In anticipation of Peter Frampton’s performance tomorrow, March 29, at 7 p.m. at the Pabst Theater, we sat down with the guitar legend to ask him about Milwaukee, his new music, his old hits and much more.
Can you describe any previous experiences you have had playing in Milwaukee?
Oh, I’ve played here so many times, where can I start? I’ve played at Summerfest quite a few times and headlined it for a couple years. One of my early girlfriends was from Milwaukee too, so I used to come here all the time.
How has playing acoustic sets been different than playing the full-band sets you usually do?
The performances have been far more intimate; at most there are only two of us on stage. Each performance starts out with just me on stage, me and my guitar. Sometimes my son Julian joins me or my best friend and music partner Gordon Kelley comes on for lead and rhythm, but mostly it’s just me.
Playing acoustically, I’ve also brought a lot of the songs back to their original form. Over forty years, they change a little, but now they feel fresh, like if you came over for coffee, I would say, “I just wrote a song last night. Would it be okay if I play it for you?” These songs feel new again.
What is it like having your son on stage with you?
It gives me a smile from ear to ear. Proud is an understatement; I never thought this could happen. And here he is now, opening for us and writing with me. Having Gordon Kelley with us too, the tour bus is the family bus.
How do you think your music has evolved over the years?
I wish I was as naïve as I was when I first started out. I know too much about the world now. When you’re young, you have so much more energy, but I still think that as I’ve gotten older my playing has gotten better and my songwriting has evolved into something deeper, lyrically to say the least. My earlier songs were about love and drinking, and now I think they’re more worldly.
What are some of your favorite musical collaborations you’ve done?
Most recently I played on Cliff Richard’s rock and roll album. He and his band were some of the main reasons I started playing guitar. That was probably one of the more recent great moments for me, to play guitar with one of my heroes. I also played with George Harrison and to play with a Beatle, especially for someone who grew up on their music like I did, was pretty amazing. I recently wrote a song with Ringo too that will be on his new album. I’m currently collaborating with Harry Shearer from Spinal Tap. He’s doing a solo album and he wants to me play on the album.
What’s the most amazing guitar solo you’ve ever heard from another musician?
Django Reinhardt’s, for sure. He was actually introduced to me by my parents. I also think that Tommy Emmanuel is an incredible player; that man can do it all. Hopefully we can jam in the future.
What are your plans after this tour?
I’m going to take a short vacation, hopefully somewhere warm. Then I’ll get back in the studio and do another record. The itch to play is not something you can turn off, even as you get older.
Milwaukee is the third leg of Frampton’s Raw: An Acoustic Tour, which runs through April. Tickets for tomorrow’s show can be purchased here.