Below, you can read our interview with artist Alpha Pegasi, and listen to his single Summertime (Doin’ Time). Check out our full music review of Summertime (Doin’ Time), HERE.
Q: You’re originally from the East Coast, but are currently based in Denver, CO integrating with the incredible music scene there. Do your East Coast roots still come through in your writing and performing?
A: Oh definitely! I miss a lot of parts about New England and New Hampshire, the state I grew up in. Being a largely woodsy state, I gained an appreciation for the outdoors and nature more and more over the years. At the same time, there’s not really a big city drawing a lot of big bands or events there so when a musician or band came through that I loved, it offered a chance to go nuts, get crazy, and really let the ya-yas out. As much as I love playing high-energy rock and roll or songs to dance and get down to, I’ll always try to leave a little space for the beauty of New England to make its influence heard in my music.
Q: Your artist name is very unique and eye-catching. What’s the story behind it?
A: Thank you, as soon as it caught my eye I knew “That’s it!” I was searching for cool cosmic-related names, but a lot of them were taken. I specified the search a bit more to “Names of Stars” and scrolled for a bit. As soon as I saw Alpha Pegasi, I knew I wanted that name so instantly searched social media, saw it was available, and got it! Now it’s trademarked and everything and a company called Creative Squeeze did such an incredible job with the branding and logo elements for it. Although I came across the name early 2019, I started writing a Sci-Fi space-themed series of books at the start of 2020. With the name of my band and the Sci-Fi books being based in space, there’s a kind of cosmic connection between them both. I’m definitely excited to see where that leads.
Q: You’ve mentioned that in the studio you like to play every instrument on your record. Which instruments do you play? Do you have a favorite?
A: Playing guitar has been my main musical love for almost 17 years now. It’s kinda crazy though, drums really rapidly tied guitar as my favorite instrument to play. Playing drums taught me to listen to and make music in a completely different way than I ever had. I feel like playing guitar, singing, and playing drums are the three main musical-outlets that allow me to be really fully passionate, creative, and expressive. As of now, I mainly play guitar, drums, bass, keys, and sing. I really wanna learn to work the saxophone someday! Though I do love the feel of a big booming bass, and there are so many textures to create on keyboards, guitar, vocals, and drums will always be my top three instrument-wise.
Q: Despite all your years as a musician, this is your first professionally recorded release. What made you finally want to pull the trigger and record?
A: Good question, I think the keyword there is “professionally” haha. I’ve gotten to be a part of recording sessions with a few different bands for over a decade now, but none of those instances were in a really pro studio. After leaving the band I was in when living in Boston, I wanted to more or less start over musically and really do my thing. Although I’ve written hundreds of songs over the years, I knew when I left that band that I wanted to record all-new material. About 3 years ago before I moved to Colorado, I had about a dozen new tunes that I really liked. I took them with me and wrote about 6 or 7 more right after the move out West. From there, I really focused on shaping a good Baker’s Dozen worth of tunes and got 2 EPs worth of material out of it. Stoked to get those out there! Releasing the debut single “Summertime (Doin’ Time)” on the 2020 Summer Solstice was such a rewarding experience because it had been such a long time coming for any of my music to really get out into the world.
Q: What is your recording process like? How much time did you spend in the studio for this release?
A: I try to come as close as I can to a “One-Take-Frank.” Allegedly, Frank Sinatra was notorious for nailing his songs in just one take. Some artists do dozens or even close to 100 takes before they settle on “the” version to use. Frank stepped in the studios and knocked it out of the park in one swing time after time. In an effort to perform at that caliber, I spend sooooooooo much time practicing before stepping foot in the studio.
Also, as much as it’s one of my favorite things to do in life, recording is expensive! I want to be as sharp as I can be for all parts played and know exactly what’s going on when. It’s funny because I have the complete opposite mentality when jamming live. When improvising on stage, I love the fact that no one in the band or audience knows exactly what’s going to happen. A jam to me is a sonic exploration of listening, communicating with the other musicians you’re playing with, and trying to play the feel of the room and people present entirely on the spot and in the moment. For the studio, I want to know exactly what I’m doing at all times so I spend a ton of time sharpening the saw before recording. For “Summertime,” I got to lay down the final takes for 8 instruments in 2 hours, and for the next single due out called “Star,” I got the final takes for 10 instruments in 2 and a half hours.
Q: You’ve told us of plans to contribute a percentage of your profits to non-profit organizations. Can you tell us more about who you’ll be supporting?
A: Yeah I’m super stoked about that! The birth of Alpha Pegasi marks the birth of The 5ers Club, a group of musicians, artists, and business owners alike who agree to donate 5% of all profits earned to non-profit organizations. For Alpha, I want to give to a local, national, and international non-profit every year. From the start of Summer 2020 to the start of Summer 2021, those organizations are Conscious Alliance, The Sierra Club, and Charity Water. All those groups are doing a lot of good for both people and the planet. Being such a young business, who knows how much I’ll get to give to these groups through Alpha Pegasi, but I figure every bit counts.
