Interview: Peter Furler | Christian Music Zine
June 13, 2011Posted by on
CMZ: The album is coming out on the 21st and the title of the album is On Fire. What’s the meaning behind the album title?
PF: It’s about freedom. Freedom from anxiety and hang-ups, false ambitions, fantasies. You know, it can be financial. It can be many things that tie us up. It’s like we as Christians, we know a lot of Christians that believe in God of course because they’re Christians—believe in Jesus—but yet their lives don’t change that much. And I think that for me personally it’s just been a coming to a realization that if I follow what Jesus said, if I hear it first and then I do it then there’s some practical wisdom there that when it is followed and it’s done and it’s acted upon it becomes a new freedom in our lives. It’s kind of like the abundant life that Christ caused to come. A practical thing would be don’t wear yourself out to be rich. Have the wisdom to show restraint. We see so many folks wearing themselves out for material things. Not only to get them but then having to work a certain amount just to maintain them. And I think that to me it’s more just being on fire for the Lord, it’s more of being a free spirit.
CMZ: “Reach” is the first single from the album. Why did you chose “Reach” for the first single, especially when it is the only song on the album you didn’t have a hand in writing?
PF: (Laughs) I was in a place, still am in a place in my life where I’m working with a whole team, a team of people, management, and the record label. I kind of handed in the record. I was really happy with it and felt that it was where it’s at and felt that it was complete. And so when I handed it in, they agreed that it was. So I let them pick it. And I agree with the choice too. So, it was a sort of a mutual decision with the record label and I think it was a good one. So, it wasn’t solely mine. It just felt like the right foot to put forward.
CMZ: All the songs very catchy, I found myself singing along on the first listen.
PF: I appreciate that. And I think too that I don’t really look at, I’ve kind of looked as a song as a song. I wasn’t really trying to look at, from, you can obviously as a song writer and as a business person you look at it from a financial aspect, go “Oh, I should release one of my songs” But I think that would be the wrong reason to do it so it was letting everyone pick and going “great.” It was obviously a good choice. The good news was there were actually choices for singles, so that’s a good thing, isn’t it?
CMZ: What was the hardest song on the album to record?
PF: Boy, I don’t know. I think the first couple of songs I went in to record were “I’m Alive” and “Never Ending Love Song” and I think there was maybe “Reach.” But them three was the first three I recorded so I kind of as a vocalist, it kind of had to blow out some cobwebs, you know I hadn’t really sung and I didn’t know if I still could sing (Laughs). So I was a little bit nervous, but you know, I got more confident as I went along. But I think that they would have been the hardest just purely from the reason of not having done it for a while. Going from recording all the time, doing live shows all the time, to having two years of really not doing much of, well none of the live shows and not much recording at all as far as the vocalist’s concerned.
CMZ: What led you to do a version of Psalm 23?
PF: I wanted to put my take on it and more than even putting my take, strike that, that wasn’t really my reason for doing it. My reason for doing it was being a Christian and a Christian musician, that is the thing that separates us from any other genre. It’s not about the guitar sound or the drum sound or the production, it’s about the words, about the lyrics and lyrics are meant to, words are powerful. The tongue has the power of life and death. And those that love it eat its fruit. And I think for me it was just really putting a good word forward. I had an idea a few years ago about, and I always have. You think back to songs I’ve written such as “Not Ashamed” and they were songs putting powerful scripture to melody and it’s a win-win combination if the Word is in season and the melody is something that soars and it seems to work. And I think there’s a power in me knowing a lot of the memory verses that I learn in Sunday School came from Psalms and they still come back to me today and so there’s a power in that. There’s a power we see in how in the Old Testament they told stories, a lot of time they sung them. They sung what happened and through different cultures and so sing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs so that was really the root of the reason for doing that and then obviously I just made it my own.
CMZ: What is the overall message that you hope people take away from the album?
PF: I want them to be encouraged, to feel that there’s hope out there and there is an answer out there for your joy and for your peace and there’s a life that the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth has designed for you. And He cares about you individually and there is a pure joy that does exist and we can have it here on the Earth but we can only have it one way and it’s not our way. So I think that’s what I, I want them to be encouraged by the words of life that are in the songs.
CMZ: You talked about working with a whole team. How was process for this record different from other previous records?
