I asked Peter Horvath to provide me with a list of
all the bands he’s played in, and after he stopped
laughing and called me insane, he provided this compendium
of “just the main ones:" Etcetera, P.E.D., September
Violence, Seething Grey, Separate Peace, Halo Boots, Greyhouse,
and finally, The Anderson Council (1999- present) and the
Beatles tribute band Hey Bulldog (2004- present.) I am pretty
sure that I met Peter when he was in P.E.D. – a very
long time ago, when Jersey Beat itself was only
a few years old and I don’t think Peter had even started
shaving yet - and over the years we’ve become good
friends and I’ve enjoyed, admired, and written about
most if not all of his many projects. There is simply no
way to talk about the last 30+ years of New Jersey music
– punk, indie, underground, call it what you will
– without mentioning Peter Horvath. So we happily
and proudly present this interview by JB’s James Damion.
– Jim Testa
GreyHouse was always one of my favorite bands. There was
always something uncharacteristically unique about the band.
Can you give me a little inside look at how the band came
to be and if there was any template to what you wanted to
sound like or find common ground with?
Let's see, I was in a band called Separate Peace, whose
bass player was Little Dave, who was in the band Minus One
with Ed Glazar and Chris Hines. Ed and Chris would end up
in Greyhouse with me, while Little Dave would go on to Ressurection
and The Judas Factor. I played guitar once at a Minus One
show, and I guess the seeds were sown there. Ed decided
that he was also going to play guitar, and we would all
be involved in the vocals. Greyhouse has been referred to
as "NJ's answer to Fugazi", and I suppose we had
that whole DC sound in the back of our minds as some sort
of a touchstone, but I don't think we consciously tried
to ape the Fugazi/DC sound.
Q: I remember a show you played at Wetlands. After
which, I recall approaching Ed to see if the band would
do an interview for a fanzine I was doing. Though he did
not say "No". It seemed as if he was puzzled as
to why anyone would be interested in covering GreyHouse.
I was curious as to why the band seemed so stand offish
to any such possibility?
That Wetlands show was really great. I have no idea who
else was on the bill with us, but I feel like it was with
bands who didn't really "go"... In any case, we
rolled in there with our usual assortment of 4 Marshall
100 watt half stacks, fully expecting to be told that we
couldn't use all that gear, but the sound guy was REALLY
into the fact that we were going to test the capabilities
of the club's PA system. THAT was a first... Anyway, to
answer your question, I feel like we always felt out of
place as a band in the "scene". We were always
on bills with bands who espoused a more SXE lifestyle than
we did, which always seemed a little weird to me. As a result
of that, I felt as though we were this total outcast of
a band. With that in mind, I can totally see why Ed was
a little confused as to why someone would want to do a piece
on us. Of course, we've come to find out 20 years later
how apparently well liked we were. Go figure.
Q: don’t know if you recall the split 7”
inch you did with Dahlia Seed, but it was the first time
one of my photos appeared on a record. If I remember correctly.
You played a lot of shows together. How did you come to
know one another and how did the opportunity to put out
that record come about?
Mike Simonetti / Troubleman Unlimited put that one out,
right? I figure he put it out since we were pretty terrible
at putting our own records out... We played a few shows
with Dahlia Seed. I feel like those shows happened towards
the end of our time as a band. Not sure. I remember playing
a show at Stockton State College with Dahlia Seed, and we
kept blowing breakers. Those damn big amplifiers again...
That was the night I learned that some manufacturers put
light bulbs in PA cabinets to act as a fuse. The fun byproduct
is that the PA cabs light up the more power that gets slammed
through them. Instant light show... Honestly, the only person
in Dahlia Seed that I knew was Tracy, their singer. She
always seemed to have a cold when they played a gig...
Q: A proper discography of the bands catalog was
held up for years. Rumor has is it that the recordings were
somewhat hijacked by someone who agreed to release it. Is
there any truth to this? Or is it just a wild, blown out
of proportion, punk rock myth?
Initially, David Wolter, who put out our first 7"
on Withering Records was going to release the discography
too, but he kind of fell off the face of the earth. We got
so far as to master the release and start on cover art,
but we stopped working on it when we stopped hearing communication
back from David. Fast forward a few years, when I was in
communication with two gents from San Francisco who were
interested in putting the discography out. We tried to get
in touch with David again, but once again, no go... Eventually,
the songs made their way to ye olde internet, and new folks
started hearing us, along with the folks who said "I
used to love these guys back in the day"... Where the
fuck were they then??? Ha.
Q: We were finally rewarded with “Dives to
the Deep End” in 2016. How did the opportunity to
hook up with Simba Recordings come about?
Vique had put out a split 7" with us and Fabric a
million years ago, and we had kept in touch with her. When
the occasional talk of the discog came up yet again, she
agreed to put it out on Simba Recordings, and the rest is
history. The record was mastered for vinyl from my personal
CD master, in case you want some trivia.
