While sitting in their dressing room backstage of the Santander Arena on the Third Day/Skillet Tour, we met up with Peter Furler Band to talk about their new record Sun and Shield. Jesusfreakhideout.com's Amy and John DiBiase chatted with Peter about the album, post-Newsboys life, the Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil project, the state of Christian music, and looking back on twenty years since the release of Newsboys' Going Public...
This interview took place on: 3/22/14.
I finished all the drums, and they're just doing some overdubs and vocals on a couple of the songs. So the majority of it is finished as far as being ready to mix. And some of them are close to being done. They're good sounding mixes. To me, I think they're ready to go. It's really strong. Musically, it's probably the best thing I've ever been involved with, personally.
Peter: Yeah. Well, you get four unique people in a room and when they agree on something, y'know...
Peter: Yeah! There's a lot there. So when you all really respect each other and you like each other, there's a lot of unity, y'know? I don't think we've ever had a disagreement in any sense. It's been more [that] we have similar tastes, the four of us. It's been good. So hopefully there will be more people who will agree with our tastes! Ha! But it's good. Steve Taylor fans are going to flip out. It's just really interesting modern rock.
Peter: Being the drummer in the band, I've had to go back and rediscover certain songs that I hadn't heard in a long time of his. And go, "Are we going to do this version? Are we going to do something else?" So it's been fun to try and fit it into the format.
Peter: Aw yeah, it's some of the most fun I've had since I was a teenager! No kidding. We've done three or four shows. And it's funny because we were at one particular festival and the main stage was just going on and it was later at night and the headliner was just going on, and we were playing at this side, little kind of club. And I remembered my time with the Newsboys, and that was usually when I was going on, and here I was playing this little club and it was so exciting! *laughs* I was so much more thrilled! Not that I didn't love [all that] -- that was great, but I was more excited about just being in a thousand people in this tight, sweaty situation...
Peter: I can't wait for this club tour! I'm enjoying this, this is fun too, but you get 400 people in a 400-capacity room, and just different things happen, y'know?
Peter: Yeah! You do because there's something about [it]. You've widdled it down to just the people--usually the people there have a similar mind-set. Out here, there might be 400 of them here, but they're in a big room tonight, but when you get to that [small] place, they're like... that's the essence of who the band is.
Peter: Yeah! They can end up being some of the best shows. They really can. I don't know why or how, but every band--unless you're put together by some big manager--has to go through that scenario. And, y'know, we still do too. All of the bands on this tour, we all still go and do shows and some of them will be smaller venues and... I think if you love playing, and you love each other-- I mean, we were in here jammin' earlier. We can't wait to play! *laughs* That's how it should be! If there's no one out there, I don't care, let me soundcheck for 30 minutes, y'know? As long as we're playing!
Peter: I think I was burnt out and I didn't know it. I didn't say that to anybody, cuz I didn't know it myself. I was telling everybody, "Oh, I feel great, man!" and I kind of did, but it wasn't until I stopped, then I really felt the exhaust fumes coming in. And then Steve came around and we started doing the thing with The Perfect Foil, and that was a lot of fun -- it was just fun! No record deal, no management company, no agenda except to make music. It was like I was 18 again!
Peter: Yeah! It was like when you start out as a kid in a garage with your buddies, y'know, you might have some dreams--maybe a couple of the members of the group dream of selling a million records. I don't know if I was ever that guy. To me, I was just happy not to be doing landscaping, or some menial job. And if I could just survive playing music, I would be happy. And that's my mentality today. But you see it happen to so many bands--that's why their first three or four records are great--cuz after that, the business takes over. And it just changes everything. It's not that it's a bad thing, it's just that everything changes. So, going back to Steve, just sitting in a garage... We were in a garage! We were in John [Mark Painter]'s garage more or less. It's his studio, and it's a great little place, and we were just jamming. We were just, "Here's this melody, here's this lyric, put a skin on it and see what we can do." I went in as a drummer, totally free to play however I wanted to. We didn't use any [loops] (same with my record), we didn't want to overproduce it. We wanted it to be three or four people in a room, delivering it, y'know?
