In July of 2005 Steve Orchard had the opportunity to interview Dan Peek and Dan gave permission for the interview to be posted on the America Fans web site. Steve is a radio/music personality who also writes a weekly Music News column for The Iron Mountain-Kingsford Daily News.
Steve: Hi Dan, Steve Orchard here. Thanks again for yet another opportunity to spend some time with you. First off, itís been several years since your last solo album, "Guitar Man" came out. America fans embraced that disc as something they felt the trio might have recorded in later years. Is that an accurate statement, or is it really more of an extension of 'Dan Peek, solo artist?'
Dan: It's interesting to hear comments about "Guitar Man" or for that matter my other solo stuff, comparing it to AMERICA and the inherent similarities. "Guitar Man", I felt was a kind of departure from the AMERICA sound, delving as it does into a grittier, more electric genre. Of course, there are some acoustic moments and a very AMERICAesque ballad, "Sharkey's Tune", but for the most part I was letting out some of my more aggressive musical leanings. As a friend of mine recently commented, I'm a closet rocker.
Having said all that, if I go back and listen to "Driftin'" or "Bodden Town", both very acoustic recordings, I hear Dewey and Gerry singing in the harmonies. It's almost spooky in the sense that I know they aren't on the tracks physically, but the timbre of the voices, the phrasing and tonal qualities of the vocals are eerily like AMERICA. Check out "Blue Eyes, Blue Skies" on the "Driftin'" CD and you'll hear what I mean.
Perhaps some of the AMERICA fans have heard the same thing and recognize a logical progression of their/our music in "Guitar Man". I have MP3 downloads and clips from "Driftin'", "Bodden Town" and "Guitar Man" at my website (danpeek.com).
Steve: I understand that a follow-up album has been recorded. What can you tell me about this, and is it something that fans can expect this year (2005)?
Dan: I've been fussing with "Guitar Man II" for several years now and have ended up with more material than I need for a single CD. I'm currently debating what to include and by default what to leave out. There is a wide array of styles from Southern Rock to totally acoustic, so stylistically it fits the "Guitar Man" mold. In fact, "Daddy's Hands" (available as a free download) is a piano ballad so, again the project has that free-ranging aspect of Guitar Man 1". As to a release date, I'm still not sure.
Steve: Your on-line autobiography, "An American Band: The America Story" was published late last year and has been the subject of frequent debate via the bandís (America) message boards. I get the feeling that the book could have dished out even more of the bandís inner squabbles, but you chose to temper it. Any regrets on what you did write?
Dan: Frankly, I sometimes wish I hadn't gotten into some of the personal stuff, but that ship has sailed. As I said in the book, I could have written another volume about more of the internal and external pressures we faced that would have been truly "Nuclear", but I chose not to do so. As much as it pained me literally to dredge up the salient and salacious material that led to my departure, I truly believe the book would have been Pablum had I not done so.
Steve: Episode 53 of the book talks about How "It'll never be over, the music makes it forever". Surely you are aware that even 30 years on, there is still that core group of fans out there who would like nothing better than to see a reunion. While I'm sure that pleases you, at the same time is that a bittersweet feeling?
Dan: The "Reunion" sentiment, dream or unfulfilled hope that seems to reside in a great many hearts is certainly present from time to time in my own heart. Certainly, it is a bittersweet musing.
Steve: That question aside, has time diminished or enhanced your desire to want to play again with Gerry and Dewey?
Dan: Probably, more than performing with the guys, what really gets me is the fact that I've written so many songs, recorded since the break-up that I would be proud to lay out in front of them and that I know would be acceptable to the fans as truly worthy of AMERICA. In fact I really, honestly believe that MY best work as a writer and artist has taken place post-AMERICA. Without the pressures of touring and outside label recording schedules, I've been able to create music in an atmosphere that was totally conducive to doing my best work. Moreís the pity that it has not been able to be included in any AMERICA (trio) project. As far as dusting off the harmonica and 12-string for live performing I certainly would give it serious consideration.
