Ever heard anyone describe the country as a place where life "moves a bit slower"? Tom Peloso’s home in Nelson County sounds like it may fit the bill; in fact, Peloso—a founding member of the Hackensaw Boys and current member of Modest Mouse—said during a recent conversation that he feels "more domestic, for lack of a better word," since settling south of Charlottesville.
Of course, when you’re recording and gigging with a chart-topping act like Modest Mouse, life has a funny way of mashing down on the accelerator. Peloso has plans to release a full-length album titled The Last Saturday of the Year in the fall, but explained that, "[S]ince I made a commitment with Modest Mouse, I work it around what I have to do with them." A July 31 gig at Dust was recently postponed after Peloso’s presence was requested for more Mouse work.
Judging by a recent solo EP (recorded at Monkeyclaus) and a gig I caught at Outback Lodge, however, Peloso seems like he’s found a comfortable cruising speed with his music and life. He let Feedback hop in the figurative passenger seat last week for a chat. Read more from Peloso after the video for his song "The Leaves and the Trees," filmed by local photographer Aaron Farrington.
Tom Peloso, "The Leaves and the Trees"
On writing The Last Saturday of the Year: "For lesser words, it was an exorcising of demons. When I started it, it was kind of a therapy for me. I was coming out of crawling out of a hole, myself.
"The song ‘The Last Saturday of the Year’ is what really prompted me to finish this process for myself, which happens to be in the form of music… I kinda put down my therapy, or what was helping me. I don’t know if it was because I got really busy with the Hackensaw Boys and Modest Mouse. But the music made me realize that I still have some work to do."
On his band, The Virginia Sheiks, and Richmond roots: "I’ve known [Michael Bishop] since the early 90s, in that whole [Richmond] scene that was going on. Two of the other three guys—Austin Fitch and Darell Hyden—we’ve been in one project or another. Stewart [Gunter], we all knew of his band, the Dumm Dumms.
"Mike was somebody that I looked up to because he was in a successful band with GWAR. Those were the people that were in the scene that I was in that made me think, ‘I can kinda see how to do this, and that’s what I aspire to do.’ …I could see GWAR making school buses that they could tour with all their gear in. I would go out to their GWAR pit—the ‘Slave Pit,’ they called it—see those guys doing it, and think, ‘Wow, OK, I can do this.’"
On his love for Nelson County, and how he spends his time there: "Of all the traveling I’ve done, this part of Virginia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been… Modest Mouse is getting ready to go on a tour right now—we’re going to be starting in Nova Scotia, ending up in Hawaii, and going to Iceland and England. After all that, it’s really nice to be in a nice, quiet place where I can relax.
"I’m experimenting with gardening, figuring out how to water my garden without having to use a hose—I’m kinda using my gutter system for my house as an irrigation system. Just kinda being a home-body."
How does his garden grow? Or, more accurately, what does his garden grow? "A lot of it, as I said, is experimenting. I’ve got a lot of greens and beets, Russian Mammoth sunflowers, tomatoes, dill, a lot of herbs I’m figuring out more uses for…
"What I’m trying to do next is, they’ve found a chestnut tree that’s blight resistant. In this whole area, that was the tree, until a blight that occurred at the turn of the century, in the early 1900s. They literally harvested every chestnut tree they could."
Read next week’s Feedback column in C-VILLE for more on Tom Peloso and The Last Saturday of the Year. Look, we talked for a while, you dig?