The Pedestrians - Not Pedestrian
Gallery: The Pedestrians [3 Images] Click any image to expand.
By Robin Linn
I have personally been experiencing The Pedestrians for over 15 years now. I first met them when they performed at a band showcase I used to host at The California Icehouse. I was so taken with the band’s sound , a unique blend of musical genres creating something really fresh. They combined energetic stage antics, costumes, and great dance grooves. I featured them in a full page article in my music publication, Desert Rhythms.
At that time, Rob Petersen was the drummer. Mike Lewis , also from the band Groovalopogus, was the vocalist. There was a horn section (something you didn’t often see in the bands of the day in the desert). There was also our dear departed friend, Darol Mata, one of the founding members of The Pedestrians, on percussion & bass. Darol’s untimely passing back in 2006 struck the entire music community hard. He was a young, extremely talented man with a heart of gold. Many friends and family came together to say goodbye to Darrol when he left us. A reunion show and memorial service was held at The Tack Room in Indio. It was a real celebration of his life, art and music. That was the last time I saw The Pedestrians perform.
Fast forward to this year.....2013, and The Coachella Valley Weekly’s contest to place three local bands on the bill for The Tachevah Block Party, a street event held in downtown Palm Springs in between the two Coachella Fests. Thousands of people flooded the streets for the event. I logged into the online contest and yes....I most definitely voted for The Pedestrians, and I hear they rocked the crowd. I was unable to attend the show and I longed to see the Pedestrians again.
This May I was finally able to take in their show at Roc’s Firehouse in Palm Desert. I have to tell you.... I get out to a whole lot of music shows, and I experienced the most fun I’ve had all year. Rob Peterson plays percussion and provides intense rhythmic vocals along with frontman & singer Mike Lewis. Both of these gentlemen are world class performers....fearless, off the hook and way outside the box—that is how I would describe all of the members of the band. The rhythm section features drummer Tim McMullen and bassist Armando Flores (both formerly of Lung Cookie), who provide deep, heavy, groovy rhythms, exploring & pushing the groove envelope. Morgan Fitch on trombone and Cesar Hernandez on trumpet are a tight horn unit, adding much dimension to the bigger than life sound of The Pedestrians. Add in the unique stylings of guitarist Brandon Ray Henderson , and you have the complete package.
A Pedestrian’s show is the ultimate escape from reality. They are a blast from the very first tune. They go deep and visit some irreverent places.....right up my alley. It’s heavy at times, melodic, always grooving and I absolutely love them.
I asked some intensely personal questions and asked founding member, Rob Peterson to fill me in as to what the band has been up to since I lost track of them many years ago and the following is the resulting interview.
RL: I first experienced The Pedestrians back in 1996. I remember the music as being very rhythmic and fun to move to with a very cinematic sound. At that time, Rob Peterson was on drums and the late Darol Motta was on bass and vocals. How did Darol’s untimely passing affect the band, if at all?
RP: D’s death brought The Pedestrians back together after a long hiatus to play at his memorial show. His passing has been felt by all the members of the Pdogs in many ways, however I can only speak for myself. Darol was my brother in music and in life so his passing was very difficult for me. Every time I take stage I cannot help but think of D. He and I started The Pedestrians in ‘93 just messing around, jamming at his house off of Catalina street in PD. He wanted to get better at bass guitar and asked me to jam with him on Sundays. We wrote some really weird songs including March Of The Crowded Elephant, East Coast Pigeon Love, The Barber’s Mustache. We brought in Pat Williams on trumpet and Mike Lewis on vocals and percussion and The Pedestrians were born. Our first gig was at the Casbah in SD as a four piece. So there is no separation between The Pedestrians and Darol in my mind. I wish he was still here to take stage with us and join the freak fest. I think he would be stoked on what we are doing now.
RL: Was there a period of abstinence from this project?
RP:The Pedestrians are notorious for taking long breaks and even falling off the map for years at a time. However this configuration has been rocking strong for years now with a few personnel changes and additions. I had taken off to pursue a college education and a profession in music from ‘98 until ‘10. When I returned to the desert the Pdogs had been playing for a few years pretty consistently. They let me come back into the band as a percussionist and vocalist "hype-man" and I couldn’t be happier getting to play with my brothers and party with our CV people.
RL: How would you describe your sound? And, how has your sound evolved since the nineties?
RP: We are a difficult band to describe. The Pedestrians are an original music party band. We have elements of funk, punk, rock, hip-hop, latin, reggae, ska, country, gospel, chaos and serenity. The music has definitely changed over the years, but not really. The focus is still in creating music that is fun to dance to, party to, and sing along to (if you can figure out what we are saying), but with the idea that the music is original, surprising, energetic, raw, and something that every member in the group can stand behind.
RL: What recordings are available for public consumption?
RP: We have an album called Jay Walking In The Mind Of Society, however it has not been released for consumption due to changes in personnel and the development of the band. We are working on recording the group as is exists now. Maybe we will have something for y’all by the end of the year. We’ll see…
RL: What are your aspirations for this project?
RP: That’s a tough question because as much as we would love to see this band and this music blow up internationally, we are all stoked just be playing together for our CV people (who have been coming out to party with us for 20 years). I am pretty content getting to make music with guys I truly feel are my brothers. I feel like we are family, I love these guys, I love the music and I love the dedicated fans we have here in the valley. In my experience in the music industry, I feel blessed to be able to say all of that about this band. If we stay local and rock out for our peeps for another 20 years, I wouldn’t complain. If we go international and rock out for our peeps and the party people around the world, I wouldn’t complain either.
RL: The Pedestrians give a very visual performance with lots of stage antics and costumes. Tell us a little about the experience you want the audience to have?
RP: We just want y’all to get down and party with us. If the audience is having as much fun as we are having on stage then we are doing our job. To quote Digable Planets : "Beats are played on Friday to get Monday off your chest."
RL: What is the most exciting thing that has happened for The Pedestrians this year?
RP: Probably getting to play for a few thousand (plus) people at the Tachevah Block Party.
RL: You were one of three bands that won a spot in the Tachevah Block Party...Can you briefly describe the experience?
RP: The show was fun for us. We played well. I think we gained a grip of new fans. As far as the experience for us goes, we were excited and stoked. The Pedestrians are a band that can really utilize a large stage and captivate a large audience. We had the opportunity to do both and we took full advantage of it.
I highly recommed the live Pedestrians experience. They are living proof of the high caliber of original music the desert has to offer.
The Pedestrans at Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown
sun runner joshua tree palm desert coachella indio live music desert music robin linn pedestrians lung cookie rob petersen mike lewis darol mata darrol mata tack room tachevah block party rocs firehouse tim mcmullen armando flores morgan fitch cesar hernandez brandon ray henderson pat williams pdogs jay walking in the mind of society party music