By Cheryl Thompson
Gregory Pepper & His Problems is an ambitious release from a singer who is more upbeat than his moniker suggests. The 26-year old musician is a little bit of everything. He sings. He plays the piano and guitar. And, he composed most of the songs on his debut label release, With Trumpets Flaring
“I previously did two records of Gregory Pepper and His Problems but that was just selling on the internet. There’s sort of a reference to [being released on a label, Fake Four] with the trumpets flaring title, it’s sort of that regal ceremonial step forward,” says Pepper.
While the title is a mouth full, don’t expect to hear any trumpets. “People ask me a lot about the trumpets thing, but there’s not one single trumpet on there. It’s more like metaphorical trumpets.”
The album has a very dramatic sound to it, but that melodrama is largely on purpose. “Its dramatic but in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, not necessarily sincerely,” he says.
Born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, Pepper is another singer songwriter emerging from the city, which is approximately 45 minutes west of Toronto. Groups like The Constantines, and artists like Jim Guthrie all hail from Guelph. When asked if there’s something special in the water that contributes to such talented indie rockers, Pepper doesn’t really think so.
“There does seem like there’s an inordinate number of successful indie rock from Guelph. Some pretty noteworthy bands come from Guelph, but I think that probably everybody feels that way about their scene. I mean like only like 5 percent of the people making music are any good at it everybody else is a hack so I think that there’s like that 5 percent in every city.”
The album can best be described as indie rock meets baroque-pop. But one thing it’s got is a lot of heart and creativity, despite its very short running time.
“The only real negative feedback I’ve had is concerning the brevity of the record and how fast paced the changes are. You don’t necessarily have a hook to come back to and bite your teeth in. But I actually feel like those are both really positive things and I kind of set out to do that.”
Ultimately, With Trumpets Flaring is the kind of disc that needs to be digested over several hours; it goes by quick but that too is the whole point of it all. “The goal is that it demands re-listening or it makes the person want to hear it again and by the end of the record you hope they maybe pick up some of those little details that they may have missed the first couple of times,” says Pepper.
Pepper will be performing in Montreal on October 1st.