Customers at Gyro Place in Canonsburg may be surprised to know that the guy who serves their tzatziki with pita also plays recommendation-worthy guitar, along with an assortment of other instruments.
“That’s all I do. If I’m not there you’ll find me in my studio, “said Peter Graigs before hosting a host of weekday lunches at the West Pike Street restaurant he has operated since 2006.” I could be there until 15 or 16 hours. in the morning and then start my days over again. You get used to it. “
Their main musical focus is a band called Sinister’s Army which has another member, singer-guitarist Keith Ferrari from Albuquerque, NM Technology allows them not only to collaborate remotely but to develop a full ensemble sound through the multitrack recording.
“I write pretty much all of the music,” Graigs said. “When he has ideas he sends me his voice and his rhythm guitar, and from there I build the drum parts, the bass parts, I add my own lead guitar.”
They met about five years ago as fellow musicians on social media, expressing their admiration for each other’s work.
“He started telling me about his misadventures with the studio recording and everything with his songs. I kind of wanted to help, so I said, ‘OK, I’m ready to help if you want me to try,’ ”Graigs recalls. “So he sent me three songs. All I had was the guitar and his voice on it.
Ferrari’s instructions were basically: “You have the green light. Do whatever you want with it.
And so Graigs began the process of layering other instruments, which he had never done before with basic tracks recorded by another musician.
“I was scared like hell,” he said, “because I didn’t know if he was going to like it. “
Ferrari did, of course, and the Sinister’s Army partnership was launched. The band have released two albums, “Sinister” and “Criminal Race”, and another full album, “Follow”, is due out soon. The singles include “Sinister’s Christmas” and “Whispering Winds”, the latter with lyrics based on Victor Hugo’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame”:
I walk in the shadows, I stay out of sight
I avoid human contact, I’m afraid for my life
I don’t say a word I’m afraid of what I might say
Persecuted, but I did not commit any crime
I can’t go on living this way
Graigs described Sinister Army’s sound as somewhat comparable to that of the pillars of heavy metal Queensrÿche, with Ferrari’s voice reminiscent of that of Geoff Tate, the band’s original singer.
On the instrumental side, Graigs incorporates some European and Middle Eastern styles, especially with his fluid solo guitar. In fact, it’s backed by Proton Guitar Co., which also counts Journey co-founder Neal Schon among its clients.
From his teenage years, Graigs mainly played bass guitar in groups around his native Montreal. In 2001, he was the victim of a parachuting accident.
“The time spent healing made me think a lot: where do I go from here? he recalled. “I decided to challenge myself, to start a second life. I thought to myself, what can I do that is different? “
Following the advice of a friend, he moved to the Pittsburgh area and eventually established his permanent residence. Not knowing any musician in the area, he built a studio to make his own recordings, without vocals until he met Ferrari.
“So that I sing like him?” No, “said Graigs, acknowledging,” Instrumental music is popular, but it’s not as popular as having a singer. “
Along with their studio work, he and Ferrari perform live shows from Sinister’s Army, hiring other musicians to complement them. For example, a concert at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles featured Chris Hager, formerly of Ratt, as second guitarist and Firm member Tony Franklin with Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers on bass.
Back in Canonsburg, Graigs continues to run his restaurant.
“You know what they say about musicians, are they starving? I didn’t want to starve, ”he said. “So that’s my backup plan. “