Peter Riley Osborn & The Truckstop Handshakes
Peter Riley Osborn is a guitarist and singer/songwriter out of Eugene, Oregon inspired by a mix of country, blues and rock. Growing up, Peter was a longtime fixture in the Mid-Valley music scene, playing guitar for local country singer Gretchen Owens, a tri You, Me & Pete, as well as a variety of recording and live projects. Peter’s debute album, ‘Homemade,’ reflects on all the aspect of his life from love, loss, addiction, faith and family. With help from Peter Yaskovic (drums) and Lance Seiders (bass), who form the core of The Truckstop Handshakes, ‘Homemade’ delivers an eclectic mix of various musical influences from song to song.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
About seven years ago, I had figured my music career was pretty much spent. I had played in a few bands in my early 20’s, but life took me in a different direction. While I loved playing guitar, it was mostly just something I did by myself at home. After moving back to Oregon from Washington, a friend of mine named Milo Skinner invited me to play music with him. I had not played in a band for almost seven years and had not really practiced much, so I was understandably rusty. Through the encouragement of Milo and my family, I began playing regularly again. It was during one of my lunches with Milo and a few other musicians (mostly to work on songs or play jazz, which I am terrible at, or just talk about life and music) that I presented a new song I was working on. The tentative title of the song was “Alright This Time.” It was a fictional tale about coming back from tour and finding your stuff thrown out on the lawn and your girlfriend/wife gone. It was kind of silly and cliche, but it got me off my lyrical butt and back to writing music again. In 2015, Milo passed away in a tragic plane accident. This loss was the catalyst for me to complete our song “Alright This Time.” The song became more about dealing with loss and how we put on a brave face for others because, after a while, a lot of people cannot handle the idea that grief has no expiration date. I was thinking about Milo's wife when I re-wrote the lyrics, even adding a bridge section to it. Seeing how hard it was for people around her to continue to supply grace and understand that she was going to be in a state of grief in some capacity or another for the rest of her life. After I got that song recorded, I had the bug. Three or four more songs came rapidly and so I launched a Kickstarter to fund an album project. Over 40 of the best donors in the world helped me launch a project to create an album. As I sat in the studio to finish out the last few parts on my debut album, I realized I didn’t want to stop making music. So I am back in the studio tonight to start the process all over again.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I play guitar for a country band as well. A few years ago, we had a show opening for a touring Nashville act at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. It was a HUGE deal for us. They had a full band sound check six hours before the show started. We had an hour to do our sound check and then they wanted to do a “band only” sound check. So we had two hours to kill before the show and some of my bandmates (ironically, two Truckstop Handshakes, Pete Yaskovic, and Brent Cole) went to a local McMenamins pub. We ordered some Cajun Tots and I had a White Russian. Now, while I look like I can handle my booze quite well, I am actually a super lightweight. I rarely drink and will have a single White Russian (because it basically tastes like a milkshake) prior to most of my gigs. Well, we had so much time, Brent and Pete convinced me to have a second. BIG MISTAKE. I was fine leaving the restaurant, but as I started to walk up the stairs to my guitar, my legs felt like giant bags of sand. I suddenly realized I was super drunk. Our biggest show in the whole time I was in the band, and all the sudden, I feel like I had hooves for hands. I start tuning my guitar, with a tuner that mutes my guitar while I tune. Once I was done tuning, we were ready to go and our first song had a really big guitar riff to start it out. I start playing the riff and I just cannot hear anything. So I look down and realize that I never turned off the tuner. So the song started without me, and then when I did turn off the tuner, my hands were a fret off from where they should be. So what I played sounded like cats puking. It took me three songs to sober up enough to play well. We ended strong, but that was the worst I ever felt at a gig and the last time I doubled down on my White Russians. As an aside, the song “Tater Tots & White Russians” on my album is about that night.
What has been the high point of your music path?