PF: It was a different team involved, of course, but at the same time, you’ve heard the record and it sounds like me. I can’t change that. There wasn’t a big difference. I kind of just went in and did what I did. I didn’t try to compete with anything in the past, but I didn’t try to change it either. I think the difference was, I was just competing with myself. And that wasn’t a difference; I kind of did that anyway. But as a singer, I was competing with what I did in the past. As a songwriter, I was competing with what I’d done in the past. I was just trying to make it up to the standard, if not higher than what I did before. But that was purely a personal thing, you know?
CMZ: Do you have any plans to tour in support of the album?
PF: I sure do. I have plans, looking at doing about 25 shows between now and the end of the year. And I’m hoping to get on something like Winter Jam or something, in to next year. So, We’ll see.
CMZ: If you could pick your tour mates, who would it be?
PF: Boy, I don’t know. I did a show down in Australia just recently, it was my first concert in two years, and I played with Switchfoot and with Newworldson and that was brilliant. I don’t know. There’s lots of good bands out there.
CMZ: During your hiatus from the music industry you started painting. Has that helped your musical creativity?
PF: Yeah, A lot. I think it just freed me from doing the same thing over and over. I think with painting it was another creative outlet that I kind of discovered and just the pure joy of grabbing a canvas or a drum head or whatever it is I paint and just creating. It’s like God didn’t make the horses to win at the races, He made the horses to watch them run for His pleasure. I think it really taught me the pleasure of creating something out of nothing. And then when I went back to music I had this thrill of ‘Man, I just wrote a song and I might have to sing that for the rest of my life’ and that’s cool.
CMZ: Was there any particular artist or genre of music that influenced this record?
PF: No, I think that’s one thing that most people don’t know about me is that I don’t listen to music. I don’t really listen to much music at all. I don’t have on around the house or in the car or anywhere. Mainly because then when I go in to write, I fulfill my desire for music by writing what I want to hear. I don’t know if that makes sense. It’s like when you’re really hungry, a glass of water is worth a lot more in the desert than it is at Kroger.
CMZ: You worked with Steve Taylor on this record, so is a “Banner Man” remake in the future?
PF: You know that’s a good idea. You know I’ve thought about that over the years, but I haven’t thought about it in a couple years, so you’ve reminded me and that’s a good thing. We actually, funny enough, Steve, quick story, he saw me when I’d finished up with the Newsboys and helped with that transition, and sort of asking me ‘what are you going to do’ and I said, ‘I don’t know.’ I didn’t have any aspirations to do a solo record. I had a bunch of songs around and the two of us began to develop those songs and I said to him, well let’s develop these songs, but as long as you sing them. So, Steve, and I, and Jimmy Abegg and John Painter went in to the studio and we began to just jam on these tunes and write new ones. And so that’s a project that’s nearly finished and that’s looking at coming out maybe late this year or early next year. So it’s a whole Steve Taylor project and it’s brilliant, it really is. It’s some of his best work and he’s singing better than ever. And I’m just the drummer. I’m the sweaty drummer in the band.
CMZ: Do you like being “just being the drummer”?
PF: I love it. It’s the best time. It really sparked something in me creatively because we didn’t have any management, we didn’t have any record deal. Still don’t have a record deal, and so it’s just this thing. It’s this pure joy of creating music. And so we’ll see what happens with it. But it’s nearly finished. One of the songs is going to be in Blue Like Jazz the movie. But the rest of it, we’ll see. We don’t know what’s going to come of it. Again the expectations are being met. We just had a pleasure jamming together.
Jimmy and I have been mates for probably15 years at least and he’s such a sweet guy. It was a pure joy just to be in a studio with him. Obviously John Painter’s just a guru. And Steve’s just brilliant. And I was on the drums and Steve’s across there and I’m looking at him and he’s on the mic and Jimmy’s got his SG plugged into a Princeton Amp, and then there’s John Painter with his bass and we just gone for it. And a lot of the takes are kind of live and recorded like that. It’s very, very, very, cool, I think any Steve Taylor fan or Jimmy fan is going to flip out. Hopefully we can get out act together and finish it.
CMZ: Looks like another project to look forward to. Thank you for your time.
PF: Thank you, appreciate all you do.