The interview started off with some hiccups as it took us several days before we could actually get Pete on the phone. Finally, the gods were with us on the 29th of January. And off we went.
Marcel: Goodmorning Pete! Thanks for taking the time to talk to DPRP
Pete: Well, yeah, so we have had some technical problems in realizing it, but it’s working now.
Marcel: You’re off for quite some time on the road now with the upcoming tour and particularly the cruises ahead. Did you manage to pack for all the different climates you’re about to experience?
Pete: Well, no probably not, I’ll find out as we get to the end of the tour (laughs).
Marcel: I am holding the Kaleidoscope art book now and it looks stunning, but apart from the way it looks, it does sound great. Compliments on that. Once again there are two epics and three shorter songs on the album. What do you think it is that makes Transatlantic so popular?
Pete: It’s amazing, the artbook, isn’t it?
Well, thank you. I think it’s a combination of things. First of all there’s a unique blend of people involved which captures a lot of imagination for a lot of people, particularly in the progressive music world. But also outside of that, it’s an interesting blend of people, with two Europeans and two Americans. Various styles and influences come across. And then, it’s partly the nature of what we do. We try to capture the essence of classic progressive music the way we used to love it yet we bring it up to date and beyond, in some cases.
I think Transatlantic is now at a stage where we have grown up and got our own identity. It is definitely a band stamp on it and that’s good too. With Kaleidoscope we brought another dimension to our sound and I think that’s good. So, all in all, lots of reasons. And it’s a fun show as well, to watch, there is a lot going on, dynamically. And of course, it’s fun to watch Mike play. You just can’t take your eyes off him playing. So, yeah, there’s lots of reasons for people to like what we do.
Marcel: What do you think is the main evolution in Transatlantic over the years?
Pete: To me, it’s the way we have grown together as a band and as a group of musicians that write music together and work very well with and at each other’s ideas. The first album, it wasn’t as apparent, the second album it was more apparent but we were still getting to know each other. But with The Whirlwind, we really captured what we could do creatively and arrangement wise. Kaleidoscope affirms that and goes even further. Considering the length of the songs, it is a very well crafted and very strong album.
Marcel: I can agree on that. Definitely. It seems as if Transatlantic put the bass more to the front than Marillion does. There’s more of a spotlight for you. How do you see that?
Pete: That is probably true. Transatlantic is a band where we can all solo and it’s partly about the play and the interactions between the musicians. Just like in jazz bands. We have that as well. So, you do get to show off a bit more and that’s a side of my music, well, actually, I’m not that comfortable in doing that, really… I was brought up on pop music and to me, the essence of what being a bassplayer is, is just being someone in the background that helps a song. You know, in a lot of songs without the bass, you’d miss it. But in a song, a good bass part, you don’t necessarily notice it’s there. But with Transatlantic, it’s a bit more showy, a bit more bombastic, if you like and it’s fun to do. It’s a lot of fun to do. It’s quite hard work to prepare for it all, but it has huge rewards for us all.
Marcel: What does Transatlantic bring to you personally that you don’t get from being in Marillion?
Pete: It’s a different side. When you have been in a band like Marillion for so long, it’s nice to do something else occasionally. We all do it. And I think it helps the band stay together, helps us all stay sane, because there are certain frustrations that you find, when you’re in a group of people, not necessarily musicians. There are certain things you’d like to explore on your own and Transatlantic allow me to do that. But it’s always great going back to Marillion. I think, the two complement each other in my world.
Pete: Well, I have quite a few strings to my bow. Edison’s Children is more about me being completely in control, I guess. I mean, I co-write with Eric Blackwood in Edison’s Children but there is just the two of us and we do everything. There aren’t too many people working with us till we get to the final product. There’s a lot of myself in there, I do a lot of engineering, librarian sort of work, which is required when you’re writing music and coming up with ideas. And that’s another side that is nice to explore and to get to learn about engineering, recording and other processes involved. Transatlantic and Marillion are both collaborations with a group of musicians. That is probably my most comfortable way of working, but it’s nice to get away from that occasionally and do something where I’m more involved in as well.
Marcel: What is different about your approach or your influences when playing in Transatlantic?
