Lap Steel and Pedal Steel guitar session musician. I also play bass guitar, banjo and guitar and I compose music for video games, TV and film.
I am a Lap Steel and Pedal Steel guitarist specialising in country, pop and rock.
As a session musician with my own studio I have performed for artists here in the UK as well as artists from around the world.
Notable Recent Sessions include:
- Raphael and the Sexy Boys (Australia) - Lap Steel and Pedal Steel
- Edmund Bagnell of Highly Strung (USA) - Lap Steel and Guitar
- The J-Dreamers (UK) - Pedal Steel and Mandolin
- Ollins Lande (UK) - Pedal Steel and Lap Steel
- Composed and performed theme for new adventure video game (Voyager)
- Composed and Performed Spaghetti Western style theme for an Italian Podcast
I am also a permanent member of The Outlaw Orchestra and with them have performed at events such as Ramblin' Man Festival, Boom Town Festival, HRH CROWS, Sheffield O2 Academy, Rockin' the Bowl, the Custom Rock 'n' Blues Show, Planet Rockstock, Buckle and Boots and Icebreaker Festival alongside bands such as Brothers Osbourne, Reef, The Darkness, The Shires and Kris Barras.The Outlaw Orchestra have also featured on Radio Stations such as BBC 6 Music, Planet Rock, HRH Radio and Classic Rock.
Contact me through the green button above and let's get to work.
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Interview with Pete Briley
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I recently performed lap steel and pedal steel on a number of tracks for an Australian artist called Raphael and the Sexy Boys. The songs were really cool and I loved playing on them and it's been really great to see Raphael gain some real success off the back of this release with lots of radio play in Australia.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Currently I am working on the Outlaw Orchestra's 2nd Studio Album which is slated for release in September. I am also working on a score for an independent short film and a theme for a new app-based video game.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I'm a total chameleon - I love analogue sounds and spend a lot of time with my Fender Rhodes and my Moog subphatty and the analogue outboard recording gear I have. However, digital also has a really useful place. I am a huge fan of the Kemper Profiler amp solutions - I actually 2, one for the studio and one for live - and that gives me a huge amount of flexibility in my sound that you just couldn't get with an analogue set up (not without about 100 roadies anyway!)
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will always try to work with a customer to make sure they have what they are looking for and go beyond their expectation. My goal is ultimately that you'll get that rush of excitement when your hear your song with the addition of my parts and get that special feeling of a song coming together that you know is going to be really amazing.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love playing music and getting the opportunity to work on lots of different projects for artists all over the world is a real thrill.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Customer often ask "Is there anything else you think it needs?" Obviously my answer depends totally on the song in hand but often I might suggest additional instruments or parts or ideas for the mixing stage that might help bring the song together.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I think there is sometimes the misconception that it's literally a case of playing along with the song a few times, recording it and then it's done but there is actually a lot of work that goes into creating a part that sits perfectly in a song and working with an artist to realise their creative vision and it often involves some ideas to be exchanged and slight changes to be made.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I always ask if the client has any particular ideas in terms of creative direction. Do you want a ripping, shredding solo in the middle, or is it more atmospheric subtlety? Sometimes a client will have a very specific idea of what they want me to play and other times they might want to see what I come up with and either approach is absolutely fine but it's good to have that information up front in order that I can make sure the clients gets exactly what they are looking for. I also tend to ask if there is any other technical or creative information I need to know - for example, it could be making sure the sample rate on the recording projects are the same so the wav file I send back fits perfectly into the project. It could also be a creative vision for the song - are you looking to create a specific feeling and should I consider that when I start putting the lap steel or pedal steel part together?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: I think art is very personal and ultimately you are looking for someone to help realise your vision of what your song can be. So I think it's a mixture of trying to find someone who has the talent, equipment and experience to be able to deliver you something you can really use in your own session but also someone that is willing to get on board with your artistic vision and work with you to make sure you have something really special that you can be really proud of.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: 5! Phew! I was worried I'd only be able to take one! I guess I'd take my Gibson BR-9 Lapsteel (it's from the 1950s and I just love it), my Mullen Pedal Steel, My Rickenbacker 330, my Fender Rhodes and Fender P-Bass. There are still bits of gear I'd miss though!
