In early 2010 Sue Campbell and I started a facebook fan page for Peter Koppes to further recognise his talent and music. We decided to get it started with some interview type questions, and this was the result!
Simple Intent …… 20 Questions for Peter Koppes
First album you ever bought with your own money?
PK: I bought The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Smash Hits, for my father’s Christmas present, as his cabaret band was called Purple Haze, but personally, it was Deep Purple, In Rock.
First gig or show you ever attended?
PK: I was taken to music pubs in Canberra when I was 13 and saw 60’s style bands like The Union Of Jack, whose drummer interested me. Later there were also regular free outdoor public concerts that I loved, including one on an island in the middle of the lake. One band called Frosted Glass had an amazing guitarist who played a left handed upside down strung guitar, and he later joined Baby Grande with Steve Kilbey and I.
Was there a particular artist or band that inspired you to play your instrument?
PK: The sound of a Hammond organ interested me in music, but I didn’t own one so I started playing drums with an interest in The Shadows then Jimi Hendrix’s Mitch Mitchell really inspired me with his jazz style. I think Santana had the same effect and the guitar playing seeped in to me as well, although, musically I think of Pink Floyd as my template for a band.
First time you were paid to play?
PK: I think it was when I played drums in a glam rock band called Precious Little with Steve and another drummer at a school function. The guitarist borrowed a guitar, covered it with foil and set fire to it on a specially placed speaker cabinet cover so as not to damage the stage. We were regarded as the new Alice Cooper band after that one.
Worst gig of your memory?
PK: We played a big festival in New Zealand at dusk, where a guy was swinging a tyre on a chain in the audience. We came back for an encore with silver things flying past our heads from the audience and realised they must have been coins. Then, a full can of beer landed on the stage as well – now that’s real currency in those parts!
Best gig of your memory?
PK: Playing to 100,000 people at Roskilde, Denmark, around 1989 was outstanding. I also remember a show in San Diego with a reasonably low stage with people being slung up from the crowd fully standing and having to stop as they hit the stage at full pace.
Most unusual place you have performed?
PK: Miming in North Italian heritage village squares, for a series of hugely popular live to air TV music festivals. A popular Italian female artist on after us, had a teddy bear strapped to her back!
Most awkward moment at a gig?
PK: Early in our career at Festival Hall in Melbourne Australia, I was playing the quiet and very ceremonial first part of Is This Where You Live with my head bowed, when a bra landed at my feet!
Do you have any pre performance rituals?
PK: Mostly I have indulged in the best champagne offered, genuine absinthe or recently the best sake, and quite occasionally a stimulant to offset the alcoholic effects. I also enjoyed one tour I did drug free and my ritual was to read a book before and after the show. I want to try it again. I also summon my muse and mostly she listens!
Do you have a favourite piece of music to play, Church, solo or other?
PK: The soprano choir Miserere Mei, Deus by Allegri is fantastic and we used it as Church intro music a few years ago. The other sublime piece I love is Hendrix’s minor blues instrumental from the Woodstock performance. The Church’s Ionian Blues and Grandiose are divine too.
Somewhere you would love to perform but haven’t yet?
PK: New York’s Madison Square Garden, but Radio City is probably less ridiculous. The Sydney Opera House with an orchestra would probably be a great musical event.
One thing you are glad you are not doing anymore?
PK: There were times when I would be touring the world, including limousines, then when I returned to Australia, for short periods I was dependent on Government welfare payments to support my family and I until the next commitments. It was a strange feeling, though it maintained employment for everyone in the band’s organisation, which might have ended if I left the band.
Era you wish you were alive in, to play the music of that decade?
PK: I have a fascination with the 60’s and 70’s era and might have been intimidated to compete with the genius that existed. Now I happily play drums in a show band commemorating the era instead.
When was the last time you wrote a song?
PK: Last week I created a chord progression but discarded it. I want to write an acoustic/folk record next. I think I have initiated it with a co-written song from awhile ago that Margot Smith and I just recorded properly.
The most tiresome/difficult thing about touring?
PK: Meeting people without really getting to know them. Also wondering what you left behind at the last hotel. I was onstage in Oslo once playing Under The Milky Way, when I realised I had left a few thousand dollars in a hotel safe in Sweden, and I missed a chord in the song as a result!
Window or aisle seat?
PK: I am not telling you because everyone will want one but radiation and convenience are issues.
Next gig/show that you will play…
PK: Tim, Steve and I will be attending the Australian Performing Rights Association (songwriters and publishers) annual event, backing an indigenous Australian crooner famous in the 50’s 60’s and who had a latter day success with a clubby version of Under The Milky Way
Is there a talent you wish you had?
PK: A better voice maybe… but I wouldn’t trade it for song writing talent as it can seem to be one or the other.
Name your poison?
PK: What have you got to offer? More seriously, these days, street drugs are suspicious and so are the agendas of those who make them. We need legal reform and communication – not laws which do not work.
Something fans would be surprised to learn about you…
PK: I am not the quiet one – just careful who knows what I think!