A big time band with small town spirit

Aaron 'Rev' Peters rocks out at El Corazón in Seattle during the band's latest tour.

You can take the man out of a small town, but you can’t take the small town out of the man.

At least, that’s what Enumclaw-born Aaron “Rev” Peters and the band ‘Success’ has proven since the band formed nearly 10 years ago.

Rev, along with his bandmates Austin Jones and David Casey, grew up in the small farming town south of his current home, Seattle.

“We all played through school and that’s how we met each other,” Rev said. “We all grew up there. My parents live on Lafromboise and Griffin. They still live up there.”

Rev, Jones and Casey all went to Enumclaw High School, and graduated in the early 2000s. They all played and sang together in the school marching band and choir until 2006.

“We were all in separate bands for a long time, and all those bands were not really doing what we thought was the best formula to be in a band,” Rev described. “We are all small town kids, and that is how we got together and how we got that view of being in a band.”

Rev and his bandmates learned early on in their music playing careers that a band is more than a group of people coming together to make music, and in order to survive as a group, they needed to have a solid philosophical foundation on which to build their names.

What they came up with may be surprising – music, in fact, doesn’t come first.

“You have to be a really great person and work really hard and the music comes secondary to that, as weird as that sounds,” Rev explained. “The goal has always been, be great people who happen to make great music. That turned a lot of heads and that’s why we are getting the attention we are now. Even when we started the band in 2006, that’s the thing that separates us, and forged the way for how we are now.”

Along the way, Success picked up Dan Gardner from Federal Way and Sean Lovett from Kalamazoo, MI.

“It’s lucky that we happened to find two other guys who have the exact same vision and we had that brotherly connection with them,” Rev said.

 

Reputation precedes Success

Success recently signed on with Red Scare for their latest record, Radio Recovery, which was released March 31.

Toby Jeg, the owner of Red Scare, also happens to be from Enumclaw.

“His brother was my soccer coach when I was in eighth grade,” Rev recalled. “That’s how small-town Enumclaw is.”

The label with Red Scare is the reason why Success is moving up from small venues to larger crowds, and has expanded their tour territory from the West coast to all over the US (and even in Canada).

But Rev doesn’t attribute all of their success to Success’ music – he said it’s the band’s reputation and small-town hospitality that really helped them out.

“The guys in Success, we’ve always put up other bands on tour for the last 10 years. Anyone on the road, we always made sure to help them out,” Rev said. “I give them a place to stay, book a show if they need it, give them a meal, and we got a reputation for helping bands out, so Toby started sending some of his bands my way and I would help him out.”

Rev and Jeg kept in semi-contact since Rev graduated from high school, and over the last few years got well acquainted.

“He started getting word just through the grapevine that Success was doing really well,” said Jev. “He finally had us play a show with one of his bands and saw us play and said afterwards that we need to make a record together.”

Great music, better people

Even though Success is moving up in the music world, Rev said the band is still holding tight to its core beliefs.

“We’ve played great shows, we’ve played terrible shows, and we never stop having fun,” he said. “That’s the main focus. If we’re not having fun anymore, there’s no reason to do it.”

The hardest part about being in a band, Rev said, is trying to be a good person to everyone you know, and strike a balance between the band’s passion for 90s punk rock and their friends and family.

“It’s really hard to do that when you’re focused on something that, for the most part, makes you no money,” Rev said. “We’ve made no money in the past 10 years we’ve been doing this.”

In a different interview, Rev said the woman he was talking to was floored when he said not only has the band made no money until the Radio Recovery album, but he’s personally spent $30,000 on gear, merchandise and other expenses to help keep the band going.

“This is awesome and it’s great but we do struggle,” said Rev. “Just the other day I had a guitar break on the road, and I had no money to be able to cover it so I had to pull it out of my food money.”

Success members all have days jobs to help cover the cost of the band, from audio and visual work to merchandising for bigger bands and bar tending at night. Rev even makes his own brand of hot sauce, which is starting to take off as well.

But it’s all worth it, Rev said.

“We’ve all had experiences where we saw a band live or we heard a record for the first time or even just lying in the sun listening to the radio,” Rev said, describing the band’s love of Green Day and the Clash, and even their parent’s passion for 70s classic rock and Thin Lizzy. “We felt this feeling that just inspires you and gets you going and make you want to push forward. We’re just attempting to pay homage to those feelings that helped inspire us to get out of our small town and go to the city and do something big.”

Rev hopes through Success’ music, other people can be inspired too.

“If we can play live and those people there forget their terrible jobs or their terrible relationships or their terrible time at school or whatever is bothering them in their life, and we can help them forget for a half an hour, our job is done,” Rev said. “Life is rough, and all we can do is help people out. And music is the only way we know how.”

Reach Ray Still at rstill@courierherald.com or 360-825-2555 ext. 5058. Follow him on Twitter @rayscottstill for more news, pictures and local events.