Today, we live in a society where they've got Instagram and all these little apps on their cameras and take a good photo and put some magic on it and make it look like it's a little bit better than it was, or you can go out and hunt and find a killer shot. You don't have to put anything on it, the light was perfect, the subject was perfect, and so you caught the moment. I think, for us, we were aiming for that. To go and capture the moment, not to use the software to enhance. And it's not that that's "wrong," we don't have an agenda, it's not a bandwagon one way or the other, but it's more that we set limits; we're not going to fix this, we're going to get the take that feels good. And it wasn't a big rule or a law. But it was like, "Let's get it down to this many tracks," as opposed to keep layering instruments. "Let's get this so you hear: there's the bass player, there's the drummer, there's the guitarist, there's the vocalist." So that inspired me and helped me in my love for music. And even after Winter Jam, I went through another change. My first solo record was kind of running on the same fuel that I ran on with Newsboys--not that that was bad, I was just in automatic mode. That's just how I made records, that's how I'd done them all my life, that's what I'm going to do. Where, by the end of Winter Jam, I kinda realized that that was cool, but now it's time to just do what I want to do, to do something else or whatever. So we went in and that's how we formed this. It's been, "Let's just make sure everything is 100% live." We're not using tracks, I don't use in-ears, it's just getting back to the melody and the lyric and the dynamics of guys playing and get it to a three-piece, which was really exciting. Because there's not really many three-pieces around at the moment...
Peter: We didn't do it because of that reason, but it just felt right! For me, just really having to practice guitar more, to cover parts that are hard to play and sing at the same time, that I didn't ever have to do before...
Peter: Well, you just practice. And I mess up! I really do. But I don't care. And I don't think fans care either? I'll mess up big time... but it sounds awesome! Cuz when it comes right again, it sounds even better! We have moments where we're still working out who's playing what and "Can we do that?" or "Maybe if I do this, the three of us together will sound like one good thing?" It's a lot of fun. So that's helped a lot too. We can go out there and there's probably 27 songs we can pick from and play. We don't use tracks or any of that rubbish, so we can go out and say "Let's do a Police cover tonight!" That's just one of the benefits of not being locked to a grid, y'know?
Peter: Yeah! Everything sounds really, um... "because you can." Back in the 90's, you didn't have the software we have today. You didn't have the finances -- Now you don't need the finances, but you didn't have the software, and so you kinda had to -- I mean, Take Me To Your Leader and them records, they were made on two-inch tapes, so that's a 24-track machine.
Peter: Well, what happens is, that record, if somebody stripped it down and you listened to the tracks, you'll hear guitar coming in on the verse, and then on that same channel, the tambourine will come in on the chorus and the guitar stops -- cuz we're out of tracks! So everything had to count. And this has been getting back to that mind-set.
Peter: *smiles* Probably. *laughter* I don't know why. Probably compression, I don't know what it was.
Peter: Yeah, my wife wants me to put that back in the set. We might be able to get that one in there.
Peter: Yeah. We haven't played that one in 15 years. I was working on "Lost The Plot" today, I think I'm going to put that in the May set. So that'd be fun. We haven't done that one...
Peter: It's one I like too. I just gotta remember all the lyrics; it's been a while.
Peter: Well, I've known Dave for years through Superchick and we've done a lot of shows together.
Peter: And Church of Rhythm, going even further back. Dave played with me on Winter Jam and then he asked to be in Audio Adrenaline and he was really excited about it. I was like "Man, I don't have many shows coming up, I'm not sure what I'm doing." But later when I heard he was free from Audio Adrenaline, I called him like 2 days later! I was like "Heeeey!" *laughter* But he and Grace are so awesome. They're a great couple. And Jeff, he was with me since the early solo days, too. I had used a couple different guys and then Jeff came along. And I don't know, this just felt right. I'm not a soloist guy, I never wanted to be solo. When I was with the Newsboys, I was fulfilled. Because I was writing the songs, I was making the records, so they were like my records, y'know what I mean? There was no Nashville songwriting team or anything like that. It was just Steve [Taylor] and I and whatever.
