Pete Steinkopf is a jack of all trades in the punk rock world, one great guitarist, record producer and punk dad. Having spent years on tour with The Bouncing Souls and putting his passion for producing on hold. He has been killing it recording the likes of Dave Hause, Ratchets, Crazy and the Brains, Brian Fallon and a lot more. Contributing writers Samantha and Christopher Barrett crashed a recording session with Up For Nothing to see the man in his element and to speak with this all around great human, Pete Steinkopf on starting Little Eden, and his process of producing some great punk records.
We are here at the beautiful Little Eden in Asbury Park, NJ. What made you decide to start to produce and record bands?
I was just interested in doing this in general, besides just playing in a band. I kind of just worked on it in my house, here and there and then I went to school for it for a couple of months and then dropped out and went on tour, this is what I wanted to do. I just learned along the way. Every time we would make a record, I would get in there and look over their shoulder and learn some stuff. When we started to rehearse in that room over there, this room (we are sitting in) was full of hoarder’s junk, from the guy that used to own this house. We had to clean the room out and started a little studio here.
So there was a long pause from trying to do it in High School and you start on your own projects?
Yeah! It was like 20 years, probably? I do stuff here and there but I started to do this as another outlet when the band started to slow down and we all started to do other things, so something in between tours.
So would you call it like a progression into whatever the next phase of when you started scaling back with whatever you were doing with The Bouncing Souls?
Yep! My second career.
Who is your first project and when?
I started bringing local friends in here as guinea pigs. There's a band called Gimme Drugs who are friends of mine. Those guys were new and came down here and we did their first few records.
What made you decide to house your recording studio here at Little Eden?
This is Kate's house, our manager and she is like our 5th member. Her dream was to always have Little Eden be its own creative space, have its own energy and life. There have been artist spaces upstairs, bands practice here and she has always encouraged me to set this up down here. She was like take over the basement and run it out here and take over the space. She still owns the house and lives here half the time. She opened her own diner in Philly.
What is the advantage for Little Eden to happen here for you and for bands coming in to work with you?
I think people just like being here. It's a cool spot. It's comfortable, by the beach, Asbury Park is cool. A lot of bands come here to play anyways, like at the Stone Pony and the old Asbury Lanes. It just became a regular spot to play. All of our friends are here all the time, all of the bands would always come here and crash at the house, it just has that energy.
Have you ever been caught in a band on tour or out doing something and they just stop here to work or has it always been planned with them in advance?
It is usually maneuvered and planned, I do have a couple of bands that come here with a day off and we will record a song or two. It has been fun.
What was the most memorable project that you worked on including The Souls stuff?
Up For Nothing!
Ha! Very good plug.
That is a tough one, everyone (I have worked with), you form a special kind of relationship with each band. A lot of the bands I work with a lot. These guys (points at Up For Nothing) I have done 3 things with, you know just doing cool stuff together.
If it is not your favorite, I guess what is the unique project you've worked on here?
Unique? I work a lot with the band Crazy and the Brains. They have a xylophone player. When I first heard them I was like I fucking love this band. They started coming here for like 5 years.
Do you have an in-house xylophone or do they bring their own?
I have a xylophone but they bring their own. They have all kinds of cool shit.
While working how hands-on would you consider yourself with bands who come here to record with you?
It depends on who it is. Sometimes we are in that room working on songs together, and sometimes like these guys (points at Up For Nothing) they did all of the work. They wrote a whole record and I just captured it. Depending on how far along the project is and how much the band wants to work on the tunes, the songwriting and time, and where you factor into it. These guys have busy lives. They carved out a little bit of time so we talked about some songs and they just came in and we got work started.
Do you have a preference in terms of working styles? Do you prefer if a band comes in and you work with them on ideas?
I think both. I think projects for me are totally different. We work with guys that are 100 percent, we are doing pre-production and we are going to write songs together. That kind of time and budget, the music recording is kinda hard to do. It is kinda easier to do the stuff through zoom or email because people are busy you know. Hard to… unless you have tons of money, just to hang out for 3 weeks. It is hard to do that.
Has that changed in production in your eyes with time management with pre and post-pandemic recording? Has that changed in an overall role with producers have?
A little bit, I think it is the same role but a different process sometimes. How can we do this when we're all on a computer screen talking to each other? Like right now, it is always, do what we gotta do to make this work.
Let's play some instruments over zoom…
Yeah, whatever works. Any other notable producers that you admire? Do you model anything after them or not?
I have worked with some really awesome producers with The Souls. Will Yip is one we work with a lot, we did a couple of records with him. Ted Hutt, which we learned a ton from. We did our early records with Thom Wilson who is a legendary punk, he did so much cool shit and we got to work with people like that who I admire the most. We got to be with them and see their process.
Out of everyone you worked with, what is your favorite experience?
I dunno, I can't say really. I learned something cool from all of them.
What are some bands on your bucket list that you would love to record?
Oh, man… I never really thought about that. I have always been like whoever comes my way or like I'm just kinda doing what kind of comes to me.
Whatever comes up on your queue? Is there something that you have been meaning to try?
I just record a dance record. I kinda want to try more of that, sampling and beats and stuff like that. Arranging stuff like that is super fun.