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I grew up in a musical family and at 18 moved to the other end of the country to study music at University where I also attained grade 8 bass and guitar. It was at university in Leeds that I discovered lap steel and brought my first instrument. A decade later and I've played and recorded all over the UK, I've also recorded in Nashville. Most recently I have played sessions for artists like Raphael and the Sexy Boys (Australia), Edmund Bagnell (USA) and the J Dreamers (UK) as well performing as a permanent member of the Outlaw Orchestra who have performed at some of the larger rock festivals in the UK and we are currently working on our second studio album.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I am quite melodic in how I approach my playing - I tend to favour sweet notes above speed picking but that's not to say I haven't been known to shred from time to time! I think generally as a session musician you have your finger print but there needs to be some level of playing what is required for the song and artist you are working with.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I'd love to work with Lord Huron and be a part of their creative process - especially as I'm a gear nerd and some of the vintage and rare gear they have at their disposal is incredible! I'd also love to work with Passenger, Ida Mae, Rookie, Elbow, etc.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: My tip would be that when you are recording it's good to do a little processing of the signal on the way in and then you do a little more retrospectively in your DAW. So I often go through a Mic Preamp, EQ and Compression but don't have any of the outboard equipment doing too much and then I tend to review and perhaps add more effects in the DAW retrospectively if needed.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I work in a lot of country, Americana, southern rock, folk, indie and a lot of soundtrack work.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I'd say my strongest skill is my ability to work with an artist and bring their song to life - I try to be easy to work with and respond to and act on feedback quickly and proficiently to make sure you have something you are really happy with.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I play in quite a sensitive manner - bringing my parts to the forefront where there are opportunities to do so but also hanging back when its needed too. This means that the most important parts of the song shine and are supported by the parts that I bring.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Once I receive a song from a client, I generally ask if they have any specific requirements or directions around the kind of vision they have for the song and particular areas where they'd like pedal steel / lap steel to come to the front. Often, the client is open to any suggestions I have so then I tend to take some time to really listen to the song and wrap my head around the main hooks and melodies and the structure and then I start playing along with it and noting down how I think the part should develop within the song. Then, I start recording. This often means a few passes and taking the best parts of each performance to cut into one perfect take that I send back to the client ready to be dropped into the project and mixed. I also send back a rough edit with the rest of the song and my part so the client can hear it in context. I always want my clients to be happy so sometimes there are little changes that are requested and so I'll often revisit the project to incorporate that feedback before it's all completed.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My preferred DAW is Logic Pro. I have a good amount of outboard gear that I use for recording including a War Audio Tone Beast and a 76-KT compressor. I tend to use a Kemper for recording with either a Dumble or a Little Walter amp sound. I also have a suite of Sontronics boutique microphones, a Mullen pedal steel, duesenberg Pomona lap steel, 1950s Gibson BR-9 lap steel, 1981 Fender Rhodes electric Piano, Gretsch banjo, Goldtone electric banjo, Rickenbacker 330, a Gibson Custom ES-335, Martin Whiskey Sunset Acoustic Guitar, Moog Subphatty and a Fender P-Bass.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I really love artists like Robert Randolph and the Family Band and Ben Harper - they are so good at pushing the boundaries of what pedal steel and lap steel can do and experimenting with the kinds of sounds you can make. I'm also a big fan of the work done by CJ Hillman (Billy Bragg, Laura Marling). I think Lord Huron are an amazing band and their commitment to making exciting music and using weird and wonderful instruments is totally inspiring and Larkin Poe have really brought lap steel to the front and centre of their sound which is really great to see.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The majority of my work is playing Pedal Steel, Lap Steel and/or banjo on clients' songs. I send back a full high quality audio file that can easily be dropped into a recording project for mixing.