So the process began when I began getting invites to go to places and play with just my acoustic guitar. And I don't do acoustic. So I accepted one of the gigs. It was a little club in Jacksonville, and I accepted the gig because I knew if I accepted it, I'd have to do it.
Peter: Yeah, I operate that way sometimes. What I did was I went and I took this guitar and set up in my house with a little amplifier and I learned 27 songs--20 from my past and a couple of cover songs--but mainly that 25 songs from "Lost the Plot" to wherever. And even songs like "Breakfast," I wrote the riff, I probably played it on the record, but that was 15 years earlier. I'd never played and sung it live. So I had to learn to play the riff and sing it live. And so I went to this little club and it was great! I played for 2 and a half hours. And I hardly said anything. I might have told a couple stories about how this song was written. And it really inspired me, and so I took some more bookings like that, and then I asked Jeff if he'd come along. And he brought like a cajon. And I'm not really into the cajon thing, y'know? I mean the kind of acoustic cajons.
Peter: It's like a little drum; they kind of sit on a box, y'know?
Peter: Yeah, it's like a little box they can sit on and he plays it great. So I looked online; I was trying to find some odd drums and things and I found a suitcase where this guy makes drums out of them. So I thought that was pretty cool and I bought it and brought it along to Jeff and he's playing it tonight. And it sounded really cool and it was really unique, so the two of us went out and just started doing gigs together. And then I did a gig in Texas at Texas Stadium; it was this massive place, with Switchfoot and a bunch of other bands. It holds like 70,000 people but there was only like 7,000, but it was great. It was a great gig. And I asked a buddy of mine to come along and play bass just for kicks, y'know? I said, "Why don't you come along and play bass?" He was our worship leader, an acoustic guy out of Dallas, and he borrows a bass and comes along, turns up at the gig and he does awesome. I was like "That sounded amazing! Man, that's what I wanna do!" It was like we'd built a band back, so I called Dave and I said, "Dave, I know you're a guitarist, you're a better guitarist than me, and a pianist, but how about bass?" *laughs* And you know Dave, he's like "Oh yeah! I'll come!" So that's kind of how we got this thing. It's early days, but we're really enjoying it.
Peter: I had "The Bliss Bombs;" it's a name I've had for twenty years. That was a name I was going to go with, but legally there was another band. I own "TheBlissBombs.com" and had all that stuff, but I didn't want to mess with it. It was down to the last minute and I was putting the record out, so I was like "Man..." "Peter Furler Band" wasn't my first thing, but it's kind of better that you stick with your name than coming out with something brand new again. I wasn't sure I was ready for that.
We went through a lot of different ones, but it's hard, man. Even with Steve's. It wasn't going to be "Steve Taylor and" something else. It was going to be a band name. We must have gone through 50 band names. They're hard to find, because coming up with something different that hasn't been taken...
Peter: Yeah, he's pretty [busy]. Phil and I just chatted yesterday. We get on. We're really good friends.
Peter: That's right, yeah! We get on really well. We're better friends now that we're out of the band than we were in it. *laughs* And so, it's a good thing. And Phil's one of those guys, he's so talented, and he's so passionate about what he's doing with DeliberatePeople and DeliberateKids, it's like that's his thing, y'know? And that's kind of why he left the Newsboys. So, yeah, I don't know if I even asked him, probably because right at this time he's signing a record deal...
Peter: Yes. I think they've just been writing songs. They're a really talented crew: John Boyd and his wife Laura, they're in the group and they're really talented. I'm not sure, but I think there may be one other person who's going to be in it. They've been kind of cooking around, trying to come up with songs. Phil's out doing gigs.
