Pete Wangen is a drummer for the group Ventura Highway. He attended the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles and has played for our troops at military bases overseas. A Rochester native, he currently resides in Austin, MN.
What sparked your interest in music?
I started playing music at age 10, and my first drum set was made out of Kemps ice cream buckets. My goal initially after high school was to be a full time musician. I thought, if I am going to do music, now is the time. Then I got jobs in the computer world, but even there my drumming helped my business career through different relationships and networking. I always described myself as ‘a drummer with a day job.’
Favorite local band or artist?
Six Mile Grove. They grew up on a farm in Minnesota, and their family history comes out in their music.
Most memorable Rochester
Thursdays on First. It’s a great expression of the city of Rochester and all the things they are doing to support artists. It shows the amazing changes that have taken place here. That kind of thing wouldn’t have happened 30 years ago.
If you could run sound for one artist no longer among the living, who would it be? Why?
Toto. Their drummer was a regular visitor at the Musicians Institute when I went to school there. I had the opportunity to sit with him talk to him about a particular drum beat that was originated by John Bonham.
Top three artists at the moment?
Fourplay. They have extreme talent, particularly the drummer. Sting. He is an outstanding musician, and he always has some of the best drummers in the world that play for him. And I am still a big fan of the group RUSH.
Kindest words from an
At one of my jams there was a very successful percussionist that sat in and played with us. He described my playing as a deep groove. This was a huge thing coming from him.
Show rituals or superstitions?
I have a ritual of visualizing that it is going be a great show, that people are going to enjoy the music, and that the music will relieve the stress of their daily lives.
Best show you’ve ever seen?
U2 in 1984, before they were really big. It was mesmerizing. They connected with everyone in the audience. I usually don’t get sucked into the crowd, but they had everyone swaying to the music. They took the audience to a different place.
If you had to outlaw one song from ever being played again, which would it be and why?
Any music that focuses on violence, such as violent rap or death metal.
What makes you stand out
as a musician?
I am the musicians’ drummer. I have the ability to predict or know what it is that musicians want played in a particular song. I had one person tell me that I was able to smell what it is they want to hear and then play it exactly like what they are thinking. I don’t do a lot of fancy stuff; I just play in tune with them instead of dominating them.