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Interview with Andrew Peterson

posted: March 8th, 2013 by Dave Trout

Our guest-of-honor on this week's Under The Radar is one of today's premier artists and songwriters, Andrew Peterson.  We always love when we have an opportunity to visit with him.  You can hear more of our Q&A and some of his music on Episode #224 of UTR.  Also, a few of the questions below are ones not used on the air.  Here's some of our conversation:

DT: How did the overall theme and concept come together for Light for the Lost Boy?
Andrew:  I don’t want it to come across as if this record is a cry for help or anything. But it does deal with some, you know, prettydeep issues.  But the thing is, I don’t think they are issues that are unique to me. I think everybody has a ten-year-old version of themselves that they remember being and that little kid is living inside of us and that kid is usually looking around wondering what went wrong with our lives, ya know?  And… and so, I don’t know why, but seeing my kids grow up has not kind of put some flesh on that idea - the grieving of our loss of innocence. At the same time as it’s kind of stirred up some memories in my own youth that. I did remember them, but I hadn’t really stopped and thought about them, you know?  I think there’s a lot to be learned from your childhood.  And I heard, I think it was Flannery O’Connor who said that “Anybody who has survived their childhood could write a book.”  I think everybody’s childhood is rich with stories.  Rich with pain and loss and moments of overwhelming beauty. I think most kids can put their finger on some things like that and so I don’t know why, but I’ve always been intrigued by that idea.  And I think that's part of why I love stories the way that I do, I’ve always longed to feel young and innocent.  Because I know that I’m not.

DT:  What was your reaction to hearing that Light For The Lost Boy was named UTR's #1 Gourmet Album of 2012?
Andrew:  I have watched with a kind of awe that something like Under the Radar exists. The fact that it works, that it's truly helping music lovers discover artists who don't necessarily fit the mold is a great blessing to me and the community I'm a part of. When I started recording Light for the Lost Boy at the beginning of 2012 I had serious doubts about what I was getting myself into, then that amazing community of artists and producers stepped in and helped it become something that I'm really proud of. I can't thank UTR enough for believing in it like they did, mainly because their support is going to help those songs get to the ears of the people I wrote those songs for.

DT: You recently did something that we, your fans, are not used to. You went on a full band tour - was that a good experience for you?
Well, I have wanted to do a full band tour for years and years.  Like, when I go see James Taylor or Paul Simon, or even when Rich Mullins was alive, I saw Rich play with a full band.  And I always loved it, I loved all the possibilities, musically speaking. But for financial reasons and logistical reasons it’s always been hard to find a way to make that happen.  And so, if I’m lucky, it’ll be me, Ben, and Gullahorn on the road. People who book my concerts tend to think of my concerts as these acoustic, story-telly kinda things.  And the great thing is that I love doingthose kinds of concerts.  But there’s always been a part of me that wised that I could so something musically like Behold the Lamb of God with my regular songs. And I think the interesting thing is that when you listen to my older records, there are drums, ya know?  There are strings and electric guitars happening and pads and hammered dulcimers and stuff.  There’s just way more on those records than you can do with two guys, like a guitar and piano, which is my normal thing. So it’s not that weird to me that we would go “Hey, well let’s do a show where we can actually play “Lay Me Down” with the rhythms that we put on the record, you know? So playing with Caleb, which, by the way, those guys, all three of the Caleb guys blew my mind when we went into rehersal. They had seventeen songs they had to learn. Seventeen of my songs. Not to mention them kind of tweaking their own. And I felt terrible when I sent them the set list, I was like “It’s all of the Light for the Lost Boy songs plus several more.”  And they showed up at rehearsal and knew every note to all of them.  Without charts, really. They didn’t have to write stuff down, they had internalized it and I think that’s part of the wonderful thing about the fact that they’re young - they still have room in their brains to absorb that stuff.  So they have just been wonderful to play with. It’s helped me to feel younger just to be around these guys and their music is so great.  So the funny thing is, almost every show we’ve gotten at least one email from somebody who said, “Oh, I was disappointed that there was a band,” or whatever.  And I kinda wanna be like, “Well, come to the next tour, maybe it’ll be acoustic again.” But I just feel like after fifteen years, I really wanted to do a tour with a band, and so it has been delightful for me.

DT: Did any of the Light for the Lost Boy songs, in their final form, surprise you?
Andrew: The first song on the record is the one that I was most nervous about - “Come Back Soon.” It was written in a pretty unconventional way. I had these random lyrics and verses and stuff scribbled in my journal, and didn’t really know how to piece it all together. But by the time we were finished with it and we had added Tyler Burkum’s electric guitar to it, it just sent me over the moon. I had high hopes for that record and that song kind of far exceeded those hopes in the kind of drama that musically unfolded. You know, in a lot of these songs my guitar part is really simple. I’m playing three or four chords the whole time, it’s just this really repetitive thing.  But man, once I got these amazing players like Andy Gullahorn and Ben and Cason and Tyler layering stuff on it, the song just turned into something that I could never have forseen.  So if there was one that surprised me in a good way, it was that one.

DT: How has fatherhood helped you in your perspective on life?
Well, I can tell you that this morning before I got on the plane to come here, I cooked pancakes and we spread a sheet over the ottoman and ate pancakes and watched an animated movie during breakfast that we started the last night and didn’t have time to finish, so we finished it this morning over pancakes.  I think the finest thing about it is, the moments when I really have a fleeting sense of appreciation for the fact that these little people in our house are the crown of God’s creation.  That God allowed me to take part in this new thing coming into the world.  And seeing these glimpses of who my children are going to one day be and the way that person is going to fight the darkness in the world.  That thrills me and gives me a lump in my throat and makes me want to hug them and  hold on and never let go.  That’s the deep answer.  But for me, I love being part of their world.  I don’t like the fact that I’m a grown up sometimes, I wish that I could be ten again.  My kids give me a great excuse to pretend like I am once in awhile.

To hear more conversation and music from Andrew Peterson, listen to UTR Episode #224 where he is the special guest.  And for a limited time, enter our latest contest for your chance to win a 4-pack of autographed CDs from Andrew.

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