[click album cover for review]
INTERVIEW conceived on a one date event, 1-23-2022
(NOTE: his bio is very worth reading if you want the full details of this extremely prolific and talented artist. - use link below to access)
For a capsule and quick overview - Active musician: 1960s - present (2022)/ Born: January 4, 1966/ Genre: Pop/Rock/ Styles: Alternative, Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Baroque Pop, Chamber Pop
LH = Lee Henderson (interviewer)
PL = Peter Lacey (the artist being interviewed)
LH: Hi there Peter, so great to have you share a bit about yourself with Big Beautiful Noise.
PL: Hi Lee! ~ that's good news!
LH: I mentioned this in my latest review of your recording 'The Magical Misadventures Of',but can you tell everyone what album number that is for you?
PL: It is album number 12. Self released 2021.
LH: What is the theme this time around?
PL: [quote from the liner notes] "It's been said, anything can happen. The great banana peel of existence is always on the floor, somewhere. Peter Lacey's new album, 'The Magical Misadventures Of' certainly attests to this adage. However, through Peter's whimsical mind's eye, the album's upbeat songs deflect the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, finding many miracles and wonders along the way.
And the moral of the story? Nothing's impossible; pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!"
LH: You were a mystery musician to many in the USA the first years of Pink Hedgehog. Were you always independent, and stayed to yourself with your music ? Or were you in any bands that ever made any recordings?
PL: Well I played in bands over the years ~ at school and in my late teens. I then became a professional musician playing in 5 star hotels!. All good experience but a job nevertheless. I then branched into session work ~ for BBC television and recorded sessions for studios here in Sussex. My favorite appointment was recording for the late great English singer/songwriter, Clifford T Ward. In 1999 I got my first 4 track portastudio and relished the freedom it gave me despite the limitations. David Paramor was a producer at EMI in the sixties an was producing the Clifford T Ward sessions I was involved in... he heard my 4 track demos and thought they were good enough to release on his own label ~ and so my first solo album 'BEAM!' was release on RPM Records in 2000.
LH: Since so little is published about you, can you take us back to where you were born? Some description of your childhood, and how and when you first get into music? Your first instrument?
PL: I was born in Brighton, Sussex UK and lived in a suburb called Hangleton. I shared a bedroom with my older brother who bought great records from the 60's - The Beatles, Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Beach Boys, Hendrix and so on. I was very little but completely mesmerized! It was those experiences that inspired my own involvement with music. My uncle bought me a mandolin and I was away!
LH: Who is Peter Lacey? You present a special and gentle positive attitude, and I bet no one escapes the good feel from your songs.How do you keep such a upbeat way of life?
PL: My university education was in Philosophy which I went on to teach for many years. In my case the history of ideas is most enlightening and has the same effect that music has on me. You can go into many dark places in philosophical thought, I decided to walk into light...
LH: Can you tell us how you met t the wonderful and and gentle spirit Simon Felton,(Pink Hedgehog Records)?
PL: Simon had bought 'BEAM!' (album) and fell in love with it. He emailed me with an invite to join Pink Hedgehog Records which I was happy to do as his ethos was full of optimism and light. The place for me to be.
LH: Exactly what year did that happen ? (joining Pink Hedgehog) And I think you told me that label kept going for 25 years? Such a fine label, filled with gentle passion, and music that was often subtle but so with love. Your music fit like a glove, do you agree?
PL: My second album, 'Thru A Glass Brightly' came out on Pink Hedgehog in 2001. Simon put his heart and soul into releasing it. As I say, there was so much love for music in Simon's approach he drew many artists to him with the same mind and heart-set. The label's roster reflects this ethos.
LH: This is about how you record. What tracks do you lay down first and so on?
PL: I record the drums first!
LH: What comes next after drum track (s)
PL: I have a music room in my loft and I use a Tascam 8 track portastudio with cassette tape, I then mix onto my Akai 4000S tape recorder and copy to digital cd for the master copy. Because the recording is just me I use all 8 tracks and bounce tracks especially for vocals. I tend to write the songs in my head and then use piano or guitar to frame the right chords. I then record the drum track first hearing the tune in my head and then add all the instruments that the specific song requires.
