Peter Gabriel Plugs In
New studio effort will deal with “birth and death, with sex in the middle”
Peter Gabriel tends to take a long time between projects. His last release, 2002’s Up, took nearly a decade to record. “A mere lightning flash for a snail,” quips Gabriel. With a wide array of projects in the works nowadays — from a live DVD and documentary to the new studio album, I/O — Gabriel seems to be picking up that pace.
First up is the second DVD to document his 2002-2003 Growing Up World Tour.
This new release features an entirely different track listing than the first, 2003’s Growing Up Live, including rarities such as “San Jacinto” and the new track “Burn You Up, Burn You Down.” The set also features the documentary Still Growing Up Unwrapped, filmed by his daughter Anna, about Gabriel’s life on the road with his two daughters and then-newborn son Isaac. “It took a few weeks for him to get used to having a camera in his face all the time,” Anna says of shooting some twenty-eight hours of footage of her father. “It was a very easygoing tour — I wanted more drama!”
Also in the works is a new album called I/O, which stands for input/output. “At the moment, I’m trying to write principally about birth and death, with the sex in the middle,” Gabriel says. He has been working steadily over the last few months on the new songs with a minimal crew, including longtime engineer Richard Chappel and percussionist Ged Lynch. This time around he’s chosen to produce the sessions himself. “My mental process is so slow,” he says, “that it’s not really fair to take that time out of anyone else’s life.”
Among the 150 tracks Gabriel has in various stages of gestation is a reworking of the 1986 B side “Curtains,” which he decided to revisit after the song received thousands of votes on an online poll to determine his last tour’s set list. “I had pretty much forgotten about it,” he explains. “So I pulled it out, found stuff I liked and did it again.”
In a break from tradition, Gabriel is contemplating taking the new songs on the road before laying down their final versions. “What I’ve always wanted to do is finish the songs, get them arranged for the band, tour for a month or so, then record them,” he says. “That would give me a different type of immediacy — because sometimes when I work and work on stuff, people feel that it loses some of its flair.”
His next tour may be a significantly more stripped-down affair than prior ones: “I would like to try maybe just me and a percussionist, or a percussionist and bass. It’s good sometimes to let go of your crutches.”
Peter Gabriel Plugs In