Peter Gallway is an influential singer-songwriter, an accomplished music producer, international live musician, and published poet. He came up in Greenwich Village in the 60s and played with many iconic performers, including James Taylor and the Lovin’ Spoonful. He recorded 30 albums, initially with the Fifth Avenue Band, as Peter Gallway, as half of the duo Hat Check Girl with singer-songwriter and visual artist Annie Gallup, and in collaboration with Harvey Jones (Chris Botti, Sting) as Parker Gray. He produced over 50 albums and special projects, including the critically acclaimed Laura Nyro tribute “Time and Love” and her final album "Angel In The Dark", and published the poetry collection, “Big Mercy” on Gallway Bay Press.
I have always been struck by his commitment to his craft and his prolific output. He agreed to sit down with me and tell me how he keeps his music career moving forward and how he creates new work.
Dan: Thanks so much for agreeing to talk with me. As you know, I am interested in how artists like yourself keep writing new material and keep the songs coming. What is your work pattern like? Do you have a set schedule or do you wait for inspiration?
"I conceptualize a project, and write the material specifically for, and informed by, the nature of the project."
Peter: Given the fact that I wear so many different creative hats, over time I’ve developed a process of writing by project. I’m not writing songs every day but rather, I conceptualize a project, and write the material specifically for, and informed by, the nature of the project. I will often write poetry and/or lyrics on a nearly daily basis but will go into focused overdrive when it is time to create the next specific collection. I often work quickly though there are instances where it will take time, revision, and occasionally complete re-thinking on a particular piece.
Dan: Your lyrics seem to me to be consistently relevant to what is going on in the world. How do you keep up with the times? Do you have a method of discovering new artists and finding new influences for your work?
"I research a great deal on youtube, print reviews, and streaming sources"
Peter: I’ve a wide palette in terms of musical interests, including singer-songwriters, contemporary pop music, folk and Americana, hip hop, world, electronic, jazz, music for film and television. I like to ask young people I encounter what they’re listening to and I research a great deal on youtube, print reviews, and streaming sources. My work has, for the most part, not been overtly political though my album, “Muscle and Bone”, is probably the most pointed and angry reflection of our times I’ve ever done. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more interested and involved in the political tide of our world and in these times it’s hard not to. The new album contains a song, “Good Trouble”, which is fully reflective of more recent events.
Dan: The times have been tough for most professional musicians. How have you adjusted your performance schedule to the pandemic, for example, or how have you changed the way you produce albums now that most everyone streams their music?
"I do it because it feeds me, it feels important, it feels like a contribution and a connection, and because I love it"
Peter: I returned to Maine from Southern California four years ago with the express purpose of focusing even more on creative endeavors, including live performing. I’ve been recording at least an album a year for a dozen years but I performed far less frequently as the finances of touring tightened and I’ve gotten older and more settled. I’ve always loved to perform, however, and with my band here in Maine was starting to regain some traction when the pandemic hit and we didn’t perform for over a year and then did only a few shows late last summer. For the next 6 months though, with the release of the new album in June, we’ll be doing one or two concerts a month, which feels great to be able to do again, albeit as safely as possible. Regarding streaming, as everyone knows, making money in music is increasingly difficult between the amount of material created and the very low reimbursement rates, but like many I do it because it feeds me, it feels important, it feels like a contribution and a connection, and because I love it.
Dan: Two final questions. What would you recommend that new singer-songwriters do in this environment to hone their craft; and what do you wish you knew back then that you know now?
"...get really good at what you do ... stay true to yourself ... time is precious ... do your best not to hurt yourself or anyone else along the way"
Peter: For the first part I repeat what others who’ve gone before have said—get really good at what you do, whether it is singing, playing an instrument, writing songs, engineering, creating beats, producing, and secondly, stay true to yourself. If you’re trying to copy someone else or something you think is cool or happening or fashionable or successful, you’re already too late. For the second part of your question, there are probably more things I wish I knew back then than I can count but the first few things that come to mind are a) remember time is precious, and b) do your best not to hurt yourself or anyone else along the way.
Dan: Thank you, Peter, looking forward to the new album.
Peter Gallway and The Real Band's newest album “It’s Deliberate” will be released in June 2022; the latest Hat Check Girl album is “Kiss Me Quick”; and the initial Parker Gray album is “Luminous Darkness” with a follow-up due later this year.
The music is available at www.bullmoose.com, iTunes, and all digital platforms.
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