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The Josh and Pete Band

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Part Pink Floyd, part the Beatles, part weirdness, The Josh and Pete Band have been rocking Philly’s local scene since 2007 and having the time Josh and Pete Bandof their lives doing it. Their story starts in Cheltenham, PA, where members Josh Band, Pete Band, and King Alon (yeah) attended school together, learning various instruments when their eyes weren’t glued to the Nickelodeon TV show, “Doug”.

All members went to college, and now they’re back, residing in West Philly, but maybe University City. And they’ve been performing -- all the time. You name the (small) venue, and they’ve rocked it out, or are scheduled to do so. These include World Café Live, The Fire, the North Star Bar, Kildare’s, and the M Room.

But like I said, they’re wacky. So much so, they’ve developed a concept album based on…something involving a sea captain.

They draw their own comics, as posted on their MySpace page, and they wear pretty outrageous outfits on stage. One thing you can’t accuse them of is ripping off anyone else’s style. The guys recently caught up with Philly2Philly to discuss their sound, their concepts, their location, and their goals.

Please describe your sound.

Pete: Imagine The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and Queen are doing a guest appearance on an early 90's Nickelodeon cartoon show. The music itself will be psychedelic in nature but the right kind of pop sound to have the kids dancing in their living rooms and their parents approving.

Your album “O’Captain” is about a Bored Captain marooned on an island, forced to explore a strange town called "Slimey Time”. You’re going to have to explain that one to the readers of Philly2Philly.

Josh: Well, Okay, the story goes: Captain Loves Girl, Captain loses girl, Captain hates girl, Captain hates location where girl is, Captain goes out on a boat to find himself away from girl, Captain gets shipwrecked (nothing to do with girl), Captain finds himself on an island, Captain finds himself insane, Captain explores island, man finds a village "Slimey Time Town" on island where weird people congregate and strange things happen. Captain meets weird characters such as Cecil P. Jones, "the rudest man in all the land," and Lilly Kwickeneezie "Miss Slimeytime". Captain is given weird potions that make him explore his mind in weird ways. Captain has a confused mental breakdown resulting in his realization that it was not the girl’s fault but his own fault for not loving himself enough and holding back his creative integrity. Captain goes back to other side of island. Captain sees his boat is not actually broken at all, captain sails home and tells everyone his story.

And the best part is: this entire story is conveyed in song. I know! Right?

Pete: The story is actually a pretty common formula. We just like to put the Josh and Pete Band twist on it. The lonely, pathetic captain goes off to sea to get away from his unhappy life and explore on his own. On his way he gets thrown from his boat into the ocean and ends up on the island. While on this island his brain starts to get affected by the powers of where he really is.

Who does your drawings?

Josh: Pete and I draw our own comics. The Josh and Pete Band Comic Book started as a combined project of Pete and Mine when we were in our 11th grade Applied Economics class. We went to high school together and it was a ridiculously long class. Like, "five hours long" long. So all day while the teacher would babble about money and goods and supply and demand, we would draw representative pictures of ourselves (which evidently don't look a thing like us in real life) but our characters were born. So now we do not know anything about functioning properly in society or our economy but hey, we can draw a mean Josh and Pete.

Pete: We originally commissioned a team of artists taken from the Yellow Submarine movie and then Kevin Smith – and the creators of South Park wanted in on the project, too. No one would back out and this meant that we had to pay all of them so we just decided to save money and do it ourselves but honoring all their styles.

Alon: Josh and Pete each draw them, with each drawing his own image. I don't have time to draw myself, what with ruling my kingdom and all.

What’s your favorite place to play in Philly – and why?

Josh: Well we love to play music in a couple of venues. World Cafe Live is amazing, it's so flashy (in a very positive way) and they always have caring, passionate people working there. Mill Creek Tavern is our home front. It's right around the corner and its such your typical "get smashed and play” bar. Their hospitality is wonderful and they are a bunch of fun. If you were asking us where we actually like to play...there’s a playground in Clark Park that’s pretty cool.

Pete: That would have to be the Mill Creek Tavern. They treat us the best, give us free drinks, and discounted food. Plus the place is right by our house so we don't have to get King Alon to drive his car. This costs a lot because everywhere he drives we need to pay for the red carpet to proceed his car, which costs $1,600/mile.

Alon: World Cafe was definitely the coolest so far--the sound is great, the lighting gives energy, and people enjoy seeing shows there!

I’ve seen your dress style can be a little eccentric on stage.

Josh: Well, we are pretty eccentric in general. We figure our music is a bit outrageous so we might as well dress the part. Pete and I just try to wear some sort of cool outfit, but I think the most outrageous is Alon, who is forevermore the king of the band. So he dresses in a king outfit. He looks pretty badass with his crown and a bass in his hand. Elvis is the king. But King Alon is the Monarch!

Pete: Well we get our inspiration from various things we watch TV, particularly the Beets from Doug, one of our favorite performers. It really seems that the audience digs their sense of style because they always like to dress like them for Halloween and other costume parties. We figure that if we dress "cool" like The Beets do, someday our outfits will be on four mannequins in a store window.

