By Georg Forchhammer
I must say that a lot of things have happened since our last interview in December 2008. New album,your own independent label , Facebook, Twitter and Richardpagemusic.com. And most surprising, playing bass and singing your Mr. Mister hits “Kyrie” and “Broken Wings” with Ringo Starr and his All Star Band! Did you have any idea that all these things were going to happen back then?
The interesting thing about this life is that most of the time you never really know what”s going to happen.
With Ringo you played some pretty big venues. To my knowledge, you hadn’t toured since the Mr. Mister days. Did you have any trouble jumping back in?
In some ways it’s like riding a bike, but I had to do some serious practicing to get the bass playing back. The band so so good that I felt comfortable right away. We really supported each other well.
And touring with a legend at that—what’s Ringo like both personally and to perform with?
He’s a great guy. Very unassuming. He’s dealt with his overwhelming celebrity very well. He has a great family and circle of close friends.
In reading your blog, it seems clear that the urge to record your own songs instead of giving them to other artists has been growing?
These are songs that I felt were too personal to pitch to other artists. The tour with Ringo was a natural launching pad for another solo album so I jumped at the opportunity.
I was struck by the words of the title song of your new album, “Peculiar Life”: “Everything changes but I keep staying the same”. Would you say that’s a fair appraisal of where you’re standing right now in your musical life?
No, this has more to do with spiritual and philosophical growth, or lack thereof.
I’d like to look a bit into some of the songs of your new album. The first thing that struck me was that you co-wrote the song “Worldly Things” with your Pages and Mr. Mister partner, Steve George. Is that an old song or are you two collaborating again?
That was a song we wrote quite a while back that I always loved but never had the right reason to record it.
There are two other songs, “Shadow On My Life” and “Waiting”, co-written with another partner from the Mr. Mister days, your cousin John Lang. Same question: old or new songs?
Again, songs that were written a while back but never found the right moment to be recorded and released.
My favourite song on the new album is “The Truth Is Beautiful”. There’s a vulnerability and sensitivity that reminds me of the song “Midnight Angel” from the 3rd Pages album. But there’s a mystery and, I guess, depth to this lyric—it makes the listener really think. Is all truth beautiful? Wars, famine, greed—these are all “truths” but what’s so beautiful about that?
In this context, I’m speaking only of the truth about relationships. When we come to terms with who we really are and how we are together as individuals and as couples (or even humanity) we have the chance to free each other spiritually, emotionally perhaps without parting.
“When You Come Around” is a very special song with a melancholic mood that reminds me of the songs you recorded together with Joe Zawinul. What was your inspiration for the lyric?
This is a song about devotion. Each person can interpret it in their own way.
The song “Peace Of Mind” is a lovely duet with your daughter, Aja. How did it come about and who were some of the folks you collaborated with in the writing of it? I don’t recognize the names.
My step-son Tai and his dad, Lee Miracle wrote most of it. I added some of my thoughts to it. They are both very special people to me and I wanted to honor them. It was the perfect song for Aja to sing on and it completes a family circle.
I understand your brother made some videos for this record?
Yes, Rob has worked very hard on getting my stuff out there via the internet and all the other means necessary to get people’s attention. He is extremely talented in many ways. Way to go, Rob.
This spring and summer has been quite busy for you. Not only have you released your first solo album in 15 years, but also there was the tour with Ringo Starr. You mentioned in your blog what great fun it was playing with the legendary musicians Edgar Winter, Wally Palmer (The Romantics), Rick Derringer, Gary Wright and ace drummer Gregg Bissonette. You must have some amazing stories from that tour. Can you tell us one?
Too many to mention here, but the party after the Radio City gig (Ringo’s 70th birthday) was pretty special. Standing with him backstage right after we came off and seeing McCartney come out to sing “Birthday” was amazing. Ringo had no idea.
I heard you spent time with McCartney backstage after the show. Now obviously you’ve worked with many, many famous people in your career—everyone from David Foster to Madonna—but come on, that’s Sir Paul! That must have felt a little different?
Yeah, Paul was very gracious and complimentary about our performance. He seemed very relaxed and I felt honoured to meet him and talk a bit.
Are you considering touring as a solo artist in support of “Peculiar Life”?
There is some talk about it. Nothing firm yet.
One question on everyone’s mind: the 4th and previously unreleased Mr. Mister album “Pull” will finally be released in October on your record label, Little Dume Recordings. I was excited to see the free download from the album available at what appears to be the beginnings of a new Mr. Mister website: MrMisterOffiac.com. Why wasn’t “Pull” released initially, and what’s the story behind how it came to be released now?
Briefly, RCA was going through a regime change when we delivered the album. The new execs weren’t fans and they wanted to take the company in a different direction. Basically they told us they didn’t know what to do with it and we left the label land broke up shortly after.
I understand Mr. Mister’s original guitar player, Steve Farris is not on this album?
Correct, Steve had left the band prior to PULL.
Steve Farris is an incredible guitar player. Who did you find that could fill his shoes?
Steve is a great guitarist. We had several guys come in including Trevor Rabin and Buzz Feiten, to name a few.
I’m curious as to whether you, Steve George and Pat Mastelotto are considering reuniting the band, even if just in support of the release of “Pull”?
Like a lot of other artists today, you have chosen to release your new album independently—I believe your first album ever without major label backing? Are you finding working “outside the label system” easier? Harder? Scary? Liberating?
It’s much easier now than a few years ago with the advantages the internet brings. The major label paradigm has changed so much, you no longer need them for many reasons. They’re still important if you need millions of dollars to promote yourself, but in my case, that’s not necessary. Without giving up 85% of your royalties, you don’t have to sell millions of records to make a living. And you don’t have them breathing down your neck about what direction you’re going. That’s nice.
I noticed your old friend and manager George Ghiz listed as Executive Producer on “Peculiar Life.” Richard, it almost seems as though you’re surrounding yourself with your most trusted friends, family and collaborators Could that be in response to decades of, shall we say “difficulties” dealing with major record labels?
Could be. I just trust my most loyal friends and family and like to include them if they’re willing. And luckily for me, they are.
But even when they fail miserably, major labels do provide promotion, money, logistics, staff, credibility. How do you manage it all at Little Dume?
We’re still in the early stages of this, so it’s hard to say what will happen, but at least we’re doing something that we enjoy. That’s very important.
Last question, are we going to have to wait 15 years again for the next Richard Page album? 🙂
I’ll answer that with another question: Was it worth the wait?
Georg Forchhammer, October 2010