Peter: Yeah, I did. I'm always kind of on the hunt for a different way to fry the egg, y'know? But this one, what I did was, I think I wrote all of them on guitar, which some of the other stuff I'd get on a keyboard and mess around a bit, but this was all on guitar. I wrote most of these and recorded the demos--actually, they weren't demos; I did them on my iPhone, cuz I didn't have a studio on this record. So that was a completely different process. Like we're sitting here now, I would have my iPhone and I would throw down the arrangement, and then I'd go into the studio and just get the tempo, how it felt good, and then I'd throw a scratch guitar down and actually, when we were putting the scratch guitar down, we were cutting it in case we could use it. And we ended up using them a lot--not the vocals because we didn't have all the lyrics, y'know. And then I'd walk over to the drum set and jump on the drums and kind of knock some drums on it, and then, by the afternoon, we had the song tracked. So it was really quick. It took a long time, but it was really quick. The actual recording was quick. It was like a song a day, as far as time. Normally, I would go into a studio with Logic or ProTools or something, but this one... I'd just finished up doing a bunch of shows and On Fire is kind of a bionic record. It's got this electronic and human element to it, so when we're playing it live, it's impossible to reproduce, so don't try! Unless you use tracks, and we weren't going to do that, so we would do reggae versions of certain songs, or just change the verse up, just so long as people know it. And people really dug it, because it's a completely different version, but you weren't messing with the version. You weren't killing the song. It wasn't a deliberate thing, "Oh, I'm going to mess up the song." And so that inspired me. I knew I was making the next record so it could be totally reproduced live.
Peter: Oh great, I like it. Yeah. That was actually on Steve's record, but I pinched it. And "Sun and Shield," too. They were both going to be on Steve's record and them boys graciously gave them to me. We all wrote them, but it was like, "Hey man, I need another song!" *laughs* And Steve was doing Blue Like Jazz and I was making a record, so...
Peter: "Sun and Shield," the song, oh yeah, definitely. It's maybe five years old now?
Peter: I liked the album title. I liked the title. It was just something different, and I couldn't think of anything better, to be honest. This record's been put out independently; I just did it myself. And so, it's the first time in my life I don't have management. I don't have a record deal. [I] don't have anything and I'm really liking it, y'know? Just cuz I've been signed to deals since I was a teenager. And that's not a bad thing, that's just what it was; it was good. But now, this time, it's [different]. There's a cost to that. You're not going to get the publicity and certain things that come with being tied to. It's a trade off.
Peter: Yeah, that's the other thing, too. I was like "I could put it out now, so I'm going to put it out now." And that's commercial suicide! Y'know what I mean? But I think that's the future. And I was starting this tour. So I thought, "I want to have it to sell. I want people to be able to get it." I was almost excited about that, y'know, because we could write a song in this room and put it on iTunes tonight if we wanted. That's something that, artistically... When we first got into music, no one gets in it for money. If they do, they don't last very long. And if they get in it for fame, they don't last very long and they crash. But if you get in it just because you love music, and you love playing it, and you love creating something out of nothing, then as long as you're putting a little bit of food on your table, you're alright.
Peter: There's everybody, in this day in age, who can voice their own opinions. And everyone's opinion can be heard. Each of us have to know that the truth will always come, and if you're on the side of the truth, then them arrows will miss. I think, anywhere in life, it's really hard to take the high road. It's just hard, man. It's hard not to get back at people for certain things that they've done to you, or when it's people who you've only been good to them, it could be really hurtful. So, I think, with my life, one of the most important things I could do is love people, love my enemies. And pray for them. That's a big thing my wife and I talk about every now and then. You'll always hear things or get an email from somebody that's nasty or somebody will tell you something you can or can't do that's not true, and you just have to, y'know... So yeah, that was inspired by lots of things through life. Not any one particular thing. I can sing it with passion, let's put it that way.
Peter: That was funny. The title for that was going to be "Duck Face Girl." *hearty laughs from John and Amy* And I had this idea. Actually, I was at Steve's place, "and she's a duck face girl, but I love her." Y'know, people making the duck face look, because everybody was doing that. Obviously, it's died down a bit now, but I was asleep at Steve's house, because I was staying at his place making the record, and I woke up at night and couldn't get that out of my head. *laughing* I couldn't sleep. *high voice singing*: "She's a duck face girl. She's a duck face girl, I love her." *more laughter* And when I told Steve, and Jimmy [Abegg] and John [Mark Painter], they loved it! They're like, "Man this is it!" But I don't know what happened. I think we wussed out, y'know? Steve, he was the one who came up with "Right Wrong Girl." Which is really [funny], because you would think he'd like "duck face" better. Yeah, sometimes he's an old softie, y'know?
