Peter Blast

Interview with Peter Blast
By Christopher Duda

Peter is no stranger to Sugarbuzz. Go through the past history and you will find numerous interviews and reviews. With Peter’s new release “White Voodoo” he takes us on another journey through the twisted, exciting world seen through Blast’s sunglasses. This release proves that like a fine scotch some things just get better with age!

How do current events in your life shape your lyrical content and general output?

Well it’s funny because when things in my everyday life are going smooth I tend to write sad or angry lyrics & when things are tough I write more positive lyrics. I think it’s some kind of like therapy that keeps me sane, a release.

I write lines on paper, matchbooks or whatever, things even come to me in dreams and later I put them all together like a puzzle. All the parts fall into place, and it’s strange how by the end I read it and there’s a complete story. 

I don’t think it’s all about me, some of it is of course but it’s about all the things that are going on around me and the world. It’s believing in the seen and unseen and creating the stories to go with it all, but sometimes they do it on their own and maybe I’m

only a messenger. It could be anything and everything all put together, it’s a story some are pretty and some aren’t. Its fact and fiction combined, I think that’s how and why I can write so many styles and make them work together.

I can feel the devil and God within, it’s like having the devil on one shoulder and God or an Angel on the other. The new cd is filled with both, if you listen to the words sometimes you could think it’s about it’s about one thing but It’s really about something else. 

Like in the song “The Devils Puppet”, its more about people thinking everything is just fine when it’s really not. “I need my lady, who with stands the wind the cold and the rain”, its more about needing Mother Mary to help you follow God, and his Mom is there to help you survive from falling into the Devils hands. The Devil sneaks into your world and only wants to screw you up. He’s everywhere and he’s waiting for you to screw up so he can call you his own and I’m not going there.
That’s one thing, but a lot of the tracks are like two sides of a coin. Good versus evil.

In fact the title of the cd itself is about that as well “White Voodoo” its man made religions verses the real deal. Like in “Taiwanese”, you think you know somebody and their family but when times get rough they show their true colors and it ain’t pretty.

I could go on but I think it’s up to the listener to find the meaning in each track for themselves not for me to explain each one to you. Stories within stories some happier than others. Loves, lost love, hope, disappear, loneliness, joy and life in general.

How did the recording processes differ on this release? Do you prefer to record in digital or analog? 

Well this new cd is both because if you have guys recording and sending you the parts you need the computer. So it’s both, I do prefer analog it’s a warmer feel in the sound.

I record analog and get the true sound out of the amp’s and guitars but in the end you master the disc and your back to digital anyway.

I think there’s a lot of analog engineers who have switched over to digital and don’t know it inside out. Hard drives crash and you lose your tracks, so you have to redo them. I lost a whole song that way and if I along with other players record parts in another country it’s not that easy to get them redone but that’s the way it is today, Newer isn’t always better.
I like recording with the sound of the gear I’m using, not recording dry and adding the tones off the board and sounds from a digital amp. That’s built into a computer.

So I dig analog but not many studios even have two inch tape machines anymore, there hard to find. Guys today take a class and think they know it all and they don’t.

It’s nice to work with a two inch machine because if you lose something it can be redone right there and now, you can’t do that if a computer loses the whole thing you’re working on. Also people are now recording in their bedrooms with computers and there’s just not the same sounds coming out of a small room. A studio is built for sound that you’ll never get out of a bedroom. Analog is better and anybody that knows anything I think would agree. The times are changing but maybe not for the better.

So at least using both is the best you can do. I don’t even want to look at the screen to see if all the levels are perfect. I like perfectly imperfect that’s the Blues, that’s fuckin Rock n Roll baby.

What equipment do you primarily use? guitar amp combination. Do you ever stray from it? Is there a guitar that you would love to own? What was your first guitar? 

My first guitar was one with a speaker built into it but you could use an amp. , a cheap one not one of the real old Gibson’s that are worth a bundle today.

I had an acoustic too, a Silvertone or something like that and a Vox 12 string Phantom a little later on with a Vox amp. but I don’t remember what model it had two 12′s.

I’ve always loved vintage Gibson solid bodies and big hollow body Gibson Jazz guitars but I also used Dan Armstrong’s, Dan Electro’s and Taylor acoustics. As far as amp’s go I enjoy mixing it up, like on one track I’ll use a Vox head and Fender bottom and then for the next track I’ll use a Vox bottom with a Fender head. I’ve used a lot of different vintage Vox and Fenders but I have also added in some old single speaker Gibson’s all on one song with a Taylor mixed in, it really makes some great sounds that aren’t easy to match when somebody else goes to re play the songs on their own.