Pete: Obviously, yes, there is. When you first start playing your instrument, you want to show off, you want people to notice you. And Transatlantic is going back to that style of playing. When you grow older and a bit wiser in bands, you tend to hold a back a little more and find out about the songwriting and recording and you don’t necessarily have to be the guy that says look at me being all flashy. There is a subdued side to playing which is a discipline in itself which is quite often required when you’re recording and there’s the side, well, I mean, Transatlantic are kind of like a showband in a way. We’re putting ourselves up to see who’s interested in what we do and how we do it and a lot of people get excited by it. So it’s a lot of fun to do.
Marcel: How did you decide on the cover tracks? Were there any major discussions?
Pete: No, there weren’t any hourlong discussions. I totally agreed on all the tracks. I grew up with lots of different music, in the 60’s, with the Beatles, the Kinks, ELO, Led Zeppelin, the Who, the Nice, the Faces, the Small Faces. There’s a whole collection of music that I completely love and I wouldn’t want to change too much of that. What we tried to do with the covers, is get some defining moments within the history of music. So we picked music within that idea. I remember Focus. I went to see them play live. They were fantastic. I think all the songs are well chosen and good representations of that era.
Marcel: Do you see Transatlantic as an ongoing venture?
Pete: Definitely. We seem to get more popular with every release. So far, on the face of it, Kaleidoscope is getting the right noises from quite some people. Even though it only has just been released. So it’s likely that we get back together and do another one, soon sometime.
Marcel: Soon, OK?
Pete: You know the only problem we have is we’re all so ridiculously busy doing other things. So it takes some time to settle on dates for recording and all.
Marcel: You have cruises coming up, with both Transatlantic and Marillion, yet is there any chance we might get a Transatlantic weekend just like the Marillion weekends?
Pete: (Laughs) Well, I don’t know. Don’t know about a Transatlantic weekend. That would be something that would have to be sorted out. Who knows? Maybe. But I think the cruise is a good idea. I like the idea of the Progressive Nation Cruise. I think that is a cool idea. It beats being in England when it’s raining.
Marcel: Well, yes, you have got 25 degrees Celsius coming up today, so…
Pete: I don’t know. I only see the inside of a rehearsal studio. It sounds glamorous being in LA, but we are busy rehearsing, all the stuff bands do before they hit the road. Well, yes, it is a lot of fun, it always is, playing with good musicians. I am very lucky, to have played with some great musicians, and to play in Transatlantic.
Marcel: What are your favourite moments on the new album and how do you see that compared to the other releases?
Pete: This album, we have matured. I was very proud of The Whirlwind. I thought that was very complete. We have thought about doing even better than that. Don’t know if we have topped it, but the arranging and songwriting have grown from the experience we drew from making The Whirlwind. There are some very uplifting moments in this album, some riffs that Roine has played and yes, we got heavier, because before, we never got as heavy as we could have, I thought.
Marcel: You’re referring to Black As The Sky?
Pete: It is fun to play. It’s as close as we can get to writing a pop song.
Marcel: But it is kind of heavy, isn’t it?
Pete: It is quite heavy, I know. Yeah, but it also reminds me of Fanfare For The Common Man in a way. Something similar in way.
Marcel: Apart from the obvious Yes and Genesis references in Transatlantic, what can you say about a possible Utopia influence?
Pete: Some elements of the songwriting and construction might be like Utopia. I used to like Utopia. But yes, I also hear some Caravan influences in there. Or even some Camel. I think it has to do with the different types of music we grew up on; we have a lot of the influences in common. It’s what people hear in our music.
Marcel: Would you ever put a Utopia song forward to be covered by Transatlantic?
Pete: I think I did on this album. But it was probably a bit too obscure. Oh no, it was a Todd Rungren song of Hermit Of Mink Hollow. There could have been two titles on that album that I might have suggested but I just can’t remember them now. I’m still a bit jetlagged.
Marcel: Are there any other artists you would like to work with?
Pete: I would definitely like to work with Paul McCartney. Just to, well, have done that and have that on your cv, being a Beatles fan and all. “Oh yeah, I have worked with Paul McCartney”. Well, Daft Punk could be a choice. Not that obvious a choice , but I have liked their music through the years.
Marcel: Who would you suggest to be your replacement, if you were to leave Transatlantic?
Pete: Well, I’m really one of many. But I think Lee Pomeroy. He is a great bass player, plays with Take That and Steve Hackett and I think he could fit into the band as well.