I use a metronome to play along with. I know exactly what the groove must be to make the song work! ~ spend a lot of time on that!
I always start with a song title and create the melody in my head. Once the song is recorded I fit the words to the melody ~ so the title is the initial inspiration and the lyric the icing on the cake!
LH: I have to ask, how do you feel about the war on Compact Discs? And the surprise revival of vinyl? Will you stop pressing the physical format and do digital download only music in the future? Your thoughts, good or bad?
PL: My recording process is largely analog ~ but the digital master was the order of the day in order to make further copies for release. I must say I was always ok with the results. I was thrilled to put out a vinyl single a few years back ~ it felt like I'd arrived!. The good folk who support my work still want cd's and so that's the way it will remain. I know Simon Felton feels the same... the streaming of music for free is the real blight, especially for independent labels such as Pink Hedgehog.
LH: As with most musicians who stay with their true love, and write music from the heart, can I ask what you do for a living all these years, to allow your beautiful craft to breathe and stay so alive? In short, your "profession" to make a living ?
PL: I have taught Philosophy in Further Education for many years. I'm very interested in aesthetics ~ especially of music and have assisted under graduates with their studies in this area. For me, the sharp contrast between academic work and the emotional engagement involve in making music, brings the whole into sharp contrast ~ leaving me free to play in a positive way. It may sound strange, but it works for me!
LH: Moving back to the inspirations, the method, and/or the way a song comes to you. Firstly, do you have a lot of songs from the past, that just did not make the cut, or got passed up in the "to finish later" pile?
And then, do you get big map ideas of a concept, and have a litter of tunes to fit into that release? Tell us how your song writing technique, layout, or for better wordage, how does it all come to you? or is it many different ways? And if so, attempt to explain those ways.
PL: I did at one time have tunes I'd made as a teenager and turned them into new songs at the time. But I found a new way which was inspired by calligraphy in that apparently calligraphers spend a lot of time thinking through their next piece and then take moments to actualize the work on paper. So I spend lots of time dreaming of a song with the title as inspiration and once no longer inchoate, choose the right rhythm and quickly make the record. I find being immersed in the speed of creative decisions almost like being in a dream that then produces a song! So the songs are purpose made, one at a time and are completed there and then...no bits and pieces left over. I saw a recent interview with Paul McCartney who does songwriting classes for his students in Liverpool and then first thing he tells them is he doesn't know how songwriting works!. It's that mystery around the creative process. I think the philosopher Kant might in some way be nailing the process in his theory of The Sublime ~ where we forego the mentality of everyday practical thinking for a way that suspends such concerns...leaving us free to play with ideas ...
LH: From any and all interviews and conversations you have ever had, what is the one question you wish had been asked, but never has been?
PL: Well, it would be to be asked how I feel about talking about my music. I think it was Elvis Costello who said; "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture" and I understand the discrepancy so I would say I always feel honored to be asked questions but always feel slightly cornered by trying to explain what goes on! ~ but that is the nature of the game.... ask Paul! They always say a magician never gives away the tricks of his trade... and outside of the craftsmanship involved in music making, the songwriter is as bewitched as the listener! That's the magic of play.
LH: It has been an absolute pleasure to speak with you in this extended time Peter, and I hope the readers of Big Beautiful Noise will appreciate the effort you took in your answers to my questions. I am hopeful I allowed a layer of mystery to be uncovered, and some insight as to how you compose your music. Thank you for your candor, your gentle spirit, and craft of song. It is always a thing of beauty. Much appreciation for your time with this interview !!!
PL: It's my pleasure Lee... thanks for taking the time to ask me.... I will make sure the BBN review will be shouted from the rooftops! ~ my friends on Facebook for starters!..
©Interview by Lee Henderson 1-23-2022