fDeluxe's St. Paul Peterson talks about the Minneapolis Sound, working with Prince, and the rebirth of the Family
Sheila E has this foundation called the Lil' Angel Bunny Foundation, and she had called me and said 'I'm doing this thing, I'm getting a lot of people back together. The Revolution's getting back together. Carmen Electra will be there, Apollonia 6, and we want the Family to come.' And I'm like, wow, really? I had been playing with some members of the band around town here doing some of that stuff, so I'm like 'Sure! Sounds like fun to me.' So I called Susannah and Jerome [Benton]. They flew us out and we got to rehearse for a whole hour and had to go out and do this show. And the chemistry was stronger than ever between us. It felt like 25 years just disappeared, or 20 years at that point. The chemistry was incredible. We got off stage and went 'Wow, what just happened? That was fun. Do you want to do this?' And I thought, yeah, let's finish what we started.
The Family's first reunion for charity back in 2003
So we were ready to possibly do something with that at that time, but Susannah found out she was pregnant, so she went into Mommy-dom there, and that was totally cool, but it went on the back burner again.
A few years later ?uestlove from the Roots, who's a huge fan of the Family -- the original record is one of his top 10, he says that all the time in Rolling Stone and SPIN and all these magazines, he's probably our biggest fan -- he said, 'Hey, will you come and warm up for us at the Grammy party that we throw every year?' We were like, 'Yeah, we'll do it.' So a few years later we did that, and then we started to get serious and I started making my treks out to California, writing this record. Because of the long-distance situation between Susannah and I -- we're the main writers -- it took three and a half years. Next year it'll be four years of working on this record. And she's done. The ship is about to set sail. So that is how it alllllll happened.
What was it like writing music for a band that was previously controlled by Prince?
First of all, it was a learning period. I've had solo records out and I do a lot of co-writes, but I haven't been in a band situation, being the lead writer, ever. Susannah and I had been friends for years but never collaborated musically. So we had to learn each other's language. There was a growth period in there of finding out how to interpret each other, let alone finding out how to go in a certain direction. We didn't ignore who we were in the past, because that's ingrained in who we are. It's as if -- you know I channeled everything from the Peterson Family to all my influences playing with Prince to the Time to the Family to my personal family to Loggins, to my love for Stevie Wonder and hard-edge be-bop, and basically had to bring all that to the table. So it was an incredible discovery period for both of us, and we think we came up with a record that is eclectic, cool, accessible, funky, jazzy, all these elements that people will recognize, but it's definitely advanced 28 years with all the salt and pepper we've brought to the party, from our own personal careers over the last many many years.
Was there a challenge in taking a band that existed in the mid-'80s and making it sound contemporary?
Has Prince heard the record?
I don't know. I don't think so. It's not for lack of offering. He's a difficult man to try to get a hold of. He's the reason we're all together, so out of respect I want to play him the record, but he's tough to find. So I would love to be able to say yes to that, but I don't know for sure. We had a meeting a couple years ago and I told him what's going on, and he's like 'Good luck with that.'
Have you had an ongoing relationship with him?
I don't know if you know the backstory, but I left the Family, so he wasn't really pleased with me. But I think there is a respect there for musicality. I wouldn't call it a relationship. I think it's an awareness at this point. I hope one day that it can escalate back into a relationship.
Is the Loring Theater show your first public appearance as fDeluxe?
We did the Minnesota Black Music Awards, we played at that in July. But that was six whole minutes. [laughs] This, as a concert, is the first full show we've done since 1985. We did one show at First Avenue, and I mean Janet Jackson was there, there were so many people in the house that night. There's snippets on the internet, if you go to YouTube they're all over the place. You'll see some interesting hairdos and costumes.
The Family performing "Nothing Compares 2 U" back in 1985
But yeah, it's our first full concert. We've worked really hard to get to this point. And now the ship is ready to sail, she's all polished up, everything is in place, and now we just need to crack the bottle of Dom Perignon over the bow and slip her into port.
How did you decide on the Loring for the show?
My nephew works at the Loring, Noah Paster. We were looking for a cool, funky venue that wasn't too big, wasn't too small, and that people could party in that had a history and had a vibe. The Loring is exactly that. That is such a great theater.
fDELUXE play a CD-release show for Gaslight on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, at the LORING THEATER. $25/$30 at the door. 7 p.m.
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