Marcel: How difficult are the Transatlantic songs to memorise?
Pete: Well, the long ones take more memory space. More notes. And of course, we do take time to figure out how and in which key we want to play the songs. And then we do more: I play bass pedals, do some singing. And so it’s a bit more than walking and talking at the same time. It’s hugely satisfying at the end of a tour when you know it has all worked. Now, at the start, it can all be a bit nerve wrecking, but it makes you feel alive.
Marcel: So you’re playing El Segundo first?
Pete: We haven’t had too much snow here so far. But there are cities in the States that now look completely different. Some places just look very scary. What is happening to the world? But who can we blame? We only have got ourselves to blame, to be honest.
Marcel: Are there any songs you particularly look forward to playing live?
Pete: All Of The Above, that is our first song ever. And we have got a great version of The Whirlwind for this tour. And of course the new songs, Into The Blue and Kaleidoscope. We haven’t yet finished the set list, but whatever it is, it’s gonna be cool.
Marcel: Is there any news yet on Daniel Gildenlöw, the unofficial fifth member of Transatlantic?
Pete: Daniel still has to recover so he won’t be able to make this tour. He has done some great singing on the new album. But we have Ted Leonard from Spock’s Beard and Enchant joining us. He very kindly stepped in at the last moment. He is there for the whole of the tour. We have had to make arrangements for the tour.
Marcel: Once more you will play two consecutive nights at the 013 club in Tilburg. What can you say about that venue?
Pete: It is a great club. I have played there many times. It has great access, great sounds, people are very friendly. And the chicken saté is to die for. I discovered Indonesian food in Holland and fell in love with it.
Pete: Of course, there is a work aspect to it, yet when you see the reactions that your music brings, when on stage, Neal would say, we are very blessed. And yes, on seeing the reactions in the audience, it indeed is fulfilling.
Marcel: How do you feel about the progressive rock tag?
Pete: When punk came about, something strange happened and bands were dismissed as silly. But nowadays there are magazines and labels abound. I have my reservations about the label but it is obvious that many people love it and that it actually is coming back into mainstream music.
Marcel: Do you have a top 3 of prog albums?
Pete: First of all, there is Close To The Edge by Yes. Closely followed by, Genesis Selling England By The Pound. That or The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. No, I go for Selling. Some great songs and great drumming by Phil Collins. The third would be Radiohead’s OK Computer. Just to have that brought out at that time. And yes, I’l sneak in a fourth: Discipline by King Crimson.
Marcel: Do you get to listen to other music actually?
Pete: I don’t do that too often; I’m busy with music for most of the day. I get into reading books. And watching movies. Just, when I’m busy recording or whatever, I like to give my ears a rest and slip into other thoughts. That’s what happens when reading a book.
Marcel: And of course you do your runs?
Pete: Yes, it helps me de-stress. I like to run on my own, it helps me to organize and it keeps me a bit fit. And yes, I can eat what I want during the weekends. When on tour with Marillion, I get to run a lot with Mark Kelly. And on that account, I have to run off now, get to the rehearsals.
Marcel: Thank you very much for talking to us and good luck on the tour and the album.
Pete: Always nice talking to you, my pleasure. Bye Bye.
Transatlantic official website: http://www.transatlanticweb.com
Tue Feb 18, 2014 Progressive Nation At Sea (18-22 February) progressivenationatsea.com
Thu Feb 27, 2014 Madrid, Spain La Rivera
Fri Feb 28, 2014 Barcelona, Spain Razzmatazz 2
Sun Mar 02, 2014 Milan, Italy Alcatraz
Mon Mar 03, 2014 Rome, Italy Orion
Wed Mar 05, 2014 Pratteln, Switzerland Z7
Thu Mar 06, 2014 Karlsruhe, Germany Substage
Fri Mar 07, 2014 Munich, Germany Muffathalle
Sat Mar 08, 2014 Berlin, Germany Astra
Sun Mar 09, 2014 Cologne, Germany E Werk
Tue Mar 11, 2014 Antwerp, Belgium Trix
Wed Mar 12, 2014 London, England The Forum
Thu Mar 13, 2014 Tilburg, Holland 013
Fri Mar 14, 2014 Tilburg, Holland 013
Sat Mar 15, 2014 Paris, France Le Bataclan