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Il Forum Italiano di Peter Cincotti

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Intervista Esclusiva - "Peter Talks about Metropolis" Part 1





Intervista Esclusiva - "Peter Talks about Metropolis" Part 2


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Mike Ragogna - huffingtonpost.com - A Conversation With Peter Cincotti

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Metropolis: A Conversation With Peter Cincotti.....


Mike Ragogna: Peter!

Peter Cincotti: How you doing, Mike?

MR: I am mucho glad this interview is finally happening, Big Guy.

PC: Me too, it's good to talk to you again.

MR: Yeah man, it was fun last time. We went over your album East Of Angel Town, one of my favorite albums by any artist, and you went and made Metropolis, an even stronger one this time out. My God, man, what is this sorcery?

PC: Thank you! (laughs)

MR: Metropolis covers familiar territory, though it almost seems like a conceptual album, like a romance in the "modern" age, and I know that sounds so old school.

PC: No not at all, that's an interesting way to put it. I guess that's true.

MR: There are a lot of topics that I can relate to and every single one of them has a contemporary or modern slant. Yeah, that's the best way to put it because you also retain that Rat Pack cool. Peter, in addition to the music, the lyrics are going that way, too, take for example, "My Religion." Or not, your choice.

PC: (laughs) There isn't much of a story there. One of the themes this record deals with is commitment, in a way. And I feel like "My Religion" represents the dark side of committing to someone in a relationship, and then the light side of the record would be the track "Forever And Always," which is the lead single in the U.K. Every territory has been picking a different lead single, and it's interesting to see who gravitates towards what. "My Religion" is a song about committing, but I don't really know if it is. Sometimes, I hear it and I think that it is something sarcastic in it. I don't know what the hell I write, by the way.

MR: Stop that, don't ever say things like that again! Besides, by the end of this interview, maybe you will have a better fix on how you write. Yup, I'm sure of it.

PC: Maybe, I don't know, I am too close to everything.

MR: Peter, I accuse you of being in the lineage of Billy Joel, but maybe even on the next level up...you know, if he were still making records, which he isn't, which sucks, but whatever.

PC: I can't take offense to that. You're delusional, but thank you.

MR: No, thank YOU! Yes sir, I think that you're the heir apparent to that dynasty. I also want to point out your amped-up production. You recorded Metropolis with John Fields, right?

PC: I did. He was great.

MR: What was it like in the studio with him?

PC: One of the reasons why I loved working with him is because he is spontaneous to a degree, and it was the right amount of spontaneity. I've never made a record like that. We were making mixing decisions before we even recorded certain instruments. Somehow on every track, we always maintained that bird's eye view and it formed in an interesting way. It wasn't like, "We're gonna do this, and we have guitars next Wednesday, and we lay vocals down Thursday, then we add this, then we mix, and we master, etc." It was as if we were throwing it against a wall and there was no formula. That's the way he works and I loved recording that way.

MR: Okay, "Graffiti Wall," speaking of throwing things against a wall. What is that song about?

PC: I have no answers because part of the time, it is the questions that are paramount to anything else and sometimes when I get excited about a song, a line, or a chorus, it's because I'm personally not sure how to look at it. Sometimes, there's that certain...I don't know what that is; there's that certain question mark that you know has to be in a song. At other times, there are songs that are more linear, more obvious and direct. But "Graffiti Wall is not one of them, and that is why I enjoyed playing around with it and recording it as well.

MR: Peter, right about now, I have to remind everyone you were in a Spider-Man movie. You're a god.

PC: Everyone cites that because it's a seemingly impressive tagline and it got thrown into my bio somewhere along the way. The truth of the matter is, if you blink your eyes while watching that movie, you will miss me. It's like 2 seconds. I'm playing the piano in that movie; it was a fun thing to do, but by no means do I deserve credit for that.

MR: Oh, but Peter Cincotti, You deserve much credit for your very on camera role in the Bobby Darin biopic, Beyond The Sea.

PC: That was cool. I played a musical director sitting at the piano so I didn't really have to do much prep for that one.

MR: Yeah, whatever. What was it like working with Kevin Spacey?

PC: It was great, I really liked working with him. We stayed in touch through the years and he's been a great friend and supporter. It was a totally new environment for me and I think I was in the middle of writing my second record at the time. My memory of Beyond The Sea is directly connected to where I was in my writing process and development at that time early on.

MR: Let's take a look at that period versus where you went with East Of Angel Town. It was your third album and on that record--which I have zero objectivity about--you went front and center as far as strutting your "artist" out. On the other two albums, you were trying to conform or fit into this sort of Michael Bublé thing. It was almost like you needed to burst out of that previous identity. Sorry, I'm being blunt and totally opinionated here.

