like a young Leonard Cohen as produced by Phil Spector, NYC singer-songwriter
Peter Galperin returns in 2013 with his second solo album entitled
A Disposable Life. Featuring Peter in the studio
backed up by a number of first rate musicians, including multi-instrumentalist
Robert Aaron as well as master audio mixologist Andrew Schlesinger,
the 8 tracks on A Disposable Life clock in at just under 36
minutes, yet theres hardly a minute of wasted time. No instrument
stands out per se but Galperins vocals and guitar work, as well
as the sonic keyboard sounds by Robert Aaron are first rate throughout.
Although Galperins lyrical subject matter is somewhat cynical
and incisive, the whole thing is delivered with such panache and soul-searching
sustenance, that it doesnt come off so much as protest music
as much as like a sonic TV show, case in point being the title track
A Disposable Life (complete with cutting edge lyrics set
to a super relaxing bossa nova beat no less), Theres No
Future (its just another bad year for the world)
and even a hilarious song praising the multiple uses of Bubblewrap
(Ill take plastic over pleasure) yet every
track here has its rewards. Peter Galperins best album to date,
A Disposable Life is a modern day pop masterpiece from start
to finish. www.petergalperin.com
mwe3.com presents an interview
mwe3: Can you compare your 2013 CD A Disposable Life with
your first album Perfect World Today, which came out back in
2011. Who plays with you on the A Disposable Life CD and describe
the vibe between you and the other players especially Robert Aaron
and Andrew Schlesinger, who mixed the new album. Sounds like the new
album is really a step up sonically and compositionally.
GALPERIN: My first CD was pretty much a solo effort (writing,
recording, mixing), but the new CD has involved a lot of other people
on the recording and mixing side, and its a much more finished
body of work because of that. I had already been performing many of
these new songs live with my band, so our drummer Andy Blanco and
I, with lots of back and forth with file sharing, started the recording
process by laying down the basic rhythm tracks. Then, I had the other
musicians (Carl Riehl, Nathan Warner, and James Hirschfeld) come into
my studio to put down their tracks, while at the same time I brought
rough mixes to Robert Aarons studio to record his tracks. Robert
is an amazing musician who can find the heart of a song almost immediately.
Every track he recorded (piano, organ, melodica) was filled with so
many musical ideas that the hardest part for me was picking what to
use... it was all good. After that most of the mixes went back to
Andy to add additional percussion parts. Finally I delivered my finished
mixes to our engineer Andrew Schlesinger who did his sound mixing
magic. It was kind of organized chaos, but it worked. At the start
I honestly thought this CD would take 6 months to do, but it took
over 2 years.
mwe3: Theres an interesting sonic mix of electric rock
instruments, vintage keyboard sounds and theres even real horns
on A Disposable Life too. Sounds like the idea was to combine
a kind of Phil Spector wall of sound approach this time out, adding
some cool echo sounds to a solid, well recorded wall of sound in that
the mix is quite heavy yet appealing at the same time.
PETER GALPERIN: A lot of that sound came from Andrew Schlesinger
and his super-refined ears. Hes engineered sounds for Casio
and Moog, and when I first asked him to work on this project he had
some definite ideas on how it should sound, even had me listen to
other CDs (Ray Davies Working Mans Cafe, Bryan
Ferrys Dylanesque) that he thought had a good sound that
could work for our project. Each song we recorded had at least 30
tracks, drums/percussion alone would usually be 10-12 tracks, so there
was a lot of sound to work with. We recorded and mixed everything
in Garageband, which I know tech purists might view as a play toy,
but it worked really well for us and allowed us to control the entire
process in a program that all of us were very comfortable with. The
final mix is powerful and dynamic, I wish my first CD sounded as good
as this one.
mwe3: Can you describe the concept of the A Disposable Life
title track? I know you sing about the concept of a throwaway
society. What inspired the title and the title track of the
new CD? 'Maybe its time for a serious upgrade'... (lol)
Its like protest music meets bossa nova.
PETER GALPERIN: Im always writing down ideas, phrases,
and concepts in a notebook. I happened to be in a BMI songwriters
workshop last winter and one of the assignments was to write a brand
new song about trucks, food, or sleep for the next weeks
class. The three topics were just random thoughts from the instructor.
