Pete Scobell already has a long narrative with many chapters – celebrated Navy SEAL, competitive skier and athlete, mountain climber, inspiration and advocate. So it would be easy to take the release of a country album as just another chapter in the life of a habitual success addict.
The truth is a guitar has been Scobell’s only constant companion as he’s traveled the world on more adventures than most people have in a full lifetime and the release of “Walkin a Wire” on July 4th weekend represents the culmination of a lifelong dream.
“I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide I want to be a musician,” Scobell said. “It’s something I’ve done my whole life. My mom was a music teacher. She died when I was 10 months old and she left all her instruments. That’s how I learned how to play. I was always trying to feel closer to her.”
For this reason, Scobell the artist emerges fully formed. The 12 songs on Walkin a Wire are the work of an accomplished singer and instrumentalist who’s already put in the hours, singing and performing in barracks, dive bars and anywhere else people wanted a bit of an escape from whatever was happening – and there’s always something happening when you’re a member of one of the world’s most elite military teams.
“And then I got hurt,” Scobell said. “The irony was I was always playing music, then when I ended up in the hospital for traumatic brain injury, they have music therapy. They said, ‘Do you play music? That’s the best thing you can do to help your brain.’ I thought it was cool that my passion for music met up with my rehabilitation, and it was more than just a passion at that point. It was something that I needed to do. So, I went out skiing – that was one of my other passions. I was skiing in a competition, I hit my head again and I’m back in the hole. So I picked up my guitar again and focused on playing and writing. And it became very clear to me: For some reason, God keeps putting this thing back in my hands.”
He was far from Nashville and the music industry. A guiding hand intervened again when Scobell met Wynonna Judd and Cactus Moser through the makers of the film “The Hornet’s Nest,” a 2014 Afghanistan war documentary. They invited him to record his song “For the One’s I Stand Beside” to appear in the movie. Shortly after, while on the Patriot Tour and with the help of Taya Kyle, he came up with the idea to record “Hearts I Leave Behind,” featuring Wynonna, to honor a former teammate, “American Sniper” Chris Kyle. These two songs helped him round out the EP that was his first foray into the music business.
Even then, he wasn’t sure what was next.
“It was Wynonna sitting down with me after cutting the EP and letting it go,” Scobell remembered. “She called me up and said, ‘Listen, I’ve been doing this for a long time and I know when someone is supposed to be doing this, so you need to stop whatever you’re doing and get back to playing music. That’s the only way you’re going to be yourself.’ She’s like a sister to me and Cactus is like a brother. I just absolutely adore the two of them. They’ve taken their arms and put them around me and shown me how to do things. Even given me a little tough love when I needed it.”
So they invited him back to Nashville to record at RCA Studio A with Moser serving as producer and Judd’s band members from The Big Noise backing him up.
“I’d never been to Nashville before recording the EP,” Scobell said. “I’ve been all over the world and never been to Nashville. I was a cliché. I got off the plane with my guitar and I walked by that singer-songwriter stand in the airport and I saw a guy playing and I said, ‘What am I doing here? This is where dreams go to die.’”
He moved back in with Judd and Moser during recording sessions and the songs that emerged, written mostly by Nashville’s top songwriters, showed Scobell could have been in Music City all along. “Wild” and a remake of “Hearts I Leave Behind” are the only songs that touch on Scobell’s military history. He hopes fans see him in a new light when they hear the rest.
“I’m really just focused on making good music that I enjoy playing and that’s meaningful to me,” Scobell said. “Everybody has life lessons, you just learn them in different places. Some of mine happen to be from my experiences in the military. That story might get people to listen to it one time, but this is a passion of mine and I’ve put so much time and effort into creating this album, this music and this sound. I want the music to really speak for itself.”