Peeler - at a crossroads in time

When I first heard Peeler's music, he had only one song under his name on another music site. I listened and it was one of those intangible things, I bookmarked it as 'somewhat interesting' at first, but in subsequent listens it grew and grew on me. I started a station at that site and put his song last, I liked to end the night listening to it. I've probably heard it 1000 times by now and love it just as much, never got tired of it, still listen to it all the time.

Craig Peeling, known as Peeler, has something very unique and mystifying about all his songs (that I've heard thus far), they sort of make you go inside yourself and contemplate your own world; where you are, and how you're feeling about it. The song Half Past High quickly reached #1 on the Kayak Big 50 and is on probably more artist-created stations than any other song on the site. Recently I had a chance to ask Peeler a few questions and get to know the guy behind those superb songs a bit.

Scott: Can you describe either the moment or the era in your life when you realized you could express yourself thru rock music ?

Peeler: I was in a band called 'phineas gage' with three of my very close friends - we grew up together in music, learned our instruments together (my primary function in that band was guitarist), and wrote songs before we knew what we were doing.

The first song we wrote as a collective, "One in the Chamber" (born from one of my guitar riffs), was made whole by everyone adding their colours. The song gained some local/regional notoriety – people loved the song.

That gave me my first 'buzz' - that's when I knew that not only could I express myself through rock music - but also that people were going to sit up and take notice – that’s when the roots of my addiction started to form.

Scott: In your song the Evils of the Modern Pleasure Dance, you lament about the temporary nature of such, can you talk about some of the things for you that are lasting?

Peeler: For me love is lasting – the love I have for the things that are important to me – the people in my life, a strong sense of self and the music that has changed my life… thus far – those are the only things I care to make a lasting commitment to, and in turn – the only things that are truly lasting.

I look back over my life and then think about the future… these are the things I can’t see myself living without… everything else is temporary... stops along the way that make the journey more dynamic.

Of course you don’t walk away feeling ‘dirty’ from everything… the song speaks about indiscretions – moments of weakness during which people turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to their sense of ‘self’, a detour on their journey, a short term jag to satisfy their basic needs or desires… ‘but its oh so temporary – you walk away feeling dirty.’

Scott: I relate to the song Half Past High sooo much, it's like a theme song for this time in my life. But if you don't know how you got here and you don't know where you've been, the question is, do you know where you're headed ? :)

Peeler: “Everything will be as it should in the fullness of time...” something my father says all the time – it’s speaks to the fact that people lack patience and need to relax – let it be so to speak. I believe in that – to a degree – but if you live your life by that creed – a lot will pass you by.

Conversely – some people are so focused and driven toward a goal – they miss the ‘stops along the way’ – the diversions, the highs and the lows… its like they are numb or moving toward an end goal with blinders on.

This song is about taking the blinders off and enjoying the highs – don’t let the fleeting moments of total joy in life pass you by – grab on to them and let go of everything else – soak it in – don’t worry about how you got there – don’t even think about where you’ve been – enjoy the ‘high’ of the experience…

When you feel good… forget everything else - take time to really feel it.

For me that high comes when I’m on stage… I totally give myself to the experience – “I can’t tell what speed time’s going at… and emotion is controlled by the high.” It will mean different things to different people but for me it’s a tale of my addiction. I’m addicted to the acceptance and adoration of others when it comes to my music… in order to feel validated I need to play music in front of others – then hear and feel their response… I’m not satisfied unless I am getting some kind of energy from the crowd – some kind of emotional response. If I don’t perform for a period of time... I get edgy – I need a fix.

So where am I headed??? …to the stage entrance

Scott: Any interesting anecdotes regarding your artistic self ? Any turning points in your life you can think of ?

Peeler: I think ‘becoming’ Peeler has been a huge turning point in my life. Starting out I defined myself musically as a guitar player – I started teaching guitar in a music shop when I was 15, played guitar in ‘phineas gage’- the guitar is where I lived – but I always thought I could sing – or at least had the potential - most people disagreed.

The real turning point was inspired by the noble pursuit of women… I learned to play and sing “One” by U2 to impress a girl – and it worked… That led to a solo acoustic gig in a local Irish Pub where I had to learn to play and sing 40 songs over the course of a night… then I fronted a cover band…

The most important development in all of that was finding my voice – and building it into a force as strong as my guitar playing… and I started to look at the art of the ‘song’ differently… I was less concerned with coming up with a guitar line and more concerned with how that great guitar line would work within the context of the song – my voice became my best musical weapon, then working on what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it…

All of these things factor into the birth of ‘Peeler’ and the forthcoming album “The Evils of the Modern Pleasure Dance”.

Scott: Anything particular about your background that you think contributes a lot to the music you make?

Peeler: My parents and grandparents… they love music. I was brought up around that. With the exception of my grandma, none are musicians but they both love it. My Grandma can’t read a note of music, doesn’t own a piano but can sit down and play songs she picked out by ear as a child… I thank her for my ear for music.

I need music like I need air and water… for me its part of a life force – it has literally formed who I am – changed my life from what it might have been to what it is.

These things have everything to do with the music I make – my goal is to be part of that change in other people’s lives… ‘music that will change your life’.

I think of the music that I care deeply about – artists and albums and songs that I can’t live without – they’re all responsible in part for making me who I am… they’ve made a significant difference in my life.

I want to have that impact on the lives of others… give back the joy I’ve been afforded… if music is worth anything - it makes people better than they could have been on their own – that belief forms my approach to the music I make.

Scott: Do you believe in UFOs, had any strange experiences in that realm?

Peeler: When I was a kid I had insomnia – for what seems like years. My bedroom was on the second floor of my parents’ house and I used to poke my head under the curtains as I sat on my bed so I could look out at the night sky… I swear to you I saw a UFO one night – the memory is vivid – the colours were vibrant and the movement of the ship was unlike anything I’ve seen in the sky since.

One of my best friends, Gord Jakovljevic, who plays drums on this album is a pilot and an aircraft junkie. He’s told many stories about famed sightings of crafts in the sky that can’t be categorized as anything other than ‘unidentifiable’.

So… how could I not believe in UFO’s?

Besides… our world would be pretty boring if everything could be neatly categorized and ultimately explained… We need fantasy; we need things to be in search of. We need things to excite, astound and shock our senses… the truth is out there – but I’d rather be suspended in disbelief – at least for now….

I don’t know how I got here… I don’t know where I’ve been

…and I’m soaking in every moment of it.