I looked through my notebook and found the phrase a disposable
life scribbled down and thought, oh, maybe I could write a song
about food using that title. And then the idea grew.
someone who keeps stuff, not like a hoarder, but just things that
are meaningful to me. For example, on a shelf in my studio is an old
tube radio that had belonged to my father. Its probably from
the 1940s, and when I was a kid in the 1960s I found it in the basement
gathering dust so I brought it up to my bedroom. For some reason I
thought it was cool. It got great reception and at night I could listen
to live broadcasts of Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants on
station KGO. I lived in Seattle and SF was more than 1500 miles away,
so that must have been a strong signal. But maybe its just a
really well built radio. In fact I recently plugged it in, and its
still working! Original tubes that might be 75 years old! Its
so old I half expected to hear Glenn Miller on Armed Service Radio
coming out of it. How long does most electronic stuff last that we
Ive also been reading about environmental issues like the Pacific
Ocean garbage basin where a 1000 square mile area of ocean surface
is covered with plastic debris. Somehow the various ocean currents
gather in this area and deposit huge amounts of floating garbage from
around the world. And then there are the 100-foot tall piles of discarded
electronics (televisions, vcrs, cellphones, copy machines, etc.) found
in garbage dumps from Manila to Mexico City. Its frightening
whats happening to our planet, what we so easily throw away
without a second thought to where it goes.
So to me A Disposable Life while on the surface is about
reducing your carbon footprint, recycling and being more environmentally
conscious, its really about the idea of holding on
in an attempt to give
greater meaning to the ephemeral and fragile nature of life. We shouldnt
let some corporate marketing campaign convince us to throw out something
just because theres something new to replace it. Thats
a manipulative trick meant to boost the corporate bottom line, not
to give you a more fulfilling life. There is much more to experience
in the short years we spend living on this planet than just being
a consumer and getting herded from one must-have product
to the next.
Its a really important subject, so can you blame me if I give
it a good bossa nova beat to get someone to pay attention to it.
mwe3: Theres No Future paints a bleak picture
of life in 2013. What are some key lyrics in that song that sort of
nails it in your opinion? I like Why arent we out marching
in the streets, we should be rattling some bones, but all we care
about are cellphone apps and custom ring tones. Its
clear to me we havent made any progress since 1999, just bells
and whistles which are nice to have but it seems real breakthroughs
cant be found in 2013. We came off a decade of bells and whistles,
war and world wide terror, whats the prognosis for the second
decade of the 21st century? Anyway the song has some blistering guitar
work. TV wars with game show hosts...heh heh...
Sounds like a Bowie song.
GALPERIN: I guess Theres No Future overlaps
a bit thematically with A Disposable Life, but takes a
much harder swing at the collusion of mass media and politics to control
the mind of America. The various Mideastern Wars over the past decade
(or two) have become such a perfect glossy marketing package for the
media, and yet we learn nothing of the truth behind our governments
activities from watching the media. All we are given are the visual
fireworks the bloody skirmishes, the bombs bursting bright,
the handcuffed war criminals, with so-called journalists
repeating the same unsubstantiated rumors and hearsay hour after hour,
just to keep the advertising rolling. And does the public care? Not
really, as long as theres a new iProduct/touchscreen gizmo to
covet, no ones getting very angry. Even the OWS movement is
viewed by the majority of people as a bunch of freaks, a circus sideshow.
But there are really only three choices today for anyone who can think
does the state of the world make you sad, angry, or numb? Choose
With every news event, scandal or disaster there is the inevitable
media/political search for who to blame its them, not
us; its the Republicans, its the Democrats; its
the liberal Eastern news media, its the conservative movement;
its this country, its that country. A mobius strip of
finger-pointing. Everything and everyone demonized by the opposition.
If not who to blame, then we want to know who or what can save us
(each new crisis leaves us looking for some new Jesus),
and we want that info asap.
Im much too jaded to think that a song can start a revolution...
I know that only happens in Broadway musicals and Coke commercials,
but the chorus of Theres No Future is a Zen-Buddhist-like
appeal towards enlightenment there is no future, only the present;
dont fall for the media-generated mainstream thinking; the world
isnt black and white, its complicated. Do your own research,
form your own opinions.
Im very happy with the guitar sound on this song. I dont
do many guitar solos, so when I do I really want to make them count.
And I think these 12-bars sum up my anger quite nicely.
From Theres No Future to Bubblewrap?
Well at least thats one way to take your mind off the wars and
terror. (lol) Anyway, its nice to hear a tribute to the very
useful bubble wrap which is a snappy way to take the pressure off.
