Peter DiStefano plays through a flurry of earth-friendly tunes
By Anthony Torrise
Peter DiStefano always seems to be playing guitar either for himself or an audience.
The founding guitarist of ‘90s alternative rock outfit Porno for Pyros never seems to slow down. Since his residency at Harvelle’s Santa Monica ended due to COVID last year, DiStefano has been putting out monthly livestreams on social media with continued tenacity.
This year’s Earth Day called for a special livestream where DiStefano played along to 30 songs in the span of an hour with music videos playing behind him. The list of songs curated by his friend, manager, producer and partner, Douglas Kaplan, all promoted a similar message of caring for our shared planet, the beauty it contains, and each other.
“We missed Earth Day last year when our Wednesday night residency with Harvelle’s was shut down due to the pandemic,” Kaplan said. “We didn’t want to miss it this year so Oro Playa Lounge created an opportunity for us in support for Earth Day.”
DiStefano went through each song playing everything off the top of his head, at one point switching from the more relaxed sound of John Denver to the frantically fast speed of Metallica.
“It was pure improvisation with notes from Doug about how to bow on these songs, etc.,” DiStefano explained. “Doug directed the vision but the guitar performance was improvised.”
The songs sometimes switched at unexpected times, but those moments gave him opportunities to thoughtfully adapt to the rapid changes of the playlist, something that appeared natural to DiStefano through his facial expressions.
“Every single song had a moment,” DiStefano said. “I looked at it as one big song. There were moments of love, pain and war.”
The blend of country, pop, rock, soul, folk, rap, electronic, metal and more was described by DiStefano as “sonic art.” At various points throughout the hour, DiStefano used a violin bow on his guitar like Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page to create a dreamy soundscape in an unusual way.
There was an instant where DiStefano strummed behind the saddle of his guitar to produce an interesting muted strum. The cherry on top was his custom ‘pyro pedal’, which combined the effects of three separate pedals into one. This pedal took the previously mentioned playing methods and added even more twists to them – a testament to DiStefano’s ability to get crafty with what he is given.
With so much going on in the video, DiStefano’s passionate performance boiled down to his hope to inspire us towards eco-friendly actions that benefit the world as they would ourselves. He played through the stream “with a humble heart and healing intention” as he put it.
“[I enjoyed] everything about it,” DiStefano said. “It was amazing to play guitar and work with the production team as Doug VJ’d the set.”
DiStefano is also optimistic about the future of his live performances. As things continue to reopen, he is setting his sights not only on performing at local clubs, but potentially out-of-state venues in 2022. The Earth Day performance is currently available for viewing at oroplaya.com