Laughing So As Not to Cry: An Eric Peters Interview–Part II

By

This is part 2 (and the conclusion) of our interview with our very own Eric Peters (though he is a free man). Part 1 is right here. Read it and watch out for the unicorns. Stay tuned at the end of this interview for a chance to win your very own copy of Chrome for free.

ep by jeff holland

SDS: How can those of us who are “way in” support your work and is there anything in particular we can pray for you and your family for?

EP: Sure. Work. Preferably in the form of shows and concerts. I don’t want to rehash a dead horse (a rather disgusting and ghoulish image) here, but 2009 has been something akin to sheer crumminess, work-wise, for me. If I’m supposed to be doing this with my life — I’m still trying to figure that one out — then encouragement (not to mention income) comes in the form of bookings. To know that somewhere out there some person connects enough with my songs to invite me to play at their home or church or chili cook-off, that is affirming and edifying. The lack of those bookings combined with what seems like the effect of running into a brick wall in terms of approaching other folks (inviting myself) to play at their church or wherever, has been less than sweet dreams. Personally, it’s been a roller-coaster year; from career, to finances, to news of marriage troubles. I sure don’t want to wish away the days, but I can only hope that 2010 brings brighter light.

How can you pray for me and my family? Pray that I can find identity in Christ. Alone. I’m no good to my wife and my family if I don’t know and believe the richest things that God says about me, how he sees me, how safe I am with him. I need to rely, depend, and rest in this. I’m struggling to do that what with the ongoing conflict of faith, art and commerce.

SDS: Talk about what it’s like to have friends like AP and the Square Pegs in your life. Is it as awful as it seems? People want to know what it’s like when all you mega-super stars hang out. Tell the people. Give us an anecdote, or an antidote. The disease we have is curiosity.

EP: Truth is we rarely hang out together all at once. We’ll see each other here and there, sometimes randomly, sometimes planned, but we seem to all be in similar spots in life with very young children, struggling to pay bills, just trying to survive and make ends meet. Just like everyone else in America. In some sense, this recession is no different than every other month of every other year of our lives: life as an artist is rarely one of stability, whether financial or emotional.

But when we DO hang out together, it feels like family. I can’t imagine a more pleasant group of folks to be associated with professionally and to call friends. A superwoman fan in Maine recently gave us a very valid excuse to gather together in celebration of Chrome‘s release; she overnighted me twenty fresh, live Maine lobsters, and that evening we – all 31 of us, including children – gathered at the Peters’ 1100 sq. ft. craftsman home to partake of freshly steamed seafood, replete with drawn garlic butter, dessert and drinks. Other than seeing one another from time to time in random path crossings, occasionally planned, that meal, though hectic (imagine many people wanting a glimpse of the contents of four large steaming pots going at once, inside a somewhat tiny kitchen), was as tiring and as enjoyable as it might sound. Short of it is I don’t get to see these folks nearly enough in my week to week.

If you’re Andrew Peterson, you enjoy playing games, games like throwing tennis balls at your host. If you’re Jeremy Casella, you enjoy browsing my library shelves taking in the nearly complete Buechner collection sitting high atop them. If you’re Randall Goodgame, you arrive late, but everyone is thrilled you finally made it. If you’re Jill Phillips, you drive last-minute to get pizza takeout because your hosts are more than slightly under-prepared for such a crowd. If you’re Andrew Osenga, you show up in shorts and sandals and nine toes, and everyone loves you for that. If you’re Ben Shive, you arrive alone, but are visibly pleased when your wife and children arrive unexpectedly. If you’re Eric or Danielle Peters, you’re a couple of scamper-busy Marthas in the kitchen, preparing and serving food, making sure guests have what they need, and that all feel welcome and at home amid the chaos of a floor full of flung toys, used diapers, and peaked decibels to accompany it. But not a one of them cares a lick about college football, and that, to me, is a sad thing.

SDS: You always have amazing love songs on your records and Chrome is no exception. “It’s So Sad to Watch You Wave” is another endearing, unusual love song oozing with poetic word-pictures and a kind of nostalgic fog. Tell us about where that material comes from.

