“Hi, Jeff. This is Peter Frampton.”
Well.. Okay. That pretty much wins for the coolest thing anyone’s ever said to me on the phone.
Wednesday brings the shred legend to Virginia Beach at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in support of his newest record: “Acoustic Classics.”
As the title indicates, this time he’s leaving the talk-box at home and relying on a barebones approach to songs we loved and lived in between bong hits back in our college dorm days.
AltDaily: So you’re living in Nashville now? And this is a new tour?
Peter Frampton: Yeah, last October, I started doing the Raw Acoustic Tour. The album is really out there because I was doing the tour. I booked the twelve tour dates, really without knowing if I’d like it, you know — I’ve never done a tour without my full band. Electric and everything. But I almost immediately discovered that I love it.
It’s very different than the band tour, because there’s a lot of talking. Telling stories. I do a few numbers on my own, and then my writing partner Gordon Kennedy, incredible writer, comes out so I can play some lead guitar. He’s an amazing guitar player, too. The album is kind of.. These days, it’s to promote the tour.
Is there anything different to the recording approach for a primarily acoustic album as compared to what you’ve done before?
This album, except for one song, is all material from other albums. I wanted to strip everything down and go right back to where it’s like I had just written them. That was the M.O., as it were. As though if you come over. Get some coffee, and I pull out the acoustic and say, “Hey. I just wrote this. I want to get your reaction.”
I try to make it very simple. As it was when I wrote it. We’re doing smaller theaters than I do with the band. To make it as though it’s a large living room, and that performance can be something special. Slightly nervous.. Not that I’m that nervous when I play live because I’ve done it.. A few times, now.
laughing Yeah.. You know.. I’ve played a couple of gigs here and there. During the recording process I felt like.. I went to the recording tech and said, “This sounds like you just lowered the faders on the rest of the band and I’m all that’s left. It doesn’t sound like I just wrote it.” So I went off and gave it some thought. And came back and lowered the keys on some of them, just so I didn’t have to be so forceful on the singing. I could relax and be how I was when I wrote it.
So far, alot of the audience reaction has been that they’re not sure which they like more – the electric or the acoustic versions. And for some of these songs being twenty years old, that’s very cool!
What excites you musically these days? What do you listen to?
I go back.. There are two guitar players.. One who made me want to start playing, and another that I got to know along the way because of my parents. Hank Marvin of the Shadows — an English band, who were like the.. Instrumental Beatles before the Beatles came out. They had loads of number one hits. And their guitarist was the first guy in England with a ’58 Fender Stratocaster. And everyone wanted to be Hank. If you speak to Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton? Sure. They’ll all mention him. He’s actually a dear friend now. I recorded with him on my instrumental album.
The other, which is a lifelong thesis, is Django Reinhardt. My parents made me listen to him when I was eight, and I hated it. Cause it was Jazz. But he became the guiding musician of my life. I listen to him every day. At least a couple of tracks. I’ll never ever be as good as him, but if you shoot for the stars..
He could play.. So fast. Probably the first known shredder. But the other thing is, he can pick one note.. But it’s the right note. And he holds that note through three or four chord changes. He had both the emotional range in his music as well as the dexterity, and he only had two usable fingers on his left hand. The best guitar player ever.
What’s next for you after this tour?
I’m going to go back to Nashville. And work on writing and recording even more stuff. It doesn’t really matter if there’s millions of people out there who want to buy my music. Or if it’s just one or two. I’m still going to do what I do. I’m not one to rest on my laurels. Other acts have said, well.. I’m not going to write anything new. Just gonna play old stuff. I couldn’t enjoy that.
Each day when I wake up, I want to be able to play something on the guitar that I’ve never played before.