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PETER GABRIEL 'PLAY' DVD LAUNCH
London, 14 October 2004
Though he is well known for his time as lead vocalist in ProgRock giants Genesis, Peter Gabriel is perhaps better known in the wider world via his own solo work and particularly for the extremely innovative videos which accompanied the singles from particularly his ‘So’ (1986) and ‘Us’ (1992) albums. Though a number of his videos have been previously available in one form or another, his new DVD collection ‘Play’ brings together 23 videos from his extensive video output. Featuring lovingly restored visuals and amazing new 5.1 mixes by Peter and Daniel Lanois, Peter also throws in 3 new bonus videos, again with full 5.1 surround mixes.
Given Gabriel’s record in the use of innovative video and recording methods, it is no surprise to find that once again, his work has been chosen to pioneer a new technology. The DVD uses a brand new DTS format that uses a full 24bit/96khz surround sound for the ultimate audiophile experience and ‘Play’ will in fact be the very first DVD to market with this new technology. Of course, for those of us without the latest and greatest equipment, Dolby 5.1 and Dolby Stereo soundtracks are also provided.
But it doesn’t end there, each video has a short introduction with either "Making Of" footage and/or spoken introductions by Peter through the ages and there is an advanced programming feature that allows you to create you own playlist of up to 18 tracks, which you may choose to play once or set it to loop forever!
In order to launch the DVD, Peter hosted a special launch party to an invited audience at The Hospital in Covent Garden, London. Speaking about the release Peter said 'Although I believe that music can stand more repetition than video and music together, I have always been excited at the idea of putting pictures to music’. As a big film fan, some of my favourite directors have often managed to mix music and image very powerfully. I love to collaborate with inventive, visual people to put pictures to these songs. I have also been a long time fan of surround sound, which offers a great opportunity for musicians to take advantage of the medium. I love being able to listen from inside the music, rather than observing from the outside.' and after a playback of selected highlights from the video, Peter took questions from the audience.
With a significant portion of the audience being made up of people from the video and film making industry it was no surprise that many of the early questions related to the videos made and unmade
Q: (Classic Rock) Asked about which videos remain unmade and what he’d like to go and revisit
PG: Well ‘modern love’ and ‘games’ definitely, -.And I guess ‘Sledge’ because XXXX did a great job and I think it was also Stephen Johnson who did a fantastic job on direction and Hardman Animation and the Quay brothers all in the ascendant. It was a real creative collaboration, so in a sense it was bloody hard work.But most of the things I like are here.
Q: I just wondered if looking back there were any album tracks that you think that you would have liked to have given the video treatment to but obviously didn’t because they weren’t released as singles.
PG: Oh, ‘Signal to Noise’ actually. We had a script done for it -.. working on it. And I mean it’s a ???? element to it because as you said, its generally singles that you can get funding for basically and the rest you do on your own so that restricts some of the possibilities -. But in a way what Yorke? has done now, managing to put a hodge-podge thing together at not great cost is encouraging me to think that it would be nice to look at some of the older album stuff that I would like to see in some visual version and I have to see if we can do something with the old videos as well. It’s hard to say, cos I think no-one in rock music or pop music expected stuff to last more than a couple of years and this stuff has lasted fifty years so maybe the same will be true of video, I’m not so convinced. But if that is be the case then hopefully we can find an excuse to do that because I would like to do some of those tracks with a visual interpretation
Q: Did you think about doing a commentary (for the DVD)
PG: No (audience laughs) Well we did think about that, but it got a bit late and it seemed like hard work at the time. Yeah, maybe that’s something that could be done in the future.
Q: 11 mins I was very struck by many of the images, they’re very powerful - its all about stuff coming out of the ground isn’t it and being reclaimed by the ground. I generally wondered if this reflected some spirtual/religious basis to this
PG: When I left Genesis, I did a lot of gardening .. and I dreamt of worms and err .. my dad - I grew up on a farm too so I think yeah the earth probably has a place. yeah you warm it up and water it a little and things go back in at the end. Mud is a wonderfully complex thing. Much undervalued.
Q: Would you consider doing a track now without a video?
PG: If I could get anyone to pay for it. Sure but yeah, that is a good question and I think there’s always that argument out that without the visuals then does the work breath and I would agree with that, and some videos are best watched blindfolded, but at the same time, I had a lot of fun working with smart visual people, so as long as I can do that and I can get away with it, then I will
Q: To what extent are the visuals reflected in the lyrics of your songs. Do you totally go off the handle?
PG: 9 mins On a good day and with enough drugs. Perfectly!No I think that when you work with anyone that’s good you want them to bring something of their own to what you are doing. That applies for musicians or visual artists and I’m very happy that they take it away from where I started. I still try and stick my oar in wherever possible but they do move on. And that’s fine with me.
Q: Talking about tarting up and flogging old stuff, do you have plans to revisit the old videos
PG: Well, I mean there are some common links but not currently and I should look at it, but it might be a good idea.I’m hooked on 5.1 now. I’d also like to try and get more video material for some of the old stuff too.
PG live and On Other Stuff
One of the highlights of Peter’s most recent tour involved Peter moving around the stage inside a huge ball, called a ‘Zorf Ball’. It was certainly a prop which ignited the interest of the crowd and one of the audince asked Peter whether it was possible to hire one and his wife was particularly fascinated with the thought of bouncing around inside one of them. As Peter explained in his reply 'It’s actually a New Zealand, Kiwi invention and they don’t generally flog them. I think that we’ve only got them on a technical loan, I think because they wanted to franchise the world and then use them as a new form of urban transport. But what they like to do then, in true Kiwi style, is to strap people to the inside of the ball, roll them down a mountain and then collect the vomit at the bottom.' Given the Kiwi sense of adventure I could quite imagine that, but all the same I think that Peter was joking.
