Peat Moss and the Fertilizers is not your garden variety cover band.
When preparing to break into the wedding industry, the band decided to take their typical club set-list and convert it into a wedding show. Nowadays, Peat Moss plays weddings, charity benefits, clubs and Stony Brook’s annual Earthstock.
“We can go from Frank Sinatra and Elvis and Frankie Valli to Jay-Z or Rage Against Machine and cool Lady Gaga,” Greg Ammirata, the keyboardist, said.
Peat Moss formed 18 years ago, when its members were still in high school. Of the original five members, two remain. When the group first started playing at clubs, they realized they lacked a name. A friend recommended that they call themselves Peat Moss and the Fertilizers.
“We packed the place and other bars wanted us and before we knew it, we were stuck with the stupid name,” Ammirata said. He is one of the only two original members of the band.
After the members of the band graduated college and started working, they started booking gigs more frequently. They quit their jobs and Omnipop, their current management agency, approached them. They soon started playing in Boston, Vermont, New Jersey and Connecticut.
“It was night and day once Omnipop started booking us,” Ammirata said.
Despite its environmentally-conscious name, Peat Moss is not particularly driven to the green movement.
“People just see Peat Moss and the Fertilizers and they think we’re one with nature,” Ammirata said. “We just show up with our instruments and play.”
Steve Mecca, the lead vocalist, said that he has tried to go paperless and that he plants seeds here and there. Ammirata said he just tries to not turn down charity events.
Tom McGuire, the bassist, would not call himself an activist but tries not to be wasteful. He recycles at home, adding that his wife thinks that he overdoes it.
While some bands have rituals before getting on stage, Peat Moss does not really have any traditions.
“When you’re the singer, you have to do these vocal warm-ups before you go on or you hurt yourself,” Mecca said. “It kind of sounds like a moan, a high-pitched moan to make sure that I can hit all the notes I can hit for the night.” He said that the band makes fun of him, and then Jim, the drummer, tries to join him. According to Ammirata, Jim is the only one who cannot sing.
Aside from playing at clubs and college campuses, Peat Moss frequents weddings. When the economy headed into a recession, clubs became less and less available. The band chose to take a less cookie-cutter approach. While the band tries to accommodate what the newlyweds expect, McGuire called the band’s approach “classic and current and entertaining.”
Mecca’s favorite part of performing is taking people to a different place for a bit. He says people who watch Peat Moss in a club want to let loose. When the band plays weddings, they are providing an experience that the couple will remember for the rest of their lives.