Peter Frampton Shines On (Part 2 of 2)

Continued from Part One

I was just listening to your 2014 album Hummingbird in a Box. The track “Norman Wisdom” hearkens back to Django Reinhardt and hot jazz, which I know was an early influence of yours. But something else I hear – especially in the vocals – makes me think of Steely Dan. Is that a coincidence?

Well, probably. But the thing is, who doesn’t listen to a lot of Steely Dan? I’m a huge Steely Dan fan. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t listen to at least one track of theirs.

I think it all goes in, and you don’t know what’s going to come out when you [write] something. Your brain pulls from places, and you don’t know where it’s coming from. When we listen to stuff, it goes into the library of information and it stays there until the brain says, “Oh, that’s a bit like this.” So I think that inspiration comes out from something I might have listened to ten years ago. Who knows? I have no idea how the brain works. And if you do, please tell me!

On the main page of your website there’s an appeal for helping to vote you into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What are your thoughts on the significance of that institution?

Well, I know that in the past it’s got a bad rap, and I kind of know why. It wasn’t particularly run on a terrifically good basis beforehand. Everything’s changed now, though, which I’m very pleased about. Not because of me; it happened before [my nomination]. But I think people are going to be much more pleased with the nominees from now on. Not everyone’s going to be happy [always], but I think it’s going to be much more realistic.

For a while, your medical diagnosis made it look like your touring days were over. Happily, you’re proving that wrong. Is there anything that you’re able to do to slow or mitigate the progression of the IBM [inclusion body myositis]?

At the moment, no. There’s a new drug trial coming up that I hope to be part of. But as of the moment, we have no magic bullet, as it were. So that’s why my fund, the Peter Frampton Fund at Johns Hopkins is so important to me. And so many people donate for the cause. You wouldn’t believe how many people donate, and what they send. Some people send $10, and some people send thousands. It’s really, truly amazing to me.

Peter Frampton and Steve Marriott (Humble Pie)

Again looking back across your body of work, do you have a favorite song of yours that you think might have been overlooked?

Well, there’s one that we might be trying [on this tour]. We’ve never done it live, and it’s off the third album, [1974’s] Something’s Happening. It’s called “Golden Goose.” I’d been bought and sold business-wise a couple of times, so it’s about that: “I ain’t nobody’s golden goose.” So that might be one; I hope we do it. I’m not saying we will, but we’re going to try it.

Are you working on new studio material?

Yes, I am, and I have been for quite a few years. I’m not as prolific as a lot of artists. My son Julian is far more prolific than me and writes great songs. We’ll probably write one together, I would think, for this next album. But I’ve got to write my own, right?

I’m trying to make the best possible record I’ve ever made, which is always the way. It’s got to better than everything else; otherwise, why do one? And as Thelonious Monk once said, you don’t want to write songs for the people. You want to write the songs for yourself. It might take ten or 20 years for [the audience] to come around, but you’ve got to wait for them.

I’m sure Picasso could have made a lot more money if he’d stayed in his blue period. But he didn’t, because he’s been there, done that, and what fun is that? He came out with something new all the time. And that’s the true artist: you do it for yourself, not what you think other people might like.

With that in mind, can you provide any hints as to the character of these new songs?

I think it’s all looking inward. I wrote during COVID, and one of the better songs I’ve ever written came from not being able to see my granddaughter when she was born in Manhattan. I don’t know how good it is, but I’m proud of it for me; I love it. And that’s the way I’ve got to feel about every track.

I’ve been looking through older stuff as well while I’m writing. I found one, and thought, “This is really good. When did I do this? Like 2010 or something?” And then I thought, “It’s good, but it’s not quite what I need. It’s not making me feel like some of those other tracks that I love.”

2026 will mark the 50th anniversary of Frampton Comes Alive. Are you thinking that far ahead in terms of what you might do for that?

No. I’m an of-the-moment person. My managers will think about that for me! If I get the induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which I’m hoping happens, it’ll be a wonderful next couple of years for me with that. And for the 50th anniversary of Frampton Comes Alive, we’re going to have a big party. I don’t know what we’re going to do; that’s all I’ve been told: We’re going to have a big party. But you never know. We’ll work out something.

I hope I’ll be able to do some playing then. But I don’t know, because as I keep saying to everybody that’s asking me, including managers and agents, “I don’t know whether you can book that next tour, because I have a progressive disease and it affects my hands.”

I’ve got to have the wherewithal to be able to play, and I’m adapting, but I am losing strength in my hands. But between the audience and the adrenaline and my love of playing music, especially guitar, somehow I pull it off every night.

You may also enjoy my first interview with Peter Frampton, from way back in 2016.