Blue Peter: Falling In Love Again
by Carmen Mills
Friday October 7, 1983
Since its inception five years ago Blue Peter has worked its way to a familiar place on the Ontario club and concert hall circuit. Their 1981 lp Radio Silence garnered this four-man ensemble extensive national airplay. With the recent addition or Jason Sniderman on keyboards, Blue Peter's sound has been expanded and refined. This month a brand new album, Falling. was released by Ready Records. In an interview this week Sniderman spoke to The Gazette about changing, playing, Falling, and clothing.
Tell us about your personal background; what are your musical influences?
I've lived in Toronto all my life, and I've always been into music. Believe it or not, I took 13 years of classical piano at a Toronto conservatory you sure can't tell it from the music. I've been playing in various new wave bands around the city for the past few years, no big names, but the sound man for Blue Peter is a friend of mine, and about a year and a half ago he told me the band was looking for a keyboard player. So we got together and we hit it off. All I listen to basically is American funk, particularly early Prince and Gap Band. That, plus a little bit of classical on the car radio, and a few off the-wall British bands like Japan and A Certain Ratio.
How has Blue Peter changed over the past few years? You started off as an 'angry young band' (on Test Patterns For Living). Are you still angry?
Our statements are still basically the same, they're just more subtle. The band was very raw in the beginning. Chris Wardman, who does most of the writing was very influenced by the Clash and the Jam. At first it was a pretty raw sound, but we've all matured. It' s a progression rather than a radical change. Even on Falling you can still detect elements of the early music. Steve Nye, our new producer, has been a great help to our smoother, more refined sound. He's a world-class producer and engineer. (Nye has produced XTC and Japan in the past)
What is Falling about, and how is it doing commercially?
It's a 'falling in love' album Both Chris and l were in the process of falling in love when we wrote the songs (Sniderman wrote 'Unchained Heart'), and we wanted to communicate that emotion and passion to our audience. When we recorded the album we sang to pictures of girls we'd pinned up in the studio. The album's doing very well commercially. 'Don't Walk Past' is a big hit, especially in Sydney, Nova Scotia
How do you feel about being called a 'club band' and a 'dance band'? Is success, for you, still "just around the corner?"
When you first start out you think you want to be a big rock star, to play for 30,000 people and sell millions of albums. But we played the Police Picnic and when it was over, we realized that it wasn't such a big thrill. l got more of a kick out of opening for Simple Minds at Massey Hall. We've made a lot of progress, from small clubs to headlining 25.000-seat venues. It may sound corny, but to me success isn't being a big star, it's making a really good record-and I think Falling fits my definition of success. We're never going to 'turn a comer' and become 'famous' overnight. That's not the idea. Sure, we're a dance band, we love to see people up and dancing at our shows. But we like people to listen to the lyrics, too. I don't identify Blue Peter with popular synth-pop bands like Depeche Mode or The Spoons. We're more spontaneous, we don't use any sequencers on stage.
What do you like or dislike in an audience?
Girls. No, really, we like them (audiences) to dance, and to listen to the music. I hate types who just come out to drink. (Blue Peter will be playing at The Spoke next week.) London audiences are great, though. They seem to be really familiar with the band, and they appreciate us. When we played Victoria Park, everyone was dancing, even though it was 12:30 in the aftemooon-it was terrific. Also, I think people should dress a little better for shows. The band itself has a pretty strict dress code, so we think you should too-Blue Peter T-shirts would do. We liked the Western shirts you gave us last time we were here. Purple is nice. Our next album cover is going to be purple.