Youngstown’s rock mentor helps shape city’s sound

During the multitude of interviews I’ve done with local bands over the years, one name has come up at least a dozen times: Pete Drivere.

He’s the owner and operator of Ampreon Recorder, and bands that have hired Drivere to mix and record their CDs uniformly express awe at his skill in the studio.

A frequent comment goes something like this: “Pete knew what we were supposed to sound like more than we did.”

The list of local bands he’s produced is as impressive as it is eclectic, and a who’s who of Youngstown rock: The Zou, Third Class, First In Space, Posture Coach, Jones for Revival, Metalourd, The Devotees, Johnie 3, Gingerspittz and Oral — just to name a few.

He recorded about 10 albums last year alone, which is no small feat.

And just last week, two more Drivere-produced albums were released: a self-titled one from The Robbie Jay Band and Kenny Greco’s “No Apologies.”

Drivere makes his living through music — and at various levels.

Most know him for his work with The Infidels, one of Youngstown’s greatest bands. The Infidels have an international following, and that fame extends to Drivere’s other highly-respected projects: the Deadbeat Poets and Pete Drivere and the Pretty Demons.

The Deadbeat Poets, in fact, just released a new CD, “Circus Town” — which Drivere produced. You can imagine him hunched over the control board with a guitar slung over his shoulder.

Drivere is also the sound man at Cedars Lounge, moving the sliders in the rear of the room while bands perform on the stage.

In short, music is a way of life for him. And seeing the business from so many angles has given him an all-encompassing vision that is indispensable in the recording studio. It’s no wonder so many bands seek him out.

I visited Ampreon the other day. The studio, which is in the well-worn Ward Bakery Building in the Mahoning Commons section of Youngstown, is dominated by an 11-foot- wide mixing board and stacks of electronic equipment.

Isolation booths for vocals are on either side, and the tracking room — where the bands play — is behind an adjacent wall.

Drivere is aware of his status in the music community, and he humbly explained it.

“My understanding [of the bands] comes from the fact that I was where they are now, at one time,” he said. “I have bands in here that are made up of 23-, 24-, 25-year-olds.”

He also has handled sound for many of those same bands during shows at Cedars. That gives him a leg up on grasping the sound each act is trying to achieve.

As for being a mentor, that also comes with experience, said Drivere, who has been running Ampreon since 1991.

“I have to know the client in every way, including emotionally,” said Drivere. “They get frustrated when recording. Shortcomings are realized in the studio, not on stage when the amps are cranked up to 10.

“I try to help them by bringing techniques about recording to the table that they don’t think about,” he said.

“It’s my job to think of those things.”

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