Q: Can you tell us about the first moment you picked up a guitar?
A: Strangely enough the first time I picked up a guitar I didn’t even pick it up haha. One of my Uncles had a nylon string acoustic that he let me borrow when I first expressed interest in playing. I was so mesmerized by the thing, yet I had no clue what to do with it. I remember just plucking the D, G, and B strings back and forth thinking Oh my God this sounds amazing! From that day forward I began a life-long love with the instrument that has really helped shape me so much as a person.
Q: The lyrics in “Summertime (Doin’ Time)” largely seem to be about being in a good relationship, a far cry from the lyrics in Sublime’s version of “Doin’ Time”. What spurred the drastic change in the lyrics? Are you in a relationship now?
A: Not at the moment no, nor was I when I recorded it. My spin on the lyrics was essentially an attempt to flip the story described in Sublime’s version. The first time I heard “Doin’ Time,” I kind of felt bad for Bradley. He described a damaging, painful relationship that the narrator experienced yet the chorus sang “Summertime and the livin’s easy.” The lyrics in the verses didn’t seem to match up with that feeling in the chorus so I wanted to craft some that did. In creating a sort of antithesis to Sublime’s “Doin’ Time,” I tried to take the perspective of what it feels like during the huge highs that hit when you’re in a relationship with someone you really connect with. It was a big effort to try to describe what it feels like during those certain moments in time where you are so in love with who you are with and where you are at in life.
At the time when I brewed up then recorded “Summertime (Doin’ Time),” I was single and had been single for about 3 years. Ironically, I recorded this positive spin on the lyrics while enduring what was the loneliest stretch of my life. With that in mind, on top of trying to flip the Sublime lyrics and describe the highs of a good relationship, the story I wrote was also a vision of what a really good relationship could be for me. Speaking from that sense, it was written to, for, and about the kind of woman I really want to be with: an internally and externally beautiful drummer of a beach-loving babe who also loves Zeppelin, good bud, good beer, and good people. It’s gonna be a glorious day when I meet that woman the song is about!
Q: Perhaps in some unspecified amount of time, your musical career explodes in the best of ways…what does that look like for you?
A: First and foremost, it means doing what I have wanted to do for nearly two decades now: make music for a living. The two-dozen-plus day jobs I’ve worked over the years have always been in an effort to be able to fund having a professional career in the music and entertainment industries. With a few albums and a few books in the works, I feel like I’m closer than ever to achieving that goal. As far as a really exploding career goes, I’ve always wanted to headline major festivals, tour around the world, and sell out some of the biggest and most beautiful venues this planet has to offer. All the while, getting to perform, jam, and record with musicians I love and admire (the beautiful drummer of a woman Summertime is about included). I really do want my art to reach the hearts of a lot of listeners all over the globe. Like Santana said “Consciousness can be profitable, and profit can be used to promote consciousness.” With 5% of all profits earned going to non-profits, I do hope what I create will earn a lot of money so I can give a lot of money over the years.
Q: You get to collaborate with anyone of your choosing. Who is it?
A: Kevin Parker. Towards the end of 2019 I really started digging Tame Impala and I bought Currents on vinyl. When I opened it up it said “All vocals and instruments performed by Kevin Parker.” Woah! I had no idea he was playing everything there and it instantly made me love Tame Impala that much more. If there is one person I want to act as the Producer for at least one of my albums, it’s Kevin Parker. For sure.
Q: Your favorite album of all time? (Yup, you gotta choose one.)
A: Oh God. And the interview was going so well! Haha, man Meddle by Pink Floyd, What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, and All Things Must Pass by George Harrison definitely come to mind. But I gotta go with the album that made me want to make rock and roll music for a living: How the West Was Won by Led Zeppelin. Raised in a sports-orientated, church-going family, music was rarely if ever played around the house when I was growing up. I wasn’t allowed to buy certain CDs as a kid because my parents didn’t like the style or artist (they’ve both gotten much cooler over the years). When I started playing guitar, the walls came down and I was allowed to buy and listen to more and more of the music I wanted to hear and discover. When I first put on How the West Was Won, I felt so much excitement in the music and I knew this is what I want to do.
Q: Your favorite song of all time? (Again, only one!)
A: We talking instrumental or with lyrics? If instrumental, then “In A Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. With lyrics, “Immigrant Song,” specifically the version from How The West Was Won which opened that treasure chest of an album.
Q: What would you like fans to know about you that they’re most likely unaware of?
A: I smell great.
Q: Any shout-outs you wanna make?
A: Whew, the shout-outs and thank you list could go on for a while so I’ll try to keep it short: I want to send much love and huge thanks to my friends, family, family of friends, everyone I’ve gotten to jam with over the years, everyone in the bands that I’ve been, and all the good people I’ve met at shows, festivals, and travels along the way. I’d also like to give a big bow of reverence and respect to some of the best musicians and best people I’ve ever gotten to meet and learn from, the crew that forms Umphrey’s McGee.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: It’s a strange time to be alive, let’s make the most of it!
(Want to be interviewed by The Ark of Music? Click HERE.)