Red Peters has been immature for decades. It was true back in the 70s when he was opening for Frank Zappa and the Mothers with his band Gross National Productions, in 1984 when he released his first single, “Blow Me (You Hardly Even Know Me),” sang with the Alan Pinchloaf Singers, and when he hosted a satellite radio show on Howard Stern’s channel. He has actually aged into his immaturity. Which brings us to his present KickStarter campaign.
Peters is trying to raise the funds to make his third album, For imMature Audiences Only, and he’s looking for help from fans, who can get rare singles or have Peters sleep on their couch for a night. I asked him a few questions about how his career has changed with the switch from terrestrial radio to social media, and what he has planned for the new album.
Your previous albums were funded by record companies, correct? Considering the types of songs you’re putting out there, does working independently mean you get to stretch a bit more, maybe be even more risqué?
The record companies had zero influence on the content of our first couple albums, I Laughed, I Cried, I Fudged My Undies! and Ol’ Blue Balls Is Back!. They just gave us a hefty chunk of change and said “go do your thing” carte blanche. In general, whether we receive backing or not, the exact same thing happens. Being more or less risqué is never a consideration. If we have a good idea for a song, whether silly, childish, double entendre, or explicit, we record it.
Do you think it’s a friendlier world in general now to people who want to create, to have resources like Kickstarter to fund what they’re doing and social media to promote it?
Services like Kickstarter or GoFundMe offer an independent and alternative avenue for artists and creators to seek funding for their projects vs. label funding or selling your soul to an investor. To characterize it as “friendlier” is a stretch. The Kickstarter process is not for the faint of heart. It’s very complicated and demands a serious commitment, a big investment of time, and lots of brain power to be successful. And then you’re still at the mercy of getting lost and breaking through the noise and clutter of the internet. In today’s music business, you still face almost impossible odds of being seen or heard, never mind finding success or making a dime.
How does it compare to 30 years ago when you started out? How did you get your stuff on stations in different markets?
I believe it was actually simpler 30 years ago. If you had a good manager and distributor, they would contact and service the record store chains, lobby the stations, and hire PR people. We hired a radio promotion person, a specialist who had relationships with the most popular morning radio programs around the country and he set-up interviews, phoners, and in-studio guest appearances. I toured the US visiting stations, hanging out with the DJ’s, taking calls, and singing my songs live. It was a lot of fun, but awful getting up at 5:30 and being funny at 7:30 in the morning! Today it’s so easy to get completely lost and buried on the internet due to the volume of music acts and so much competition from other mediums. Although there are more outlets that play music, so much material is being submitted that more often than not, it falls on deaf ears.
What kinds of songs have you already written for the album?
As in the past, all the new songs are silly, sometimes juvenile, but hopefully funny or at least have catchy melodies. There’s actually a few in the folk/rock/country mode. Some arrangements include horns, but have rich background vocal arrangements. In general, although we use a little profanity here and there, there isn’t a lot of blatant or explicit sexual content (relatively speaking of course- hahaha). We are going to record a new, alternative birthday song called, “Happy Fucking Birthday.” Plus a couple funny new bits. The production will be impeccable.
Are you getting any support from the DJs you mention in the video?
Not a lot. The radio world has changed. There are strict formats and guidelines they must follow.
How does satellite radio work for you these days? It feels like it’s a medium that would be tailor made to what you do, but it’s kind of a troubled industry.
Satellite radio is a great medium for Red Peters as the comedy channels are uncensored. But as internet radio becomes more popular and services like Pandora, Apple radio, and Spotify become the norm, eventually XM will lose its luster, especially when all cars have wifi. By the way, Spotify has a great Red Peters Channel!
Are you ready to play someone’s arraignment or sleep on their couch for a night? Do you think you’ll regret any of the rewards you’re offering when people come to claim them?
The nap on the couch for $500 has me a little worried. I can just see showing up at someone’s address and the door gets answered by a horny woman with a moustache who’s big as a house. Or some beefy guy in his underpants! Then what do I do?
Where are the Alan Pinchloaf Singers today?
Most of the Alan Pinchloaf Singers are still with us! When we recorded the duet with Todd Rundgren a couple years ago, two of the singers were living in nursing homes. One of the original members, Joseph Nibblecock, passed away almost 10 years ago. No photos were allowed at the session, but the image of the surviving members standing there at the microphones, two with walkers and one with oxygen is difficult to get out of my head. They all can still sing, but we recorded during the day so they could be back in time for the early bird specials.