Yeah, I don't know. It is what it is. A funny little pop song. I'll be married 23 years, so I see the balance of the early days of your relationship. Even when you're dating, there are things that drew you to each other that can be the things that nearly pull you apart later on. But there are other things that the dynamic of becoming one are really cool. But there are even greater things when you begin to have nobody between the two of you; that's a really powerful thing. That wasn't necessarily about our relationship, my wife and I, but it's kind of a general thing of, y'know, a lot of times guys will be looking for a certain thing. And they got an idea, but who says that idea's a good idea. And yet, there's somebody out there who could be the complete opposite of what you'd ever pick, but that's the person that--not that there's one person, but--your two souls become one down the line.
Peter: Yeah. A lot of that was Steve. *laughs* We were talking about The Notebook, and none of us had seen the movie. *laughter* Cuz Steve had the Notebook line, and we knew the premise of it, but that was pretty funny.
Peter: Probably "Shame." That's the one that comes to the top. Yeah, cuz that one was really came when the record was starting to form. Around that tune. I don't know. It's sloppy? The sloppiness about it--it's not tight, it's not fixed. When you really scope stuff out, guitars and things are out of time. That's what I like about it. I can't even keep time with myself. I played the guitar and the drums on that song, and I'm not even in time with myself. *laughs* But that's what's cool! One of them is pulling the other along.
Peter: Right! Yeah, yeah.
Peter: No, no. It wasn't a "I want to go back to this time." I don't think I ever think that way. Maybe I will one day, but no. "Yeshua" is a track where I was just sitting in a change room like this. It started like this and I had my little amp there, with my pedals on, and I was playing... *starts strumming the tune on his guitar* That's all I was doing. And my dad walked in. *strums tune again* And he was like, "Oh, what's that?" And I said, "I dunno, something I'm working on." He goes, "There's something in there." I'm like, "I'm playing one chord, dad!" *laughs* He goes, "No, no, there's something going on." Then I went home, and I was just in a room in my house, just doing that again *strums again*, and my wife stuck her head in the door and said, "What's that?" and I was kinda going *starts singing the melody*, and she's like "That sounds like worship. That should be a worship song." My first thought was "I don't wanna do a worship song," y'know? And then I gave in, cuz she was right. Then I took it and had the other sections, and I was in the studio with Steve, John and Jimmy, and we were laying down guitar on something else, and in between the take I just started doing this again. *strums the melody again* They were talking, I could hear them talking about something, so I was thinking, "I'm just gonna keep working on that song." So I started working on it and they were like "Hey! Hey! What's that?" I'm like "I dunno, it's just this idea I got." And they were like, "We'll drop what we're doing. Let's record that!" We tracked it and I felt like it was good and everyone was digging it, but I was thinking "I should get my father-in-law, I haven't had him sing on a record since Step Up To The Microphone." He sang BGV's on "Woohoo" and something else. I felt like I wanted to inspire him to get back to recording music, and I thought this might be a good thing. So I sent the track down to Texas, to my buddy who played bass with me and who's an engineer, and they cut him singing the second verse. And that stuff he did in the outro, we weren't even there, they did all that and then sent the tracks back to us. And I was like, "Wow!" The ideas he had were just awesome. He definitely took it to a new place. That one is another one of those songs written in three minutes, recorded in about five, and well, there it is!
Peter: Yeah, that'll be their first record they dig.