EP: I’ve kind of gotten into my head that I need/want at least one song on each of my records to be, at the very least, a nod to my wife, whose unwavering support for ten years and counting is more than just something artificially sweet. She has enabled me over the course of my career to continue doing this, traveling with me during those early years, sleeping on crummy couches and in beds with shards of broken glass (true story from Tallahassee, FL), enduring miles upon miles of utter repetition, and experiencing firsthand what a touring life is like. I enjoy writing these songs.

Land Of The Living had “May Your Tenderness”, Miracle of Forgetting had “The Maginot Line” (she’s a seamstress, if you happen to have no idea what the reference is), Bookmark had “Take This Joy” (a song about adoption), Scarce had “You Can Be Yourself”, and Chrome has “Sad To Watch You Wave” (among several other references on this, what amounts to a very personal record for me). I admit I have a bit of a sappy streak in me, and I also don’t hesitate to try and make you cry, as well. I’m an emotional person, tearing up at either myself or at movies, such films as Cars. But I rarely hesitate to write my wife into the songs, especially since most of them are personal to me to some degree. Having said that, I would no more know how to write a traditional love song if it approached me with a flaming angel in its mouth, bit me on the calf, and then barked out a tune. That might actually make a really nice love song. If I wrote mostly generic love songs, then it seems like they wouldn’t be FOR my wife, if you catch my drift. I have to make them personal or else I’m singing into nothing. Now If I could only figure out how to write mostly generic love song material, and then sell it for oodles, then I’d be able to sit in my backyard, sip on wine, and pluck U.S. Grants as needed from the lowest branches of my flourishing money tree (which is a country song I wrote a few years ago — “If Money Grew On Trees”).

SDS: I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who teared-up at Cars. We should never watch “UP” together or someone might take a photo and then we’d be “in the soup,” as the kids say –kids from the 1930’s.

So, for a final question (sing it “The ending is where we start”) I’d like to ask about finishing. Chrome drips with honest self-assessment and a coming to grips with life in all its disappointment and wonder. There’s a longing to be connected with that which does not break down, them that do not abandon. When someday you look back on your career as a genuine “Pappy,” what do you want to have been true about what you did? What’s the hoped-for abstract for the life and work of Eric Peters?

EP: Gee-willikers. Yep, cried at Up, too, alongside my wife on one of our egregiously rare date nights. Those Pixar folks know how to get it out of me.

That I wasn’t a waste of time. That what I brought to earth – I can only hope it is worthy of being classified as “art” – was something worthwhile, beautiful and edifying. And, lastly, I hope that my work will survive longer than I do, meaning I hope that one day my music actually catches on and proceeds to make my children and their children rich.

Chrome cover

Thanks to Eric for a fun view of the inter. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of Chrome (buy here). I have listened to it more times than should be possible without getting sick of something and, as with every one of EP’s records –it is un-get-sick-of-able. I love it. In fact, I want to give an autographed copy of Chrome away right now (it will be Eric’s autograph –not, as was offered before, an autographed copy of my autograph.)

Just make a comment and you are entered to win. I’ll announce the winner soon.


31 Comments

  1. Jeff Schinella

    Great interview! You both remind me of family…maybe it’s cause we’re brothers in Christ…maybe it’s the humor. Anyways, thanks for brightening my day, and as encouragement to Eric Peters, I had not heard of his music until coming to Japan (currently studying abroad). I’d say that’s a pretty wide fan base!

  2. Yvan Rey

    The interview was very nice. You got me with the title, which somehow reaches to me at this present time. The art cover of the CD as well. That’s because my closed lock does hide under an umbrella, wary and unwanting falling keys (and people) to open it.
    MR Peters, we do have something in common, and that’s a bit of insecurity (add to that low self-esteem for me).
    Great job and be encouraged on your way, God is using (and will) use you.
    As I live in Europe, the soccer ball (as in football) is round. Does your Earth have an college football ball form ? No answer really needed, it was just a stupid joke.

  3. Andrew

    Thanks for this. It was great to hear a bit of Eric’s heart. And to know that other people get sentimental at animated movies…

  4. davidp

    great interview!! EP, your art is completely worthwhile, beautiful & edifying….at least to these humble ears.

    i used to follow college football before my Tigers became irrelevant to the discussion. haha.

  5. Micah

    I was hoping that Eric would comment on the significance of the cover art for Chrome… it’s a very interesting picture, and it looks like it’s making a statement, but I don’t quite understand it.

