Nightwatcher's House Of Rock : First of all, thanks Dickie for taking the time out to talk with us, we really appreciate it, it's an honor...
Dickie Peterson : No problem man, my pleasure.
NHOR : Blue Cheer has a brand new studio album out 'What Doesn't Kill You..." which is the first studio album from the band in 15 years, and the first one released here in the U.S. in 20. How do you feel the album came out, and why was there so much time between albums?
DP : First off, I think the album came out really great. Duck is an excellent producer. He did pretty much what I wanted to do, in that we wanted to capture who we really are. I think he did a really good job in doing that with today's technology applied to what we do. We didn't record for quite some time simply because #1, we're performing artists. We record albums because you have to in this business, but if you really want to see what Blue Cheer is all about you have to go stand there. Performing live, that's what we're all about.
NHOR : Are you pleased with the response the album has been getting?
DP : I'm very pleased. We've got a lot of good responses, a lot of good reviews. I haven't really read any bad ones. The way people hit the 'net these days, if somebody thought it was bad it'd be on there.
NHOR : What effect do you feel that the Internet has on a band such as Blue Cheer?
DP : Well, one thing that the Internet does is give you massive exposure. Whether people pick up on it or not is another story, but it does give you that exposure. It gives younger bands a lot more exposure than we ever had when we were young. In that respect I think it's good. I know there's a lot of downloading going on. I don't know how they're ever going to stop that. But, sort of the way we've been treated by record companies, I don't mind them having to bite the bullet for a minute. (Laughs)
NHOR : If you had to pick a favorite song from the album, one which is the most personal to you, which one would it be and why?
DP : The most personal song for me off the new album is "Young Lions In Paradise". That was written about friends of mine and Paul's who are no longer with us because of the way we treated ourselves when we were younger. We stood right next to them. Why we're alive and they're not, I don't know. We all thought we were immortal and abused ourselves profusely. So, in that respect that's the song which touches me the most in that area. I also like "I'm Gonna Get You," and "Rollin' Dem Bones". I really do like all the songs on the album. Duck and I wrote all the songs on the album and we're a good team.
NHOR : Getting into the songwriting aspect...where do you get the inspiration for songs, and what's the usual process you and Duck have when you're writing?
DP : My inspiration for songs that I write comes from experiences that I've had or I've observed amongst my friends. I get my inspiration from my friends and family. Usually what happens is I'll show up with a melody line and a bass line. I'll play it for Duck, we'll push it around and work on it until we have something we're happy with. Sometimes we won't pursue something because it just doesn't work. Duck was the inspiration for "Rollin' Dem Bones". He said, "Hey Dickie, you ought to write a song about all the pot you've smoked". So, we did that. I think there's going to have to be a sequel. (Laughs)
NHOR : How if any has the songwriting process changed for you versus the early days of the band? Is it more disciplined now than it used to be?
DP : I would say we're more disciplined, but I think that comes with time, age and experience. I often talk with the young bands that open for us, and they'll often ask me, "What is it that you figure you've got now that we need?" And I'll say, "What we have, you WILL have, but it takes time". It's called experience. You can't get that until...plain and simple, every one in this band is a lifer. We've had a lifetime commitment to rock n roll long ago.
If you're willing to make that kind of commitment, in time your experience will show through. That's something no one can take away from you. It can't be replaced. It can't be taught, you just have to live it. I'll say to young musicians, "Hey man, you've got your whole life ahead of you. You'll pack on experience, and you'll understand what I'm saying when you do".
NHOR : You're on tour as well in support of the new album. How has the tour been going, and how long do you anticipate being out on the road this time around?
DP : We'll be out on the road through most of April. We'll be over in Europe in April I believe, and on the road here in the U.S. until then. As far as I'm concerned I don't want the tour to end. We do have to stop and take breaks, but I hope they're not too long.
NHOR : You just mentioned going to Europe...what is the difference in terms of the audience when you play over there versus here in the States for you?
DP : I can say that European audiences really, really love their music. If they like your band, they're very loyal and dedicated. American audiences, we've found that we get at our shows a lot of the stoner rockers and a lot of people our age. We get a large generation gap. We draw an audience probably not like most bands get. We'll get two or three generations of a family who will come to our shows.
NHOR : Are there any plans to film some shows from the tour and perhaps release a DVD?
DP : Yes. We've been doing some of this, but we haven't come up with a good one yet. We have several videos that we've done at shows, which eventually something will get compiled and come out, but I don't know when. We're in the middle of the tour, so we're hoping to get more footage as it goes along.
NHOR : This year, 2008, marks the 40th anniversary since your debut album 'Vincebus Eruptum' came out in 1968. It's one which has influenced countless bands including Black Sabbath, Grand Funk Railroad all the way through to modern stoner rock bands such as Nebula and others. Arguably it can be said that the album was the catalyst for what later became heavy metal. What do you recall about the sessions for that album? Was there ever a sense that what you were laying down was something special?
DP : Yeah, we thought it was special. But every band does, of course. Did we realize what was taking place? No. I don't think anybody at 19 years old has a grasp of your band turning into a classic, or anything like this. We were breaking ground. We were doing stuff that at that time nobody else had done. But whether it was going to be accepted or not, we didn't know that. We were doing it because that's what we wanted to do.
NHOR : That album has been referenced by countless critics as being, if not the first, one of the first heavy metal albums ever. How comfortable are you with that classification?
DP : We're pretty flattered by that statement, although we really don't consider ourselves heavy metal per se. We're a power trio. We're all low end. Heavy metal is high end, we're not. We're a Harley. We're not some high winding super bike, we're low end cruisers. (Laughs)
NHOR : What was it like coming up in the San Francisco scene in the mid 60's? You were certainly at odds at the time with what was coming out of the Bay area at that time such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Steve Miller etc. How much of a resistance was there to the wall of volume, heavy blues sound you were pioneering at the time?
DP : At the time a lot of the bands coming from San Francisco were emerging from the folk rock scene. Arlo Guthrie, Buffy St. Marie, Rambling Jack Elliott... all those people were the influences of most of those bands. Our influences were all blues and rhythm and blues artists. We were a lot younger than most of the other bands, and we had a bit more of an attitude. San Francisco was wide open, the music scene was wide open, and it gave us an opportunity to happen. There was a lot of resistance though. We were put down unmercifully. But all it did was make us stronger. What doesn't kill you will make you stronger.