Shady Maples has some history rooted in Southern California. Greg Peters of the SDMA-nominated Dead Feather Moon also plays guitar and does arrangements in Shady Maples. His two bands have very divergent sounds, which demonstrates the range and talent of Greg’s musicianship. Dead Feather Moon is an explosive, gritty rock & roll band, at home in dirty dives as well as on the big stage. Shady Maples is stripped-down, acoustic-based blues with elements of Latin, Americana and even reggae. They have an explosiveness all their own and a great deal of that dynamic is based around Peter’s swampy lap-steel work.
I recently got to ask Greg a few questions about balancing two bands 500 miles apart.
Alfred Howard: Congrats on the San Diego Music Award Nomination. Is this your first?
Greg Peters: Thanks Al, yes it is. I've done some studio work before, but Dark Sun is the first album I have been 100% a part of.
AH: Are you excited to take the stage at Humphreys?
GP: For sure. It's a badass stage and all my music biz friends will be there. The hard part will be picking one song to perform.
AH: How does it work being in a band from SF as well as one from SD?
GP: Berkeley, first of all, but I just like to say "the Bay Area" because we play shows all over San Francisco, Berkeley and Marin. And it is challenging, but really fun when everything lines up. Shady Maples has toured the coast between the bay and San Diego five or six times now. We play in these cool little coastal towns and camp along the way. I really look forward to those tours.
AH: How did you meet the Maples? How do you write songs, rehearse, record?
GP: Owen (singer, guitarist) was my freshmen-year orientation roommate at UC Davis. We have been close friends ever since, but only within the past five years started playing music together. I didn't pick up a guitar until I was 27, and at that time Owen was living in New York and I was here in San Diego. He traveled out my way a few times for work and we got to jamming, me on lap steel mainly, and Owen asked if I would do some recording on his album, Bay to Maples. When Owen moved back to his hometown of Berkeley, we started setting up little shows down here or up there. He would send me tracks over the interweb and I would work out some steel or guitar parts. We started pulling in a drummer and bass player, sometimes keys or mandolin, and set our sights on a full-length album. We released Unfold in January of this year. It was recorded over eight days at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley.
AH: What are some differences between the two bands? Who writes the music / lyrics for each?
GP: The biggest difference between the two bands is obviously the distance. Dead Feather Moon rehearsed three to four days a week, and the songs are written collaboratively from the instrumental standpoint. Justen writes all the lyrics, however. We are very tight, and no tiny mistake ever goes unnoticed. Shady Maples is more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants operation. Owen writes lyrics and comes up with guitar riffs and melodies, and I add texture and space to the whole thing. There is room for improvisation, and every set feels and sounds a little different. There is a rotating cast of musicians that joins us, and that keeps it fun and interesting.
AH: Who are some bands you draw inspiration from for each group?
GP: Well, they all definitely overlap. My Morning Jacket, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Queens of the Stone Age, Dr. John, Radiohead. These are all heavy influences on DFM. Shady Maples as well, but throw in some more singer/songwriters like the Wood Brothers and White Buffalo, and maybe some world music like Manu Chao or Xavier Rudd.
AH: When the Shady Maples guys get down here, where do you take them for burritos?
GP: Rudy's in Solana Beach for Carne Asada, and Mariscos for fish tacos.
AH: What are your favorite venues in SF and SD?
GP: In SF, Cafe Du Nord for sound, and Hotel Utah for pure craziness. In SD, the Belly Up, the Casbah, and the Griffin have all been very good to us.
AH: What's next for Dead Feather Moon?
GP: We have a little tour coming up in the end of July, and then hopefully some more recording.
Be sure to check out Shady Maples and Old Tiger this Friday at the Griffin.