  6. Keith

    EP
    What about Gully???- You left him out of the dinner party. Surely with him you can discuss many a college football game, or at the least a disc-golf course or two.
    I would be game for some NFL talk, along with a Buechner discussion or two, but college football leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I am an Illini alum. ‘Nuff said.

  7. Profile photo of Eric Peters

    Eric Peters

    @ericpeters

    Jon, I’m still friends with all the Square Pegs even though they could care less about football, either of the oddball American version, or the far more beautiful – and round – European version. We CAN be friends, after all, you see.

    Yvan, since I grew up playing the sport, I would much rather watch soccer/futbol than the pigskin version we have here with its shoulder pads, helmets and other wimpy protective gear.

    By “college football”, I of course mean the purple and gold-clad LSU Tigers.

  8. Aaron Roughton

    S.D., thanks for a great interview. Remember when you said, “un-get-sick-of-able?” That was awesome.

    Eric, I am so glad to see a legitimate artist voice support for the clearly superior every-place-but-the-USA version of football (the round kind).

    One other thing, who is the maker of that guitar you are holding in the picture?

  9. Yet Another Rogue

    Bravo, gentlemen. Mr. Smith ought to make a living giving interviews, and Mr. Peters deserves to have his voice heard in a good many other places, if only for his winsome insights into the disappointments and hopes of us all.

  10. Justin

    Great interview from both sides! Funny and thoughtful questions and answers. Eric, your music is refreshingly honest and wonderfully crafted, and I think it has blessed people, myself included, more than you can know. Here’s to a full and fulfilling 2010!

  11. Keith

    David- Ouch. No need to add insult to injury. If the Rabbit Room does head in the sports-talk direction we may actually see a post or 2 from Gullahorn, which is never a bad thing. Though I don’t know if the Proprietor will allow such riff-raff.

    As a southern boy myself, and I mean way south (as in south o’ the border)..Three cheers for real futbol!!!
    I still love them both, pig skin and spherical.

  12. Profile photo of S. D. Smith

    S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    I am a fan of both, having played the roundball version in Appalachia and Africa through college. (Not very well.)

    But EP and I agree on college football. Great stuff.

    Also, I like Eric’s music. A-lot.

    Chrome for your sports?

    Thanks for the nice comments.

  13. Aaron Roughton

    Good luck winning the contest Eric. And that’s a wise choice to play wooden guitars. If I had my doubts as to whether you were the real deal or not, the wooden guitar puts them to rest.

  14. whipple

    Ooh. This is my comment entering to win. I am American, free stuff will draw me like ants to a marmalade jar. That it’s Eric Peters’ “stuff” only makes it amazing. Two items of business, though. One: If Eric wins the drawing, whom does he ask to autograph the cd? And Two: Andy and the Andys are playing at the Square Room in Knoxville. I think that makes it fair to say that Eric Peters, another venerated Square Peg, should be able to play the Square Room (read, here’s a gig which I would attend). Preferably, this would include the obligatory noon appearance at the Blue Plate Special (where you do a concert which is broadcast live). People would buy cds and also hear about your concert in the evening. People always show up for the Blue Plate, no matter what.

  15. whipple

    I just realized what I wrote, therefore I must clarify.

    “…no matter what” meaning folks who have never heard of you will simply show up (rain or shine) beside the folks who know you. And they will listen well.

  16. Paul Holderman

    I am so enjoying all the media interviews, and review concerning Eric’s new Cd and also Jason Gray’s
    I lower myself to watching Pro Football every season, Week in and week out… the other 6 months I get off the couch and go Disc Golfing
    Never got into the college football thing…. I may try it as an alternate to all the overpaid hype in the NFL

  17. benjamin christensen

    Looking forward to hearing this album. I soon will be getting paid and hopefully buying not just Chrome, but a few other EP records. I was waiting til it showed up on iTunes…now I can rock out or cry out with Chrome!!!

  18. Profile photo of Eric Peters

    Eric Peters

    @ericpeters

    Benjamin & all ye digitally-minded: Chrome is now up on iTunes. Would appreciate any kind, generous, and well-worded reviews.

    S.D: Did I win the contest? I demand and deserve to know right here, right now. After all, I’m an American, for land’s sake! Gimme.

If you have a Rabbit Room account, log in here to comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *