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Ghosts and Demons- Refusing interview since assaulting David Letterman on live television, Saul Peterson breaks his silence for the first time by kidnapping Lucy Manson.

 The twenty-eight year old pianist and songwriter shot to fame with his first album, arriving out of nowhere with a sound as honest and unpretentious as the musician who created it. Son of Laura Peterson- the late classical pianist and singer and growing up in Los Angeles, Peterson now lives in Boston with his family.

 

Saul Peterson can’t help but be noticed.

The rumble shook my coffee cup as he arrived outside the café, in a fiery red Trans Am (complete with eagle). Seconds later Saul strolled in, flicking his keys round his finger once before shoving them into his dark denim jeans. He immediately headed to the bar, ordering himself a coffee. Despite his best efforts to avoid my eye contact, I find myself drawn to watching him. He moves with an odd sort of grace for such a big guy. Even with the shining charisma of his friend and producer Jiro Jones radiating as he cheerfully shakes my hand, my eyes are drawn to Saul.

Eventually, once he’s gained a large black coffee, he arrives at my table. There are only a few people in the place in the early evening, and Saul hasn’t quite gained the recognition of the general public. Still, he behaves as if people are going to approach him as he slouches in the chair and applies four sugars to his coffee.

 

Jiro Jones is chatting to me, explaining details of releases and future tour plans. I take notes carefully for a few minutes, but my interest is in finally speaking to the man who has staunchly refused to speak to the press, with the singular exception of David Letterman. I wonder if I should be worried as he glares at his hands. Eventually, Jones announces he is leaving. For a second, it’s almost as if Saul is concerned but then nods silently and shakes Jones’ hand casually. He leans back in the chair and looks at me.

‘So what do you wanna know?’ he asks me, with a sense of foreboding in his voice.

Finally, I get to talk to him.

 

Your album has been one of the most popular new releases on the alternative scene this year. Has your success changed the way you look at music?

I don’t think it’s changed how I think about music. Not really. I guess I’m still just surprised. I invested in this thing, and I guess I sorta had to take everyone’s word that it was gonna pay off.

 

So, I know family is important to you. I hear you just adopted. Congratulations.

(Peterson smiles slightly) Anyone who knows me, knows that family is pretty much everything to me. And thanks, yeah. She’s a doll.


What kind of father do you think you’re going to be?

(Smirks) Well. I guess I already know that. Micky could tell ya. I’ll be like I always have. Annoying. Overprotective.

 

You raised your brother Micky from when you were eighteen and he was thirteen? And you have custody of your youngest brother Jonah who is seventeen now?

Yeah. That’s correct. (Peterson shifts in his seat, looks at his watch.)

 

Would be prefer we didn’t talk about them?

No. (Peterson looks back at me) We can talk about them. Sure. They’re both geniuses. Joey is at Harvard now and Mick’s a scientist. They’re unbelievable. I’m more proud of them than anything I could ever do.

 

Both of them feature quite heavily in the music on the album.

Yeah. It was a bad time for the family, when I was writing that. I guess that’s half the reason I was surprised people wanted to listen to it.

 

What do you mean?

Well. You know. It was about... ghosts. And the past. It wasn’t happy music you know? It wasn’t supposed to be. I mean, a couple of tracks are nostalgic you know? Like looking back at something important in your life, missing it, but glad it was there when it was.

 

Do you think that people only want to listen to happy music?

Apparently not. I mean, I guess I did, but if I ever really thought about it, most of the stuff I hear isn’t all love and flowers. Except like pop music crap. And that’s fine. You know, for kids to listen to.


So what plays in your house?

My house? I guess it would depend on who was in control of the stereo. Joey has a tendency towards pop music, though he does like some classical stuff. My wife Kina is pretty into like folksy-girl singing... stuff... I listen to good stuff.

 

Good stuff? Such as?

You know.... classic.

 

Schubert?
(Peterson laughs, hides his smile behind his hand) No... Zeppelin.

 

As in Led?

No, as in I like listening to 1930s air balloons. Of course Led! What, you don’t like Zeppelin?

 

Not exactly. I mean, I appreciate...

Don’t gimme that! People always say that when they don’t know what they’re talking about. How the hell can you be allowed to work for Rolling Stone and not like Led Zeppelin? That’s insane. (Peterson leans forward and downs the rest of the coffee in one go.) You obviously never listened to it.

 

Sure I have. Stairway to heaven... Whole lotta love...

(Cutting me off) No, no, no, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You obviously never really listened to it. C’mere.

 

(Peterson stands up, pulls his keys out of his pocket. He drops a handful of change on the tabletop for the waitress and starts walking towards his car. I gather up my voice recorder, paper etc and follow as fast as I can. By the time I reach him, he is standing beside his flame red Trans Am, with the passenger door open.)

