Interview: Pete Roe

If you don’t know of Pete Roe’s own music, you’ve probably seen him at some point playing with Laura Marling’s band or Mumford & Sons. We caught up with Pete ahead of his tour to promote the release of his debut full length, Our Beloved Bubble, out on May 6th on Middle of Nowhere Recordings.

You’ve been around for a while playing with the likes of Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons, alongside making your own music. How would describe your sound and are there any similarities with the acts you’ve been playing with these past few years?
Melancholia with a hopeful heart. Night time music. Late night cosy music. To be listened to next to a fire. Or in bed. With a belly full of wine.

You must have played some pretty big shows already. Are there any performances that stick out?
Opening up for Neil Young in Laura’s band was pretty daunting, as was Glastonbury playing before Paul Simon. Personally, I like smaller shows. I’ve spent a lot of time playing in other people’s bands these last few years. I was playing for Willy Mason in November and we had an amazing gig at the Thekla in Bristol. I remember he did a big burp at the start of one of the songs – and there’s not really any coming back from that. But he’s so good with a crowd he turned it round and won them over with it. It was a great night.

So it’s taken you a while to get around to release your debut full-length album. Is that because you’ve been so busy working with other artists or has it been a lengthy process in itself?
Playing in Laura’s band was great but I haven’t had the time to devote to really promoting it until she dissolved the band last summer. So now I’m out on my own with a good record under my arm and it feels great!

Tell us about the recording process. Where was it recorded and over what period?

There were four of us – we rehearsed on the Monday. Somehow we made it (in my rustbucket of a van) up to Loch Linhe in Scotland on the Tuesday. We recorded on the Wednesday, went cycling on Thursday and finished it on Friday. Came home and did a few overdubs. There’s not a whole lot of drums on the record, but there is one enormous almost 80s-tastic style snare on one song. This was a bit of a guerilla recording. I’d heard about the snare sound on The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel. You know the one that goes “La la lie” KSCHHHHHHHHH! la la la la la la lie? Well that was done by recording a snare drum in a disused lift shaft. I couldn’t find one of those. But I did find a disused Church. I borrowed a snare and took my little field recorder and did the overdubs there until the security guard came and chased me out.

What can we expect from the new album? Your Wikipedia entry states that you are a tuner and repairer of harmonium and reed organs. Will there be plenty of these in evidence?

I love harmoniums – there is something very warming about them. Totally different to other reed instruments. But there’s not a whole lot of harmonium on this record. It’s not like Nico’s Desertshore that’s for sure.

The tour to support Our Beloved Bubble starts in Leicester on May 2nd. What can we expect from the live shows?

Well you may have come across Stroud’s finest – Hot Feet already. As well as supporting they are doubling up as my backing band for this tour. We’ve had a few warm up gigs and they have gone exceptionally well. For some of the gigs, we may have some extra members and some surprises.

Are there any venues along the way that you are especially looking forward to playing?

The London date is in this mad old Church Hall in Dalston. It looks like it hasn’t been touched for about 50 years.

With such an illustrious musical history already behind you, prior to the release of your debut, you must be pretty well connected. What other bands/acts should we be looking out for at the moment?

Check out The Magic Lantern – Harvest Moon.

What’s next for Pete Roe? Will you continue to perform with other musicians or will there be more of a focus on your own output after the release of Our Beloved Bubble?

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do – my own music is what I shall be concentrating on. But that’s not to say I won’t be doing some more production. I really enjoyed making the Hot Feet record last year and plan to work with other bands and artists in the future. My focus is definitely on my own material. Another album, some collaborative projects and maybe a bit of inventing.

Questions by Nathan Fisher