By Matt Mattei - [email protected]

Duryea musician creating new music under old, familiar name

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From left: Eric Ritter on guitar and Bill Lieback on drums jam as the Pee Pees at the Windmill Agency Recording Studio in Lake Ariel.
Fred Adams | For Times Leader
From left: Eric Ritter on guitar and Bill Lieback on drums jam as the Pee Pees at the Windmill Agency Recording Studio in Lake Ariel.
Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Drummer Bill Lieback wrote the songs, and Eric Ritter took over guitar parts for the recording of “The Pee Pees.”
Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Eric Ritter in studio recording the Pee Pees’ self-titled original record.
Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Eric Ritter in studio recording the Pee Pees’ self-titled original record.
Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Bill Lieback behind his kit in the recording studio. Lieback learned to play guitar to write all 11 tracks on the Pee Pees’ new album, but brought in friend Eric Ritter to play on the record.
Fred Adams | For Times Leader
The Pee Pees due inside the Windmill Agency Recording Studio in Lake Ariel. Their original record will be released May 13.
Fred Adams | For Times Leader

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    On Dec. 5, 1996, the Pee Pees — then a four piece ’80s cover band — graced the front cover of Weekender as one of the Wyoming Valley’s hottest acts.

    Today, founding member and veteran drummer Bill Lieback took up a new instrument and made original music under the same moniker. Now a duo, the Pee Pees will release a self-titled rock album, featuring songs written by Lieback and recorded and produced with the help of partner Eric Ritter, on May 13.

    Lieback said the motivation for the record came from wanting to be musically autonomous.

    “I never thought about writing songs, because I was always with talented people that wrote, and I never had to,” Lieback said. “When you’re a drummer, you always have to rely other people. You can’t go out and play unless you get other people. I said, ‘I’m going to learn guitar and just go out and play.’”

    Taking up his old band name was a decision based on a mixture of wanting to use a familiar label and having a bit of luck.

    “The reason I decided to do this as the Pee Pees was because it had a history already, a name around here,” Lieback said. “Then I looked up thePeePees.com, and it was available. Can you believe it wasn’t a porno site or something?”

    The original Pee Pees lineup was put together in 1995, when Lieback and brother Pete found two members and decided to perform ’80s songs to fill a needed niche in the Wyoming Valley music scene.

    “The band only lasted two years, but we did a lot in that time,” Lieback said. “We opened for Eddie Money, the Scorpions and Alice Cooper … all up at the Bud Light Amphitheater that used to be at Harveys Lake. It ended up being really good, and then we just called it quits like that.”

    Lieback would go on to play with twins Ian and Eric Ritter, recording original music in Cider, which eventually became New Past Life. His connection with Eric would continue after the band dissolved.

    “It’s taken so long from writing these songs to actually finishing the album,” Lieback said. “I’ve gone through so much trying people out, and it’s always going to be Eric now. I can’t find anybody else that gels with me.”

    Recording in Ritter’s Lake Ariel studio, Windmill Agency, the pair broke rock and roll down to a simple form with Lieback writing songs on the guitar and relinquishing string responsibilities to Ritter in favor of his drum kit.

    “I learned guitar and wrote songs knowing I wasn’t going to be the guitar player that was playing these songs,” Lieback said.

    Liback said he likes the no-frills feel of a duo, and citing groups like the White Stripes and the Black Keys, he said he doesn’t see a need for more players.

    “Look at Royal Blood,” Lieback said. “They do it with a bass.”

    The new album is refreshingly rock and roll, dark and grungy and frenetically punky and fun. The condensed pairing of drummer and guitar player produces a sound neither overproduced nor underwhelming and has a clear feel of authenticity.

    Lieback, not one to shy away from influences, said the sonic elements drew from inspirations like Led Zeppelin and the Foo Fighters, while lyricism and song structure took pages from the books of Weezer and R.E.M.

    As far as lyrical subject matter, each of the 11 tracks came from Lieback’s mental landscape, dealing with thoughts and emotions both serious and comical.

    The album’s opening track “Calling All Stars” is a reflection on Lieback’s battle with depression.

    “It’s like when you’re asking, ‘Please get me through this,’” Lieback said.

    Another tune, “Repeat,” sees Lieback poking fun at the repetitive lyricism of modern music.

    “‘Repeat is really R.E.M.-ish,” Lieback said. “It ended up coming out really cool, because I wrote it in the tempo of “It’s the End of the World As We Know It.’ It’s funny.”

    “The Pee Pees” will be available on iTunes and at Joe Nardone’s Gallery of Sound locations. Information about the release is available on the band website at www.thepeepees.com and Facebook page at www.facebook.com/THEPPEES.

    Lieback said the duo won’t be having a CD release show, because they don’t feel important enough as a local band to warrant such an event.

    “I’m promoting the crap out if it,” Lieback said. “I don’t want to go out and play any cover tunes, so what am I going to do, play 11 songs and say, ‘We’ve got to go?’”

    Lieback’s humility is matched by his desire to let the new music stand alone and be seen as a successful effort.

    “I won’t play in bars anymore,” Lieback said. “I don’t want it to go backwards. I always like ending on a high note, so why keep going if the crowds are thinning out? I want people to remember that it was good.”

    Lieback and Ritter are considering less conventional methods of sharing their music through live performance.

    “I saw a thing that this guy is doing. He’s one of Prince’s proteges. He plays acoustic guitar, and they’re going into convenient stores and just jamming out. They do it for nothing, and they just sell their stuff.”

    Lieback confirmed live performances are in the works, but the duo will be selective where they play.

    Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts

    Pee Pees founder Bill Lieback releasing original LP May 13

    By Matt Mattei

    [email protected]

    From left: Eric Ritter on guitar and Bill Lieback on drums jam as the Pee Pees at the Windmill Agency Recording Studio in Lake Ariel.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_pp1_faa.jpgFrom left: Eric Ritter on guitar and Bill Lieback on drums jam as the Pee Pees at the Windmill Agency Recording Studio in Lake Ariel. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

    From left: Eric Ritter on guitar and Bill Lieback on drums jam as the Pee Pees at the Windmill Agency Recording Studio in Lake Ariel.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_pp2_faa.jpgFrom left: Eric Ritter on guitar and Bill Lieback on drums jam as the Pee Pees at the Windmill Agency Recording Studio in Lake Ariel. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

    Drummer Bill Lieback wrote the songs, and Eric Ritter took over guitar parts for the recording of “The Pee Pees.”
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_pp3_faa.jpgDrummer Bill Lieback wrote the songs, and Eric Ritter took over guitar parts for the recording of “The Pee Pees.” Fred Adams | For Times Leader

    Eric Ritter in studio recording the Pee Pees’ self-titled original record.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_pp5_faa.jpgEric Ritter in studio recording the Pee Pees’ self-titled original record. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

    Eric Ritter in studio recording the Pee Pees’ self-titled original record.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_pp6_faa.jpgEric Ritter in studio recording the Pee Pees’ self-titled original record. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

    Bill Lieback behind his kit in the recording studio. Lieback learned to play guitar to write all 11 tracks on the Pee Pees’ new album, but brought in friend Eric Ritter to play on the record.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_pp7_faa.jpgBill Lieback behind his kit in the recording studio. Lieback learned to play guitar to write all 11 tracks on the Pee Pees’ new album, but brought in friend Eric Ritter to play on the record. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

    The Pee Pees due inside the Windmill Agency Recording Studio in Lake Ariel. Their original record will be released May 13.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_pp4_faa.jpgThe Pee Pees due inside the Windmill Agency Recording Studio in Lake Ariel. Their original record will be released May 13. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

    Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts