Singled Out: Pete RG's Heaven Knows

02-27-2017
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Pete RG

Pete RG just kicked off his late winter tour in support of his new album "Tender Souls" and to celebrate we asked him to tell us about the inspiration behind the song "Heaven Knows". Here is the story:

I must've I given up on "Heaven Knows" a few dozen times while writing and recording it. As with most of my songs, the first seed was sewn while I was banging on my acoustic guitar. I was collecting song ideas for an upcoming recording session. The verse melody and some of the key lyrics, including the phrase "heaven knows," were among them. I'm always reading about politics and social news. It's a form of masochism, these days. I feel like we're being watched all the time and pushed into a group-think vacuum. That was the lyrical inspiration.

Anyway, at the recording session, our goal was to get an idea of which ideas were worthy of developing further. Scotty Kormos was playing drums that day as this was right before Dave Krusen joined the band. With Adam Kury on bass and Brina Kabler engineering and producing, we began working through the ideas, one after the other. "Heaven Knows" was the last one we got to. Immediately after hearing me strum the basic verse-chorus idea, Scotty and Adam came up with the drum and bass groove that became the foundation of the song. Brina suggested an alternate melody for the chorus and the song took shape in minutes. It felt really good. We were excited and spent some more time working on ideas for a bridge. That's when we hit a wall. We couldn't come up with anything that measured up to the verse and chorus melodies.

The band went home and came back a week later to try again on the bridge. Still nothing. I worked on it alone. I worked on it with Brina. I worked on it in my sleep. Nada. I felt like I was banging my head against the wall. I told Brina we needed to back-burner it for a bit. Either that or the song would kill me or I'd kill the song. She wouldn't let it go. Our conversations about the song got slightly heated. I got to a point where I was ready to delete all of the recordings and leave the song to distant memory. Finally, Brina relented and we set it aside.

Fast forward about a year, we were working on the TENDER SOULS album. Brina brought up revisiting the song. I begrudgingly agreed. As a band, we were gaining some confidence and momentum. I didn't want to spoil that with a song that could easily bog us down, but I thought it would be fine to see what Dave and Kevin Haaland (lead guitarist) might do with it. It was worthy of one more try. Not surprisingly, they had some great ideas that rekindled the inspiration for the song for me. The one that hit me the most was to have the band drop out at the top of the bridge and slowly build back up. We were on to something with that. But, we needed more time in the studio that we didn't have. We were about to go on a six week U.S. tour opening for Candlebox.

The tour began. Once we got a few shows under our belt- it was our first large stage tour- we decided to try out the song in front of a crowd. It was a risk since it was unfinished. We could easily crash and burn right in front of a couple thousand eyes, but we decided to go for it. The song was too cool to leave on the sidelines during the tour. Plus, if we were to crash and burn in front of a big audience, we figured we'd have a good laugh about it after. My hope was that we'd catch a bit of inspiration in that moment of do or die. Fortunately, that's exactly what happened. Right away, we caught on to what would be the final version of the song. We kept it in the set and refined it every night. We could see the audience reaction grow stronger with every performance. That was really cool. Two days after the tour was finished we were back in the studio to finish the song. We wasted no time. In fact, all we did was drop the bridge into what we had recorded right before we went on the road. The drums sounds in the bridge are slightly different from the rest of the song, but that adds to the magic of the recording.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!

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