 

Are we going for a drive?

Sure. You gotta drive and listen to this. What car have you got?

 

I have a mini cooper.

Get in.

 

(Peterson holds the door for me and then walks round to climb into his side. The interior of the car is pristine. He shakes his head at me like he’s disappointed and then turns the key. The car roars into life and we begin to drive through the streets of Boston. He pokes a battered cassette tape into the stereo and cranks the volume up. The car is instantly filled with the hectic sounds of ‘Communication Breakdown’. I find it’s pretty much impossible to interview him during the drive. I wonder if it was a technique to avoid questioning, but as I look over at him, Saul genuinely looks like he is enjoying himself. He drives fast and well as we cruise for about fifteen minutes through the early evening until eventually he pulls over at the waterfront and switches off the engine, plunging the car into silence.)

 

Well?

 

That’s pretty energetic stuff. Seems strange compared to your sound.

Well I never learned the guitar. It’s probably best for everyone really.

 

So where does your sound come from?

Peterson turns the key to bring the music back, turns the volume down so that Zeppelin his just moaning in the background) I guess... Well I guess... My mom.

 

She was heralded as one of the greats. She taught you to play?

Sure. Yeah. She taught me.

 

I can’t imagine a lot of Led Zeppelin going on in that house. You mother was classically trained. Did she have diverse tastes? What’s the music you first remember?

(Peterson smirks) No. Well I don’t know. I doubt she would’ve liked this stuff. My Dad was a violinist before he met my mom. So it was all pretty classical stuff. The first music I ever heard was her singing. She used to sing all the time when we were kids. I guess that’s why I sing to my kid. It’s nice. Nice memory.

 

Would you like Delphi to grow up to be a musician?

Oh god, I dunno. I haven’t really thought that far ahead. She’ll be whatever she’s gonna be. I guess I might teach her piano, if she wants to know.

 

Do you worry about her future?

Sure, I guess any parent does. She’s gonna be ok. I’ll make sure of it. That’s my job. And she’s got all these people who care about her. I’d hate to see anyone try and mess with that kid. (Laughs)

 

You have a fierce protective instinct. Will you tell me about Letterman?

I knew you were gonna ask me about that. (Sighs) Ok. Ok. Here it is. Seeing as you’re the only one I gotta talk to. The man said something I didn’t like. I overreacted. I was nervous. I shouldn’t have hit him. I mean regardless of the fact I think he’s a tool. I thought that before, and what he said didn’t change it. I don’t like talking about the past. Maybe that’s why I write about it. I knew he was gonna bring it up, and... well... what’s done is done.

 

You write about the past, but it’s personal. Do you think that’s why people relate to what you’ve created?

Yeah. Probably. I mean I had a pretty fucked up time for a while. I guess a lot of people have shit like that in their lives. More than I’d like to think. Music is my way of dealing, music and making sure my kid’s ok, that she never knows a life like that.

 

Do you think a troubled background leads to greatness, musically?

(Pauses for a moment, looks out the window) I think you can’t help where you grow up. There’s stuff in life you can’t change. Like, how smart you are, or whatever. It’s just the way it is. I guess where you go from there is up to you. But if you’re asking do I think my kid will be average because she’s been happy, god I hope so. I would rather have a happy, boring accountant kid who never had to worry about nothing, than a kid with a messed up background who’s a genius. 

 

So, how are things now?

I guess I feel like maybe I’m where I’m supposed to be.

 

Where to from here?

(Smiles) Well, I guess, musically, more of the same. I wanna write an album for my daughter, full of songs about her. But you know, not in a sappy 'I just called to say I love you' way. I mean like... I dunno. I haven’t really thought out the details yet.  But if you mean where are we going now... then I’d have to say to a dealership to buy you a car that don’t run on four AA batteries. (Grins)

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
maidensong
Jan. 9th, 2009 07:44 am (UTC)
*SQUEAL!* This is great. I love it. I had no idea wtf you were posting at first, but its genius. And I decided.......




Joni Mitchell plays lazily on the stereo, her highly experimental grip on vocalisation filling the apartment as Kate meanders about it. She's supposed to be cleaning, and is in fact making a half hearted attempt to do just that... Picking up old glasses and plates, stacking them in the sink and running water over them. Dumping dirty clothes in the hamper, to wash later. Humming under her breath as she sweeps the floor. It really is too pretty a day to be stuck inside, one of those rare perfect days that San Fran gets suddenly, and the urge to run out and play in it is too strong.

She grins and drops the broom, then winces as it crashes across the coffee table. Which is already showing wear from Bambi's boots being kicked up onto it. Kate bends over to grab the broom handle, intending to throw it back in the kitchen and head out, when she sees a familiar face staring at her from the coffee table.

