With a rotating line-up of local New York artists, the Allegria Hotel’s L’Onda Lounge has made a name for itself as one of the best bars for live music in Long Beach. As part of our series “In in the Spotlight at L’Onda Lounge,” Allegria Hotel will be interviewing some of our favorite regulars at L’Onda. This month we sat down with Ian Petillo of Ian Petillo & The Pickled Peppers, the drummer and lead singer of this jazz and blues band.
Well, it has to do with my parents. My mom wanted me to be a drummer, and my dad wanted me to be a guitar player. But my mom is the boss. That's why I ended up playing drums and not guitar. It just turned out that I started playing drums when I was 3 or 4 years old. I wasn't really conscious of it. But I remember that by the time I was 12, I had already decided that I was going to be a professional drummer - which is kinda weird. I don’t think a lot of 12-year-olds have any idea of what they want to do. But I knew at 12 years-old that I wanted to be a drummer. I was lucky enough to hook up with a couple of really great teachers when I was young that pointed me in the right direction. I had a good teacher, and I worked really hard, and that's the reason I just kept at it all those years. Musicians sometimes quit because it’s a tough gig. You gotta keep at it if you're a musician. You're gonna hit bumps in the road, but you gotta believe in yourself enough to think that you're gonna be able to make it.
I had some great teachers. One teacher I had was Howie Mann - an unbelievable Swing-era, Big Band drummer. And he had a big influence on me - a really cool dude. He was in his 70s when I was taking lessons with him. I got first-hand experience at a young age with an old master. And that's something that’s hard to get as a young kid - to get that kind of experience. But Howie, I have to really give him credit. He spurred me in the right direction, so I stayed on the horse the whole time. If I had some lame drum teacher when I was a kid, I might not have really progressed and one thing might not have led to another as it did.
I think that if you're good at something you should do it. If you're a good artist, you should paint. And if you don't follow your talents in life you're doing yourself an injustice. And I also believe if you're doing the things you're good at, you will succeed. Of course, this is harder to live by than it is in theory. I've been playing drums a long time and I know how to do it. I’ve invested a lot into this - and I love it. It's fun and when you're playing shows, you forget about yourself and you forget about all the work that's involved, and you’re having a great time. I enjoy playing gigs. I rather be on a gig than doing something else. Music is good for the soul.
Three albums. That's hard. It would have to be three records that I would not get sick of. They couldn't be pop songs because you get sick of them after a while. One would have to be Herbie Mann At The Village Gate - that's a cool record. I think that it's so mellow that I could listen to it over and over again. Then maybe Chopin’s Piano Concerto. I like listening to that. And my last one would be John Coltrane - A Love Supreme.
Well, I'm influenced by jazz music and blues, and then there's a lot of New Orleans music which could be anything from rock ’n’ roll to Cajun. I'd say those are the three main things. Sometimes I do a few pop songs. What I would like to do, and what I usually do is that I stick to the jazz, blues, and New Orleans music. That's the holy trinity of the Pickled Peppers.