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FM to WEB: Peter Daltrey (Kaleidoscope) - Interview

Peter Daltrey from the legendary Kaleidoscope answered Dimitris Antonopoulos' questions.
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Dimitris Antonopoulos: Hello Peter, first of all its a privilege! So, let’s start the interview with your latest album… Can you tell me a few words about the making of Peter?

Peter Daltrey:
Well, there are actually two new albums: `King of Thieves / The Best of Peter Daltrey / Vol 2` and `The Journey` with Asteroid#4.
I`d been in contact with Karl Anderson of the Global Recording Artists label for some time. I suggested to Karl that it might be a good time to put out a second `Best of...` collection. The first – `Candy` Blueprint Records BP304CD – was released way back in spring 1999. Over the following years I`d recorded many albums. I wanted fans to be able to sample those albums by dipping into a new collection. Karl was happy for me to assemble the album from existing tracks.

Whilst doing this Karl asked me if I’d like to contribute a track to his forthcoming tribute to Sky Saxon of the Seeds. Of course, I agreed, happy to be part of such an important project. Karl asked me to record my own version of one of Sky`s personal favourites, a song called `Wild Roses.` I called in help from Derek G Head – a great saxophonist with whom I`d recorded two albums, `Jack`s Town` and `Fractured` – and invited my son, Oli, to add a guitar solo. The resulting track is one I’m very pleased with – and can’t wait to see it on the tribute album when it eventually released. Karl has been working on it for years and it features some amazing artists like Arthur Brown, Asteroid#4, Electric Prunes, Iggy Pop etc etc. The list is almost endless!

But as I say, with `King of Thieves` you get a taster of my solo work, together with songs I’ve written and recorded with Damien Youth, that very talented troubadour singer-songwriter.

There are fifteen tracks on the CD encompassing many albums. It`s a good place to start if you like Kaleidoscope and Fairfield Parlour and are curious as to what I produce as a solo artist.

Go to www.gragroup.com to buy the CD.

The other album, `The Journey`, is a collaboration with an amazing new-psyche band from America called Asteroid#4. Damien suggested we might like to get together to write and from the word go we hit it off and were soon writing an album. I was inspired by the rough music tracks they sent me and wrote my own melody lines and lyrics. The band then worked long and hard on completing their musical tracks. But the problem was my scratch vocals recorded in my very modest home studio were not of a high enough sound quality to use.
The solution came about when I was invited to undertake some live performances at the the back end of 2010 in California. A4 and myself co-ordinated the gigs so that we were playing the same venues and ended up in LA. It was here in Rob Bartholemew`s studio that we cut the vocal tracks. We were all thrilled with the result. I was proud to be working with such a great band and flattered that these very talented young musicians would want to work with a wizened old geezer like me.

The band put out the tracks for download, but I`m an old-fashioned kinda guy and I like physical product. Luckily for all of us, Joe Foster got to hear the album, loved it and offered us a deal at Poppydisc Records. So to round off a verbose answer to your question – `The Journey` will be out on vinyl and CD very shortly.

D.A.: Lets talk for a while about your influences as a musician, looking back..

As an emerging teenager – when the word had only just been invented way back then at the start of what came to be known as the Sixties – I loved Buddy Holly. He could do no wrong. I loved his songs, his unique singing style, his look, everything about him. And then he died. I was devastated. Still today I listen to Buddy and think about the tragedy of his loss. But it is heartening to see that his music lives on undimmed by the vast passage of time. You can listen to a Holly track now and it sounds just as fresh and vibrant as on the day poor fated Buddy stood in the studio and sang it.
Within a few years the Beatles changed all the rules. They set the bar very high for all bands and writers. Lennon was a big influence. I adored his yearning vocals, that harder edge than McCartney possessed. But then along comes Dylan and changes the rules again. I was hooked. I loved his voice from the start and his seminal protest songs. When he then swiftly moved on to writing masterpieces of supreme poetry I was in awe.

So from a writing point of view it was the Beatles and Dylan followed by Donovan whose vocal style I also admired. His fairy tale story telling also appealed to me and you can clearly hear his influence throughout the two early Kaleidoscope albums.

I have to include laughing Lenny Cohen and Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and the Byrds.

D.A.: What about 'Tangerine Dream' Peter really? An amazing album! How do you feel, touching from a distance..? After 45 years..

Hmmm... Long ago and far away. I really appreciate the fact that so many people love that album. Even new generations who weren’t even born way back then are discovering it and enjoying listening to it. That makes me very happy, of course, but it does sound so innocent and naïve to me now. I suppose that is its attraction for some listeners: it’s unlike anything that’s recorded today.

It is quite a shock to my system and greying brain cells to find myself on stage in the 21st Century singing these songs about sky children and dying watch-repairers.

Of the two early albums I still prefer `Faintly Blowing` as I can hear how Ed and I were developing as song-writers. Songs like `Black Fjord` and `(Love Song) For Annie` demonstrate how we were progressing. A process that continued throughout our recording career.

D.A.: Can you tell me your most vivid memory from such a great era? How was it really to be young, gifted, and in the heart of the sixties...?

