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Interview: Colin Peterik

Colin Peterik “West Coast” (Lana Del Rey Cover) (rock)
https://youtu.be/7gXzTeeKg_U

It takes more than chops and imagination to cover a song by Lana Del Rey. It requires guts, too. Lana Del Rey has made inimitability part of her mission from the beginning of her career. But Colin Peterik has never shied away from a musical challenge. The Chicago rocker hasn’t picked something from the periphery of the Lana Del Rey catalog to reinterpret. He jumped right in with one of her essential tracks: “West Coast,” the brooding centerpiece of Ultraviolence, and a song that draws connections between show business, sexuality, freedom and addictive behavior, and American iconography.

That’s a lot to handle — but Peterik is the right man for the task. He was practically born into the music industry: he’s the son of the legendary Jim Peterik, writer of “Eye Of The Tiger,” “Hold On Loosely,” and dozens of other era-defining songs. Colin Peterik knows all about the magic of rock and its promise of freedom, and he’s seen the dangerous underside of the dream-making machine, too. Like Lana Del Rey, he’s thought long and hard about American myths and how they’re often represented (and distorted) on pop records. Everything And Nothing, his upcoming full-length, is a culmination of a life spent grappling with the legacy of pop and rock traditions: a modern-sounding album with roots deep in American cultural history. The set, which was mixed by Grammy-winning engineer Craig Bauer (Kanye West, Ed Sheeran, Justin Timberlake), foregrounds Peterik’s expressive, soulful vocals and the earthy sensuality of his band.

Notably, Ultraviolence was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys; Lana Del Rey’s “West Coast” is a pop recording with powerful classic rock underpinnings. Peterik’s arrangement brings those elements to the forefront, drenching the mix in overdriven six-string and augmenting the song’s rhythmic pulse. Yet he’s preserved the vulnerability of the Ultraviolence original and enhanced its immersive quality, menace, and sense of Southern California as a surreal, dream-drunk place where anything might happen. The “West Coast” clip catches Colin Peterik and his group in the studio, and while nothing hallucinatory happens, the washes of red light and strange reflections in the control-room glass suggest an altered state. These musicians are giving themselves over to the song — a modern classic that has bewitched listeners ever since its release.

When and where did you begin your musical journey as a soulful rock songwriter and artist? What draws you in toward this musical and genre particularly?

I fell in love with 60’s garage rock bands around 7th grade. The Animals, The Kinks, The Chocolate Watchband. As I ventured more into progressive rock and jazz in highschool and college, it broadened my musical vocabulary, but I never forgot how that raw, angsty and authentic rock made me feel at a young age.

What is your creative process like when creating music, and how have you grown with and adapted your process over time?

The world is my office, and when inspiration strikes, I take out my phone and jot down song titles and lyrics, or record voice memos and sing stream-of-conscious style melodies. Later I will pour through these notes and recordings and flesh out ideas into songs. Sometimes a song is written over several years, sometimes in just a few minutes. You can’t force inspiration, so it’s important to be patient, but always ready for when it strikes.

How has your dad, Jim Peterik’s, experience and success in the music industry affected your entrance into it? How has he guided your artistic journey and your path to becoming the next generation Peterik star?

My Dad has taught me that it’s possible to affect people’s lives in positive ways with music. He used his gift to inspire countless others, and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I am also inspired by his perseverance in an industry that can be so competitive and unforgiving. He is still writing and recording to this day because it’s the thing he loves most in life. Not many people can turn their passion into a long lasting career.

What inspired you to reimagine “West Coast” by Lana Del Rey, and why do you connect with that song when choosing to release a cover?

I’ve always loved the imagery in that song, I feel like I’m at an after party in a ritzy LA loft, ready for the night to take me away. Lana is a huge inspiration for me as an artist; uncompromising and unapologetic in her approach, fearless. I wanted to pay tribute to her because that is the type of artist I strive to be.

What was your experience shooting the cover’s video in the studio? What was your initial reaction to hearing and seeing the final product?

I first brought the idea to the band at rehearsal. The heavy guitars inspired me to sing harder and we knew we were onto something. In the studio we wanted to recreate that initial energy, so we did it mostly live with very minimal overdubs. I sent it off to Craig Bauer to mix (Lupe Fiasco, Ed Sheeran), and when he sent it back I was blown away. The video feels so authentic because the director Alex Zarek just shot us live during the session, so it has a real organic feel to it.

Is there potential for more Colin Peterik covers on the horizon? If so, which songs are you leaning toward rerecording next? Also, do you have any other originals or creative ideas planned and/or the works that audiences can be on the lookout for? 

As far as covers, I just released a tribute to another of my favorite bands, Prefab Sprout. You can stream my version of “Steal Your Thunder” now. But I want to be known as an original artist first and foremost. My full-length album “Everything and Nothing” will be available on June 14th, and I’ve got a whole slew of new songs worked out with the band for our live performances, so I’m already getting excited about the sophomore album.

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