I never had a chance to catch Seething Grey. Can you give
me a little background on the band, the band's recorded
output? Was the band short lived?
Short lived??? Seething Grey was around in various forms
from 1988-1999! We started in May of my senior year in high
school, as a band that REALLY wanted to sound like The Mighty
Lemon Drops or The Wonder Stuff or bands of that ilk, and
ended up as an angry amalgam of The Who and Swervedriver,
with tendencies toward odd meters... The original band got
as far as a demo tape, and various other lineups made recordings,
but our first "real" release was a 7" on
The Sinclair Recording Company, our own label. We put out
2 full length CDs and had some tracks on various comps.
The band imploded as we were doing preproduction for our
3rd record. By imploded, I mean that I quit my own band,
which then mean they had no singer and guitar player. It
was a bummer, but the band vibe was getting too down and
somber, and I needed a musical about face. Luckily, I had
been writing songs in a 60's psych vein, which became the
first songs for The Anderson Council...
Q: Had you continued writing music and recording
songs in between Seething Grey and Anderson Council?
I actually started writing songs that would end up being
Council songs in 1995, so there was really no in between
time. Seething Grey stopped in April of 1999, and The Anderson
Council's first show was in September of 1999. I would do
the demos by myself, playing and singing everything, which
is really fun to do. Also, remember, I was recording these
on my 4 track, so it also caused me to become a better recordist,
and definitely a better drummer!
That's Peter on the right...
Q: How would you describe your transition from
a hardcore kid writing and screaming songs like “Meditation
17” to writing 60’s flavored pop rock anthems
such as “Magical” and “We’re Like
I have always been a fan of really poppy college/indie
rock, and 60's music, and more aggressive stuff. To that
end, I've always tended to be in more than one band at the
same time, to kind of appease those multiple facets of my
musical upbringing. Sure there was some overlap; how could
there not be, when the same person is doing most of the
writing? That said, I write whatever I write. If the thing
I've written doesn't fit the current band, I'll file it
Q: When did you start noticing a change in your
writing and approach to creating songs?
I think that the songwriting approach differs with the
band situation. I've always written songs, since I was 13
or 14. Sometimes I would bring these songs to whatever band
I was in at the time. Sometimes I'd bring a piece of a song
to a band rehearsal, and we'd develop it into something
fully fleshed out. Greyhouse songs were essentially written
together with everybody in the room. Seething Grey songs
went from being me writing everything myself to us working
on everything together. The Anderson Council started out
with me writing everything, to me asking the band to write
stuff themselves, to me doing a lot of co-writing with our
drummer. It all works, with varying degrees of success,
and I really don't have a preference...
The Anderson Council - "Girl On The Northern Line"
Q: I have this fond memory of seeing the Anderson
Council perform at Clifton’s The Clash Bar. I can’t
recall the year, but I still have homemade CD with some
of the bands early recordings on it. I’ve kept the
CD all these years, partly due to the fact that the Fender
label on it made it somewhat unique. Can you tell me how
the band came to be and what type of music were you interested
Fender logo? Not sure about that... The first Council release
was a split CD with another band called Nonesuch, which
was the same four people in slightly different roles. Me
and our drummer were looking for a bass player and guitar
player, and those two guys (both guitarists) were looking
for a bass player and drummer. We said, "we'll join
your band if you join ours", and that's how it went,
both bands existing at the same time, until the Council
eventually "won" the battle. Nonesuch was very
Hum-inspired, and very unlike The Council. My vision for
us has always been to exist in that place where bands used
up their entire musical experience on making one incredible
single with an even better b-side, before losing their stripes
and paisley and buying denim and playing some sort of "blues"...
I feel like we mostly stick to that premise without it getting
Q: The band’s sound has been described as
everything from every sub-genre or pop to psych and garage
rock. What terms would you agree best fit Anderson Council’s
sound and overall approach to songwriting?
I describe us as PsychPowerPop. That's good enough for
me. We're not garagey to my ears, but if Little Steven wants
to keep playing us on his radio show, I certainly won't
Skip forward to 2016’s “Assorted Colours”.
As someone who saw it as the bands best and most focused
work to date. I recall the record getting its share of play
and praise within the indie community. Is there anything
that particularly stands out about that record, a particular
song or perhaps performing the record in a live setting?
It was focused because it was kind of a Greatest Hits type
collection. There were songs from every album, all of our
Coolest Songs in the World from Little Steven's Underground
Garage show, 4 new songs (one of which became our most recent
Coolest Song), and one song that was previously only a b-side
to a 7" release. Bang for the buck there! I think that
the collection as a whole really holds up. It's very GO
from the second you hit play. I'd really only replace one
song with something else, but overall, I'm really happy
with how it turned out. It's also amusing to note that almost
every one of our lineups to that point was represented on
that release, and yet, we still sound like the same band.
