Interviewed by David Felix
Date: April 9th, 2005
After several years out of the scene and dealing with his own personal demons, former CANDLEBOX guitarist Peter Klett is back with his new project REDLIGHTMUSIC. Due to hit record stores nationwide in May 2005, I was able to score a copy of the self-titled release (compliments of Mark Pucci Media) and it is an incredible debut for the band to say the least.
Now testing out his “chops” in a lead singer role as well as remaining a guitarist, Peter is joined by former Seattle based TONGUE TIED members guitarist Tommy Woo, bassist Jason T. Phraner and drummer Keith Ryland. The band is a solid force just waiting to burst into the mainstream of American radio.
Peter was kind enough to sit down and chat with me recently about REDLIGHTMUSIC and his return to the spotlight. Here’s what he had to say…
What has the transition been like from all the success you had with CANDLEBOX to basically starting over again with REDLIGHTMUSIC?
It’s been quite a ride, let me tell ya! When CANDLEBOX was over in ’99, I kinda floundered around for about two years after that until I finally picked myself up and got my shit together. Then I found these guys and started writing again. I wasn’t really going to sing at first but they were like, “No, no… we like your voice. We like what you’re doing. Keep doing it!” So I did and I ended up feeling “ok” with it but I’m still not quite settled into that roll yet. I still feel pretty “green” at it, but I like it. I like the fact that I can write an entire song at home and bring it to practice. The writing process goes twice as fast as it ever has before and I enjoy it!
Just to touch on this briefly, what brought about the demise of CANDLEBOX?
Everybody had just kinda done their own thing. I mean we probably could have gone on for a few more years. Done the same old tours and put out another record or two but it really would have been detrimental to our psyche and our friendships. People were just done! Bardi had already left and it was just Kevin and I… so we decided to call it a day. It had run its course.
What is your relationship like with your former band members now?
Oh we’re all friends! In fact, I just talked to Bardi yesterday. I just saw Kevin in Austin for the “South by Southwest” and I talk to Scott sporadically here and there, so yeah, we’re still all friends.
How did you get involved with Kelly Gray and Steve Thompson who helped you as co-producers for the project?
Kelly Gray did the first two CANDLEBOX albums and I’ve actually known him since ’89 when I was in another band. So we’ve been friends ever since and I went to him as I started recording this album and asked him if he would help me out. So, he was good at mentoring me as a singer and making me be patient. I wanted it done last year but he was like, “Pete, you’re not ready and I don’t want you to put something out before your voice has matured enough.” He helped me a lot with that and I did most of the stuff at my house except for the drums.
Now Steve Thompson was a guy that management knew. I wanted to find someone else to mix the album just because I had been with Kelly for so long and I just wanted to try someone else. So that’s where he came in and we went to North Brookfield at Longview Farms and recorded a couple of songs, minus the drums, there and then mixed them with Steve. Then I came back and actually re-tracked the guitars for those songs, sent them off for mastering and that was that!
As even your press release states, you’ve been through a lot over the past few years. How did you get through everything and was there anyone in particular who helped and supported you along the way?
Well my family, obviously. I have a real strong relationship with them and I am fortunate that my Mom and Dad are still together so they stuck with me. Basically, though, I just got sick and tired of the lifestyle. I would black out, not remember things and, not to sound “cliché” but, I was sick and tired of being “SICK AND TIRED!” Like I said, I was just floundering around. I had moved to California… then I moved back and I had just hit bottom! So I just said, “That’s it!” and I knew a friend who owned a treatment center and I called him. I was like, “I’m done! I need to come in!” So I did, got sober and it’s been over three years now.
That’s great! Really a tremendous accomplishment.
Other than the CD itself, do you have any words of inspiration for others who may be suffering through the same thing you did?
Oh yeah… my main advice would be if you can’t stop and you want to, then you need to go find outside sources. Find the best person who’s the most grounded and go to them for help. All I can really say is, I was an addict… I did it and I can’t believe it went on for as long as it did. But I would never, ever want to go back to that. I “sway” way better without it and I don’t miss it one bit.
At what point did you decide you wanted to continue on with music?
I always wanted to. I mean, it’s like another cliché (laughs) but… it’s in my blood! I just can’t give it up. I had actually thought about it. I made some investments and thought, “I’ll just get into a business and forget it and try to live a normal life.” But after I got sober, the bug bit again! It’s funny, but I enjoy music so much that I actually get “high” off of it more than I did ever “getting high.” So I decided come Hell or high water, I was going to give it my best shot.
What was the first song you wrote for the CD and what was the flow like?
I think the one that actually made it to the CD was “Beautiful.” The flow went really well… especially once I got these three guys solidified in the band. I had been messing around with the song with some other musicians prior and it was good but it was never quite as good as it turned out to be.
How did you first get involved with Tommy (Woo), Jason (T. Phraner) and Keith (Ryland)?