Why Bubblewrap? Pop sounds and bubble wrap just seem to
go together... (lol)
PETER GALPERIN: Bubblewrap was a total experiment.
I had a little 4-bar riff that I played on a kalimba (African thumb
piano) and looped for 4 minutes. I wanted to see if I could write
a song around it, and I wanted the kalimba riff to be in the background
throughout the song. So the chord progressions had to be fairly simple.
Back in my little notebook of ideas I had started writing an ode to
bubble wrap, which I thought was a funny and odd idea, and the riff
and the words just started coming together... sometimes that happens.
This was not a song that the band or I had ever played live, it was
completely conceived in the studio. I sent Andy Blanco my demo and
he came up with the staccato drum sounds.
The thing is everybody loves bubblewrap - the actual product is two
words but I dont use it that way because Im afraid of
the legal issue. Its kind of like potato chips you cant
do just one they are too addictive. But beyond highlighting
obsessive-compulsive behavior, the song suggests bubblewrap as a metaphor
for the impossibility of completely protecting someone you love from
Every threat would be deflected, and youd
be safe from head to toe
. And that probably stems
from my own unease with the state of the world today.
mwe3: What Are The Odds? takes an existential look
at being lost in space. What are you hinting at? Sometimes I think
life is just a bad twilight zone episode, yknow? Anyway the
song has a great beat and a wonderful hook. What are the odds that
were all alone, sums it up nicely. Will they be a life
form wed understand?
PETER GALPERIN: Its a love song to outer space when I
a night sky with multiple moons is romantic indeed,
even alien creatures need love. Ive been an outer
space fan since I was a little kid when I had a telescope that I used
to view the moon at night with... I also spied on the neighborhood
girls with it. I followed all of the Apollo missions, and in college
I attended more midnight screenings of 2001: A Space Odyssey
than Ill every remember. But in What Are The Odds?
Im proposing that extraterrestrial life might not be the way
movies and television has depicted it for us the idea that
alien life forms rather than being superior beings might not be that
different from us at all and might have some of the same problems
on their planet that we have on earth (bad traffic, talk radio, freezerburn).
Its certainly possible that they could share our worst human
characteristics maybe theyre really needy, maybe they
smell bad, what if they just want to borrow money and have no intention
of paying it back? Or maybe, just maybe, theyre curious.
was one of the most difficult songs on the CD to mix because it had
the most tracks on it. Live horns (trumpet and trombone), accordion,
fender rhodes piano, a reggae-ish organ, lots of vocal harmonies,
little outer space sound effects popping up everywhere. Definitely,
the full Phil Spector treatment. When I started writing it I had been
hearing a lot of the Gerry Rafferty song Baker Street...
I think he had just recently passed away. I loved the smooth groove
of that song when it first came out and I guess it influenced me on
mwe3: Straight Towards The Sun has a kind of Shadows
style guitar hook with a Bowie-esque vocal approach. Sounds like a
tribute to mans belief in blind faith or is it about Al Gore?
How about that track?
PETER GALPERIN: Straight Towards The Sun is a bit
of a departure because it was written as part of a rock musical titled
The Human Toll that I was writing at the same time as
this CD. Its about the life and times of Robert Moses. I dont
really like musicals, but Ive been fascinated with Moses
life and his impact on New York (and the country) ever since reading
the Robert Caro book The Powerbroker years ago, and always
felt that it had the right story arc for some kind of media production.
Its a big rousing number that is essentially Moses soliloquy
at the end of his life when hes trying to justify some
of the things hes done, and how hes gone about doing them.
The Icarus reference in the chorus seems appropriate for someone who
did things on such a grand scale. I guess it could apply to any larger-than-life,
fatally-flawed individual who in some way either hasnt lived
up to expectations or hasnt achieved greatness as promised...
Al Gore might be in that category, Alex Rodriguez definitely is.
I love that big throaty guitar sound. I also used it in the final
chorus of Rainy Day Games. Youre right, I guess
it is kind of a Shadows, or Duane Eddy thing.
Im shopping the musical around (12 songs and a 45-page script),
so if there are any musical producers out there who have a thing for
urban planning history and want to see it up under the bright lights,
please get in touch with me. Ive recorded demos of most of the
songs already, and the script is complete.
Rainy Day Games, is that song about growing up? I love
the Bach fugue trumpet section in the middle. Its a light subject
matter and the bossa nova feel makes it sound tropical.
