Peter Buzzelle was the first musician to follow my Twitter feed. I’d only been ‘tweeting’ a while, so was obviously excited enough to check out his (at the time) latest record ‘To Telescope’ and I enjoyed what I heard. I kept an eye on Peter’s tweets and when the recently released ‘Museum Of’ came out, I gave the album a listen and to my pleasure, found the guitar driven indie rock striking a chord with me. As I was going back to the record time and again, Peter became my first choice for the inital ‘The Music Doesn’t Stop’.
I’m in Brighton and he’s in Boston, so our chat was conducted over email and Twitter and I make no excuses for just asking the questions that I, as a fan, wanted to know about the man and his music.
Hi Peter, what is the new record ‘Museum Of’ all about? Are there any thematic links to its predecessor ‘To Telescope’?
‘Museum Of’ is a collection of songs I had written over the period of about two years. I was just writing what came out. A lot of themes of family and being human on this planet are what emerged. The song ‘Living Together’ really sums up what I was trying to get across with this record.
The record opens with a great ‘car song’, ’67 Mustang’, do you actually drive one?
No, it was actually an 82 Datsun station wagon, my first car when I was in high school. As a young man growing up I was obsessed with cars, the 67 Mustang being my favorite. Maybe I’ll afford one someday.
I’m sure there must be a rich musical tradition of car themed songs. If there is then my favourite is The Clash’s version of ‘Brand New Cadillac’. What’s yours?
Well, I’ll take it one step further, being from Boston, one of my all time most favorite bands is The Cars. The hand claps in 67 Mustang are a tribute to them.
The track ‘Somerville Hospital’ ends with a great refrain (at least I think that’s the term), ‘gonna get a good job, save some money and marry you’. Did you get a good job, save some money and marry this person?
Yes! Everything in that song is true
Do you play the blistering solo on ‘Soul Clinic Bible School’? It’s cool!
That is my brother in law/record producer Chris Zerby, it is my favorite moment on the record.
Tell us about where you’re from and your musical background. How have the two impacted your current album?
My first instrument is the drum set, I started taking lessons when I was an early teenager. The local youth group in the town I lived in at the time, Coos Bay, Oregon was offering free drum lessons and I decided to give it a try. I think my teacher, Tom Beckstrom questioned my commitment at first. But, once I traded my boom box for a set of drums I was on my way…it was a nice boom box. I was involved in no music program in high school, but practiced the drums relentlessly every day after school. Upon graduation, I attended a local community college and took my first music class. Learning music theory as a drummer was definitely a challenge. I then attended the Musicians’ Institute in Hollywood, California the following year. In 1996 I attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. I studied music composition and audio engineering and graduated in 98′. It was during my time in Olympia that I really found myself as a musician. I was the drummer in a band called Frequency dB. Being in the Northwest during this period was incredibly inspiring for me. Frequency dB played hundreds of shows with many bands including: Screaming Trees, Goodness, Hovercraft, The Posies, Sweet 75, Sky Cries Mary, Sage and many more. I was composing music on the piano, guitar and computer with vintage analog synthesizers in college during the day and performing and rehearsing with my band in the evenings.
I moved to Boston, MA in 2000 and have spent most of this time raising a family and writing. The time I have spent here and the life changes it has brought me are reflected in the music I wrote for ‘MUSEUM OF’.
Have you always been a solo artist?
Other than drumming in various groups, yes. When I decided to do my own thing, it started more as a recording project and has evolved into me being a ‘solo’ artist. In retrospect I wish I would have come up with a name for the project other than putting my name on it. The idea of being a solo artist feels like more pressure than being a band.
You are the first Buzzelle I’ve met. What are the origins of the name?
Welsh! But I’m mostly of Scottish descent. It was originally spelled: Buzzel, but the ‘le’ was added when my ancestors came through Ellis Island.
I hear influences of the likes of Matthew Sweet and The Replacements when I listen to your records – is that fair?
I’ve got the Matthew Sweet comparison before, it’s flattering because he is so talented. Curt, who played bass on ‘Museum Of’ is a big Replacements fan, maybe a little of that got into my music. But, yes those are fair references for sure, I’m a big 90′s indie rock fan.
I also noticed you mention Morrissey as a touch point for your music, is he a big influence?
Yes, I love Morrissey, although I don’t believe I sound like him at all. I’m just inspired by his style and how he phrases his singing. I also think his lyrics are always fresh.
Who then have been your greatest influences?
Depeche Mode is my biggest influence, although, again, I sound nothing like them. I want to be their drummer! PJ Harvey is another huge influence, the Pixies is another, Elliott Smith, John Vanderslice, Johnny Cash.
What bands interest you today, why?
I really dig Band Of Horses, Ben has a voice given to him from the angels, Wilco are still great, Arcade Fire are inspiring and unique in this modern world of pop music.
I’m from Brighton in the UK and we have a thriving music scene – even in this time of recession – is that the case where you are?
Boston is full of talented musicians. The Berklee College Of Music is here and it is a big draw for musicians all over the world to come study here. But, I do think I was spoiled from my time being in the Northwest scene. There’s nothing like that here, the Boston scene is more fragmented between tribes, very provincial.
Best gig ever – one you’ve played and one you’ve attended
Best gig for me is always the last one I’ve played, so….last night was my best gig.
Best gig I’ve attended was The Police reunion show at Fenway Park here in Boston about four years ago. I loved The Police growing up and never got to see them in their prime, but they sounded incredible.
Do you have any live gigs planned?
I am planning a CD release party in mid-January 2012 here in Boston. Check out my website for updates: www.peterbuzzelle.com
Talking of live music, what would be your dream festival line up (you have space for 5 bands on the bill)?
Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Lennon, Nirvana, INXS
How have websites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, BandCamp, etc impacted musicians like you?
They have given us a platform to reach people all over the world. You would have not found my music if it was not for Twitter Bandcamp has been a great place for my music to be presented and heard.
What are the Pro’s & Con’s? Does it help sell records/reach a larger audience or help consolidate a local following?
I think it does both, it is my philosophy that the way to get exposure for low budget indie music is through licensing music for film or TV. But it is insanely competitive, I have placed nothing yet! It is impossible to compete with the large amount of money major record labels put behind bands to gain them exposure. The internet social platforms certainly help the indie artist. But it all begins with making music someone wants to listen to.
I really like the artwork for both, Museum Of’ and ‘To Telescope’ and was curious as to where can we find the ‘To Telescope’ sign in real life?’
Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles, CA, if it is still there. I took that photo about 12 years ago and they have since renovated. It is where ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ was filmed in the 50′s.
What is the biggest compliment somebody could pay your music?
That it moves them in some way and has changed their life for the positive.
Finally, where can people buy your records, find out more about you?
CD Baby, itunes, Amazon, http://peterbuzzelle.bandcamp.com/
All links to my social networking are at: www.peterbuzzelle.com
There you go then. Thanks so much to Peter for indulging my geeky questions and giving us an interesting insight into his music and influences. I am really enjoying ‘Museum Of’ and would definitely recommend giving it a listen.