"Live on the Rockline" - Peter Gabriel in conversation about the "Us" album on Rockline, April 5, 1992.
In view of the dearth of current news from the Gabriel camp, we thought it might prove interesting to print a transcript of a rather interesting interview that Peter gave to Rockline in 1992.we hope you enjoy it...
Tonight's guest is a performer who knows no musical boundaries. Throughout his years with Genesis and as a solo performer, Peter Gabriel has continued to paint all parts of the canvas and with his latest release he once again gives us a host of international musicians to paint this canvas. The release is called "Us" and we're glad to have you with us, Mr. Peter Gabriel...
PG: Thanks very much.
| RL: I guess the live reviews of your show at a local
LA club (The Grand Slam Club rehearsal gigs sixth and seventh March 1992)
are in and the live show is about ready to go?
PG: Yeah, we are trying to knock a little rust off but I think we are firing now.
RL: Firing on all cylinders? Well, I want to ask you about Daniel Lanois, who you have worked with on four albums now. What brought you guys together, and what makes you work so well together?
PG: I was working on the soundtrack for the "Birdy" film with Nicholas Cage and Matthew Modine, and it was Alan Parker's film and we were trying to get something that was full of atmosphere, and David Rhodes, the guitarist that I work with, recommended Daniel because he had done some great atmospheric work on the Harold Budd piano records. I liked that and got to know him on that and it was more as an engineer that I got him involved on that but it was very clear that he had talents way beyond engineering. So I asked him to get involved with the "So" record and I think he is the best there is a in a lot of ways that I have come across. He understands things from the point of view of a musician, he understand lyrics and material song writing and I think he is doing great work in his own right... I think he is good at mood detection, we have people coming in to the studio who help create these strong powerful atmospheres and you don't always have the red light on and you don't always put it down, it's just the moment and Dan is good at doing that.RL: Speaking of atmospheres, the first time I heard the first single from this album, "Digging In The Dirt", I thought it was spooky, it's eerie, but it has got a great groove to it. Tell us about that...
Peter Gabriel at the NEC
Picture courtesy of S. Powell/TWR
PG: There was an Egyptian Zaar groove which I was mucking about with because it was one of my favourites and it was a theme that would fend off evil spirits and I changed the speed and a few sounds and we developed the groove a little and the song grew out of it. It was lyrically about the search within the self... I had been doing lot of group therapy work after my marriage break up and got to stuff that I didn't particularly want to look into but it was really helpful and that was the starting point.
RL: There is mention on the new album that says there were a number of songs that didn't make it on to the album. Is there any chance of these being made available...?
PG: Well, a lot of them aren't finished and I am not the world's fastest recording artists but... there was one track which was pretty much finished called "Lovetown" which we are playing and we did it the other night here in LA, so I guess they might appear on either the next record or on b-sides, but they will find homes.
RL: Did you feel after the enormous success of the "So" album, any pressure to make the new record even more successful?
PG: I think... I am certainly aware that there are a lot of people watching but part of the reaction to that was to go and make the "Passion" record, which was clearly not designed to be a big seller and a lot of heart and soul and a lot of great performances from a lot of great singers and musicians went in to that so I think I was trying to defuse some of that pressure by going into something that was very different and in a sense, perhaps, I am very slow normally in music business terms, but I think that has served me because the pressure goes off and people forget about me and the record a little bit, and I have the chance to come back and do something a little bit fresh. So I am certainly aware of it but I didn't buy into it.
RL: What can we expect from the live show this time round and who is in the band?
PG: Well, the band this time is an interesting mix of Tony Levin on bass as has ever been since I started my solo career. And David Rhodes on guitar, Manu Katche on drums and Joy Askew on vocals, and it is her first time with me and she is a talented musician and she is actually a singing teacher, so I am hoping to get a few tips on vocal technique! We are also out with Shankar who is an extraordinary violinist who has worked with John McLaughlin, Zappa and many others... I have worked with him over the last ten or twelve years, so people who know my stuff, especially the soundtrack work, will know his stuff as well.
RL: How much of the "Us" album was based around your marriage break-up?
PG: There was a marriage break-up and then another relationship so, I had to look at myself and I did group therapy which a lot of people are afraid of doing, especially where I come from, and especially it offers you the chance to dig around and find out what is really there.
RL: What is your favourite song on the new album, and why?
PG: It is difficult to say, it depends on what mood I am in. I suppose the ones I am enjoying at the moment because we are playing them in the live set which is where my brain is focussed are "Secret World", "Digging In The Dirt" and "Come Talk To Me".
RL: I have heard that you were originally planning a multi-media tour in support of the album but scrapped it, why?
PG: Well, I have for a number of years worked on an idea for a thing with a whole lot of video and I saw what U2 did last time round and they are friends of mine and I really liked what they did but thought that it would inevitably be compared to that and so I ended up going in a different direction and I am working with a guy who is a very visionary theatrical kind of guy, called Robert LePage so hopefully, we will have a show that is quite different to anything else and I am quite excited to be taking it out on the road.
RL: How did you come to work with Sinead O'Connor, and will you be working with her in the future?
PG: I met Sinead at an Amnesty concert in Chile and it was a great event and we got talking and I got to know her a bit afterwards, and she called me and asked if there was anything she could sing on, and I was very pleased because I think she has a certain purity and innocence and balls and guts and for the type of stuff I was writing for this record, relationship based, it seemed just right and she did a great job.
RL: How much say do you have in the creation of your videos?
PG: Well, I love to work with all the visual things that I do and I am very lucky that I work with extremely talented people. The part that I normally get most involved with is the concept and the ideas, and once we get into the execution of it... there have been one or two things where I have been quite locked into post production things but normally it is in the origination of the ideas that I am most involved in and that is an area that is really central to what I do. It sometimes surprises me that other musicians are prepared to let other people take over completely, and not really get involved in voicing how they feel and be interpretitve.
RL: How did you first meet up with Tony Levin and whose idea was it to incorporate the Chapman Stick into your music?
PG: Tony Levin was actually introduced to me by Bob Ezrin, the producer of my first album, and back then he was this quiet guy with a receding hairline, a backwoodsman, smoking a pipe and very different to this wild guy in leather trousers that we sometimes see out front on stage! He is a brilliant musician and a good friend. The Chapman Stick was one of the things that he was presented with by the inventor, Emmett Chapman, I think and he was playing around with it and nobody else would let him use it on their sessions but generally my sessions are places where if the band want to try out any wild stuff, they can do it on my stuff and I am pleased that he did because it is a great instrument.
RL: Have you ever thought of making movies yourself?
PG: I have been asked to do little bits of acting but I have never really got into that although I did have a place at film school at the age of 17 and it was a choice between that and music and I think the idea of doing something behind the camera is more interesting to me and I get involved with the making of the videos, and I want to learn a lot more about that...
Well, I hope that we have all learned a little bit more about what makes Peter Gabriel tick. Our thanks to Mike Jackson, keeper of the TWR interview archives, for providing this recording for us.