PC: I can only try to look back and have some perspective on it. I look at my first record and remember even then I was doing a lot of jazz and covering standards. I was trying to find every way to personalize some of those songs. I remember not picking so many Sinatra songs because somebody like him would put a stamp on it to a degree that I had too much respect for so much that he did and I wouldn't want to do it. And if there was an overlap, then there damn well better be a totally different spin on the song. Even early on, that was a priority for me in that genre. I would agree with you more on my second record. I look back on that record... I felt like that was a very scattered record. I had one foot in the jazz door, but I was searching for something else. I didn't know quite yet what that was. A few years went by after that and I made East Of Angel Town, and that one felt like a debut for me even though I had two records out.

MR: That album was a real introduction to you, to Peter Cincotti.

PC: I feel that way, too. A lot of people know me, particularly in the States, from the early stuff, and it is real interesting to see the two camps of supporters or the non-supporters since the third album was so different than the first. I get all different types of people at my shows.

MR: When the third album came out, dude, I insist, that was a major leap.

PC: Even people are saying that about this record from my third record, that this is a major leap and....I don't know, every time I make a record, I never think it is a leap. Even from my second to my third. But you know, to me, every record is an obvious next step. There's never a question in my mind about what kind of record I need to make. Like I said, I am not the person to ask. I have no perspective on myself.

MR: But wait, you do have a perspective on the world's take on Peter Cincotti versus the United States. As you mentioned about the singles or lead tracks, every territory is a little different. So how do they look at you in other parts of the world? What is your career like there?

PC: I take my cues from how people see me from other people, but I don't know how to really describe what I do, in a way, because I don't know how to categorize it, though everyone else is great at categorizing it. For the last record, I was in Europe mainly for the last few years and then in the Fall, I will hopefully be back for this record. Currently, they're picking singles. So like I said, the UK is going with one song, Italy is another and France is another, so we never did it like this before.

MR: It's an excellent sign. It's like in the old days, we would have regional hits.

PC: Interesting, I didn't know that.

MR: You can look at each of the countries in Europe in some respect, they're territories, and having a hit song in each of these "territories, you are having regional hits, really.

PC: Yeah, it's interesting to see what people gravitate towards and how it
correlates to that particular culture, you know?

MR: You have a musical that you are working on with Pia Cincotti. Is that a very distant relative of yours as if I didn't know?

PC: No that's my sister. The rehearsal schedule, getting this play up and developing it and rewriting it, the last few months of my life, I have been totally consumed with the musical that I am really excited about. It's been an unforgettable experience and I hope that this is the first step for us in this arena and we just got extended for two more shows here in New York. The name of the play is How Deep Is The Ocean. It has been great to watch and be a part of the process.

MR: What's the nutshell synopsis?

PC: It's a comedy on the surface, but I personally don't think it's a comedy at all. It's about a man who gets the opportunity to chlorinate the ocean. He's a pool man, he's obsessed with chlorine. The sea is polluted and the play opens up with this big crisis of fish washing up, and it's a beach town, everyone's freaking out, and he falls into this situation where he is the guy that saves the sea and saves the town.

MR: Okay, so that means, of course, that chlorine is a metaphor for love and peace and understanding.

PC: (laughs) I guess so. Chlorine is a metaphor in the play and on the surface, it is a crazy topic. But underneath, it is a story about love, like you said, and following your dreams, and seeing how far you go for passion.

MR: How long have you gone for the passion of playing music?

PC: I'm still going and I never thought about it twice. For my whole life, I have been playing music. I started playing piano when I was three, and I was writing music a few years after that. I never stopped. I have been fortunate to be able to make a living doing it and I thank my lucky stars everyday. There are ups and downs and there are no routines whatsoever. It's an unpredictable life, but I do feel lucky enough to get up in the morning and do what I love.

MR: What's nice about a lifestyle of making music all the time is it allows you the freedom to be at your most creative whenever it hits you. When you look at your life now and where you started out, did you think that you would get to this level of success?

PC: I didn't know what to expect early on. I didn't have a blueprint for what I wanted. I will say that it was more focused on singular record making and touring. I never expected to be writing this musical. I never expected to be in a movie with Kevin Spacey and those weird things that just kind of happened. They really changed things, particularly, the creative process to get this musical up on its feet has affected Metropolis in ways I never would have thought. I was writing for the record and writing for the play simultaneously for the last four years. They are two totally different projects. The musical is very traditional theater with a variety of styles--a lot of jazz, a lot of where I come from, musically. My new record is totally different. It is much more modern. It's been interesting straddling that fence with projects that are polar opposites of each other, but I didn't expect any of that kind of thing. By the way, your sum up of my career sounds great. There is tons of dead time where you're sitting on your ass and the business stinks and you're pissed. The record business is uncertain. Everyone's getting fired, you don't know when your next tour is going to be, you're between labels and a year goes by, there's all that. I'm not complaining because I've been lucky, but it's not the sound bite that it sounds like when you sum it up. There's a lot of uncertainty, though I think that fuels the creative process.

