Pyramid Park: “I Like The Idea Of A God Of Adventure”
Here at 2BReal, we are all about using our platform to celebrate great content and great artists that are Christian representers.
Pete McAllen is known as Pyramid Park who in 2017 released his EP “Vulnerability” which is out now on all music platforms. Since listening to the album we were fascinated by the concept behind the album and decided to find out more. Impressively only starting his music career in July 2017, the full-time artist has been a singer-songwriter and worship leader since 2004. Working at The C3 Church (Cambridge) for six years as a Worship Pastor, I spoke to Pete about life, God and the music within.
2BReal: First and foremost who makes up Pyramid Park?
PP: Pyramid Park is my artist name. However, live we play as a collective. Often this is with Matt on drums, Judah on bass and various guitarists and keys players.
2BReal: How did the name for the group come about?
PP: Last year I had finished off recording the album Vulnerability. The plan was to release the album under my name (Pete McAllen) as a second album. However, after some advice from people in the industry, I decided to change my name, and make it more of a collective than before. The album already sounded band like, so it made sense. I searched for three days for a band name I liked on Spotify but found way too many taken. Then, landed on something that I thought would work well as a logo. The idea is that we have a relationship with God, with our life pointing back to Him. He gives us a wide open space to explore the life he’s given us, but to every park there are boundaries. I like the idea of a God of adventure, and know following Him will lead us into some amazing and crazy places.
2BReal: Tell us more about who you are and the backstory of your musical journey.
PP: I grew up in a small town in Norfolk, and a lot of my musical journey came from a school where I played the violin and from the church where I played guitar and violin. We had a youth band which led worship each Sunday night for our youth gathering. This enabled me to develop as a worship leader. A few years later I ended up moving to London where I joined Hillsong and played as a guitarist in the worship team, worked as many hours a week as a singer-songwriter while having a proper job part-time. I wrote songs from the age of 16 but never realised I had a gift until my early 20’s. My heart was to always carry Gods presence into places, be it a church service or a pub, my mentality was the same, the way I did it just differed. After living in London for nearly three years I moved up to Cambridge to work as a worship pastor. This massively shaped my leadership journey and musicianship, because I knew my listening skills had to develop. It was hugely challenging at first, but the practice and planning paid off, and part of the fruit was two albums.
2BReal: Your new album “Vulnerability” is out now on all digital platforms. Why was the album recorded and given that name?
PP: After recording my debut solo album (I Hear Your Voice) I knew that there were more songs in me, and so continued to write. However, the writing process became harder, life became more cluttered and I was struggling to balance my job with this extra project. Vulnerability came out of a lot of personal struggles from the fairly trivial of struggling with songwriting through to searching again for my calling, fresh vision and re-discovering what I believed in. I was very quiet about it and didn’t know what or how to share, so instead, I sat at our piano and poured out my heart to God. Vulnerability was one of the first songs to come out of those sessions. I was in pain and needed to worship afresh from where I truly was. Vulnerability the album is heavily based on the Psalms, although when writing it, this wasn’t the original plan. The songs speak about intimacy with God, embracing His depths and mysteries. I think that being vulnerable can actually lead to others thinking you are brave (read Bréné Brown for more on this). My hope is that by pouring out my most honest worship, that others too will be inspired to step out of their comfort zones.
2BReal: How important has the songwriting process been ahead of releasing the latest album?
PP: Massively so. About two-thirds of the way through I realised that my personal perspectives were changing and so too were the songs. In fact, the most upbeat songs on the album were written at the back end of the process, and with others people. I collaborated with two friends – Feranmi Oguns and Tom McConnell on this project. Tom and I wrote Day and Night, while Feranmi and I penned The Unexplained, Fall On Me and Lead Me. Having their input revitalised a couple of tired songs and helped sum up the album. A song like The Unexplained took 18 months to write and I couldn’t finish it on my own.
2BReal: It was refreshing to see that you have now transitioned into doing music full time. Why now?
PP: It was a scary decision, one I thought a lot about and prayed through thoroughly. Working as a worship pastor was a dream job, and I loved it. However, when you sense God leading you in a new direction you know it’s always best to follow. I deliberately was slow to make the decision, it would affect my family (I’m married with a one-year-old daughter) and I didn’t really know what it would look like. The timing felt right, aware I had an album to release soon after, and knowing that I’d given my absolute all in the worship pastor role.
2BReal: How do you balance life as a man of God? What has been the challenge in maintaining that?
PP: Relationship with God has to be central to me. If I don’t get away with God in the morning I feel it affects the rest of my day. So, I try to have space to worship, pray and read the word. With a one-year-old this is not as easy as it used to be, so she often joins me! I think Pyramid Park can become this all-consuming thing, and so I need to stop, turn off the laptop/ phone and make memories with family. Church has helped as well because serving has made me appreciate more and more that it’s not about me. Seeing people who are from all walks of life, out of my bubble is really good for me.
2BReal: What advice would you give to up and coming artists in all genres of the Christian and Gospel music industry?
PP: It’s really easy to compare yourself to others. Maybe you feel you deserve something that someone else got instead. Maybe you want something so bad, that when you receive rejection it hurts too much. I’d encourage artists to remember why they’re doing what they do. To check motives, to celebrate other artists success and to keep humble. Ultimately the gift God has given us is ours to steward, but a treasure He has given. Without Him, there would be no creativity, so value it and love Him through it.
2BReal: What are the key essentials when it comes to handling your music in business?
PP: I’m a planner, so this comes naturally to me, but it is essential. I think you have to embrace and love the business side of music to do well as an independent artist. This means focussing on building your crowd, your team and your brand. For me I try to think like an entrepreneur – it’s lots of tiny businesses in one bigger business e.g. clothing brand (merch), events (live gigs), marketing etc. Educating yourself in all these areas of the business is for me essential, so I’m often reading books, blogs and emails from other artists about their small businesses.
2BReal: What is your favourite scripture that gives you comfort, confidence, and composure?
PP: Joshua 1v9 is my “life verse”. It encourages me that God is with me, but requires me to be strong and courageous. When I feel fear I tell myself “Come on Pete, be strong and courageous. God is with you.”