Fun story: I brought Magical to our last rehearsal before
we were set to start recording, and said, "you guys,
we NEED to record this". They were pissed at me, but
we recorded it, and it became a Coolest Song in the World,
so I guess I vindicated
Q: Which brings me to Hey Bulldog. What inspired
you to start a cover band and do you bring anything particularly
different to your performance?
This band came about from some sort of Lennon birthday
jam session that I wasn't actually at. From there, it turned
into a monthly gig at a local New Brunswick restaurant.
I still wasn't in the band, but I would do a solo opening
slot playing Beatles or solo Lennon stuff. Eventually, my
solo opening slot turned into me not getting off the stage
when the other folks in the band would come up to play,
and now 14 or however many years later, I'm still up there.
This band is the only cover band I've ever been in; coming
from my illustrious punk/hardcore background, one just doesn't
play in a cover band... I guess I stopped giving a shit
about that rule.
Q: What was your initial exposure to The Beatles?
Was it a particular song? Album or performance?
My brother, who is 12 years my senior, had me listening
to Frank Zappa, The Allman Brothers, The Beatles, Moody
Blues,GrandFunk Railroad, etc. since I was a wee lad. My
parents listened to easy listening stuff like The Carpenters,
Ray Conniff, The Lettermen, and stuff like that, so I guess
I got a sort of well-rounded musical education. In any case,
the first Beatles record I heard was the American release
of “A Hard Day's Night”. Which was half Beatles,
half orchestral soundtrack stuff. It was ok, but then I
heard “Revolver” and I was hooked. I guess I
was 4 or 5?
Q: In playing someone else’s songs, in this
case, the Beatles. There has to be a temptation to lean
a bit heavily on performing them in the same frame in which
they were created and recorded. Is there anything you bring
to the songs that adds your own individual interpretations
I think it really depends on which song we're playing.
We've reworked some songs heavily, while others we play
just like the record, because you just can't improve upon
them, you know? Our band premise was this: pretend the Fabs
got back together, and said, "these are our songs,
and we can do whatever we'd like to them, whether it's a
long solo outro, or an electrified version of an acoustic
based song, or whatever..." We're definitely NOT and
band like The Fab Faux, who you go see when you want to
hear records recreated note for note. I can appreciate the
skill and care that goes into a project like that, but that's
not what we do.
Q: What are some of the rewards and fallbacks to
being in a cover band?
Rewards: getting paid well, and getting to play some really
Fallbacks: drunk people knocking drinks into my gear, or
knocking my mic into my teeth, getting paid well for playing
music that isn't my own, and the crowd being really into
it. There's definitely a feeling of weirdness there, like
"why the fuck do you people not come to see my band
that plays 99% original material?"
Q: Tell me about this “40 Songs” gigging
you do. Is it a mix of covers and your own material? Do
you take requests? What are some of the songs you regularly
bust out? Have you ever actually managed to perform forty
songs in one performance?
40 Songs w/ Mr. Horvath came about because a friend of
mine needed a fill in for a solo acoustic gig at our local
watering hole. I told him I would be playing originals and
covers that probably nobody (or very few people) in the
audience would know. One gig became many, and now I've been
doing this for 3 or 4 years, I think? At first, I didn't
bring a song list or a set list; I just played whatever
would come into my head. Now I bring a set list, but I might
not stick with it. I usually come up with stuff on the fly,
or whatever. Sometimes I attempt to have a theme ( Mr. Horvath
Plays 70's AM Radio Hits, for example), but that's an exception.
Depending on my mood, I MAY take a request. It's been known
to happen on occasion. I also may put an audience member
on the spot and get them to come up and sing a song. That's
Regularly covered artists include: Squeeze, XTC, Robyn
Hitchcock, Procol Harum, The La's, Lloyd Cole & The
Commotions, The Jam, Aztec Camera, Sloan, The Who, Blur,
The Replacements, Big Star, The Smithereens, Dag Nasty,
Gorilla Biscuits, Donovan, The Bee Gees, Lemonheads, Kaiser
Chiefs, REM, Split Enz, The Knack, The Brilliant Corners,
Pugwash, The Chills, and others of all walks of musical
My record for an evening is 73 Songs. I'm not into taking
breaks. The gigs last 3 hours, on average. They're really
fun, and keep me on my musical toes. I'm not one for keeping
lyrics on a iPad or whatever; they're mostly up in my head.
This makes for some interesting lyrical variations on occasion.
Q: Moving forward. Do you ever see yourself not
writing and or performing music?
I certainly hope not. That would really suck.
Q: What are some of the elements that keep you
drawn to making music such a priority in your life?
I enjoy when I can write a song that can evoke whatever
feeling I had when I wrote it. It's also a real joy to bring
a song from inception to final mix, to see that process
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