The night I left the studio after recording the last bit of music on “homemade” was actually a high point and huge letdown. I felt super exhilarated about the project and thought I had just changed the world. Then on the way home, I had a huge letdown when I realized it was done. That was the point that I realized that even if everyone hates it, I just need to make music. I need the whole thing: The songwriting, the camaraderie with the band, and the joy of sitting in the studio and hearing something I made played back to me. I love the whole process and the idea that it was done for a bit was depressing, but only because the high of completing it was so intense.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
It is actually not super well defined. Right now I am working on five songs. For one of them, I sat down to do an exercise with modes and came up with a little riff that I liked. As I played it over and over, the whole story of the song and the way I was going to deliver it came to me right away. On another song, I have had the music for it forever, but in the process of trying to write lyrics that aren’t trite and cliche, I wrote two other songs that, while I like them, did not fit this melody. Those other two songs came together super quickly for me after I had a melody I wanted to sing them to. Finally, I am also working on a song where my friend Gretchen Owens (whose band was described in my story above) sent me some lyrics and I have to write a melody and chord structure for it. I also have to do it in a key I know works well for her. That is a challenge, but ultimately I sit there with a Google doc directory filled with lyrics that will probably never see the light of day and a bunch of riffs that sometimes I just turn into instrumentals because they are hard to match lyrics to, or hard to sing and play at the same time, or just to give my voice a rest in concert.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
Honestly, the biggest issue in the industry I face is that I am a Web Developer during the day and I spend a lot of time online. I get frustrated that my market for music and the venues I reach out to are not always very technologically savvy. It is not their fault, it is not what they do. But it does hinder me when I try to use tools like GigSalad and I cannot get feedback because the process of submitting a testimony is too hard for them. According to Spotify, my demographic is a little older crowd, so the places I fit in are not always filled with “Techie” promoters or managers. Again, not their fault, it just is the reality of playing live with a style of music that appeals to a community that isn’t always as computer savvy. I think the other side that is difficult is just time. I have a family and a job and am trying to push this as far as I can, but I have to do everything. My own booking, my own promotion, etc. At the same time, I have to be a dad, keep my job, and write music so I have something to play. I am currently looking for help with this, but when I first started getting my music out there, I was amazed at the amount of work and some of the expectations there were to get started.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I have a ton of guitar heroes that I would love to be on a bill with, but right now I think it would be either The Strokes or Bend Sinister. I saw The Struts open for the Foo Fighters and I just couldn’t keep my eyes off the band. It is a spectacle that straight up rock and roll haven’t had since Queen or The Who. It would be super fun just to be a part of that. Bend Sinister is another band I like that just seems to have fun playing and has a crowd that has fun. I grew up a metal head, so when I first played country music, I was amazed at how fun it was, not just because there are tons of cool leads to play, but also because people dance and have fun, and the energy of the room is huge. When I watch Bend Sinister, it just looks like fun. And they have super interesting music to me.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
For me, prepping for a show is a ton of solo work with a metronome to try and get all my intros down. Then I get together with the band a few times before a show or series of shows. My bass player, Lance Seiders, is a long time pro and doesn’t need a ton of prep because he is just naturally totally prepared. Same with Pete Yaskovic on drums. The big issue we have to practice is usually just the timing for Brent Cole and me on guitar and vocals. So we try and do minimal full band rehearsals and, instead, prepare as much outside of rehearsal as possible.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
"Blondes" was probably the hardest. It is definitely the hardest to play live. It has a very specific strumming pattern that is really easy to get too fast on. It also rests at the top of my registry in the pre-chorus so we had to redo that vocal quite a bit. In our live shows, we do a lot of funk and blues songs that are a little jammy in nature. Those tend to be easier to play because there is a lot of freedom to stretch out but the verses and chorus are reasonably simple (the ones I play at least). A Song like “Blondes” is a little more difficult because it demanded a lot more structure. I really wrestled with the lyrics, cutting a whole verse, and it just had iteration after iteration in the studio. I imagine it took the longest to record as well. Most of the other songs either musically or lyrically came to me all at once. "Blondes" was a little bit different.
What's coming up in the future?
Hopefully, a small regional tour this summer and I am heading back to the studio to try and continue the song creation process. I have 4 songs right now running around my head, and I am looking to do more single releases and EPs rather than a full album. The distribution and focus on a single song are easier than a collection. Ultimately, I just want to make music until they pull my guitar from my cold, dead hands. I have eliminated all other hobbies in my life so that whatever spare time I have can go to music.
Where can fans can access your music.