Ok, from a magazine on the coffee table. Though seeing faces appearing in a coffee table wouldn't surprise her very much. But this? THIS surprises her.

She drops the broom again, picks up the two-week old edition of Rolling Stone (Bambi's, of course. Kate avoids popular media of all kinds), and absently drops back into the couch, reading over it. Her eyes are wide with amazement, her jaw hanging half open as she reads through Saul's interview, laughing out loud on more than one occasion. She can just see his indignation over anyone owning a Mini. Of course, Kate doesn't like cars in general, but if you have to have one, a TransAm IS the only way to go.

After she's finished, Kate throws the magazine back on the table, leans deeper into the white sofa and stares blankly into space for a few moments, absorbing what just happened. She blinks. Again. She looks back to the magazine. Back to the far wall in the kitchen.

Tom wanders past, scrabbles up onto the sofa and studies her for a bit. He puts a careful paw on her knee and when she doesn't respond to his presence at all, he deliberately extends a claw and digs into her skin.

Nope. Nothing.

"Kate?" he inquires politely, since the claw had no effect.

She blinks, and looks surprised to see him there as she focusses in on him.

"Tom," she says with a bemused grin. "Did you know that Saul plays PIANO? And writes music?

Tom blinks, follows her gaze to the magazine, and stares back at her with a kittenish reflection of her own shock. His little white pygmy kitten jaw drops open.

"I didn't even know the man knew how to READ!"
trickstergate
Jan. 9th, 2009 11:34 am (UTC)
Bambi wandered into the living room past her lover who wandered dreamily into the kitchen shaking her head with a look of shock on her face.
'Kate?' Bambi looked at her and raised an eyebrow. Kate was floating off on something. Bambi shook her head and moved to the couch. She flopped down next to Tom who was curled in a tiny ball on the cushion and picked up the magazine from beside him. 'Oooh Saul Peterson. Num num.'
'Num Num?' Tom snorted.
'Yeah.' Bambi replied indignantly. 'What's up with dreamy pants?'
Tom shifted, raising his head and moving to leech warmth from Bambi by placing himself on her lap. He ended up half under the magazine. 'I don't know what all the fuss is about. So some oafish Euthanatos can manage to poke a few keys on the piano and gain the masses approval. I've heard what people call 'music' now a-days. I imagine it's horrific.'
Bambi laughed and then riased the magazine to look down at him.
'Wait, Saul Peterson is a Euthanatos??'
Tom rolled his bright blue eyes at her. 'Keep up dear. Yes, he's the brother of that terrible gothic clad little friend Kate has in Boston.'
'Zero?'
'No you blithering idiot!' Tom stood up and bristled, 'Micky! Peterson! It doesn't take a genius!'
'Ohhhh.... yeah.... wow. I never realised. Man. Saul is so hot. I mean he's like manly hot, not like pretty goth hot.' Bambi looked back at the couple of pictures punctuating the article.
'Yes, well as interested as I am in the variations in 'hot' I think he's probabaly very much over-rated. Possibly using magic to influence the minds of the people who hear his plinking and plonking on the piano.'
Bambi looked down at him again, her mouth open. 'Shut up! He's really good. I bought the album. My friend Jesse had it.'
'Who, Jesse-I-can't-find-my-pants?' Tom snorted, 'You'll excuse me if I don't take his word for it.'
He curled up again, tucking his head under his tail defiatntly ending the conversation.
Bambi growled and scooped him up, dumping him down on the couch from a height as she stood. He yowled and began ranting at her as she left the room.
'YOU SELFISH BLOODY WHORE! I COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED! GO ON! WALK AWAY! GO BLEACH YOUR HIDEOUS MOP OF STREETWALKER BLOND HAIR!! IGNORANT WHORE!'
Bambi stomped up the stairs to the bedroom and dragged out her backpack. Two minutes later she arrived back downstairs and plonked her mini speakers down on the coffee table. In her indignant rage she had completly forgotten that Kate didn't know she had a Ipod.
Tom sneered at her and rolled his eyes. 'What is this.'
'Shush!' Bambi waved her hand at him and flicked her thumb around the Ipod.
In a few seconds the apartment was filled with the sounds of Piano.
Saul's music.
It carried with it deep intense feeling. It was beautiful, aching, simple. Bambi sank back into the couch and listened. It was relaxing, and at the same time filled her mind. There was layers to it, something that most music didn't contain. It echoed around the room, filtering through into the kitchen where Kate had been boiling the kettle and listening to her room-mates bickering. They weren't fighting anymore. Just sitting side by side, absorbing it.
trickstergate
Jan. 9th, 2009 11:44 am (UTC)
((To hear the music I'm stealing to use for Saul's album go to-

http://www.nin.com/listen/

choose #4- 1GhostsI and listen!))
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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