What makes Peter Cetera a great singer
Interview with ex-Chicago singer Peter Cetera
+ Music as a single-use product? + Start in the garage + musical mother +
What was different starting a band in 1967 compared to today?
On the one hand, you had to be lucky, but you also had to work a lot. There were certainly more small clubs overall than today, but you didn't reach that mass of people. Today's talent shows have 12-year-olds who are singing to more people for the first time than I've done in my entire life. However, this incredibly fast consumption has also made it harder. Consume, suck in and spit out. There is no time to develop your own style. That's ok, but not my world anymore. Because music is becoming a disposable product.
And with you?
After starting my solo career without any help or support, I later took a break for a while. I thought there was no more room for me out there. But people came up to me, told me that this or that song meant a lot to them. I paid my attention to that. The world is so big and there is a place for everyone. There is always an audience. And I enjoy that!
What was your first rehearsal room like?
It was actually a garage. My grage. There was a car in there and I was standing there with my little amp, I built the speakers myself. I bought my first bass: a Danelectro Shorthorn bass. Gold colored and very cheap. That didn't sound good at the time. And everything was still blurry, I liked sports, baseball and football. But my mother sang a lot at home. I later sang along on the radio. And my friends said man you can sing.
And how did you get into the bass?
I thought this was the easiest way to play. It only has four strings. Before that I practiced the accordion. I have Polish and Hungarian ancestors, so you had to play chords because my parents would never have bought me a guitar. At some point I bought a $ 25 guitar myself and played a few chords on it. This is how a love developed for which I gave my soul.
How did you find your way out of the garage?
It started with some concerts for the high school dance nights on Saturday, little by little. Then other parties followed. And suddenly I got paid. What was that? You were already promoted when you played a wedding. Later I performed in clubs with various small bands, initially only as a bass player. I was just 18. I was never out of work. And earned money, at 19 even more than my father, who was a machinist. I lived at home until 21, which went well.
Did the parents say this is not possible?
Sure, they wanted to know what I'll do when I'm done with the music. You couldn't do that as a job. In the meantime I have been working. On the construction site, sometimes just for day jobs, sometimes even night shifts. But that did not progress. I threw the matter up there. What job do I want to do? I told my parents I don't know. I went to IBM at a time when computers were as big as this room. But that didn't work either, because all I wanted was to make music.
And it worked …
Yes, I can be very happy about that. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am with it. Although I can say of myself that I had to work very hard for it. In my day, the only way to make a living from playing the Top 40 was to sound like someone else to be as close to the record as possible.
What are the ingredients for a good Peter Ceter song?
I can't say exactly, I'm very fixated on melodies, that's very important. Something in my voice tells people that I sing with all my heart. I'm not the great storyteller, the lyrics always have something abstract about them. But I sing every single line with all my heart, that's what matters.
How important is the Chicago brass section?
That is what makes the very special sound of Chicago. One of the main ingredients. Nobody else did that except us. Except for James Brown, maybe. And we were white and could play these soul things. and often the audience stood there and was amazed. We also had three singles singers, that helped too.
What do you expect from the NOP tour?
I was on tour in Germany for the last time in 1982, I just want to give a sign of life from myself. This cetera, look, he's still around and he's still singing. This year I've worked more than in the past 35 years, and I've always been on the road with my band The Bad Daddys. And they sent me a couple of videos from the NOP, the concept is unique. I also thought that was the best way to introduce myself to the Germans again. It looks like this is going to be a great, fun show that I get to be a part of.
Do you play songs by Chicago and Peter Cetera?
I only play songs that I wrote and also sing. It's not a Chicago tribute. Anything else wouldn't make sense.
Are there any things that still surprise you in the music business?
Yeah, there are still those moments when you say, wow, what is that? And before you know who it is, you wonder what it is. Now and then you can hear a band. I felt that way with Arcade Fire Montreal in Canada.
And do you still have time to watch live music yourself?
Unfortunately, far too little. When I'm on the road you have a soundcheck in the afternoon and a concert in the evening, there is no time and then you're on your way to the next event. The last time I saw a band in Japan was a Beatles Revival band. That was great, they barely spoke a word of English but played all of these songs.
What things are important in your life?
I have two daughters and I try to keep the family together. I enjoy the time we spend together.
To person: Peter Paul Cetera
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