MR: My God, you are the heir of Billy Joel.

PC: Why? Did he say something like that?

MR: No, but he is very upfront and blunt when it comes to telling it like it is, you know.

PC: It sounds great, and it is great. You work for those moments on stage, that one hour on stage where you play what you want, and you play what's from the heart, but you people don't know about the 20 meetings you had to have with executives explaining that you are not going to sing that song, and they go, "Oh, you're not going to sing that song?" and then you're dropped from the label. Stupid stuff like that. Politics. The record business. You've got to fight through it. Luckily, every record that I have made is what I've wanted to make. Thankfully, I am surrounded by a team who understands and believes in me. For that I feel very fortunate.

MR: Peter, we've come to that part of the interview when I ask you what advice do you have for new artists?

PC: I guess it would be something along those lines. I mean, it's tough. You've got to do it if you need to do it. If there's no other option in life, you've got to follow it and you've got to play what's from the heart. A lot of people disagree with me, too. Hell, I'd be making a lot more money if I would have stuck with jazz. Everybody wanted me to make jazz record after jazz record because it worked for me that first time, but I wanted to explore different things. It costs solely business-minded people a lot of things. Therefore, things change, teams change, the whole rest of your career changes by a single decision like that. But I have always embraced those kinds of changes because I have learned a lot, certainly musically.

MR: I have my own biased perspective, but how do you feel Metropolis fits into today's musical landscape right now?

PC: Sonically and production-wise, it is on par with what you hear on the radio, but I was interested in working with John Fields because I wanted to somehow take the style of songwriting in which I write and put it through that filter. I wanted to create a hybrid of something. I know I am being a bit vague, but it is hard to describe. If the production was going to be modern, I wanted the writing to be something else. We found those moments of combinations that were really exciting, like on songs like "Nothing's Enough" and "Metropolis" in particular. To me, they sum up the record. I very rarely hear that kind of writing put through that kind of filter, so it was really gratifying to collaborate with Fields on that level. He's also so capable of all kinds of stuff. Every time we would start to sit in one box, we would jump into another box. He is such a great, versatile musician. It allowed us to record a lot of different songs, but through one color of production, which is what the record has. I think it has that unification... the record describes it the best.

MR: No, no, don't stop there. Wouldn't you say this is part of your process? It's almost like you do the album, you do the work, and then you look at it a little later and then you realize what you did?

PC: Exactly. Totally. I will know more about what I did as time goes by. I'm far clearer about my first record than I ever was when I was making it.

MR: Near future for Peter Cincotti...what are you up to other than the new album and the musical?

PC: Well, they are both the first steps of what will take me to the next year or so. I want to tour. I haven't really been on the road for a while, I've been in my cave, so to speak, writing both of these projects. Now that I'm kind of done, I'm just really excited to get back out there and play. The record will be the template for that over the next few months at least. Then the play, I want to keep developing it. This was our very first production of seeing it and hearing it and putting an audience in front of it. You learn a hell of a lot. I've had a lot of fun finding out what works and what doesn't and the reason why for each of them and then go back and rewrite something. It's been really fulfilling. I've never had that instant creative gratification before in anything.

MR: Will the touring bring you to the Midwest?

PC: I hope so. A US tour is one of my big priorities. It's been so long since I've done a full tour, so I hope to be in the Midwest soon.

MR: You know, the Midwest isn't really the Midwest. We've got to rename it.

PC: (laughs) I've got some low-key gigs here while the musical is up. I've got a performance at a place here called The Living Room this week and Wednesday and on July 30 just to play some new material. Probably in the Fall, again, we'll start up a new tour.

MR: I hope to catch you for one of those performances because you have weaseled your way into becoming one of my favorite artists and I really appreciate that.

PC: Thank you so much, Mike.


Mike Ragogna - huffingtonpost.com - A Conversation With Peter Cincotti 2012-08-02-41HpJLaCyWL._SL500_AA300_

Tracks:
1. Metropolis
2. My Religion
3. Do Or Die
4. Take A Good Look
5. Nothing's Enough
6. Magnetic
7. Graffiti Wall
8. Fit You Better
9. Madeline
10. World Gone Crazy
11. Forever And Always
12. Before I Go



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