Peter: Me too. I totally agree, and that's why I made this record. Because it's like somebody is going to want it. I totally agree. I definitely don't think this is the smartest move for me. *laughs* But it's the most genuine, and in the end, you're after the 1's or 2's, it's not about [selling tons of albums]. I know it's great. I've sold a lot of records and it's a nice feeling when they give you a little Gold plaque, and that's great, there's no dissing that, it's awesome. But it's afforded me to do what I want. And I do love artists that just do what they want to do. It's not that it's always right. It's not going to be always right; it doesn't mean it's going to be successful, but I love those Adam Again, Dig or certain records you've heard. Like the song "River on Fire" on Dig. It's like one of the greatest songs in Christian music that no one's ever heard. *laughs* But for me, it inspired me!
Peter: Yes they are. And that happens. And every artist has made them -- well, a lot of them have made those records. It's just the way that it is. Yeah, it was a big inspiration on this one to kind of forge your own path. And maybe help inspire some other people to do the same.
Peter: Yeah, we're in a time, too, where there's a lot of cooks in the kitchen.
Peter: I love people around. I love listening to people's opinions. I'm not someone who's like "I don't want to hear it. I'm doing my thing or the highway, man." I love to hear people, whoever it is--my wife to the band guys, whoever. "Man, what do you think about that?" "Yeah, that's cool!" So it's not that no one is unteachable, but when there's too many cooks in the kitchen, it just doesn't turn out right, y'know?
Peter: Yeah! And you can't be motivated by fear and be really creative. You've gotta be fearless.
Peter: I remember cutting it. We cut it at the place called The Dugout in Nashville. It's Brown Bannister's studio. And I remember Russ Long, who engineered that record. And I'm pretty sure he mixed that record too--still a good friend of ours, and real good friends with Steve. One night, it was somebody's birthday and we went out to sushi, and Russ liked eating hot food, so we dared Russ to get like a golfball size of wasabi and put it in his mouth and he had like a minute to keep it there and then he could swallow it, y'know? Russ could really eat hot food and this wiped him out. He did it and he acted cool for a while, but after the meal he went and sat outside on the steps and he looked really bad. And we had to go back and finish the session! So we went back and he's the engineer, and we went back to the session and he just lays down on the couch. So we're just working, and he's laying on a couch just like this. And John James, he goes and gets a razor and he shaves Russ's leg. *laughter* And we've got it on video! I know because I always had a camera with me then. I've got so much footage of them times. That's the memory that comes to my head. And writing "Shine!" I remember writing "Shine" in that studio. I had a little keyboard and our record contract said we had to do 10 songs and we only had 9. And we called it Going Public at the time, because we didn't have the song "Shine," so I had to come up with the tenth song. So I was sitting in this little dark room in the studio while they were out cutting some vocals and I just remember sitting down at this little keyboard and scrawling through patches of sounds and there was this sound call "Frippatronics" from Robert Fripp, and I went *mimics the sound* and I was like, "Yeah!" So I went and got Steve [Taylor] after I programmed it, "Come check this out!" and he was like "Man, this is great!!" He worked on the lyric and we cut it a couple days later, that was it. Good times of that, yeah.
Peter: Nobody in particular. Well, it was inspired by two people that had passed at the time. Vince Ebo, who had played with Charlie Peacock; he killed himself, and Kurt Cobain were the two big inspirations. Obviously we didn't know Kurt Cobain, but it was a massive deal in our lives. And Vince Ebo we knew. He actually played with Jimmy Abegg. They were the inspirations, sadly.
|Tom Read Releases Fresh EP, "Lament"|
Fri 20 Apr 2018 01:00:00 EST
|Tamela Mann Receives Two 2018 Billboard Music Awards Nominations|
Thu 19 Apr 2018 22:00:00 EST
|Walmart Refuses to Carry Chart-Topping Christian Rock Band Stryper's New Album|
Wed 18 Apr 2018 17:00:00 EST
|Travis Greene Receives Three Billboard Music Award Nominations Across All Gospel Categories|
Wed 18 Apr 2018 14:20:00 EST
|Seventh Day Slumber's Joseph Rojas Launches Nashville Label Group|
Tue 17 Apr 2018 23:40:00 EST
|MercyMe Earns Three Billboard Music Award Nominations, Eclipsing All Categories For Genre|
Tue 17 Apr 2018 23:20:00 EST