After a year long hiatus, Greasy Hearts has regrouped with a rockin’ new seven-inch.
The three longtime friends Peter Wilderotter (guitar/vocals), Gabe Katz (drums/vocals) and Pat White (bass/vocals) started Greasy Hearts’ in 2014 but put the band on pause while Wilderotter and Katz toured around the world backing up the powerful singer and slide-guitarist Breanna Barbara.
Now they’re back home in NYC and are excited to focus on Greasy Hearts again.
“When Greasy reformed after that year off we felt on another level,” Wilderotter tells BTRtoday. “We played so many shows every month with Bre for over a year straight, our musical chops elevated immensely.”
The new seven-inch premiering below features the tracks “I Need It and I Want It” and “Man Could Get Lucky.” The bluesy riffs and deep vocals give these two songs a melancholic feel, matching the with lyrics about a brightly burning love that ends in frustration.
Listen below and read the entire interview with Greasy Hearts’ Peter Wilderotter. Catch them this Saturday, Nov. 17 at The Windjammer with The Advertisers, Vamanos and Old Lady.
BTRtoday (BTR): This is one of the best band names I’ve seen in a while, what does it mean to you?
Peter Wilderotter (PW): Thank you. Honestly, we formed in 2014 and wrote a bunch of songs together and just couldn’t figure out a name. We were convinced all the great band names had been taken and disagreed so many times over names. I started looking at some of my favorite artists discographies thinking I could find a great song title to use as a band name because I didn’t know what else to try.
Randomly, while cruising my record collection I stumbled across a song titled “Greasy Heart” by Jefferson Airplane. I didn’t even love the song that much, it’s an okay tune, but those two words together hit me so hard and I thought it captured our style and sound and rolled off the tongue naturally.
I pitched it to the guys and we agreed on it right away. We probably would’ve ended up bickering and eventually settling on a name out of desperation. Luckily, I found that song title, otherwise you’d be interviewing the Turkey Vulture Massacre of 1812 or whatever dumb shitty names were being thrown out there before Greasy Hearts stuck.
BTR: I hear some heavy country and blues influences, am I right? How were you introduced to that genre?
PW: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. We all love old soul music, rhythm and blues, and my guitar influence comes from a lot of rockabilly guys, which is where the country comes in. I have an Eddie Cochran and Carl Perkins obsession—Jerry Lee Lewis too.
We also all share a mutual love for The Band, who draw heavy influences from folk, country and roots music—especially the stuff they did in Woodstock, The Basement Tapes with Bob Dylan and all that. We like when the Rolling Stones do country influenced stuff too, like on the Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed albums.
And to throw a more contemporary band out there we all love Natural Child and our boys The Nude Party. We aren’t studio guys, we really stress the importance of quality musicianship and live energy as the foundation for the sounds we create.
BTR: Let’s talk about this seven-inch—what was the writing process like?
PW: I left New York City last winter, while Pat and Gabe stayed in Ridgewood, Queens. I moved right outside the city to Montclair, NJ and I kind of went on a huge writing spurt due to change in location. I’m very manic with writing stuff, but I really do find peace with it despite sometimes losing sleep over unfinished bridges and trying one song 50 different ways.
I’ll go through large bursts of creativity where 10 songs will come to me in a matter of months, and then a dry spell can follow where I don’t write much of anything for a few months. It’s frustrating at times, but that’s just how it goes. Ultimately I don’t mind—songwriting will never stab me in the back. I sure as hell get very competitive with it, but I ultimately find peace in the chaos of creating something.
BTR: Both the tracks have a theme of yearning for love, does that come from a real life situation or circumstance?
PW: A lot of our songs center around love and working through relationships, but we like to explore other sentiments too. Money struggles, bleak outlooks, seeing no future, hopelessness, jealousy, anxiety, letting people down unintentionally, laziness, short attention spans and really just being way too in one’s own head.
The first track, “I Need It & I Want It” is about this guy who does what’s expected of any partner, loving someone completely and communicating with them wholeheartedly, but fucks up all the little things—like never being on time for stuff. And he’s aware of all this and is trying to regain his focus and hang in there and win the respect back of his lover. It’s very Otis Redding inspired.
“Man, Could Get Lucky” is a song about being in love and comfortable, but you’re letting the one you love down because you’re still so young, confused and not ambitious enough. The character in the song is trying to improve, but their vices get the best of them. The character is watching I Love Lucy, when he realizes the characters on the show don’t have his back, but his girl does. He might have realized this too late, but the man could also get lucky and turn it around—so I called the song “Man Could Get Lucky.”
BTR: So would you say these lyrics are very personal?
PW: I admire lyricists who say really simple things in creative, powerful and effective ways. People feel lost and alone and I want to make them not feel that way. Like when I first listened to Pet Sounds [by The Beach Boys] as a 15-year-old I was like, “is this guy reading my mind?” That helped me, to know someone else felt exactly how I felt, that’s what really saved me.
So yeah, our stuff can be about personal experiences, but it’s primarily just storytelling.
BTR: You guys have been in the music world for a while (playing for Breanna Barbara, etc.), what does Greasy Hearts do for you that’s different from any other project?
PW: We formed in 2014 and were very active until 2016 before pausing for a minute and then regrouping in 2017 with all new material. During our year long pause, Pat, Gabe and I formed a short-lived psych project called Mammoth Spirit with some other buddies. We released an EP and broke up shortly after.
Then, Gabe and I did a ton of stuff with Breanna Barbara as her backing band. In that project I just played guitar and Gabe was on drums. Breanna brought us all over the country on tour, taught us a lot about shutting the fuck up and paying attention to dynamics (crucial for loud rockers like Gabe and I) and got us playing all the big NYC venues doing kick ass shows to huge crowds.
Because Bre uses a slide guitar and primarily plays rhythm, or just takes on vocals making me the only guitarist for some songs, my mixing of lead and rhythm guitar went to another level. I call it “pianizing” the guitar—treating the guitar like a piano. I constantly kept the chords moving into other chords, mixing rhythm and lead, had to learn to not be a dickhead virtuoso soloist and just play off emotion and beautiful melodies. So when Greasy re-formed after that year off we felt on another level. We played so many shows every month with Bre for over a year straight, our musical chops elevated immensely.
That was an amazing experience, but having [my own] band is very important to me, I always want to be playing in bands and writing my own songs. I don’t really know what else I’d do without it.
BTR: Tell me about what you guys have planned for the future of Greasy Hearts?
PW: I really want our stuff on vinyl and to shop it around to labels. We have released tapes through King Pizza Records in the past (some still for sale on their website, thanks Greg!). We made some CDs back in the day too, but it’s time for vinyl. Our plan is to release the 7-inch featuring the two songs “I Need It and I Want It” & “Man Could Get Lucky”. Then we’re going to release another seven-inch shortly after featuring two more original songs.
We’re also going to release some covers we recorded. Greasy Does Roy will feature two Roy Orbison songs and Greasy Does Ray will be the same idea, but with Ray Charles songs. Then, hopefully by the spring or summer we will have our damn full length out which will be between about 10 original songs. I have to stay busy, otherwise I think about boring stuff and get in my head and slowly lose it.