I’ve been fine thank you. I’m currently residing in a caravan on a farm on the outskirts of Essex, so you’ve caught me at a very tranquil moment in my life.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Pretty Smiles”?
This one’s been with me for a while. I wrote the words years ago, the day after a very memorable evening. I’ve always wanted to keep a diary, but unfortunately I’ve never had the discipline required to sit down and write about my activities with that kind of structure. But when I look over some of these songs, they seem to document key moments just as well. Pretty smiles is definitely one of those.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
You could say that. It was more of an experience than an event really. A profound experience with a woman as a matter of fact. I’ve gotten a few songs out of that one.
How was the film experience?
I co-wrote the track for the film “Property of the State” with Pol Brennan from Clannad. That was very different for me because I had less control over the direction of the music and lyrics than usual. Pol was composing the score for the entire film, and he had a specific place that he wanted us to end up in with this song. That was a challenge for me because my contribution had to live within the confines of someone else’s vision. I’m grateful for that because it really took me out of my comfort zone and stretched my legs as a songwriter. He was great to work with and I learned a lot from him. I hope we can work together again. Writing for movies is something I’d really like to investigate fully.
How was the recording and writing process?
When it comes to Pretty Smiles and the album, a lot of these songs have been around for a long time. Before I signed with NUA I released a string of E.Ps independently and I’m always writing songs whether I’m working towards a release or not, so finding material wasn’t an issue. The bulk of the recording was done in the space of 2 weeks. The musicians involved were extremely fast learners which didn’t hurt the process.
What was it like to work with Tommy McLaughlin and how did that relationship develop?
We were put in touch by a previous associate of mine who knew Tommy’s manager. He was interesting to work with. He was a quirky, complex character who I didn’t have enough time to completely figure out. But I was intrigued by him and I liked him. You couldn’t not like Tommy. He had a studio that was state of the art and the expertise to match. Spending time with him in that environment was a great learning experience.
How much did he get to influence the album?
Well the songs were already written from start to finish before I went into record so there wasn’t a lot of influence on the songwriting. But he definitely had his own specific style of production that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else and he brought in musicians from his band Villagers to play the songs. They were all exceptionally talented and a pleasure to work with.
Did any film get to inspire the music on this record?
Not directly. My songs usually come from my own personal interactions with people. But movies inadvertently influence my songs a great deal. I think when you’ve watched as many movies as I have, (and I’m talking about proper movies, not the last ten years of superhero, sci-fi, rom-com garbage we’ve been subjected to) you can’t help but be influenced.
The way we talk about love, hate, life and death in songs is heavily dramatized. It’s like we take all the big screen story arcs of romance, tragedy, betrayal and revenge and apply them to the people and situations in our own lives as best we can. Sometimes there’s a bit of exaggeration involved if the song’s going to be worth singing, but I find most situations don’t have to be stretched too far to be made interesting if you study them carefully enough. After all, movies are usually exaggerations of real situations to begin with, so a song works the same way.
To be honest I think every time a song is written, all the writer is doing is trying to make himself out to be the hero of his own 3 and a half minute movie. I certainly am.
What role does the 50s plays in your music?
In my music, not a whole lot. It’s just an era that I happen to be interested in, just like I’m interested in the 20s and the 80s, and the 1800s etc. But it was nice to incorporate a 40s/50s style atmosphere into this video, the song just seemed to lend itself to that environment and I think we pulled it off really well. Al, the director of that video had everything planned out to the last second and I think the idea came together brilliantly.
How’s your new album coming along?
It’s been finished for a while now. I recorded it in the space of a couple of months last year. I’m actually in the process of writing the next one. You never know when you’re going to get a bout of writer’s block, or simply be too busy to write a decent song, so it’s important to stay ahead whenever you can.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
I’d say it’ll be towards the end of this year or the beginning of next. Releasing an album is very tricky at the moment. It’s a lot like cooking a meal for someone you’re trying to impress. It all comes down to two things: presentation and timing, and if you get everything right, you might just get lucky.
Any plans to hit the road?
Well I’d like to, but finding the right tour is proving to be difficult. I had a brief glimpse of life on the road when I toured with Lawson across he UK last year. I had a great time, and I would do it again tomorrow, mainly because I’m a much happier person when I’ve got somewhere to go. But this time I’d like to tour with a band or a songwriter a little closer to home in terms of style and influence. Lawson are really terrific guys, but musically we don’t have a whole lot in common. But I’ll be back on the move as soon as the opportunity presents itself. I’m starting to get restless, the kind of restless that only a good tour or a good woman can cure.
What else is happening next in Pete Gardiner’s world?
I often wonder that myself. I never really know what’s round the corner and I like not knowing. What happens next is always going to be very uncertain for as long as I’m doing this. There are a lot of things that will determine the outcome of this game which are out of my hands. I have a couple more singles up my sleeve and a few cool gigs coming up this year. Beyond that your guess is as good as mine. But in the words of ACDC “It’s a long road to the top if you wanna rock n’ roll!”