Monday, February 18, 2008

NHOR : With the way the music scene is today, do you think that Blue Cheer would have a chance at commercial success if you were a young band just starting out?

DP : I would like to think so. I know I hear a lot of young bands that are coming from the same place musically that we came from. Would we make it? I don't know. We just happened to be the first ones around at that time, one of the few. When we started there were a few, like Iggy & The Stooges, The MC5 and stuff, but there were very few of us.

NHOR : Reportedly you, Leigh Stephens and Paul Whaley started Blue Cheer after seeing Jimi Hendrix at The Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Is that correct?

DP : That's not true. Blue Cheer was formed before we ever saw Hendrix. He was just the icing on the cake that told us we were going in the right direction. I had met Paul in Davis, California. I'd moved to San Francisco from Sacramento, and was starting a band with two friends of mine who were going to be managers of the band. I was the only musician. I started auditioning musicians and Paul was one of the first ones. I got him from a band called The Oxford Circle. As my hunt for a guitar player progressed, I finally met Leigh, and Paul and I decided to use him. He was with the band for about three years, but then he left.

NHOR : What were the reasons Leigh ended up leaving the band?

DP : There were several different reasons, but one of the main ones was musical incompatibility. He wasn't moving in the way we were moving.

NHOR : You recently, a couple of years ago got back together with Leigh at the Chetfest in 2005. What was that like playing with him again after so many years?

DP : It was okay. Leigh didn't do what he used to do. I've been doing this for 40 years straight, but Leigh took breaks.

NHOR : After the first couple of albums the band went towards a more commercial rock sound...

DP : I don't know if you would say we went for a more commercial sound. We were just making music. I've never once in my life...I swear to you, thought, "I'll write this because it's a commercial song." I've never thought that way. I can't think that way. I don't even know how you'd think that way. I know there are songwriters who do, but I'm not one of them. It was more refined, and quieter than what was on the first albums. I think that was a normal metamorphosis in a musician. I mean, I don't pick bands that I like who sound the same all the time. To me, that's quite boring. That's why we try to throw a ballad in, other stuff in. That makes us musicians and not just clones.

We still have to do a lot of our old songs, we can't get away without doing them. But we've managed to keep them fresh. We do that by sometimes rearranging the songs a bit. But generally speaking we really like playing with each other. We're really close. My biggest thrill is when one of these guys blows my mind, or when I blow their mind, that's when we know we're doing the right thing.

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