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Interview with Peter Alvanos, September 20, 2016

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:15 - Early life

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Partial Transcript: Where'd you grow up?

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos discusses his childhood dream of becoming a rock star, his performance in a local musical, and learning to play drums and guitar after being inspired by the band "Let's Active".

Keywords: Ballard Lesemann; Charleston; Dock Street Theatre; SC; Spoleto Festival; theater

00:05:26 - Musical influences / Natural talent

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Partial Transcript: And then MTV- 1986- the song by Let's Active, "Every Word Means No."

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos discusses being inspired by Ballard Lesemann and the band "Let's Active" in his early twenties, and being envious of other people's natural artistic talent.

Keywords: Ballard Lesemann; Big Plans for Everybody; drums

00:11:33 - Exploring acting / Lines Thicken

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Partial Transcript: You go to New York and that kind of changed things- you wanted to be in a band now?

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos discusses briefly visiting New York to pursue acting. He says that once back in Charleston, he learned to play drums and performed in a college band called "Lines Thicken" with David Lee and Ballard Lesemann.

Keywords: 96 wave; Carson-Adler Agency; acting

00:23:35 - Moving to New York

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Partial Transcript: ... Ballard moves to Athens and I decide to take that jump and go to New York City to pursue this acting thing.

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos discusses moving to New York, where he faced a trade-off between his two passions, acting and music. He talks about becoming disillusioned with auditions and solo work, and ultimately realizing that he wanted to pursue music after finding a band photo of Let's Active, his musical inspiration, on the sidewalk.

Keywords: Bell Tower; Jodie Porter; auditions

00:32:19 - Side jobs / Commuting

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Partial Transcript: What were you doing in New York besides going to auditions- waiting tables or something like that?

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos talks about working in a dilapidated restaurant for one day, and he discusses struggling to divide his time between working for his landlord and going to acting auditions while in New York. He explains that having no money, no free time, and a dangerous commute convinced him to move back to Charleston.

Keywords: Lee Allen; New York City; Upper West Side

00:41:42 - Film industry in Charleston

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Partial Transcript: And so you're off back to Charleston.

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos talks about moving back to Charleston and working on commercials, television shows, and movies as both an actor and a member of the film crew. He also talks about performing indie music in a band called "Checking the Harvest" at this time.

Keywords: drumming; filming; recording; technician

00:48:30 - Visiting Athens

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Partial Transcript: Are you visiting Athens at this time?

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos reminisces about driving his 1965 Ford Falcon to visit friends in Athens. He recalls playing music at Athens venues, where he strove to impress Ballard Lesemann. He also mentions popular bands and drum techniques that influenced his music in the 1980s.

Keywords: Honey Wagon; indie; local music; rock

00:54:56 - Longshore work / Family history

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Partial Transcript: Well you had been visiting for a while and finally you decided to move?

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos recalls feeling guilty for pursuing music while his father and brothers worked as longshoremen and government employees. He ponders the differences between his idealistic generation and his father's generation, which valued practicality and stability. Alvanos also discusses his parents' Greek background and his brief experience as a longshoreman.

Keywords: Greece; career; family; idealization; immigration; parents; work

01:05:54 - Hermon di Giovanno

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Partial Transcript: But I had an epiphany, and that's where Hermon di Giovanno comes into the game.

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos discusses his great uncle Hermon, a Greek painter who migrated to Boston and mentored other artists like composer Alan Hovhaness. According to family and friends, di Giovanno had spiritual and artistic gifts. Alvanos says that his family's acceptance of Hermon contributed to his own choice to pursue music, and he goes on the explain the origins of his Fabulous Bird project.

Keywords: Fab Bird; Fabulous Bird; inspiration; mysticism

01:14:43 - Living and working in Athens

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Partial Transcript: What I love about Athens is the cost of living. I don't have a large overhead, but at the same time it's hard to like make a lot of money.

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos provides an overview of the years he has spent learning about and playing music, including when he first moved to Athens in 2001. He discusses networking and touring with various Athens musicians including Rod Roemer and Clay Leverett.

Keywords: Dan Horowitz; Lona; Plastic Bird

01:20:35 - Meeting Bill Doss

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Partial Transcript: 2004 AthFest- I see The Sunshine Fix playing.

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos describes meeting Bill Doss of the Elephan 6 Collective, being asked to tour with The Sunshine Fix, and learning to play lead guitar by ear.

Keywords: Bill Doss; Elephant 6 Recording Company; Kevin Sweeney

01:27:19 - Touring with The Sunshine Fix

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Partial Transcript: Was it all just kind of like, starry-eyed for you or was it like- how did it hit you?

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos talks about practicing difficult vocal, guitar, and keyboard techniques while on tour with Bill Doss, and he shares advice regarding sound checks, choosing equipment, and performing.

Keywords: Kevin Sweeney; challenges; guitar; rehearsing

01:37:07 - Reflecting on Bill Doss / Alvanos's other bands

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Partial Transcript: June 2004 I meet Bill, okay. So we fast forward ten years- I'm now drumming with Elf Power.

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos discusses his last conversation with Doss, which he felt brought their relationship full circle. He also recalls some of Doss's other tours and jobs, reflects on Doss's influence and death, and describes his own involvement in various Athens bands after Doss's passing.

Keywords: EP; The Mod Fathers; inspiration

01:48:27 - Georgia art scene / Nuçi's Space

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Partial Transcript: Where do you think Athens is headed?

Segment Synopsis: Alvanos discusses the continued importance of art students on the Athens music scene and talks about Georgia's budding film industry. He also describes his involvement in the summer music camps at Nuçi's Space, where children and teenagers form bands, prepare for involvement in the music industry, and discuss character development and mental health.

Keywords: Mothers; art scene; community; film industy; mentoring; volunteering