The new/old project is taking a bit longer than I thought. Many details to take care of. We're getting closer though. I'm doing a lot of rehearing for the summer tour with Ringo. New band, new music. Really excited about it. My old friend Steve Lukather of Toto is with us this time, along with Todd Rundgren and Greg Rollie from Santana. Can't wait to start playing Africa and Rosanna. Love those songs. Guess I'll be singing the Bobby Kimball parts. Not an easy task. Hang in there everybody, the new/old album is coming. Thanks for your patience.
So I haven't spoken up much lately. I'm kind of like that if you haven't noticed. A lot of my time is spent doing non-musical things, like dealing with my kids, who are becoming scarce around here lately. It is sometimes disconcerting not having them around so much. My youngest is almost 20 years old and still living with us, but not much. Because my wife and I have identified ourselves as their care givers for so many years, letting go of that role isn't easy. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that they're finding their way through the maze, but it's difficult to not want to interact with them the way we did when they were little. Just relieved that they are all pretty well equipped to deal with it.
In these days of independance from big record companies, which I love by the way, one of the big pluses is the autonomy in my creative decisions. This can be a blessing...most of the time. The main point; I don't have to bring my ideas before "the Committee." This always was a problem for me being in a band. Not that the other members weren't qualified, it's just that there were other members which altered and slowed down the process. Trust me, I wouldn't change my time with the bands I've been in. All rewarding experiences. But, there were times when I wished I could just do everything myself and streamline the process. The down side is; there is a wonderful energy in collaboration. So this brings me to a project I'm currently working on and thought I'd put the word out there for anyone who's interested.
Recently, I've been going through old songs, some of which I haven't heard for years. Some gave me that "oh wow...that's pretty good" moment and I started to think how I could create an album of these older songs? It occurred to me, and this is something my wife has always maintained, that many of the demos I've done would be difficult to improve on, especially vocally. When I'm writing and recording at the same time, the first burst of energy and excitement tends to create an indelible vibe. How can you reproduce something that just spontaneously happened? Oh sure, you can go back and try to duplicate it, but many times it falls short.
So I thought, why not just pick an albums worth of these demos, polish them up a bit with some mastering and put them out? That's what I'm working on now and I'm really excited about it. As you may know, I've written songs for many other artists, and most of these were intended for that purpose. Also, as with the Mr. Mister album PULL, some of these songs are already being bootlegged around on the Internet, but the audio quality is awful. So that's what I've been doing. I'm hoping to get this finished in the next month or so, before the summer Ringo tour. I think you'll enjoy many of these songs as I do. I've decided to add some written anecdotes along with each song about where, when and why they were written. Might make it a bit more interesting. Hope everyone is well and happy. Talk soon. RP
I had been warned by a couple of friends that we might encounter some arrogance and pride from the Argentines. It's the same kind of nonsense you get about the French; that they're a bit stuck up and can be unhelpful to Americans (North Americans that is) when visiting their country. My take on the French is that many of them have their radar up when first encountering a foreigner to see how pushy and intense we are as they obviously have their preconceptions about us too. But I've found that they are incredible warm people once you connect with them. Funny how that works.
I know these stereotypes are sort of ingrained in us and we seem to believe them without any real justification. So, looking for things to do here on our days off, Gregg Bisonette and I found a very cool jazz club called Thelonius, named after the legendary jazz pianist. It reminded me of a hip club you'd find in New York City back in the 60's. You have to climb a flight of stairs to get up to it. Dimly lit with a long bar and cozy stage, the vibe was very cool. The band, Juan Pablo Hernadez Quinteto (drums, piano, sax, upright bass and electric guitar) were all in their mid to late thirties and all exceptionally talented. Their music was pure jazz but with an obvious Latin flavor, especially rhythmically. Using odd time signatures and poly-rhythms, they reminded me of some of my favorite jazz artists like Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock and Weather Report. Gregg and I hung out with them on their break and found them to be incredibly warm and friendly. They mentioned that jazz music isn't the most popular style in Argentina so it's difficult to find a following. Too bad, because if these guys were living in New York or LA they'd definitely have a lot of fans. Don't know how many of you like jazz, but I do and these guys were very good.
Everywhere we went, I detected none of the arrogance I had been warned about. If anything, people from Argentina are some of the warmest kindest folks I've ever met.
Check out some of the clips I shot from the stage on the fan page.
