Student Profile: Pete Trawinski

Pete playing guitar on the Janikies stage (MTC Campus)
Pete playing guitar on the Janikies stage

One of the most important things to know about Peter Trawinski is that he likes strumming on his guitar. While other people are watching TV, jogging, or playing video games, Pete is strumming. Pete strums for church. He strums at bars. He strums until his guitar strings break and then he breaks some more.

Pete can remember a time before he was into guitar, but not before he was musically inclined. Before the guitar, he used to sing in plays for his middle school drama club. He also used to play the drums. However, it wasn’t until 8th grade that Pete decided to play the guitar. “It wasn’t anything in particular that made me pick the guitar,” said Pete, “One of my buddies needed a guitar player for his band. I have good rhythm, and I picked it up pretty quickly.”

The guitar became an integral part of Pete’s life, so much so that he actually remembers the month he started playing, August of 2003. Pete improved his skills on his own and through the help of other guitarists. While improving on his guitar skills he began to write lyrics for his first band, Thin Cover.

The lyrics for Pete’s songs have taken on various themes since he started writing. Most of his more recent songs are about past relationships- about girls that he liked but that no longer felt the same way. These past girls are his self-described muses. Another recurrent theme in Pete’s songs is time.

“I am obsessed with time. I like to look back at my past self and look forward at my future self. It is interesting how my perspective changes as time changes.  It’s retrospective,” said Pete.

When I asked Pete to show me some of his lyrics, he was reluctant. He told me that he hates letting people read his lyrics. I pointed out that he plays his songs all the time in front of an audience, and that he therefore always shares his lyrics. “That’s different though. When I sing, no one can understand what I am saying,” he said while chuckling.

Pete cannot read sheet music, but he has the remarkable ability to play music by ear. I asked Pete to play me a song, “Junk of the Heart,” by The Kooks. He had never heard it, so I played it on YouTube for him. After hearing it twice, he was playing something on the guitar reminiscent of The Kooks.

This natural inclination towards music is not unique in Pete’s family. His father played the drums. His younger, 19-year- old, cousin Matthew Trawinski is attending Berklee College of Music. Most of Pete’s family has picked up an instrument of some sort at some stage in their life. Pete and Matthew are in a band together called The Bennington Bypass. The name comes from a bypass in Vermont. Pete’s friend Greg, also in the band, has a condo there that they regularly visit. Pete and his friends pass by the Bennington Bypass whenever they visit the condo. Pete describes the band as pop-punk with a blues edge to it. The Bennington Bypass will record an EP in January. Next summer they plan on touring the East Coast for a week.

Pete has a small solo career as well. He plays at Parente’s every Wednesday night with Mike Coletta, a local musician. Pete started playing with him because Coletta was commonly asked to cover a song he did not know, “Motorcycle Drive,” by Third Eye Blind. Pete was watching Coletta play and knew how to play the song, so he went up and played it. Coletta was impressed and invited Pete to come and play with him on a regular basis. This upcoming Halloween night, Pete will be playing Parente’s for the first time without Mike Coletta.

When Pete plays on Wednesday, it happens to be the night fraternities and sororities attend. He has made friends with several of the students that attend including several of the girls of Delta Zeta. His guitar playing skills have made him many friends, but he does not think that these skills have ever been the main reason girls have been interested in him.

So why would someone with a creative background attend Bryant University? It is a great school, but Bryant does not attract many “artsy” types. Pete initially looked at Bryant because his sister’s ex-husband went here.

Pete’s dad also owns a construction company called RJ Trawinski Development Corporation. This corporation could use someone with a formal business education. “I never intended to make a career out of music. My dad always wished he had a business background. I figured I could learn about business here,” said Pete. He intends to work for, and someday take over the family construction business.

Pete considers himself different than many Bryant students because he has, as he describes, “blue collar roots and blue collar aspirations.” He wants to continue the legacy that his father has created but, although his aspirations are slightly different, he still considers what he will be using his management concentration for as similar to other Bryant students.

Pete feels strongly that more can be done for the arts on Bryant’s campus. He believes that there are still no major incentives for arts students to attend this school. He says, “Bryant must put more money into the arts. There is little support for clubs like the Bryant Players. Janikies is in need of major updating.”

As Bryant continues to expand its liberal arts program, hopefully it can attract the type of student that can make this campus more intellectually diverse – students that are unabashedly creative. Students at Bryant would certainly benefit from new methods of thinking and expression. Our school cannot rely on the sole creativity of Peter Trawinski and a select few if we want to be both competitive and diverse.