Pete Stone: From Harrisburg to L.A.
Chasing the rock n’ roll dream often ends in your parents’ garage or a second round knockout at your local battle of the bands. Perseverance, talent, and a little bit of luck goes a long way to lighting up a stage, winning awards, and releasing an album that wasn’t recorded in your buddy’s basement.
Recently I was able to speak with Pete Stone, originally from New Cumberland, Pa. and now of the L.A.-based rock band, The Rare Occasions, about his journey in music.
MJ: You’re originally from the New Cumberland area, what was music like for you growing up around here?
PS: There were a lot of ways music came into my life. I’m from a pretty musical family, with my mom, sisters, grandpa and other family members all somewhere on the scale of “musician.” I had awesome teachers who introduced me to all the joyous possibilities when making my own music. As for the larger music community — the rock scene seemed to have a heavier vibe, and I wasn’t really into that. I’ve personally been into the lighter side of rock music. I played in a group called Animal Arcade that performed at various venues (most often The Champ) when I was in high school. I enjoyed exploring that kind of folk and jam aspect that was a lot of fun and there was always a friendly atmosphere at the shows.
MJ: You’re based out of L.A now, how receptive has the local crowd been for your music?
PS: We have definitely had some favorable reception by audiences in L.A. We had a great intro to the area when we played NAMM. We have been playing a fair number of bar and club gigs, and we’re often invited back by the venues. Performing at the Viper Room has definitely been a highlight as well as this great spot called The Roar Room. Some people have been finding us on their own and coming out to hear us play, which is exciting!
MJ: The Rare Occasions won “Song of the Year” in the John Lennon song writing contest for your song Dysphoric. Tell me about your reaction to finding out a song you wrote was awarded such high honor.
PS: Hearing that news was a thrill. I was actually in the middle of nowhere in Idaho with my girlfriend in the Sawtooth Mountains where we were camped out at. I was out pumping water out of this old school hand pump well and decided to take a break and turn my phone on. I was getting message after message, and it turned out to be the news that we won! I said sarcastically, something like “Now we’re definitely going to be famous!” I’m super grateful, and it truly means a lot when someone shows that they believe in what you’re doing and gives you a helpful nudge towards surviving it.
MJ: I talk to a lot of bands and I always have to ask, what makes The Rare Occasions stand out from the rest?
PS: We don’t shy back from pushing the boundaries of the different “moods” of indie rock. We go anywhere from heart-pounding Dysphoric to the pop style of Futureproof, the more serious tracks like Notion, down to the bare-bones, full-out emotion of Goodnight or Bug Eyes. I feel that sometimes bands think they just have to be one thing, have to appear super specific sub-niche of a sub-genre. It’s definitely a fallacy — I know my favorite bands push to different limits of what they can do with their songwriting and instrumentation. It’s something I intend to keep emphasizing on our future records.
MJ: What do you miss about the Harrisburg area the most?
PS: My cute little nephews and niece? Family? Friends? That’s Hard. Besides the lovely community, it has to be the river! I spent so much time walking or sitting down there playing my guitar when I lived nearby or watching the sunset reflect and shimmer across our lush river valley. I can go inside my mind to feel that calm and that restful beauty. I do that sometimes when scurrying between day jobs, gigs, rehearsals and everyday life.
MJ: Lastly, what do you think the future holds for Peter Stone in music?
PS: Right now, The Rare Occasions and I are finishing writing some material that we’ll be recording soon. I can’t wait to share it with all of you! I continue to meet local musicians and enter fully into the L.A. music community. I will definitely be spending some quality time playing our songs out on the streets for people!
Check out Pete Stone play some sweet guitar on Futureproof, the latest release from The Rare Occasions. Check out their Facebook page to see when The Rare Occasions will be coming back in Harrisburg, and sign up for their e-list to get new material when it’s released!