I’m In You: Peter Frampton Still Feels Like We Do
What role, if any, do you think you played in the current jamband scene? After all, people originally thought you were crazy when you released a song longer than 5 minutes.
Well, I think that everyone, all the bands at the time, were doing jam songs. From the Allman Brothers to the English bands. I mean even Humble Pie did one song, “Doctor,” that was pretty long as well. You didn’t really in those days… I think it was because radio was in its infancy and we had FM radio then which was for playing albums. It wasn’t for playing the cut, the suggested cut. And artists didn’t really see the necessity for… we had this great format where the radio stations pull all the tracks off the album or any one of them. Not a lot of singles… we were not single-orientated in that period as much as you were before or after. Especially in the 80’s it came back to big singles again.
Comes Alive, everyone thinks that the hits were number one, but they weren’t. “Show Me The Way” was number seven or something and “Baby I Love Your Way” I don’t think got into the top ten. But the album was number one. I don’t think that would follow today, you know? It would have to be ‘round the other way almost. FM radio was so different. You were at the hands of the DJ. Obviously the program director put the slant on the station, but as far as DJ’s playing what they wanted, they pretty much could. Unless you were the local top 40 FM station and they would play the edited version of the single.
Do you think your string of popular hits ever distracted people from recognizing you as the gifted guitarist that you are? Did it distract you?
I think a little bit of both. I know this going to sound weird, but it would have been nice to just have a platinum record and not a multi-platinum record because right at this point people are going, “Yeah, sure he, means it…” Yeah, it’s very nice that Comes Alive did what it did and I would be a fool to say I don’t appreciate it, but I think in the natural course of events it was very out of character with the build in my career. It just took off. It would have better to have just a smaller record [laughter] overall and one could have built on that rather than what tends to happen with something like that. It becomes overkill and it’s very difficult to follow. It’s almost like that’s it. I mean Michael Jackson is obviously still incredibly popular, but Thriller was it. That did it right there for him and he’s been trying to… or people think that he’s trying to do that again every time he releases a record. And it seems everyone I can think of that have had these gigantic records, apart from Eagles- of course they never do anything wrong [laughter]- I’m a huge fan- but it seems in most cases when most people have these huge sellers it almost becomes like the Rubix Cube, you go away afterwards. People don’t want the next cube, you know?
So yes, the success of Comes Alive definitely distracted from the musicianship and put me into that sort of celebrity-teenie-bopper area as opposed to a musician which sort of happened over night. Up until that point, it was the reverse. It was on my musical reputation more than anything else. We were building quite nicely on that area. So that confused the audience and especially the cover of I’m In You really confused the audience; it confused me too. It was just too poppy. I really wasn’t that. Yes, I’ve written pop songs, but as you know, I span a whole different selection of music as well.
And yes, the guitar playing forgotten about. That wasn’t what people thought when you said “Peter Frampton.” You said, “Comes Alive, big record.” For me, that was upsetting. I started playing because I wanted to play guitar, not to make money and get girls as John Lennon said. I wanted to be the best guitarist in the world which is what drives you. It was a distraction for me at that point and very confusing to know where to go after that.
You’ve appeared on Drew Carey’s Back to School Rock ‘N’ roll Comedy Hour and (in animated form) on Family Guy as well the Simpsons. Any plans for more appearances on TV series?
If and when I get the offers and it’s something I want to do, I would love to do it. The Simpsons was obviously, what an honor to be amongst a selected few that have been on that show which is great. It’s still one of the best written shows on T.V. That was great. Comedy things are fine with me because I do like to poke fun at myself. Don’t take myself too seriously. So yeah, love to do more. I’ll be waiting by the mailbox after this issue comes out. [laughter].
What’s the weirdest thing you ever did with a talkbox?
Hmmm, I can’t really think of anything. I tell you what they used to do in the 70’s. There was a different sort of outlook on general living. It wasn’t Evian and gyms as it is, working out as it is now on the road. And golf of course. Golf, Evian and gym. [laughter]. It was more sex, drinks, drugs, more sex, drink, drugs. That sort of repetitive thing. No, I’m joking… In those days, instead of cleaning my talkbox every night, the crew, before I would play it would just take a bottle of Courvoisier or Remy Martin and just put the tube in the top and that would clean it off. [laughter]. So I guess that’s what started me on the brandies. That was the way we used to clean it.
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