Pete Ficht (pronounced "Fikt") is an acclaimed singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist combining catchy melodies, quirky and literate lyrics with music that falls somewhere between power pop, Americana and 60s psychedelia. Starting in New Orleans in the late '80s and then later in Portland (1995-2015), he fronted 3 bands (Wild Bells, National Anthem, Noisecandy), co-fronted 2 bands (State Flowers, House Levelers), been a band member on bass and keyboards (King Black Acid, Lisa & Her Kin, Joy Pop Turbo) and a solo performer.
He has appeared on six albums, two EPs, two singles and various soundtracks and compilations. He has worked with such renowned producers as Jim Dickinson (Big Star, the Replacements), Tony Lash (Elliott Smith/Heatmiser, Dandy Warhols), Jeff Stuart Saltzman (Deer Tick, Typhoon) and Daniel Riddle (King Black Acid) and his musical partners include Grayson Capps (Willie Sugarcaps) and Corrina Repp (Tu Fawning, Portlandia).
He has toured the country and shared the stage with such bands as Squeeze, Uncle Tupelo, The Mekons, Black Lips, Apples in Stereo and the Helio Sequence among many others. He has played South by Southwest, North by Northwest / MusicFest NW and has appeared on MTV and in national press (USA Today, Sassy).
In 2016, he moved to Bend, Oregon and is currently playing solo acoustic shows and working on finishing the rock musical Senioritis, co-written by the Emmy award-winning, Chicago-based writer Joe Janes.
Past solo highlights in Portland:
- Opened solo acoustic for Calexico
- Played several shows with a pre-Decemberists Colin Meloy, culminating in a duet on Big Star’s Thirteen
- Played a "Songwriters in the Round" with Willy Vlautin (Richmond Fontaine, The Declines), Sean Croghan (Crackerbash, Jr High) and Luther Russell (The Freewheelers, Fernando)
Here's a playlist of songs that Pete has appeared on from 1991 - 2015. Some he wrote, some he sang and some he just played on.
Pete Ficht was born in Washington, DC to Austrian-German immigrants. They later moved to rural New Jersey and then a small village in Ohio, where he grew up. Ficht moved to New Orleans in 1986 to attend graduate school at Tulane University, where he met Grayson Capps and Sterling Roig. The three theatre majors formed the wild and wooly folk-punk trio the House Levelers in 1988 and quickly established themselves as one of the top alternative bands in New Orleans.
Ficht (on bass) and Capps (on acoustic guitar) both wrote songs and sang lead vocals, with drummer Roig handling the harmonies. The band relentlessly toured the South and Midwest, including appearances at SXSW and Jazz Fest. They were signed to a record deal with Tipitina’s Records and released their sole album No Definitions in 1991, produced by legendary producer Jim Dickinson (Big Star, the Replacements) in Memphis. TN. They received national attention with an appearance on MTV for Ficht’s song “David Duke”, also graced the pages of Sassy magazine and USA Today and received the dubious support of rock vampire Kim Fowley.
The band broke up at the end of 1992. Capps went on to a remarkable career as a solo artist and with Stavin Chain and Willie Sugarcaps, gaining much renown for his contributions to the film A Love Song for Bobby Long (starring John Travolta and Scarlet Johansson), based on a book written by his father.
Roig went on to join the James Hall band and recorded an album Pleasure Club for Geffen Records in 1996. Before moving on, he and Ficht joined forces as Noisecandy, which was dedicated to recording all the songs Ficht had written after the House Levelers’ breakup. They set up a small studio in their apartment and recorded a large number of songs, with Roig on drums and harmonies and Ficht on most everything else. They were joined by a large number of guests, the cream of the New Orleans alternative scene, including Ben Ellman (Galactic), Jeff Beninato (the dB's), John Thomas Griffith (Red Rockers, Cowboy Mouth), Bill Davis (Dash Rip Rock) and James Hall.
The resulting album, Hope, was released by St. Roch Records in 1994. Roig had by this time taken off to tour with the James Hall band and Ficht attempted to put together a live band, to mixed success. Feeling frustrated by the lack of forward momentum, Ficht moved to Portland, Oregon in August of 1995.
Once in Portland, Ficht entered a period of heavy activity, playing in multiple bands from 1995 - 2001 and appearing at MusicfestNW / NXNW five times with four different bands. First, he re-established Noisecandy as a 3-piece in 1996, with Steve Hess (later of Locrian and Pan•American) on drums and Thaddeus Dennison on guitar.
In 1997, Ficht also starting playing bass guitar with Joy Pop Turbo (which also featured Hess on drums) and was fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarists Jody Garner and Heather Savoy. They released the Joy Pop Turbo mini album in 1997 and the Tailspin/School Rhymes single in 1998 (produced by Tony Lash) before disbanding.
The next project was the State Flowers, which started in early 1998. The band was co-fronted by Ficht and Corrina Repp (Tu Fawning, Portlandia), both on vocals, guitar and songwriting, and with David Yeager on bass and Martin Thiel on drums.
Before the Flowers got fully rolling, Noisecandy put out a final single, Delaware/Indian Summer, which featured the one-off lineup of Ficht, Repp, Yeager, Dennison and Hess. Noisecandy played their final show in 1997 at NXNW to celebrate the release of the single.
The Flowers recorded the album Third of July (again produced by Lash) in 1999, but broke up later that year as Repp left to pursue a solo career. By this time, Ficht was playing keyboards with spacerock cult band King Black Acid. As a member of King Black Acid, Ficht toured the Pacific Northwest and headlined shows at the Crystal Ballroom, La Luna and Berbati's Pan. They recorded the album Loves a Long Song in 1999 with producer Jeff Stuart Saltzman. which was released in 2000 by Cavity Search records. Ficht left the band at the end of 2000, but appeared on one track on 2002’s The Mothman Prophecies soundtrack on Lakeshore Records.
As the 2000’s started, Ficht slowed down his musical endeavors, suffering from burnout. He formed the band National Anthem to play quieter acoustic music. He played acoustic guitar, with Michael Lambright on accordion, Christian Wadlington on violin and Rob Scrivner on snare drum and vocals. The band was a low-key effort, but did play the inaugural MusicfestNW in 2001.
When National Anthem ended in 2002, Ficht joined the honky-tonk country band Lisa & Her Kin on bass for a few years. The band featured musical siblings Lisa (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Ian (lead guitar, vocals) Miller and drummer John Dorn. They toured the west coast and did some recording, but although the band was successful, Ficht gradually lost interest in performing. This coincided with life changes such as marriage and a new career as a web designer. Two daughters came soon after and Ficht effectively retired from music in 2004.
But by 2011, Ficht was more than ready to start playing music again. He randomly reconnected with drummer Scott Pettitt, who had briefly played in Noisecandy in 1996. With guitarist Craig Stahr, they formed the band Wild Bells and you can read all about them over here.
In 2016, he moved to Bend, Oregon and is currently playing solo acoustic shows.