Steve: In 1998,the guys released their "Human Nature" album. I remember in an interview with Dewey at the time, he made mention of the fact that the 3 of you had gotten kind of close to reforming for a project. Can you give us your take on what happened, and were you really that 'close' to getting it together again?
Dan: Jon Hartmann contacted me by phone while I was living in the British West Indies. He told me that he had put a label deal together for a reunion album with Gary Katz (Steely Dan and other big-leaguers) as producer. The deal was basically in stone and Jon said that Dewey and Gerry had agreed to do it in advance of his contacting me. In fact, it was at that time for me a relative annoyance as I was happily employed holding down a hammock on a white sand beach and strumming my guitar in the shade of coconut trees and contemplating the ever-changing colors of the blue Caribbean Sea. But, I assented.
Then, much to my chagrin, I was informed that Dewey & Gerry had flip-flopped, and the deal was nixed by them. Needless to say I was extremely aggravated by the whole thing. We corresponded briefly, but as you know, the project never happened. In some ways I think that whole debacle was a catalyst for my writing the book, "An American Band: The AMERICA Story".
Steve: 5 years ago America received the box-set treatment with the 3 CD set "Highway." Surely you guys had enough unreleased material to cover a 4th CD, right?
Dan: No doubt. In fact, the compiling and re-packaging of Trio los AMERICA product shall remain a complete mystery to me. Apparently, Warners is just now, as we speak, re-releasing for the first time the Warner years catalog on CD.
Steve: How involved were you in the process of the Box set and the liner notes?
Dan: Incredibly, but alas typically, I was allowed no input as to the content of the compilations of recordings for ANY of the repackages, but Warner/Rhino did enlist my help for the liner notes by interrogating me via phone for multiple lengthy interviews.
Steve: I think your first 4 solo releases (The Christian albums) are arguably your best solo work. And while I have import copies of "All Things Are Possible" and "Doer Of The Word", those titles are now out of print, while later releases like "Electrovoice" and "Crossover" have never been available. How can Dan Peek fans obtain those recordings now?
Dan: I have been working daily to make "All Things Are Possible" and "Doer of the Word" available via my website. We are getting close, and we hope to include "Electro-voice" and "Crossover" to our catalogue as well. Anyone interested should check out danpeek.com frequently for announcements about these albums.
Steve: Since 1989,Gerry & Dewey have added some of your songs to their live set: "Woman Tonight"," Lonely People", "Don't Cross the River" and "California Revisited." In an '89 interview, Dewey said those songs were added because fans were constantly asking for them, especially "Lonely People." How grateful are you to the guys for keeping your legacy within the band alive?
Dan: In fact, I am extremely grateful that Dewey and Gerry are out there doing those tunes and all the AMERICA hits.
Steve: One requested song the guys haven't added to the set is your optimistic ballad "Todayís The Day", which was the last Top 40 single the band had as a trio back in 1976. Were the guys all in favor of that song being released as the first single from the "Hideaway" project?
Dan: Honestly, I have no idea why they would resist adding that tune to the set. Give the fans what they want, I say. As far as the single releases from "Hideaway" the details of the decision process have kind of faded away, at least to me. "The memories don't die, but with time become hazy".
Steve: Ok, one final question. Is there a project you'd like to tackle but haven't yet?Otherwise, whatís next in store for Dan Peek?
Dan: Actually, I have received numerous requests for a sequel to the book, "An American Band". I am mulling over the whole concept of a sequel. I'm also contemplating recording an audio version of the existing book. Additionally, I am itching to write a book about my 15 years of living on an island in the Caribbean: "Our Time in the Sun" is the working title. Considering that the island (Grand Cayman) was nearly obliterated by Hurricane Ivan (Hurricanes Hardly ever Happen?), I would like to set down my memories of some amazing times on an island "Paradise". Finally, there's still a few songs left in my old guitar.
Steve: Dan, as always, thanks again for your time! We still hope for many more years of recorded works!
Dan: Thanks Steve, for the opportunity to share with your audience
Last Revised: 5 July 2005