California-based artist Petey has been turning heads in the music scene since his debut album hit the airwaves in 2020. Fresh off the heels of his third studio album’s triumph in 2023, Petey is now making his long-awaited debut down under in Australia with a series of nearly sold-out shows. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t caught wind of Petey’s tunes, chances are you’ve at least scrolled past his face, as this musical sensation skyrocketed to fame on TikTok during the pandemic, tickling funny bones with his comedic skits. Eager to spill the beans about his Aussie adventure, I had the absolute pleasure of catching up with Petey over Zoom.
How are you feeling about coming to Australia for the first time ever?
“So excited! So excited. I mean, I do really, really well on long flights. I just love feeling like I have to sit down and stay still for work… I’m stoked for that, and the first show we’re playing in Melbourne is selling really well so I think we’re gonna sell that one out. So it’s like really nice to know that on the other side of it there’s gonna be a really fun party. So that’s great.”
Absolutely! And you’re playing some iconic venues here, it’s going to be such a fun time.
“Yeah, I think it’ll be awesome!”
Now, I’ve spoken to artists before who have expressed how hard it was putting out music during Covid and not being able to connect with fans when they play live. But for you, it’s a little different because the pandemic hit just as you got signed. Did you find that time beneficial as a relatively new artist, to be able to write music without having the pressure of performing live?
“Yeah, I mean the way that the record deal was structured was that I had a few songs recorded and then I just had to round out an album, which probably would have taken that amount of time anyway. It was really nice to sort of just start trickling out music during COVID while everyone was really bored and on their phones and to start doing TikTok while everyone was just kind of like, well- TikTok was new and that’s kind of like all everyone was doing. So it really helped me out just because of the time and attention that everyone had to just give to social media… it just allowed me time and space to write music and skits. I really prefer to have time alone on being creative. So yeah, that really, it was great for me.”
What was it like the first time you got to perform your songs live?
“It was really interesting. I mean, the first shows we played all kind of sold out right away. And then we had to add multiple venues in Chicago and New York. So it was pretty overwhelming because we were playing in small spaces where, you know, it was big enough to feel super real, but the venues were small enough where there wasn’t like a barricade before the stage or anything…It was also the first proof that I had that what we were doing was actually resonating with real people, just because, you know, social media stuff- it doesn’t feel real a lot of the time. So to actually come out of COVID and have your first public hang be in a room full of 400 people. It was crazy, but also really validating. It’s like, oh my God, all this stuff that we were doing over COVID actually had like real world meaning, which was really, really, really crazy and really, really cool to see.”
Awesome, that would have been amazing! So surreal, I’m sure. So, on your records, you play everything yourself. Your music has this very authentic, homegrown lo-fi sound which is so great. Is this something you intend on preserving for future projects or do you want to move towards a more polished sound?
“I really like doing it myself… I like the ability to sort of switch stuff up on the fly. You know, when I’m playing all the stuff, I don’t have to hire anyone or take someone’s time and then maybe have that time be wasted if I decide to go in a different direction. This whole vibe kind of ensures that I can like go into the studio and lay down a day of drums, and if something doesn’t work, I can go on the next day and do something different… So it just works for me. And most importantly, it’s just really, really fun. And being able to do that, putting together a puzzle in a really cool way and sort of like hearing the songs come together like that in a fragmented way, I just really enjoy that process.”
“There’s a lot of stuff that I can’t do so when the song is close to being done I tapped my guitar player Garrison to, you know, play a guitar solo on Freedom To Fuck Off and to tighten up a lot of my guitar parts on the song I’ll Wait…I’ll go out to people that are better than me so that they can they can record the parts properly, but I don’t really foresee switching things up, but you never know. I mean, I’m writing right now and I’m probably not gonna get back in the studio until next fall and there could be a reason to to do something completely live or who knows. So I’m not going to draw any lines in the sand, but I do like the way that I do things.”
Earlier you mentioned TikTok, and I know that writing and creating those sketches is something you genuinely love to do, but as you get bigger as a musical artist do you realistically see yourself being able to continue making these, or do you think at some point you’ll need to stop?
“You know, as things have gotten bigger, like- we signed to a major record label and started touring a lot more, there’s a lot less pressure. So when I’m on the road you take a break from the videos. I do the videos with my manager and my friend Will so we do everything together and when we’re away from each other we both are busy and have stuff to do, so there’s definitely a lot less pressure behind it. But we still love doing it so much, and people still really love them. So it’s really nice to be able to just have this outlet where we can come up with an idea in the morning, execute it that afternoon, Will can edit it, and we can put it out that evening. It’s a really nice release to be able to just not be too precious about something, but still create something that people see. So I love that feeling, and I think people still really enjoy it. So I don’t see myself stopping. But as we get busier and busier, it becomes a little bit more difficult, but whenever we have time, we’ll keep doing them.”
Your song Lean Into Life has been massively influential and has kind of become a bit of a personal mantra of mine. The song itself serves as an internal monologue, was the idea of leaning into life just a spare of the moment thought or is truly something that you live your life by?
“It was something that I was just really feeling in the moment. I kind of took a bit of a radical living approach during COVID, so for a lot of it, I was like living outside in a tent, and I wasn’t drinking any alcohol. And I was just like exercising a lot. And I sort of used the time to kind of go super far in one direction to try and just change my trajectory a little bit. So that became like a mantra for me and I wrote that song towards the end and I felt like I had actually gotten somewhere, but still obviously acknowledging that I had a really really long way to go and it actually is something that never fully ends so yeah that was definitely like a sort of a life-philosophy based moment.”
I was first introduced to your music through Mark Hoppus’ After School Radio show on Apple Music, and he’s a massive supporter of you and your music. I know that Blink 182 were a pretty big inspiration for you, so how did it feel when you found out he’d been playing your music on his show and when he reached out to have you come on the show?
“Oh, really cool. Really cool. And that was just such a good experience. And we’ve talked and texted some and hung out a little bit since then and it’s just the ultimate example of the opposite of ‘Don’t Meet Your Heroes.’ He’s just one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met, musician or mentor or friend and it’s just been really, really great getting to know him.”
Now, you’re about to come and play your first Aussie shows and you’ve got Sly Withers and Dear Seattle opening up for you, how familiar are you with them and their music?
“Since we got on board, I’ve been listening to their stuff a lot, it’s great. It totally scratches the emo itch that I think that a lot of my fans really look for. And it just really works. So really excited to play with them.”
You can catch Petey TONIGHT (3rd Feb) at the Corner Hotel (almost sold out!), or check out his upcoming tour dates and grab your tickets HERE.