GUESS WHO, The future is what it used to be…

By Dr. Alan Carlos Hernandez on August 27, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO (Herald de Paris) –  Garry Peterson is a Canadian drummer who a founding member of the Canadian rock band The Guess Who, he has also recorded and toured with another Canadian rock band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive from 1984-1986.  Peterson was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and began drumming at the age of three.

He helped put together the Canadian rock band, The Guess Who, in the mid-1960s. He played with the group through to its breakup in 1975. He has participated in reunions involving principal band members Randy Bachman, Jim Kale and Burton Cummings, and continues to perform with the band along with fellow-original member, bassist Jim Kale. He has played with the band longer than any other member and currently resides in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Guess Who is responsible for countless rock classics, which still retain a major presence on rock radio – “American Woman,” and, “No Time,” and, “These Eyes,” etc. The band is set to return on September 14th with their latest album, ‘The Future IS What It Used To Be’, released via Cleopatra Records (available in CD, Vinyl, and Digital formats).

Garry has been with the band since the beginning and have played on all the Albums, he is also one of the owners of The Guess Who name.

‘The Future IS What It Used To Be’, band is Garry Peterson (Drums, Vocals), D# (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano), Will E. (Guitar, Harp, Vocals), Leonard Shaw (Keyboards, Flute, Sax, Vocals), and Rudy Sarzo (Bass, Vocals). The album’s first single, “Playin’ on the Radio”, will be released on July 17th. It can be heard on Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services. Also featured on the album are several special guests including, Tommy Shaw (Styx) on vocals, Brent Fitz (Slash, Gene Simmons) percussion, Jim Kale (Guess Who founding member) and Michael Devin (Whitesnake) on bass guitar.

“The single is a celebration of the radio and what it meant to us all”, explains Devin “Whenever a new great song hit the airwaves, the DJ would say a few words then off to the races! You’d tune in just to hear it over and over again. The character in the song could be any one of us as we move ahead in life. Great music has the innate power to transport you back to so many great memories in an instant.

A music video for the track has been filmed (directed by Nigel Dick and shot in Las Vegas), and the song can be pre-ordered on iTunes. The video can be viewed here:

“I love what I do, and I love trains and I love rock n’ roll,” explains Nigel about the video. “So, I was honored to be asked to shoot The Guess Who. And when they told me they were available for a day in Vegas and by chance I stumbled on this wonderful rail-yard full of old engines just up the road from the strip – I was in heaven – and up to my axles in dust! It was a perfect day.”

The band is pleased with the results. “My very first music video…who knew?!” says Garry. “Having the privilege of working with the legendary Nigel Dick, took me back to growing up in an era where music videos told a creative visual story that I always looked forward to seeing by my favorite artists,” adds Will. “This track was no exception, adding a colorful, action packed sequence to a great story.”

Garry said, “I never dreamed that I would get a chance to record an album, after 40 years, in the same way, and with the same recording gear that we used in the 60s and 70s. This was truly a blessing for me and a humbling, cathartic experience for my musical soul. Thank you to all my bandmates, and everyone who helped make it a reality. I hope our fans enjoy it as much as I do.”

Herald de Paris Senior Editor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez was honored to meet and have a conversation with Garry Peterson

AC: I’m sure you have heard this a million times, who came up with the Name, why the name and looking back has the name served you well over the years?

GP: The name was created as a promotion gimmick to get our very first record played on US radio. The record was Shakin All Over and the year was 1965. It was the time of The British music invasion in America, and the head of the record company, had the idea to put on the record label “Guess Who? “out of curiosity the radio stations played it, the record was a big hit, and the band’s name was forever, branded!

In my opinion, the name is important, because the fans love, the body of work, that the band, creates Without that it wouldn’t matter what our name was.

AC: What was the original vision of the band, what kind of music did you listen to starting out and what type of band did you want to be?

GP: As to who influenced us, it was in the beginning, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis, Buddy Holly, and on and on. Then as we progressed in our careers, The Beatles, Stones, in truth The Rock n Roll hall of Fame. This is a frustrating question to answer because the list of influences is endless and still growing. In my opinion, as I listen to our records, it was The Beatles.

AC: You have always been a sophisticated group of jazz influenced musicians but got caught up into a very commercial bag how did that happen? Did you get the respect you deserved considering the level of sophistication of many of your album cuts?

