NO PEACE FOR THE WICKED: THE RETURN OF PETER PERRETT
With a short series of live solo dates scheduled over the next couple of months, ONLY ONES frontman PETER PERRETT revealed to Vive Le Rock his intentions for some forthcoming new material:
“The tentative plan is to get an album recorded, hopefully ready to release for February/March. All I’ve done so far is one day in the studio with the band (STRANGEFRUIT) doing backing tracks; five backing tracks and then three or four days doing overdubs and vocals. And there was two songs that I was happy with, to release. Since then, the bass player – Peter, my son – and the drummer (Jake Woodward), who are both at college doing a music degree, they both finished their finals half way through June. It’s really intensive, music degrees, they really work you hard, they’re having to play, every night, things in 9/8 and things, it really is intense – I couldn’t really call on them! So, after they finished, we had four days rehearsal before going to Amsterdam.
“And so, every day it went up a level, the way we were playing. Although I’m happy with the two songs I thought I was going to (release), I was going to go back into the studio and mix them… but, part of me enjoyed playing the other new songs that I did, so much that I thought, ‘If we have a few more days rehearsal…’ – although they’re great musicians, it doesn’t give the songs enough time to develop. I just felt it went up a level, so… Jamie (Peter’s younger son, guitar) was a bit upset, because he spent loads of time editing everything ready to go in and mix it, and I said to him ‘Ah, I want to redo it!'”
While further Only Ones activity is by no means out of the question, Peter will be backed up by Strangefruit for his upcoming shows. Fans can expect a balance of old and new material on the night:
“The band are a really tight band, cos they play together as Strangefruit, but we haven’t had that much rehearsal time doing my new songs. We did a gig in Hebden Bridge where we had some rehearsal time, but that was mainly learning Only Ones songs, because that’s what the audience expects. In the nineties, I had a band (The One) and I wanted to not trade on my past, I wanted my new songs to stand out, so to begin with I did a third Only Ones songs, two thirds new songs. But the last gig (The One) did, it was in the Roadhouse Manchester, and someone put the setlist on line, and first song, ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’, get that out the way, and all the other songs were new songs; that’s the way I used to be then.”
“Now I understand, from a fan’s point of view, because I’ve been in the audience since then, seen people, and I quite like it when I recognise the song. From a fan’s point of view, especially people that’ve never seen you play the old songs, you’ve got to be a bit more giving. I used to think it was like taking the easy way out, playing the songs that everyone knew and wanted to hear, I always cared more passionately about new songs, and thought maybe it was playing the game too much, being a bit more like a cabaret or a nostalgia trip, or a heritage band or whatever they call it… I used to think that that was somehow selling out.
“Now I realise that maybe I’m a bit too radical in my ideas as to what a performance and a gig should be, and they should be a bit more give and take. There’s nothing wrong with playing old songs. So to begin with they had to learn the Only Ones songs so I could function giving the people the songs they’ve liked over the years. But really my passion is about getting them to learn the new songs as soon as possible.
“Really all I want to do is record. To begin with, I thought it would be a distraction doing gigs; but it’s been good, because when you’ve got a gig it forces you, ‘Oh I’ve got a gig next week, I’d better rehearse’; so four rehearsals in a row, I actually started feeling like a musician, and so I wrote four songs over the three week period. Without feeling like a musician, I don’t want to write new songs, because I’ve got a bunch of new songs that aren’t recorded yet, ones that were played over the Only Ones (reunion) time, and other ones as well, and I’ve got this dread that I’ve got these great songs that I’m proud of that’ll never get recorded… and so it’s a deterrent to writing!
“The thing of having a gig to do is you think ‘I’d better get into musician mode, I’ve got to walk out and be a musician’, and so feeling like a musician, rather than someone who used to be a musician a long time ago, I’ve actually started enjoying writing again. And the feeling of writing a song and three days later playing it with a band, and it happens… sometimes songs take a while, but occasionally there’s a song that is just so simple, and that’s why I did this new song ‘Living In My Head’ in Amsterdam, cos as soon as I started playing it with the group, it just sounded amazing.
“And it just gave me a buzz, and inspired me to write more songs, so since I got back from Amsterdam I’ve written two and a half songs. Which is quite a lot for me, after going years and years without…”
See next month’s edition of Vive Le Rock for more from Peter. The revised edition of Nina Antonia’s The One And Only biography is available now through Thin Man Press. Peter will be playing live on:
24 July, Garage, London
8 August, Rebellion Festival, Blackpool
15 August, Ruby Lounge, Manchester
29 August, The Fleece, Bristol