Family, Music, & Love – The Life of the Peterson Brothers (Interview)
As many Austinites do, I grew up on some amazing blues music. Stevie Ray Vaughn was one of the first artists I remember listening to. Unfortunately he passed away shortly after I was born in August 1990. The one thing he left was an imprint of blues in the city of Austin. His statue at Auditorium Shores and Austin’s famous Antones Blues Bar downtown are just a few examples of how Stevie made Austin known as a place that fosters blues music.
Many people today know of Austin’s Gary Clark Jr. He has emerged from his 10-year grind in Austin to become one of the most famous blues musicians in the world. Gary currently bounces back and forth between headlining his own shows and opening for legendary acts like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.
Now there is another generation of blues coming in behind Gary. In fact, they have opened for Gary and he has joined them on stage at Antones. Their name is the Peterson Brothers Band, and they are some of the most talented musicians I have seen come out of Austin.
Brothers Alex (18) and Glenn (20) Peterson have been playing music together for almost a decade. They have the stage presence of seasoned veterans and a unique chemistry that is hard to describe unless you see them live.
I was fortunate enough to meet their parents during SXSW at their Rattle Inn show this year to get this interview set up. Immediately you could tell how involved and supportive their parents were of their music.
I am glad we met because this ended up being one of my favorite interviews in a long time. These kids may be young but they are incredibly focused and passionate about the music they are making. I could’ve talked to them both for another hour if they didn’t have a set to play. Getting to know them made me appreciate their music and their story even more.
We hope after reading this you will be able to see the incredible connection these brothers have with each other. Make sure you come see one of their free shows every Monday at Continental Club. They are also hitting the East Coast soon with tour stops in Maryland, D.C. & New York as some of the stops. You can check out their full tour here.
I know you guys are from Bastrop, but were you born in this area too?
Glenn: Ya, born in Austin, raised in Bastrop.
Alex: We still live in Bastrop.
How old were you both when you started playing guitar (Alex) bass (Glenn)?
Alex: I picked up violin when I was 9, and started playing bass when I was 10.
Glenn: I started playing guitar around 11 or 12.
Where did your musical influence come from? Were yalls parents musicians?
Glenn: We’re the only ones in the family that are musicians. It’s something we always wanted to do when we are young. We have an older brother too, and our whole family was always supportive of everything e did. We did the whole youth basketball, baseball, and soccer thing. Once we started playing music, that’s what really stuck. Everyone I saw playing sports had something on their hand, figure, wrist. They had all sorts of injuries. So we decided to focus on music.
Do either of you produce at all?
Alex: A little bit, we are learning every day.
Glenn: Ya, still learning. We have been working on this live album that we are getting ready to release in a few weeks.
Have yall always played music together? Did yall learn together?
Glenn: Ya, we were always playing together since the beginning. We’ve always gotten along well too so its worked out well.
I met your mom at Rattle Inn during SXSW. It appears you guys have a family band business going on over here? Who all is involved with The Peterson Brothers Band?
Glenn: Mom and Dad. They do everything.
Glenn: Dad is driving us to shows, marketing at the shows. Mom’s helping out with social media and booking shows. They do a lot. All the support means everything to us.
Why the blues? Who influenced you musically at a young age?
Glenn: Ya, its everything…blues, its soul, its funk, it’s everything. We grew up listening to BB King, The Isley Brothers, Earth Wind & Fire, Brothers Johnson, and more.
Did you discover this music from your parents playing it or on your own?
Glenn: We discovered it on our own. We started playing it around the house really liked making a lot of noise, and then after a while our parents started being like “what do yall know about this music?”
What was the first live show you remember seeing that made you want to be on stage?
Alex: That’s tough, because by the time we were old enough to go to shows, we were already playing shows.
Glenn: Ya we started playing shows at about 8 years ago. The one show that really stuck out to me wasn’t live, but I saw it online. It was a video of Jimi Hendrix Live at Woodstock set.
How old were each of you when you played your first gig?
Glenn: Not to long after we started playing really.
Alex: Ya, right when I started playing bass, that’s when the band really kicked in.
Glenn: Ya, I was 12 or 13.
Alex: I was 10.
So how long have yall been playing shows?
Alex: About 8, maybe 8 and a half years.
You can tell because you guys look incredibly comfortable on stage for how young you are. You are younger than your crowd almost every show.
Glenn: I think the reason we are so comfortable is because we are able to do whatever we want to do on stage. We don’t have anyone telling us how to do it, even our parents. We have the creative freedom to go at our own pace and do our own thing, which is great.
Are you guys currently in school? Or are you playing music full-time?
Alex: I’m a senior at Bastrop High School.
Glenn: I’m in school at ACC, Northridge campus, where they have the whole music business and audio engineering courses.
What’s coming up next for the Peterson Brothers?
Glenn: We’ve been writing a whole lot. Learning a lot about production side with this live album. Working on some original content. Then it’s really about getting outside of Austin and getting on the road. We got some shows in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio. Outside of Texas too, we just want to build our audience.
Alex: We’ll be playing in New Orleans for Shortyfest at the House of Blues in May for Trombone Shorty’s Foundation. We’ve played a bunch of festivals like ACL 3 years ago, Texas State Fair, and Minnesota State Fair.
You guys have an amazing connection on stage…you can tell its more than just music. Do you guys always get along well?
Alex: Haha we’ve always gotten along.
Glenn: Ya, all 3 of us. We have an older brother that’s 28 too. Sounds kind of crazy, but its true. We just always got along.
What was the craziest experience you have had playing a live show together?
Glenn: For me personally, this year we started off with a great show at Sam’s in San Antonio. It was our first gig of 2017, and we really weren’t expecting a big crowd because we hadn’t played there in so long.
Alex: We hadn’t done a show in San Antonio, like our own show, since back when we started. So it had been a long time.
Glenn: For us to go back, and just have that kind of reaction from the crowd was amazing.