With radio program directors splitting air time between teen pop and rap metal, it’s not easy for even a talented singer-songwriter to catch a break these days. But L.A.-based songsmith Pete Yorn is doing his best to beat the odds, crafting sweetly melodic rock tunes that have built him a following on both coasts.
Yorn got his start by pounding on his brother’s drums at 9, but by 12, Yorn had moved to acoustic guitar. His early days in the rhythm section still inform his songwriting, but Yorn says he draws his influences from all over the musical map.
“What I use isn’t so much a specific song; it’s more the elements of songs that move me,” he says. “What I’m really trying to lock on to is a feeling.”
Yorn’s career took off after he got an audience with several top Columbia execs, including G.M. Will Botwin, whom he won over after hastily banging out a tune just hours before their meeting. The song, “Life on a Chain,” became the lead track on his Columbia debut, “musicforthemorningafter.”
“I was so nervous, I just stumbled through the song but by the time I was finished he just said, ‘Let’s make a record,'” Yorn recalls.
Yorn isn’t the only one in his family to have made a mark on the entertainment biz: Brother Rick co-founded tenpercentary Artists Management Group with uberagent Michael Ovitz. Pete has maintains, however, that his bro has nothing more than a familial interest in his career.
So far, that career has been on the fast track: Yorn will wind up a wildly successful U.S. tour in September (a recent date in Detroit sold out in one hour), and plans to play London, then return to the States to open for Matchbox 20 in the fall.