Peter was then asked - As a Virgin recording artist, did you offer the DVD to them and if so, why don’t they release it? How does that work?' Peter went on to explain his reasons for releasing the DVD through Warnervision. 'Its called negotiation, and one side has to do with money and the other has to do with enthusiasm and to be honest we were delighted with what Ryan’s team did last time around and they were keen for this to happen and if there’s anything I’ve learnt in this business, its if you’ve not got real enthusiasm is shit happens or rather no shit happens.' As the audience laughter died down, he continued, 'We still have a very good relationship with Virgin/EMI but in this particular arena, we felt very well supported where we are'.
With a number of old time Genesis fans in the audience, it was only to be expected that sooner or later a brave soul would raise the subject of Peter’s former band. With the 30th anniversary of the release of his final album with the band, namely ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’ fast approaching, Peter was asked '30 years later, what do you think of the album?'.
Peter answered diplomatically. Explaining that he didn’t generally listen to old stuff either from his own solo career or from Genesis, but he had had to listen to the 5.1 mixes and he found that he 'still liked some of it'. Pressed further to explain what he didn’t like about it, Peter continued 'Oh, I like it. I think that there are one or two tracks at the end that could have been done better, perhaps ‘It’ and some of the story could have been written better. But no, that and ‘Suppers Ready’ are two of the things that I feel best about from the Genesis days'.
The positive nature of the response then led to some follow up questions on the subject. 'Do you ever think that you’ll have the opportunity to do them live again?', asked a voice in the crowd. Peter’s response was a surprise to most of us. 'Actually, when I was looking for stuff to do on this last tour, I said to the band ‘Suppers Ready’ – why don’t we try a bit of that?'. He continued 'and then I got tapes to everyone and they started listening to it and trying to sort out the chords and reading out bits of it and the general opinion was that it was ‘too much like hard work’ and unfortunately the tour had already started.'. Most of us sensed that it was a close call, but perhaps nothing more however Peter continued to give out positive vibes on the subject, 'I think that I’m far enough away from it now that I could sort of look at it again from a totally different perspective and there’s a lot of stuff since then, but I don’t see any reason to sort of exclude it ideologically'. So who know’s, perhaps some old Genesis material will appear in Peter’s set next time he tours.
Q: I have a confession to make. I did purchase on Ebay of a collection of early Genesis footage and early solo footage and as its available on Ebay in a rather ropey condition, would it not be better to maybe put it out in a rather better condition.
PG: Well the ropey condition - That was one of the things that mainly I was responsible for was us not being filmed cos I wasn’t a great believer in that, in those days and its something which I sort of regret now. I always liked film but I thought that we’d get it right one day and do it properly and of course, as Lenin said, ‘Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans’ and so now I look back and I think I wish that we had filmed it a little more and that there would be better material to work with.And maybe that’s something that could be done but being the democratic band that we were that would have to be done with mutual consent.
Q: What about your Early solo stuff
PG: The Early solo stuff, That could be done without mutual consent.(audience laughs).So when we’ve run out of old things to sell back to you, I’m sure we’ll start looking at that.Last 2 questions.
Q: (Dave Ling) You’re gonna hate me for asking this but Phil Collins has hinted that Rutherford and Banks are going to do a Genesis project next year, touring or recording. Does that interest you in any shape or form?
PG: Ahh, we get on fine and that and well, as I said, I’ve been enjoying some of the old stuff more than I expected, but its not - right -'Would you want to live in your school for a few months?'You might want to visit and see some old friends and checkout where they were and sort of re-live a few memories but I’m not sure .. cos there were -I had a few whispers in my ears .. big money mentioned and I did think about it, but - as much as I like some of the stuff, I’m not sure its where I want to be at the moment and maybeWell .. its one of those things. Actually, I learnt at Milton Keynes that to do it properly takes a lot of work, because I don’t think .. we worked hard for the week that we had in rehearsal but it wasn’t enough. I think it should have been a months rehearsal and a few gigs prior to that .. to do it justice and then once you’re in it you gotta to go for it, then its probably months rather than weeks and you think 'Is that really what I want to do at the moment?' and currently the answer is - yeah, though there’s a fondness there - 'No'
On the future
Moving on to the future, Peter was asked was his immediate plans were. 'Something to eat' he replied, hinting at the canapés to come, 'Then I’m going to do more of this in America, next week. Then I’ll come back home and look at some of the stuff and listen to some of the stuff that has already been recorded'. Though when asked precisely when we could expect a new Peter Gabriel album, he became deliberately vague. 'I used to say Christmas, without mentioning the year.' He joked 'No, I don’t know, and I hope it will be a lot less time than the last one, because there’s some stuff already recorded, but its a question of whether I like it when I start listening back to it.', he continued, sensing the audience’s keenness to hear him give a date in the foreseeable future. 'Hopefully, - I shouldn’t say this because I’ll be proved wrong but I’ll just say soon.'
‘Play’ is out in Europe on October 25th 2004.
The full tracklisting is as follows:
Father, Son / Sledgehammer / Blood Of Eden / Games Without Frontiers / I Don't Remember / Big Time / Lovetown / Red Rain / In Your Eyes / Don't Give Up / The Barry Williams Show / Washing Of The Water / Biko / Kiss That Frog / Mercy Street / Growing Up / Shaking The Tree / Shock The Monkey / Steam / The Drop / Zaar / Solsbury Hill / Digging In The Dirt
And the extras:
Games Without Frontiers (Live 2004) / Modern Love / The Nest That Sailed The Sky / Trailer for Growing Up Live / Trailer for A Family Portrait / Trailer for Secret World Live / Credits
Review: Charlie Farrell