{{Pete Stewart}} recently moved from his native home in Seattle to Nashville where he, after discovering how much worse the coffee is there, recorded his debut solo album for ForeFront/EMI Records. Pete co-produced his album, which contains songs that combine spiritual expression with pop and rock & roll sensibility, with {{dc Talk}}'s Michael Tait. You might know Pete from the last three years with his former band, {{Grammatrain}}. His self-titled solo record is available for preordering now, and due to hit the street on March 23, 1999. We caught up with Pete to chat about his first solo experience and the gear he used for the recording.

Before starting his album, Pete purchased an Ensoniq PARIS-III system with additional 8-in/24, 8-out/24 and ADAT cards. He runs his system on a Pentium II-233 with 128 MB of RAM. For his album, he used a combination of tracks recorded on analog 2" tape and tracks recorded on PARIS. He syncs up his PARIS system to tape machines with a MIDI time piece, proof of the expandability and ease of incorporating PARIS into the recording environment. Because of the cost-effectiveness of PARIS, Pete was able to maximize his recording time by spending less than a week at a studio recording some basic tracks for most of the songs, and then spending almost 2 months recording overdubs at Michael Tait's house on PARIS, after importing a rough mix of the studio tracks for reference via the ADAT card. He was very impressed by the quick learning curve with PARIS and by how rapidly he was able to begin work after buying the system only days before they began using it. Pete said that every engineer who worked with him on PARIS was extremely impressed with its powerful ease-of-use and functionality. In fact, one engineer bought his own system before the record was finished!

Comment on the recording process for your solo album

"Well, I got to do this record the way I've always wanted to, which was to set up and record in a house. We did rent an analog studio in Nashville for less than a week to do basics, which was mainly just drums and bass, but I did all the overdubs on Paris at [Michael] Tait's house, which we spent over a month on. It's so much more of a free-feeling situation to me to be in a house. You're not 'on the clock' so to speak, and you can try recording amps and stuff in closets or stairways or whatever you want. I totally loved it. Originally, we had talked about doing overdubs on ADAT, and I pretty much hate ADATs, so I didn't want to at all. They sound bad and don't work half the time. A friend of mine who's an engineer in Seattle turned me on to Paris last year when I was starting to think about the next Grammatrain record. The Paris system is so conducive to being creative and productive. You're not messing around wasting time with technical things that you don't want to, and the editing features are so quick to use. It also sounds great. To me, it's one of the most non-digital sounding digital systems out there. I'm considering recording my next album entirely on Paris at home and renting extra mics and pre-amps to do the drums. I just moved into a house with a basement, and depending on how nice and/or deaf my neighbors are, I might be able to get away with it!"


Where do you see the recording process in the next few years?

"Commercial studios may never be completely replaced," says Pete, "but alot of the creative process of making music can now be done in the comfort of the home environment without sacrificing anything at all. I think it gives artists the chance to experiment and try more things without having to worry about being 'on the clock' and paying an hourly rate. Plus, what rock musician doesn't like the idea of getting out of bed when he wants to and working on his record without even taking a shower?"

What it's like being solo vs. being part of Grammatrain?

"It's a different position for me to be where everything's on my shoulders, so to speak. I realized when I started writing for this album that it's all up to me here... I'm so used to being in bands and even though I was the primary songwriter in {{Grammatrain}}, we worked on all the songs together before we recorded them. But, it's been a really cool experience so far. I feel like I've sort of been able to use talents that I didn't know for sure that I had, and I kind of saw how much my experience in making records has taught me and paid off."

Any favorite highlights or comments about the project?

"We recorded an acoustic part for 'Waiting For The Son' in this big room with hardwood floors by [Michael] Tait's staircase and turned all the lights off and lit some candles. It was getting late...we started recording around midnight. By the time we were done it was like 2 am or something and we heard all these crickets outside in the backyard. We kind of got inspired and threw up a couple mics in the window and recorded them a couple times. What you hear at the end of that song is what we were hearing in the control room that night. It was one of those real intimate magical kind of moments you have in the studio sometimes."

Any encouragement to other musicians?

"I would say that music is one of the greatest of God's creations, in my opinion, and I really believe we honor our Creator through it. It can be a lot of work to perfect your talents, whether it's songwriting, performing, or whatever, but don't forget to enjoy music, too. There's nothing quite as exhilarating for me as that feeling of accomplishment after I've created something that I feel is beautiful or good, and I really think that is worship. What's so cool about music, and art in general, is it gives us an opportunity to express ourselves in a real spiritual and emotional way that we can't really do just in words. Don't get too hung up on getting a record deal or being on the charts or any of that industry stuff. I have to remind myself of that all the time, because no matter what you accomplish materialistically speaking, you'll never be satisfied if that's where your heart is. There's always something more that you want. I'm really learning that I'm the happiest and most content when my heart's desires are to serve God and reach people through my music rather than to just sell records through it. Live for the things that will still matter when this life is over."

Pete will be touring in Australia this month and throughout the U.S. this summer...and showering.


ALSO AVAILABLE - Tune in our Artist Exclusive interview for even more from Pete Stewart.

By Scott A. Shuford for Crosswalk Music, portions reprinted courtesy of ForeFront Records.