2007_05_arts_petej.jpgWe caught Pete and J earlier this year at the Living Room and their sound fit and filled the space perfectly. They put their own twist on folk rock that you can check out this Saturday when they play the venue again. But first, get to know your friendly neighborhood troubadours...

How did Pete and J become Pete and J, did you ever play solo prior to becoming a band?
We were birthed as one man, separated painfully before we could properly form a duo. We reunited years later on a college orientation trip at Amherst College. In the interim, we both played in bands from age 10 or so. J's high school band in Philly was called Pea Soup, Pete had a few in Chicago.

Do you change your backing band often?
Kind of. We have a steady drummer and a rotating cast of bass players, including Catherine Popper, Richard Hammond and Nicholas D'Amato. We'll be playing with Catherine for our next couple of shows at the Living Room. We will occasionally add violin or some other instrument for a show.

What has your experience been like as singer/songwriters in New York?
It's been a gripping, emotional rollercoaster ride that will leave you at the edge of your set. It's Edward Norton's best performance in years. And Naomi Watts reminds us how she is a delicate, yet decandent temptress.

Actually, New York is a tremendous place for any musician. We're grateful to have landed in a scene of incredible musicians, both to play with and to know. New York showed us really fast how hard we had to work and what living the life of a musician really is. There are some truly inspirational people in this city.

Tell us about what you have coming up in the future (shows, albums)?
We have a show this Saturday, May 12th at the Living Room at 11pm. We're at the Living Room again on Saturday, June 2nd at 8pm and should be playing a few other shows at bigger clubs around town this summer. We'll be releasing an EP within the next two months, and opening for Erin McKeown in July down in Philly. Playing in many other cities across the country and touring the UK again this summer.

Please share your strangest "only in New York" story.
When we first came to look for an apartment in New York, a Hasidic Jewish broker was showing us some shitbox apartment in Brooklyn. After showing us the place, he suggested that we take his car to check out another place. So, we get in his car, he starts to back out of the parking spot and jams the car next to us so hard that the adjacent car actually lifts up off the ground. He smiles sheepishly at us, remarking that he's only been driving for 2 weeks. Pete is in the front, J in the back, and we cannot make eye contact, or we will lose our shit. Begin driving. He stops fully at a green light and then runs two red lights. After several other minor infractions, he pulls over, looks at Pete in the passenger seat. And says, "You drive?". Why not. In the middle of all this, his wife calls, and he begins screaming at her in Hebrew. Meanwhile, his directions to the next apartment begin to degenerate, as Pete is urged to take his 17th left of the trip. So here we are, trying to find an apartment that we're definitely going to hate, with Pete driving the broker's car, and the broker yelling in another language on the phone. Story wraps up with Pete looking to J in the back for some guidance, and finds that J has decided to grab a quick nap. And…SCENE

Which New Yorker do you most admire?
Paul Simon. Might be the greatest songwriter of all time. And his filmmaking equivalent, Woody Allen.

Given the opportunity, how would you change New York?
Permanently etch into the sky, big enough for all to see: "This is not the only city in the world…" Other places exist!

Under what circumstance have you thought about leaving New York?
Right now, we tour almost half the year. Being on the road 6 months or more a year would make our "home" less relevant. For now, we're loving New York and don't have any plans to leave.

Can you please recommend a good weekend hang-out that isn't unbearably mobbed?
We are more often than not playing out of town on the weekends, or catching a show here in the city. When we are hanging on the weekends, we know our back patio is never unbearably mobbed.

What's your current soundtrack to the city?

"Heaven is Creepy", Jim Campilongo's latest release. The man is a maniac. Eternal soundtracks are "Poses", Rufus Wainwright, and "Still Crazy After All These Years", Paul Simon.

What's the best subway line?
"Hey, do you ride here often? Stand clear of my closing doors…"

Best cheap eat in the city.
Matamoros in Williamsburg.

Best venue to see music.
Living Room if you like to sit. The Bowery if you like to stand.

Photo by Benjamin Hill.