I like the Vox Buckingham and the Fender Super Reverb to mention a few but there’s so many to be used. I like to record with all those older tube amp’s because when you turn ‘em up you have the true sound of the amp’s speakers that just kills.

I dig big studios and reverb you really can get a great sound. Ya know between the room and the amp’s its like Bigger then big, it’s huge. Newer amp’s just don’t create that sound. Another thing is I play on the ups a lot not all down stroking, it takes away from the power chord sound a little and a lot of cats today don’t play like that, it’s a little hard for them to blend in with me or cop the groove but in the end as they watch and listen they do catch on to what I’m doing. I think I started doing that as a kid playing Blues. I think it gives it a bit of an open tuning sound in a standard tuning, like an open G or A.

As far as what guitars I’d like to own, the answer is all of them made in the U.S.A., including a Gretsch. 

How has the process of creating this cd differed from past releases? Would you ever consider not releasing it on any physical product ie-cd and just a digital download or the antithesis of that theory and what about a release on coloured vinyl with a full on pull out life size Peter Blast poster! Haha

I think that “White Voodoo” is a lot different than some of my other releases in the sense that it’s not just rock music, it’s totally Blues Based Rock. So I guess it’s in the vain of all the music I’ve listened to since I was a kid, yeah it’s got a Blues track but I don’t think that’s to surprising since I grew up on Chicago’s Southside, home of the Blues but it has an orchestrated ballad too that starts off with me and a guitar building up in parts and breaking back down with almost a honky tonk acoustic bar room piano solo and back again. ” The Moon and the Stars” move in a few different directions, plus I recorded with some of the guys from my American Group and guys I play with in Buenos Aires Argentina (PETER BLAST POWER COMPANY,Featuring:Blast + Zero). Gaby Zero who played with Michael Monroe and Pablo Castro who actually put the group together for me. I also have some cats from some legendary groups like Ian “Mac” McLagan of the Faces and Rolling Stones Some Girls era, Rick Richards of Izzy Stradlins Ju Ju Hounds, ya know Izzy from GnR on the cd. The sound has grown because I also have Sami Yaffa from the original Hanoi Rocks, Michael Monroe and the NY Dolls and Rick Price from The Georgia Satellites on it too among some other well known artists.

So this new music is basically Downloadable and CDs are available at Live shows, it’s a sign of the times I guess, personally I like LP’s but isn’t that really just a novelty?

And the cost of making records is ridiculous, how many kids own turntables after growing up with computers and ipods and where are the stores to buy CD’s or LP’s ? It’s hard to get a real good deal if you can’t guarantee at least a hundred thousand sales. If stores don’t carry CD’s how are they going to supply records? It’s not happening the whole industry is screwed up and people are stealing your downloadable songs off the internet, it’s pretty fucked up.

I like the life size poster idea, maybe the tracks can be digital and come out of my mouth, just think how many a store could sell and not take up to much space. Now there’s an idea to steal and I’m not kidding, but think about it if you’re not with a major label it’s not easy having physical products unless you have a deal with Target or some other chain. Maybe I should have my own internet store. Which I am thinking about having in the future, if Keith Richards has one then why can’t I too?

How does the music scene in Argentina differ from the North American market? 

It’s totally different; they respect artists and their music. As huge clubs are closing down here their rockin out there with clubs of fifteen hundred plus, it’s a beautiful thing I’m not talking about the stadiums, I’m talking about clubs and the people are just really cool and not everybody’s a critic. It’s a great big huge party of RnR!

I love it there. I mean like NYC isn’t what it used to be, but then again maybe it will all switch back to the L.A. scene. Like I had the first Punk Rock Group to perform the Las Vegas Strip and now everybody wants to play there.

South America has many cool countries to rock out in and I’m going back, but of course I love playing the States and I will continue on here to as well, but I’d like to get off the beaten track. I’d like to play all the Chinatowns across the States just to do something different to trip my own trigger. No there not big clubs but I’d like to do some semi electric / acoustic breakdown type shows in places like that, it would be fun and if it’s not fun then why bother at all. I think a lot of my music can be performed in a few different formats.

Have you ever considered doing another country album or just an acoustic release? 

Yeah I have already finished some old style country tracks that didn’t fit with the new cd and I want to record a slower country Blues song that I just finished writing, it’s kind of like the Stones.

