Meeting Peter Gabriel
Vocal Chords recordist Michael Gallen shares his experience of interviewing Peter Gabriel in London
I have always found that early-morning flights can have a disjointing effect on one’s sense of reality, so there was certainly a moment, at about 11am, when I was being made a cup of tea by Peter Gabriel in his airy London abode, that I wondered if I was still dreaming. While we set up the mics, Iarla and Peter caught up on all things Real World (the label that Peter founded and that subsequently found Iarla), we spoke about the new U2 album and the Paul Simon/Sting tour, and Peter let us in on some insights on sleeping patterns that he’d discovered since his youngest child was born (“sleep is like surfing – you have to catch the wave when it comes”). It’s can be a surprise to meet a famous person and to realise how human they are, but in Peter Gabriel’s case this was doubly so, in that he was so polite, welcoming and down to earth that one would find it hard to imagine him demanding the attention of a packed stadium.
I found Peter to be very forthcoming in his interview; I think that it is quite unusual for a musician who has achieved celebrity to be asked specifically about their craft, and as such he was very enthusiastic for the project. In the end, what had begun as an interview about his singing and his work with Realworld turned into a general discussion on the voice and on music – how the industry might be changing what people consider to be a good voice, whether people listen to music in the same way when it is so readily available, etc. It was fascinating to listen to the thoughts of somebody who has been working in music for so long and under so many different guises, and I found it especially inspiring to find that his love for music is as strong as ever. Sometimes an interview just falls into place, and that was certainly the case with this one. Our mission accomplished, Iarla and I sank a pint in the airport bar and reminisced on a lovely day in London.
The Vocal Chords special was broadcast on the 26th of December on RTÉ Lyric FM.
The full interview between Michael, Iarla and Peter is available below