My friend John Lockhard, whom I had known for years, was in a band with those three and he actually introduced me to them before I was sober. Then afterwards, he introduced me again and kept telling me, “You and Tommy would be perfect together.” So I thought I better give this a shot and I brought him down to rehearse with me and a couple of other guys I was working with. Afterwards, I was telling Tommy that these guys just weren’t working out and he was like, “I know this guy Keith Ryland who was in a band that I was in and is just an incredible drummer. I’ve known him for years, he knows the style, and I think he’ll work.” So we tried Keith out and he worked out phenomenally. Then Tommy was like, “I got a bass player too from the same band!” So I talked to Jason and he came down and it just “clicked.”
Was there immediate chemistry between the band?
Everything was perfect… absolutely. They fell right into where I was wanting to go. It wasn’t like I had to mold them or had to try and convince them of my vision or goal. They were always like, “Yeah, I like it! I want to do it… How can we help you?” So… it was perfect!
How much input do the other members of the band have as far as the song writing goes?
I filter my songs through them. I bring it to them and say, “Hey, what do you think?” If it fits, they’re like, “Cool… lets do it!” But if they feel there’s something that could be better, they’ll just say, “Let’s try this, that or the other.” The cool part about this band is that everyone is mature enough and confident enough with whom they are to hear or say, “I think that sucks! Let’s try something else.” There are no egos… it’s really refreshing.
Obviously, the whole CD is very special to you but is there any song that, maybe, was a bit more challenging or hits closer to home?
As far as challenging, “I Found You,” vocally, was a song I really had to search. Jason wrote the verse for me and I had to adjust to try and feel what he was saying.
As far as hitting home, they’re all pretty close to me. “Fading Away” and “Beautiful” are your typical “ex-girlfriend” love songs about what I was feeling at the time. ”Face The Day” is another song that is very special because it’s about facing your bullshit, getting up and just doing it!
What was it like stepping out on the stage for the first time with a new band and you now being the focal point?
It was terrifying! (laughs) It was scary but when we were finished, all our friends were there and it was just such a natural high. It felt good but a bit uncomfortable at first.
What was the response like?
It was terrific! It was pretty much a packed house of all our friends, which was comforting. Everybody that’s heard the band so far, though, seems to really like it. We’ve just got to get out there and pound the pavement.
What’s the response to the CD been like to your old CANDLEBOX fans and the media in general?
Well, so far it really hasn’t been put out to the “mass media.” We haven’t really toured and it’s only been available for download or through Amazon.com. It goes to retail in May. Once we get on the road and it’s in stores and people start hearing about the band, we’ll have a much better grasp on that. The people that were fans of CANDLEBOX seem to accept it, embrace it, and enjoy it!
You definitely have developed into a great lead singer as well as always being an exceptional guitar player. Was there anyone who helped you make that transition and how do you like it?
Well thank you! Kelly Gray was helpful in guiding me on how to go about it and the band was very, very supportive and made me feel that I could totally “fuck up” and it would still be ok. (Laughs) But I really like it now and am able to portray a style and vibe of the band I always wanted to be in.
Do you do any songs live that aren’t on the CD?
Oh yeah… we have a few songs we keep throwing into the set. The beauty of this band is that we’re constantly writing new songs. I’ve never experienced this massive amount of constant writing before. So we have two or three now and hopefully by the time we get our own tour we’ll have even more.
You are already an accomplished guitarist, songwriter, producer, and singer. Is there anything else you aspire to do in the industry?
I would like to produce an album by another band. My ultimate dream, though, would be to do what Eric Clapton did with the movie “RUSH” and just sit in the studio and “widdle.” Just come up with some really cool, moody, dark, happy, or weird guitar stuff to go along with the film and just indulge myself.
Have you taken any steps to try and accomplish that?
I did before I was sober but I really didn’t get anywhere. At this point, I think it’s important to establish the band and then if people like it and feel that I may have something to offer… maybe I’ll try and grasp on to that.
What are you most proud of?
Being sober… definitely!
What is the biggest difference between the Peter Klett we knew from CANDLEBOX and the Peter Klett in REDLIGHTMUSIC?
I’ve grown up! (Laughs) I’m more approachable now… DEFINITELY more responsible. Clear headed, out going and a much nicer person. Oh, and, I don’t have a head the size of Washington State anymore!
What are your plans in 2005 and with REDLIGHTMUSIC?
I hope just constant touring until I can’t promote this record any more… and then back into the studio to record another album.
Well, that’s about it! Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?
Well, I have a newfound respect for people who are actually “fans” of your band. I don’t take that for granted and if there’s anyone out there reading this article who is a fan and has been supporting us… from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! Without YOU, I am nothing… so, thank you.
Thanks Peter! Best of luck with the new album and I can’t wait to see you guys in June at “PIANO’S” in New York City.
Thank you, man and please make sure you stop by and say hello!
Some additional tour dates are as follows:
- 4/18 The Big Easy Concert House Boise, ID
- 4/19 The Big Easy Concert House Spokane, WA
- 4/22 Zoe Tacoma, WA
- 5/22 Halo Salt Lake City, UT
- 5/23 Larimer Lounge Denver, CO
- 6/03 The Gate Louisville, KY
- 6/04 Monkey Bar Huntington, WV
- 6/14 Piano’s New York, NY
- 6/18 Cumberland’s Charleston, SC
DON’T MISS REDLIGHTMUSIC!!!
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