Rubber and Harem Scarem albums? Did you want to get away from the sound Rubber and Harem Scarem and try something different or will it have elements of Rubber and Harem Scarem mixed in?
Pete: I don't really think it is like either. It does (at times) contain some aspects of the Scarem thing but with me singing (so I'm told).

How did you come up with the name Down In It? Is there any specific meaning behind the album name?
Pete: It's one of my fav songs on the record and in concept fits well with most of the other tunes on the record.

Lastly you've had astonishing success with Harem Scarem and your solo album looks to only expand on your talents so what's next for Pete Lesperance?
Pete: More, more and much more.....of all things musical.

Thanks Pete for surfing by and taking the time to answer our questions.

Interview by Jere
Originally posted at Shipwreck Island Studios