GP: We were influenced by all genres of music jazz, country, blues, classical, Latin. All the music of the world. Right out of the box we had hit singles, which were played on AM radio. FM radio did not play us much. I believe they looked at us purely, as Pop artists. I don’t think most people looked past the hits to all the different material, that made up the bulk of the 13 or so albums we had on the RCA label. As I listen to our music I realize how far we reached outside of the pop world of music. We may have confused our fans and critics, but we were exercising our musical souls.

AC: Did the song writers want to write Pop hits or did the musical convergence just turn out that way?

GP: We started out with pop hits, so it was very difficult for us to escape, that label, which was successful. As we progressed, the singles got less commercial, and less successful. We must have appeared schizophrenic to some our fans and the media. This may have stifled the popularity of the band, but it was great, that the record company allowed us to create music without interfering in the process. I feel very honored, and fortunate, to have been part of creating, this body of music.

AC: Tell us about “American Woman” It almost an anthem, was it a tongue-in-cheek type tune? Some say it has a political nuance to it?

GP: American Woman, was a jam, that happened on stage, in between two shows, that we played at a curling rink, in a suburb of Toronto. We couldn’t find our singer, so three of us went on stage, started to jam on a riff, he heard us playing, ran up on stage, and started to sing whatever he felt, Voila, the start of American Woman! We kept it in the show, it morphed, as we played it, and then we went into the RCA studio, in Chicago, and recorded the song. I believe American Women, to be, a comment on what we, as young guys from Canada saw going on in the United States, as we toured the country. In my mind, as music is art, people have the right to interpret the meaning in the light of history and their experience in life.

AC: Cats like Neil Young and others came from Canada and made it big in the US, but you choose to stay in Canada, did you think that not going to LA and not touring the world affected the band overall stature and presence in the music industry during those years? Could you have been a bigger act?

GP: The way I see it you are right. During all the time, that we were having our hit records, we remained living a quiet life in Winnipeg. We weren’t hanging out in the big media centers of America, or the world. We were truly “Guess Who”. As I reflect on it today, I am amazed that we achieved, the popularity, that we have still today,

AC: Do you fault management for not maximizing the bands potential?

GP: I think There is blame for everyone for the band not having a higher profile. The band itself, management, and I believe especially RCA records. They had the model of Elvis as a template. Singles, singles, singles. They did not promote the body of music on our albums .They repackaged the hits over and over again , and yet , till just recently , our catalogue of music , was only available in vinyl. Through the eras of, 8 track, cassette, and CDS you could not get all our albums. With the Advent of digital downloads, you could eventually get all of the albums. Then, they allowed Iconoclastic records, to put them out in the last several years. This method of promoting us was not good.

AC: You are the only band member that has played on all the bands Records and literally own the name of the band, what do you think of other period bands that go out under a major name, play their book, yet have only one surviving member?

GP: Jim Kale, and I, by a quirk of, ended up owning, the name, and trade mark of the band. I feel like we are the caretakers, of the legacy, that so many of the members, have contributed as well. In my view, and as a famous band once wrote, “And in The End “, the music of a band, in retrospect is bigger than the band.

AC: One of your quirkiest tunes was “Laugh for the Wolfman” as a former DJ and Radio programmer my colleagues and I loved it, how did that tune come about, how did you get Wolfman Jack involved?

GP: Clap for The Wolfman, was a song we started to jam at sound checks. It was originally called Clap for Napoleon. In Winnipeg, in the winter radio waves would travel very far on the cold air in the late hours, of the night. We listened to all the great DJ’S from all over America. One of them, was Wolfman Jack from New Mexico. This song is an homage, to these people, who are part of Rock n Roll history.

AC: Many Rockers endured years of substance abuse and bad times, but you have always been vibrant touring and well balanced what is the secret to the bands longevity? Can fame and fortune kill you?

GP: I can only speak for myself, but I do believe that all people have different tolerance levels to substances. I personally have never used drugs or alcohol, on a regular basis. I enjoy Chateau Margaux or Cognac, with and after a good meal, but rather as an enhancement, than the main focus. As to drugs I have experienced some, but for me there are so many amazing things in the world, that can give you a euphoric high, such as music. We have lost, many of our fellow artists to substances. It is a great loss. On our Share the Land album, there is a song titled “Hang on To Your Life “that takes about this subject. Life is a precious gift.

AC: You have never been admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and based on record sales you should be how do you feel about The Hall?

GP: As to The Rock Hall of Fame, as time moves on, there are more and more artist, deserving of entry. I believe the longer it takes, maybe the less likely. It would be an honor to be in amongst, all the artists we looked up to, and inspired us. For me the honor is having been a part of creating our body of music. Perhaps, the greatest honor we have received, has been from the fans, of all ages, who have supported us, loved our music, and are still coming to see us, after 50 years of touring! Power in The Music!

