While most musicians choose a particular style and direction, Pete Krebs has distinguished himself by pursing multiple musical outlets. As a solo artist, he’s earned a reputation as a fine singer-songwriter; with Hazel, he’s pursued hard rock, and with Golden Delicious, bluegrass. “I just kind of veer in one direction or another… is what it boils down to,” Krebs told Mark Whitfield in Americana. His list of influences is equally eclectic, and includes the Clash, Doc Watson, and jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. “There’s very little in the way of music that I don’t listen to,” he told Corey DuBrowa in the Rocket. “I like to write pop songs, country & western songs, quiet songs.”
Krebs’s ability to shift from genre to genre, play solo or in a band, and to pen remarkable melodies has given him a rare versatility and distinct edge over his musical peers. “There is no question that Pete Krebs will continue down the disparate musical paths as he has done thus far,” wrote Robert Jamieson for Pop Matters online, “trading one type of musical experience for another along the way.”
Krebs was born in Tustin, California, and then moved with his family to Monterey. He first picked up a guitar when he was 11 or 12, and wanted to play classical music, “but [my teacher] was so mean he scared me and I put the instrument down,” he told Baumann. At 15 he signed up for lessons, learned a few chords, and quit once again. “Then when I was 17 I picked it up again and never put it back down.”
Krebs attended a military school in Pennsylvania, and then started college at Oregon State. He began to reevaluate his life, however, after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. He traveled back and forth to Portland for a series of tests, surgeries, and radiation therapy. “I don’t really think about it much any more,” he told DuBrowa, “but that experience changed my life around. I realized that I could die, and while that sounds horrible, it was actually the best thing that ever happened to me.” After recovering, Krebs quit school, moved to Portland, and devoted himself to music. “His near-brush with death seems to have empowered Krebs with not only the perspective of an older, wiser soul … but also the ability to guilelessly ‘gut’ his way along, using his intuition,” noted DuBrowa.
In the early 1990s he joined an angry punk band called Thrillhammer. “I don’t regret the music I wrote then,” he told Marty Hughley in the Oregonian, “but it’s counter to the kind of person I turned out to be.” Next, Krebs joined Brady Smith, Jody Bleyle, and Fred Nemo to form Hazel, a hard-rock band based in Portland, Oregon. The group signed with Sub Pop and released Toreador of Love in 1993. They began to run out of momentum, however, when Krebs started his solo career with the release of Brigadier in 1995. Unlike the pop-punk he played with Hazel, his new album was an acoustic singer-songwriter effort. With Brigadier, noted Matt Fink in All Music Guide, “Krebs was immediately established as one of the more impressive voices in the crowded singer-songwriter idiom.” Meanwhile, he recorded Are You Going to Eat That? with Hazel, also released in 1995.
Over the next two years Krebs continued to perform and record with Hazel while also releasing his second album, Western Electric in 1997. If Brigadier had made a strong impression, the follow-up established his reputation as an important voice on the indie scene. He followed both of these with Sweet Ona Rose in 1999. “In what was one of the best… albums of 1999,” wrote Fink, “Pete Krebs delivers his most varied and accessible album to date.”
In the late 1990s Krebs continued to seek new and unusual directions with Golden Delicious. “Golden Delicious combines the spirited new old-time style of groups like the Highwoods String Band or the Freight Hoppers,” wrote David Goodman in Modern Twang, “with the madcap attitude of the Holy Modal Rounders.” The band also kept an open mind toward tradition, adding drums and electric guitar to their arrangements. The group released Old School (1997), Cavity Search (1998), and Live at the Laurelthirst (1999) before disbanding.
In 2001 Krebs collaborated with Danny Barnes, an ex-member of the Bad Livers, on Duet for Clarinet and Goat. “This album sounds like it’s from another era,” wrote Charles Spano in All Music Guide, “a time when folks sat on porches and jammed on banjos and guitars.” The same year Krebs joined with the Kung
Born in Tustin, CA.
Joined group Hazel, early 1990s; released solo debut, Brigadier, 1995; joined Golden Delicious, mid-1990s; released sophomore album, Western Electric, 1997, and Sweet Ona Rose, 1999; continued to record with Golden Delicious, recording Old School, 1997, Caviti Search, 1998, and Live at the Laurelthirst, 1999; released Duet for Clarinet and Goat with Danny Barnes, 2001, and I Know It By Heart, 2002.
Addresses: Record company—Cavity Search, P.O. Box 42246, Portland, OR 97242, website: http://www.cavitysearchrecords.com. Website—Pete Krebs Official Website: http://www.petekrebs.com
Pao Chickens to record Hot Ginger and Dynamite. The album turned back the clock to the 1920s and 1930s when Gypsy guitarists like Django Reinhardt played swing in French nightclubs. “If nothing else,” wrote Andrew Gilstrap of the album for Pop Matters, “it’s one more piece of the Pete Krebs puzzle…” Krebs also moved to Amsterdam, and told Corey Dubrowa in the Oregonian that, “The gypsy jazz angle was the main impetus to go.”
While Kreb’s willingness to embrace a variety of styles and his wanderlust have made it difficult for critics to put him in a category, his work is unified in his ability to craft memorable songs. “Usually I search around for a melody,” he told Baumann. “I never start with the words, they come afterwards. Oftentimes I feel like I’m a conduit for songs, like I think many songwriters feel.” This carefulness surfaced once again on I Know It By Heart, an album recorded with Gossamer Wings and released in 2002 in which he continued to explore pop, rock, and folk, mixing and matching genres with abandon. “The older I get the less I appreciate labels…,” he told Alex Steininger in an interview for In Music We Trust. “I don’t keep up with the music press and I don’t want to be categorized.”
Brigadier, Cavity Search, 1995.
Western Electric, Cavity Search, 1997.
Sweet Ona Rose, Cavity Search, 1999.
Bittersweet Valentines (EP), Cavity Search, 1999.
Duet for Clarinet and Goat, Cavity Search, 2001.
Hot Ginger Dynamite, Cavity Search, 2001.
I Know It By Heart, Cavity Search, 2002.
With Golden Delicious
Old School, Cavity Search, 1997.
Cavity Search, Cavity Search, 1998.
Live at the Laurelthirst, Cavity Search, 1999.
Toreador of Love #1, Sub Pop, 1993.
Toreador of Love #2, Sub Pop, 1995.
Are You Going to Eat That?, Sub Pop, 1995.
Airiana, Candy Ass, 1997.
Goodman, David, Modern Twang: An Alternative Country Music Guide and Directory, Dowling Press, 1999.
Oregonian (Portland, OR), April 20, 2001, p. 35; September 27, 2002, p. 38.
Rocket, March 24, 1999.
“Pete Krebs,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (March 15, 2003).
“Pete Krebs,” Americana UK, http://www.americana-uk.com (March 15, 2003).
“Interview—Pete Krebs: From Amsterdam to Portland,” In Music We Trust, http://www.inmusicwetrust.com (March 15, 2003).
“Pete Krebs and Gossamer Wings,” Pop Matters, http://www.popmatters.com (March 15, 2003).
—Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
"Krebs, Pete." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 23, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/krebs-pete
"Krebs, Pete." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved January 23, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/krebs-pete
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