So I think later on I may release a five or six song EP. I’m not sure if it will be a CD or only Downloadable. Maybe that one would be the special one that would be an LP.

It’s hard to say since White Voodoo was just released on May first and I wouldn’t release something else now, that would only muddy the water, so I wait but it’s got some pretty cool stuff on these western tracks, it’s a whole different world.

Those songs seem to be more south western, down old Mexico way. I used to go there a lot after touring and rent a house by the ocean. I like the old cantinas that were light up by candle light, it’s a totally different vibe for sure, blood on the walls, but I wouldn’t hang out there today, pistolero’s are one thing but drug gangsters with machine guns are another.

Real Cowboy stuff, I worked with all different musicians on these songs. I used real accordion, Lap steel, Bottleneck, violins, Banjo and some acoustic piano without drums, no keyboards creating those instruments because of the warmth of the real sound. I’d like to add this one other new track that I haven’t recorded yet to that group of songs, so stay tuned in there’s still more to come. 

White Voodoo seems to have numerous stories interweaved throughout each song. Can you elaborate on some of the songs? 

Ok well “Sleeping in a Bed of Thorns” is a story of what if. What if a real nice, loving and religious, helpful person passes away and instead of going to Heaven where they surely belong they end up in hell. The signals get crossed and they end up in the wrong place. I sometimes feel I’ve been to hell and back but escaped out the back door. So in the story I’m the guy that’s willing to go back down to hell and kick in the front door to save that person from a terrible eternity. No person like that belongs there, so the line goes,

“I’m going down and I’m kicking in doors, it ain’t like I ain’t been there before. There’s no way that I’m leaving you, Forever sleeping in a bed of thorns”. It’s a bit twisted but we don’t know anything for sure, it could happen and I’m just the guy for that job. Another line is “Your house is on fire burning up in flames, four horsemen will come to show you the way, there ain’t no way I’m standing in a dead man’s shoes, and I wish that it could have been me instead of you”. And that’s the truth, so it’s quite a road trip; it’s easy to beat the devil if you know what you’re looking for. Who’s kidding who?

I am also curious about the track “Taiwanese? 

Taiwanese is about meeting people you think are cool even though you know the father is a hit man. So it’s like daughter like father when the shit hits the fan. Their killers running state to state, and they have no real feelings for anyone but for their own survival and he says ” It don’t mean nothin I’m a skull and cross bones, your talking though a Chinese telephone, and I don’t speak no Taiwanese…Jez”. A serial killer family and I think there are many of ‘em out there, they are the devil in disguise and their hands aren’t clean.

Another line is “I make the sign of the cross as a row of cars pass by, I never knew their names, and I don’t ask questions why”. Deep down inside ya know the truth and ya just want to get away as fast as ya can. Pretty stuff huh?

Why did you include a remix of Taiwanese also?  

The original is musically a tight track that I think it would be good for radio but the re-mix in the middle breaks down for like dance clubs. I find a little humor in the thought of people dancing their asses off and then asking “What did he say”. I don’t know I mentioned a re-mix right after we mixed the original track and the engineer, mixer jumped up and ran back to the board and we did it off the cuff. I was also later informed that Europe may really dig the re-mix, so there it is. You could be dancing with a serial killer; you hear it on the news all the time. “Woman went out to a club last night, never to be seen again”. Sad but true, it happen somewhere every day.

Where does In This God Forsaken Place actually take place? Your stories are different than past releases. Do your everyday life and the people you meet affect your songwriting?

Where is it? That’s a secret, but yeah the stories are different because things change and I see more shit and meet different kinds of people everywhere I go.

Some of it is good and some isn’t but it’s still in your face so I take note of it all. “In This God Forsaken Place” I always seem to go where I’m told I shouldn’t go, it’s just the way I am and I always go alone; I don’t want anyone to get into some weird situation. So I meet this woman but nothing she’s telling me seems to add up. She says she’s an American but speaks in broken English, Something isn’t right. I think she’s a criminal hiding in a different country under a fake name.

She comes to visit me from time to time and always give me just a little bit of herself or a little bit of a substance. She’s got an old beat up Chevrolet but she’s cool with me and I don’t say nothin to no one. In the end its time for me to leave and I find I like her so when I leave on that big jet plane I take her with me. The past is the past, ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies.

How do your fan bases differ from country to country? Do you market your music differently depending on the country? 