PETER GALPERIN: Yeah, the tropics at 48º North covered
in moss. Growing up in Seattle, my childhood was filled with many
wet and rainy afternoons that forced me to invent a lot of indoor
games... because Milton Bradley only gets you so far. I wrote Rainy
Day Games during a hurricane in New York when the city was completely
shut down for a day. The hurricane got me thinking about those childhood
times again and what I would do
on dreary afternoons,
was so sure the jungle was just outside my room.
Its a really fun song to play live, and Nathan Warners trumpet
solo is a Beatles/George Martin tribute. Gotta have at least one song
that doesnt require too much thinking.
mwe3: (No Ones) Better Off Dead, is that
another kind of protest song? Sounds like Phil Spector producing Phil
Ochs or Bowie. Is that a real trumpet in there?
PETER GALPERIN: Protest song? Hmm, maybe. I guess most everyone
protests death. But, its really more about seeing the glass
half full, and realizing that even in ones darkest moments its
always best to stop and take a deep breath. And maybe the situation
wont look quite as bad after all... I guess this is how I do
earnest. I do like how the title can get shorthanded to
Better Off Dead, which is the exact opposite of what the
song actually means.
I think sound-wise weve got a nice Nelson Riddle Orchestra
vibe going on what with the strings and harp. I have to say that one
of the great benefits of working with a drummer like Andy Blanco is
that he is so versatile and gave me so many rhythmic elements to work
with in every song. The biggest musical surprise in this whole project
for me was hearing him play the timpani in this song completely
unexpected, but perfect.
Cant fool your experienced ears, I admit that the trumpets on
this song are midi-keyboards, but the violins are the real deal.
mwe3: Finally theres even a tribute to dogs as the closing
number? As in city dogs doing their duty? Doggie Gift
is a nice way to close the CD...sounds like an accordion in there!
GALPERIN: When tourists walk around New York theyre always
looking up (wow, look at that building). But locals know
better. We look down at the sidewalk in front of us because thats
where danger lies. Ive got nothing against dogs, but a dog owner
who doesnt clean up after his precious Fifi defecates on the
sidewalk is a truly horrible, worthless human being. That said, I
thought the concept of an almost love story that involves a dog, its
female owner, and a male admirer might be entertaining. Its
told through a film-ish timeline of three overlapping stories that
intersect at just the wrong moment.
Carl Riehl plays a wonderful light-fingered accordion solo during
the instrumental break and again at the end of the song. I tried to
use musical sounds and motifs that suggested wagging tales, sniffing
noses (some of those sniffing nose sounds are actual sniffing noses),
and bring a sweet, comedic lightness to this production. While I was
writing and recording it in my mind I was playing an old Charlie Chaplin
movie. Its exactly the kind of thing that would happen to the
little tramp hed see a girl walking her dog on the street,
develop a crush on that girl, watch her for several days while he
works up the courage to talk to her, and just when he tries to meet
her hed slip in dog doo... from her own dog no less. Shed
walk away completely unaware of him, and hed slink off embarrassed
mwe3: How about the guitars used on the new album? Any news
of interest in the guitar world and gear world for you?
PETER GALPERIN: A lot of the same instruments that Ive
been playing forever (fretless bass, mandolin, violin, acoustic guitar),
but I do have a new Gretsch 5122 hollow body that I used for the solos
on Theres No Future, Straight Towards The
Sun, and in the final chorus of Rainy Day Games.
Its good for a variety of sounds and has that great Bigsby whammy
bar, which is real easy to go overboard on.
mwe3: I hope you can get a CD of A Disposable Life to
Phil Spector. I wish theyd let him out to produce your next
album. Oh well, whats coming up for you in 2013, lucky 13 and
GALPERIN: I just saw the Phil Spector interview, and then right
after that I happened to come across the Al Pacino movie about him,
so now Im not sure who is who. So many hair styles to keep track
Like I mentioned earlier, Im hoping to get the Robert Moses
musical project off the ground this year, and Ive already started
writing new songs for my next CD. Im toying with the idea of
actually recording it in Brazil since I have such a love affair going
on with all things Bossa Nova.
In the coming months Ill be doing some solo acoustic performances
both in New York and on the West coast, and the full band will start
performing old and new material with me in a series of showcases in
Robert, thanks for listening. You be careful down there in Florida,
the sinkhole state (isnt that the motto on their license plates?).
Thanks to Peter Galperin @ www.PeterGalperin.com