A great interview. It's interesting to hear how the song writing process worked.
Whitman: So there’s a new Brian Wilson album that you have a song on?
Peterik: Thank goodness! I am so stoked.
Whitman: “Sail Away”, right?
Peterik: “Sail Away”, yup.
Whitman: How did that come about?
Peterik: The way things usually do with Brian. I get a call from, usually [Brian Wilson producer] Joe Thomas, saying “Time for another.” And “Brian’s going to be in town” and bla bla bla. And we got together. I had this little idea … well, it’s all about Brian, but I said, “Brian, I love that song ‘Sloop John B,’” and we just took off, and kind of rechanneled that a little bit for “Sail Away.” And it really turned well. I really think Joe Thomas as a producer has a handle on those sonic elements that made “Pet Sounds,” for instance, so special. He thinks nothing of using a bass harmonica on the track, just for one small example. And it’s really got some magic in it, and I’m happy to say that it’s one of the most popular tracks on the album. There’s some pretty stiff competition—they’re very good songs but also guest artists that are noteworthy, like Nate Ruess from fun., and Zooey Deschanel, and different people that are really cool. So we’re holding our own, but I think the neatest part about “Sail Away” is that it features the most Beach Boys of any track—verses are sung by Blondie Chaplin, who sounds really cool, and then the choruses are Al Jardine, and Brian hits the second verse, and big harmonies. Have you seen the Soundstage show that came out on Brian Wilson?
Whitman: No, I’d love to see that.
Peterik: It’s beautiful, and they did a great job on our song, so we’re excited about that.
Whitman: This is supposed to be Brian’s vision of what would have been the next Beach Boys album, correct? He made That’s Why God Made the Radio and then he wasn’t in The Beach Boys anymore. What’s up with that?
Peterik: I can’t talk about that, but anyway … how about those Bears?
Whitman: Let me just ask you, as a songwriter and somebody who loves music so much, what is it like to sit by Brian Wilson and write a song?
Peterik: Oh, well, it’s surreal and it’s scary and it’s cool all at the same time. It takes patience because he’s not as driven of a writer as I am, but you can’t push him. So you’ve got to know just how hard to push: “Come on Brian, did you hear what you just played? Well, play it again.” “Oh, you liked that?” “Yeah.” So it’s a little bit of gamesmanship. He has the ideas, but it’s like herding cats. And finally he comes up with the shit, and it’s a great process.
Whitman: So it’s not a conventional hammering out of a song. He might have an idea he thinks is a throwaway, and you grab on to that?
Peterik: Yeah! I don’t think he’s necessarily his own best judge of what’s great, and that’s what we’re there for, to catch the greatness, and organize it and channel it. It’s really a very interesting process.
Whitman: It must be, and quite an honor.
Peterik: Oh, you kidding me? When I was growing up it was The Beatles and The Beach Boys, and [Burt] Bacharach—the three B’s. The Beach Boys were on a par really. We went to see them at the Erie Crown Theater every time they came and just went nuts, you know?
Whitman: I can imagine. And it’s great that he’s getting so much respect and recognition now for his legendary body of work.
Peterik: I think—and you can quote me because I like to put things into the universe—but I think this is his Grammy nomination year for sure on this record, if not victory. Everybody thought That’s Why God Made the Radio was going to be nominated. All of the pundits and critics said it was a shoe-in. It didn’t get nominated—it got shut out.
Whitman: It was a great record.
Peterik: It was.
Whitman: And you were on that, too?
Peterik: “That’s Why God Made the Radio” and “Isn’t It Time,” yeah.
Whitman: That’s a fantasic credit to you.