Alon: My crown and robe have been passed down through the generations of King Alon's, and now I am their keeper. I always wear them in shows (unless I am acting a common peasant, as we royal type are wont to do now and again).

You’ve got 232 Facebook friends. Who’s your favorite?

Josh: We like 113 of them. The other 119 of them we don't care for. Though I will not tell you who. So if any of our friends are reading this, you’re in the 113 we like.

Pete: I think we're friends with Ali G so I'm gonna say he's my favorite Facebook friend, even though I assume it's not really him cause he lives in Staines, England and that's not what his network says.

Alon: My favorite is the fan who's come to the most shows!

You’re described as being from University City. Is the term “West Philly” too cutting edge or what? And depending on your answer, where would you say University ends and West Philly begins?

Josh: Well, I would say our house is at that specific divide. Half of our house is in West Philly and half of it is in University City. We are currently having a west side story-esque gang war within the house. We snap and have dance steps. But seriously I would not mind if people said we were from West Philly. It sounds a bit more badass than University City. Especially since we did not even go to Penn.

Pete: We live right on the border of University City and Western Philly so naturally we have a broad cultural understanding of where we live. The two sides have been feuding for years and we never knew why. We look out our windows at night and see two gangs at the border snapping their fingers and stepping in sync with each other. I've never seen any violence but it's clear they don't like each other.

As mediators of the two sides we hope in the future to create music to which they can eventually dance to together...as one.

Alon: I'd say West Philly is everywhere there aren't the dorms, shops, buildings and whatnot associated with Penn. It's Clark Park, the Green Line, Second Mile.

Nickelodeon is an influence of yours.

Josh: Growing up, both Pete and I watched a lot of television. We are quintessential poster-children of the nineties. Not only did it thin our attention spans, but it also provided us with a huge band to look up to. The biggest band to reach the cartoon world. The Beets. Doug Funny and Skeeter loved that band, and I think everyone who is about our age really loves them, too. So, we play a few nickelodeon songs and adapt the humor of a few of the shows and add a bit of psychedelica and rock and roll.

Pete: Yes. Nickelodeon is a network definitely associated with our childhoods. We would sit and watch Saturday morning cartoons every Saturday and now we can watch them any day we want! We have the largest collection of old nickelodeon shows than anyone we've met and everyone's real impressed at that. We resonate on a deep level with many characters such as Doug, Rocko, both Pete's, Stimpy, Tommy and Chuckie, and Steve from Blue's Clues. In fact, if I wasn't so into music (in the rock genre) I would be auditioning to be the host of Blue's Clues. Seriously.

Alon: Of course! As are the Muppets. Goofiness is a personality trait we all share, and so naturally we summon this goofy nature into the songs we play and how we act.

I know you’ve got a story about your craziest show. Let’s hear it.

Josh: Well our craziest show would probably be the first show we ever played. For some absolutely ridiculous reason, we decided it would be a smart idea to drive up to Ithaca College during the biggest snowstorm of the past 20 years to play a show at a bar. We decided it would also be a good idea to put all ourselves and the instruments and equipment in one car. We put my keyboard on the people in the back seats’ lap since it would not fit in the trunk. So there we are driving my stick shift-based small Saturn without any four-wheel drive. We went down this huge hill and I lost control of the car and we crashed into a guardrail. Big time.

But everyone was fine. The keyboard actually served as safety belt that one might put on a roller coaster. So we had to get a bus, cab, and a tow truck and we were about 40 miles from Ithaca College. So the tow truck took my car since it was totaled. And the cab came and picked us up. When we finally got there, we were told that the gig was cancelled due to the weather conditions. So we found a party somewhere, set up our equipment, played a show in a basement, woke up the next day, said f*ck this place, rented a car ,and drove home.

Now that’s rock and roll.

Pete: Well, there was this one show where I felt like I was being slowly executed. It was a real shocking thing actually. Every time my lips were to touch the microphone, I got a bunch of electric volts surging through my body and it really affected the performance. It made me a little light headed and added an extra pulse to my singing.

Lastly, what’s Josh and Pete’s goal, band-wise?

Josh: Well, our slogan is "Music that will save or ruin the world"...so one of those options would be nice.

Pete: As you may see on business cards, our goal is to have our music eventually save or ruin the world. We figure that at some point everyone will join in on our harmonies and make one awesome chord as a world. At that point, there will be no point for war and poverty. Everyone will be so at peace, at least for the duration of the chord, thus saving the world.

Either that may happen, or our music could create tension within the core of the earth and cause every volcano to erupt, killing every last human, thus, destroying the world. Whether we save or destroy the world, either way would be pretty cool. Also, if we do end the world no one will ever know it was us unless someone leaves a message for the new world carved on some indestructible tablet.

Alon: You know, just to be successful and enjoy the hell out it. That's my view as the King. It sometimes seems like we're all stranded on a desert island together, trying to make sense of each other's wackiness.