No not really, every country seems to pick up on different things they find on the internet and use it in different ways. Some have contests like questions and answers to win a cd or T-shirt. Some give me more radio play then others where I sit in and do an interview and I find there the biggest radio shows in that country. Sometimes I get to do a TV shows to promote a new cd and to let the fans know I’m in town doing shows.

The promoters put a lot of this stuff together before time, but I don’t know about it until I get there. Those times I don’t get much sleep it’s just go, go, go. I like that because it’s a drag sitting in a hotel room watching a TV that I can’t understand. I think word of mouth happens too by just walking around in the streets. They see guys like me on TV but not just out and about the street and we try to talk and you tell them your name and the name of a club you’re performing at later on that night and the word gets out fast it flies like wild fire. There are also magazine write ups before I get to where ever it may be, and reviews of the live performances happen so when I come back again you’re bigger than the last time. It’s all very cool to see how different places do it. Of course the clubs promote you and promoters plaster posters all over the place. It’s a great life, I’m very lucky and after a show I don’t run and hide, I hang out with the fans taking pictures and all. The fans really dig when you hang out with them and I like it too. I even throw presents out to the fans. Trust me they remember that stuff, I mean who else does that? Nobody! And when you go back they write about that too, it’s all promotion.

What are you plans for the next year and how did the recent rehearsals go in New York City? 

Yeah I just got back and things went really good. I had an idea and contacted a few guys to see if there was any interest in my idea. Everyone was into it so we got together to give it a try and rehearse.

So it’s like this, I wanted to do a semi electric, acoustic act without a drummer so we could perform almost anywhere not only rock clubs. It was pretty funny because we rehearsed and even though the acoustics were lying around we never picked them up and no even noticed until after the rehearsal.

So I guess we’ll use acoustics for a few numbers but we’re performing with more electric guitars an acoustics but in an acoustic setting. It’s a bit more kicked back but has more punch to it because its electric and you can still rock out and dance to it even though there’s no drums but a little bit of percussion, like shakers and congas in a few songs.

I’m playing guitar and doing vocals, Michael Santoro (Ronnie Wood, Keith Emerson) is also playing guitar and doing some backup vocals. I also have Gaby Zero coming in from Buenos Aires to play with us and he’ll be playing some guitar and Bottleneck guitar. Gaby plays with me in South America in Peter Blast Power Company, Featuring Blast + Zero and he’s played with Michael Monroe and opened for Slash and performed with Tracii Guns, Phil Lewis and a slew of other great artists and I enlisted Kane Daily to sit in playing Dobra slide from Long Island N.Y. and Bobby Doll on Bass also from Long Island.

So its five guys playing some of my material that I have never performed with any of my full blown out rock acts, it’s very cool and very different. Were using Vox, Fenders and Premier amp’s on the clean channels, so it’s kind of an acoustic setting but it’s not at the same time. I think I’m calling this “Peter Blast & the Flying Chinese Dragons” but that could change.

We are rehearsing some RnR but were doing some Blues and some of my prettier songs as well.

The name came up because of the theme of some of my material from some of my other past releases that we will be doing such as ” Chinese Dragonflies, Taiwanese and Butterflies & Damsels in Distress” among others such as Lay Down Here, The Last Word, Up on the Silver Screen, some Blues and a few new songs that I haven’t recorded yet and also some covers which I normally don’t do. It’s fun and everyone is digging it, so the vibe is a good time and I think that shows and people will have fun with it all. It’s like sit back, have a drink and a smoke and then jump up and dance, rock out and have fun. This is designed to be a little more light hearted but ballsy at the same time because it’s basically an electric sit down jam kind of show. We won’t be getting together again now until I come back from do Live Performances in Argentina.

So were looking ahead for the early summer of 2013. I’m really looking forward to doing it because it’s a different format of my own stuff and more, plus the rehearsals were like magic and everybody really clicked.

There were some photos posted on the Facebook Peter Blast Fan Page. It’s a drag none of the rehearsals were video recorded, I guess everyone will just have to come out to the shows. So look for Peter Blast & The Flying Chinese Dragons or Peter Blast & The Flying Chinese Dragonflies buzzing around N.Y. next summer in different areas of NY. and N.Y.C., for this lineups first shows but I don’t think we’ll only be on the East Coast because this group can perform in any type of venue in any city or country. We’re gonna doing some recording to of some of my new one’s too, Its really gonna be a Blast, no pun intended, but to be clear I’m still going to perform with my blown out RnR acts… It’s in my blood.