AC: What is the very best gig you ever did?

GP: Best gig, almost impossible to answer, every gig. Maybe the Seattle Pop Festival (1969 100,000 people) or SARS concert with Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Rush, in Toronto (460,000 people July 30 ,2003)

AC: Ever tire of touring? How does the touring now, different from back then?

GP: Touring gets harder, as I get older. Traveling today seems harder to me today, but playing for our fans, and their support every night, is like a miracle drug that revives me, and inspires me to continue.

AC: Tell us about the name of the New CD ‘The Future IS What It Used to Be’?

GP: The name of the new album was to be, as you guessed, The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be, which is what the great New York Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra, used to say. I said why aren’t we more optimistic and call it, The Future Is What It Used to Be.

AC: Tell us about some of the heavy hitter new guys you have in the band and what they bring to the table?

GP:  The band consists of the Following members:

Derek Sharp (D#) Lead Singer, lead guitarist, piano, producer

Will Evankovich (Will E) lead guitarist, vocals, harmonica, producer. Will has produced and helped co-write the newest Styx album with

Tommy Shaw, who also sings on four cuts of our new album

Leonard Shaw, keyboards, vocals, flute, saxes. Has been in the band over 20 years

Rudy Sarzo , bass vocals legend who has played with Quit Riot , Whitesnake, Blue Oyster Cult and Ozzy Osborne.

and me on drums, vocals

AC: Tell us about the first single Playin on the Radio?

GP: The band is a product of the radio and press generation. We had no videos or internet as a promo tool. We got our pop culture from the radio and press. Playin On The Radio is a trip  back to that era. Cool cars, cruising, listening to the car radio, local diner, chicks, good friends. We were having a great time. How could that ever end?

AC: Speaking of Radio so much of music today is delivered via new media how has new media including You Tube effect the way a band creates art?

GP: Today with the newest delivery service, for music, being the internet and social media, todays artists are able, to get to a much larger audience, instantly. If they don’t have a lot of money, you are able to do more promo yourself. For us this is a great tool to expose the band more, past and present.

AC: What kinds of tunes are on the new CD, are you going retro or are you reinventing the bands traditional style? Lyrically, what kinds of sentiment are you trying to reflect? Does lyrics have to change with the times?

GP: I think this album is a trip back in time to how we recorded the past hits of the band. On the same console and analog. The songs are inspired not only by our past recordings, but by all the great artists we listened to, who made us want to play Rock. We hope our fans can listen to it and discover those influences. The writing as always is about what people experience in all aspects of life. It is also reflective of the writer’s adventures, inside and outside of the band, past, present, and future.

AC: Tell us about the new Video, I understand this is the first you have ever done? Tell is about Nigel Dick?

GP: Yes, the first video was amazing for me. At 72 years old I didn’t think I would ever do another album, let alone a music video. Who knew! It was a great inspiration for me to watch Nigel create the video, this was all new to me, and his talent and the work he did in The Vegas desert was astonishing.

AC: In a perfect world what would you like to happen with the new music?

GP: I loved doing the album as we recorded it, there was a moment when I had tears in my eyes , because I never dreamed I would have another chance to do this again. We had a blast recording this album and I hope the people who listen to it, hear that in the grooves, and enjoy it as much as we do.

AC: Looking back on your career, what are the highs and the lows, any regrets?

GP: I wouldn’t change anything in my career, nor would l trade it for anything! There are always highs and lows to a career, but without them how would I know the difference.

AC: Anyone you wanted to work with that you never had the opportunity?

GP: I love so many different artists that it’s impossible to say. When l practice I get to put on my Headphones   and play with anyone I want. So much music so little time

AC: If you were not in the Guess Who what band would you like to have been a member of?

GP: My alternate band The Beatles

AC: When people hear the Name Guess Who, what you want them to think about the band and its legacy?

GP: I would like people to discover that The Guess Who was a band that not only had good pop singles, but tried to be more inventive and daring in creating the rest of our music, most of which, although they were on the albums, were never played live outside of the studio.

AC: What are the kinds of things on you bucket list?

GP: I don’t have a bucket list, I guess I’m really doing what I’ve always wanted. I just hope I can do this some more.

AC: When it’s all said and done, what would you like your personal legacy to be, how would you like History to remember you?

GP: I would expect that history would remember me as it will. Perhaps gentle man.


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