So here I am again writing from Santiago Chile, our second stop on this short three week tour of South America. Our first show was in Mexico City a few days ago where we played for 10,000 incredibly enthusiastic fans. What a great way to start the tour. The Beatles never played South America, so most of these people haven't had the chance to see Ringo (Paul McCartney has toured here several times). It still is amazing to witness first hand the joy people feel seeing one of the members of probably the most influential band ever. When you think about how popular they still are, you start to realize that they are on that same iconic level of people like JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and Martin Luther King Jr. Ringo is in rare form and obviously enjoying every minute of it. We had a crowd of at least 100 people standing in front of our hotel chanting Ringo, Ringo and singing "Yellow Submarine" and "Help From My Friends" all day. Seriously, all day. Amazing.
Chile is a special place for me. As some of you may know, a very interesting thing happen here when the Mister's played the Vina del Mar Festival back in 1988. Pinochet, the dictator who ruled here for many years was still in power (although he was overthrown a few years later). Before we left the states I was approached by Amnesty International asking if I would say something while in Chile in support of some of the missing and oppressed artists who were unable to speak openly against the regime. At that time, Amnesty International was enjoying massive popularity, especially with artists like U2, Peter Gabriel and many other successful musicians. Wanting to get involved, I somewhat naively agreed, not knowing what I was getting myself into.
When you've grown up in a country that respects free speech you can't imagine how terrified people can become when they don't have that privilege. I began to realize how serious this was when Linda and I were visited in our hotel room in Chile by a local man wearing a hat and fake mustache and walking with a cane. He was our contact from Amnesty International and was obviously afraid for his life by meeting with us in such a public place. Who knows, maybe he was wanted by Pinochet and could have been taken away at any minute by the military which seemed to be everywhere. He came into the room and we talked about what I would say during the show and he translated it into Spanish on the spot for me to memorize. It was something like, "We stand in solidarity with the artists and musicians who have been oppressed or worse by the current regime." I was starting to wonder how this might turn out and had some second thoughts about doing it, but figured, what the hell are they going to do with a popular rock band from the US, throw us in jail? The international community would come to our rescue, right? They could never get away with it, right? Still I had some doubts.
The concert was attended by thousands of people, some of whom were well connected government types (they all had the expensive seats), yet the vast majority were just common folks who probably had had enough with Pinochet. After about the third or forth song, I stepped up to the mic to make my statement. Just as I had finished the sentence the lights went out. I mean, out. Total darkness. I could see some of the people connected with the regime in the front rows booing us and giving us the thumbs down, but I could hear the deafening roar of approval from the regular folks up in the cheap seats. That was my first hint that what I said meant a lot to them. Steve Farris told me later that a TV crew guy made a "slit throat" gesture at him, meaning you're in big trouble now. I was escorted off the stage and down a corridor past a gauntlet of army guys with automatic weapons into a room where there stood a very portly, beet-red faced producer of the festival who screamed at me, "I invite you to my house for dinner and you shit on my table." Trying to calm him (and myself) down I said something like, "Hey, what's the big deal, we say whatever we want in our country." To which he replied, "This isn't your f.....ing country." I tried to turn it around on him by saying, "Why didn't you question us about our politics before you invited us?" He didn't respond and stomped out of the room. For all I know, that producer, at the least, probably lost his job or perhaps.......well, who knows. I have always felt bad that he was probably held responsible.
Later that night as we huddled in our hotel room, we began thinking about what the consequences of what that damning statement would be. Terrified, someone said, Oh my God, what if they plant cocaine or heroin on us, arrest us and throw us in jail? None of us slept that night considering what they might do. Linda was especially upset because our two very young daughters, with their older brother were back in California staying with a nanny.
Next day I was taken by car to the office of the mayor. She was a very intelligent, articulate woman who spoke perfect English. She began to tell me that she understood my wanting to speak out, but thought I did it the wrong way. A press conference would've been less controversial and wouldn't have created such a problem for everyone. She also told me that the government had already "spun" the story in the papers that morning, cleverly saying that I had been given the note to read and didn't know what I was saying, thereby making me look like a pawn of "the subversives" getting me off the hook and, most importantly, allowing us to play our entire set that night. We were the headlining act, and because it was being broadcast all over South America, we had to go on. She asked me to apologize publicly, but I refused, thinking I would look really stupid if I retracted what I'd said. I promised her I wouldn't say anymore and would only sing. I know what I said had made an impact when we went out into the streets that day and people came up to me and thanked me for speaking out. It really meant a lot to them. We played that night and the crowd loved it. We won "el torche' (the torch), the prize for the festivals best artist. We all breathed a huge sigh of relief once the plane left the runway towards home.
During our show last night I reminded the crowd of that night. I also said how happy I was that their country had recovered from that dark time so well. I was greeted with a very warm response. Obviously, many remembered. I'm so glad I got to come back and see this beautiful country and be with these wonderful, politically liberated people.