North Jersey band Maybe Pete has a decidedly Jersey shore sound, even gaining notice for sounding a little like the Jersey boy rocker, known to fans as Bruce.
This original band, led by Frankie McGrath, has been playing out since 2001, but began getting serious attention after the release of their debut album, “Between the City and the Stratosphere” in 2005. The album earned the group several nominations at the Asbury Music Awards including: Top Local Release, Top Roots Band, and Top Male Vocalist.
While the nominations were appreciated, lead singer/guitarist McGrath gets a bigger rush from playing the music live.
“For me the payoff is [playing] live,” said McGrath. “You do all this work behind the scenes. Playing live is the part when you let your hair down and have fun.”
Locals can see that promise in action, when Maybe Pete returns to Hoboken to play at Maxwell’s on Saturday, Nov. 4.
From local bar to legendary venues
In late 2000 McGrath, after getting tired of working with other bands that split, decided to start his own original band. He was joined by his wife Kelly McGrath (on guitar), and Marc Gambino (on bass). The three have worked together since the beginning. Drummer Johnny Macko has played with them for the past two years. In 2001, the band began playing at small music venues and local bars in New Jersey.
One of the first gigs they had was at the now closed Love Sexy in Hoboken in July of 2001.
According to McGrath, they had a good turn out that night even if the line-up made no sense. McGrath said there were hard-core metal bands mixed in with the rock.
After that show, the band eventually moved onto bigger and better venues including, Maxwell’s, The Saint and The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, CBGB’s.
Maybe Pete has opened for music greats Black 47, Southside Johnny & the Jukes, and others.
According to McGrath, one of the great things about playing at The Stone Pony is that you never know who is going to show up.
“Never knowing who is going to be there that night is pretty exciting,” said McGrath.
Maybe Pete had their own moment recently when Bobby Bandiera from Southside Johnny & the Jukes joined them onstage at the Pony this past July.
South Jersey rock
Although Maybe Pete has been compared to Southside Johnny and Bruce Springsteen, McGrath feels that the band has their own sound.
“It’s an honor, but it’s kind of weird too,” said McGrath. “Everyone in Asbury Park compares us to Springsteen, but I think they just hear what they want to hear.”
According to McGrath, he thinks there is a little bit of that Jersey Rock sound, but if the band is doing their job it’s still different.
“Yes, it’s flattering, but the bar is high. Bruce is in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, we are just a local band.”
Between the City and the Stratosphere was released in February of 2005 by the band’s own record label “Bridge & Tunnel Records.”
The album has 10 songs, which features a mix of rock ballads and rock anthems – all that are have snapshot images. McGrath’s gravelly bass tones are exactly the sounds you’d expect to hear tell of lost love, broken promises, dreams. Yet when sung with mournful conviction and backed by the great guitar work, the familiar stories sound new.
McGrath is particularly proud of the track “Somehow,” which he wrote almost by accident with Kelly. Fans often request that song at a gig.
According to McGrath, he and the band are hard at work on the new album that should be out in early 2007. “There are 7 or 8 songs finished, and 4 or five partially ready,” said McGrath. “We are pretty happy with where they are going.”
McGrath said that this album is a little different than the first. It will have a more cohesive sound as an album. Although McGrath wrote about half the songs himself, and the other with his wife Kelly, the other members do have input.
“They have a lot of input in what they do,” said McGrath. “It’s interesting to see it brought to life.”
According to McGrath, another way a song can change is when they are playing live.
“Sometimes its tempo, or feel. The more you play something it takes on a life of its own.”
Ultimately, playing out is what really matters to McGrath.
“Ideally, we will put out the CD and go out on the road,” said McGrath, “and I hope that the audience will have a really good time.”
Maybe Pete will play Maxwell’s, 1039 Washington St., in Hoboken on Saturday, Nov. 4. For more information about upcoming shows, visit: www.maybepete.com.