It is very difficult to describe. Of course you have to understand that we were not aware at first that we were living `in the Sixties.` Yes, we knew these were very special years. We were living our lives with the Beatles, for God’s sake! Can you imagine that now? We lived and breathed the Beatles. We copied everything they did with their hair, their clothes – we hungered for new music from them, desperate to hear their new single for the first time or run to the shops to buy their new album. Listening to a new Beatles album was akin to a religious event. We would ply it and sit listening intently to every word every note mesmerised and amazed.

In Chelsea we would walk the streets in our finery, admiring clothes others were wearing, gawping in the shop windows, wandering around Kensington antique market for hours trying on exotic clothes. We would scan the streets looking out for celebrities. Music blared from every clothes shop; not the crap you hear nowadays, but real happening music.

We would walk down to Worlds End at the far end of the Kings Road to have a look at Granny Takes A Trip – often too intimidated by the new way out exterior design to venture inside.

But running alongside all this colourful kaleidoscope of new fashion and music, sex and freedom was the other world. The drab grey post-war England that the Establishment was desperate to hold on to, trying to hold back the inevitable youth-driven tide of media and personal revolution that was about to bring an end to their stuffy stiff-upper-lip plum-in-the-mouth dead-Sunday society. We gradually swept them aside – and I bet they`ve never forgiven us; remnants of the old guard still exist in the dull backwaters of suburbia, in the oak panelled halls of government and civil service, in the World War II-green messhalls of the services, in England`s emptying churches.

It was exciting to be so young and living through what is arguably one of the most important decades of the Twentieth Century – but did we really achieve that revolutionary dream? Are we not living the same lives as our forebears: 9-to-5 jobs, noses to the grindstone to pay the never-ending mortgage, the awe-inspiring responsibility of bringing up our children? Has anything really changed? OK, the announcers on auntie Beeb no longer talk with those bloody big plums in their mouths, we can shop-til-we-drop all day on Sunday, we can go to theatres and restaurants in jeans – but when was the last time you saw a pretty girl skipping down the road with a flower in her hair...?

D.A.: Are you working on a new project/record already maybe?

I`ve just finished a new book, `White-Faced Lady`. It is the story that accompanies our concept album of the same name. There are now five books available to buy online through the website: www.chelsearecords.co.uk `Nevergreen` is the story that accompanies the concept album of the same name that I wrote and recorded with Damien Youth. There is a book about the band’s experiences during the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival and a book of lyrics. `Tambourine Days` is the story of the band from its beginnings at that school hall in Acton in 1964, right up to my gigs in California in 2010 and Spain this year performing all these old songs to new audiences.

I am currently writing a new book telling the story of `The Journey` from the first tentative transatlantic e-mails, through the writing of the songs, to the sessions in LA and beyond. It will also feature illustrated lyrics from the album.

D.A.: Heres my classic question Peter! Let’s say that we can be on a time machine (!) for the next 24 hours! So, where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

Oh, I`d either choose a day in the studio with Buddy Holly, with a few guests invited like Jack Kerouac and Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald – or I’d find myself walking through Hyde Park on a balmy summer’s day in `67 with my girlfriend – now wife – Janet. We’d have just spent the morning wandering around Chelsea. We would have put together our few shillings and pence and bought a lump of cheese, a packet of crisps and a couple of apples. We would sit by the Serpentine in the shade of an ancient tree and simply watch the world go by...

D.A.: Can you tell me 5 of your fav albums ever?

Oh, throw in a tough one! OK, without too much thought, here goes:
The Beatles – Revolver
Buddy Holly – Reminiscing
The Byrds – The Notorious Byrd Brothers
Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
Leonard Cohen – Songs from a Room

D.A.: Heres a few bands/artists Peter… So any comment from the 'Kaleidoscope' - legend about PINK FLOYD, NIRVANA UK, SOFT MACHINE, CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN..?

No-one will believe this but no-one in the band listened to Pink Floyd at any time. Nirvana I only recall because of their charming hit, `Pentecost Hotel.` Soft Machine I know nothing about. Arthur Brown was a one-hit novelty act. Sorry if any of this upsets your dear readers, but you asked. We were not musos. We knew very little about other bands so concentrated were we on our own musical quest. We wore Kaleidoscope blinkers, focussed exclusively on the next song, the next album, our musical future. Sadly that future was somewhat truncated by the fickle hand of Fate...

D.A.: For the end, is there a chance for an ATHENS gig maybe? And what about a good psychedelic story for the fans here? An 'inside story' about a gig back in the sixties, or something..?

A gig in Athens in 2013 is very possible. I have just signed to a new management company and we are keen to get my band back into Europe next year. Contact me through Facebook (peter daltrey-kaleidoscope) or through the website if you have a venue in mind.

A final story...? When we supported Pentangle at the Royal Albert Hall in London we had a sound-check in the afternoon that went so well all our fears for that evening`s performance were quelled. We popped off for a nice meal unphased by what lay ahead: an important gig in London`s premier venue. But when we climbed the stairs onto the stage that night nothing worked. The microphones were dead and the instruments wouldn`t work. The audience had paid good money for their posh seats and were angry. They began slow handclapping as we scrambled around on our hands and knees trying to find the right plug to shove in the right hole. Someone had sabotaged our mixer, changing all the settings.

We eventually got everything working but it was a shortened set undertaken under extreme stress. It was a living nightmare. Long ago – but I can still feel the frustration and disappointment rising in me even now over forty years later.

Ho hum.....

D.A.: Thank you very very much.

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