According to a recent press release: “Four Trips Ahead’s roots date back to 2003, when the seasoned New York City musicians first came together in search of a new creative outlet. Instantly, the quartet recognized their common musical interests – creating heavy, progressive sounds with strong melodies and dynamics. Their forthcoming album …And The Fire Within explores the struggle for identity, self-reliance and faith in the midst of chaos and conflict, standing apart from much of today’s contrived rock releases. …And The Fire Within will be released on HiFi Records via Alliance Entertainment on March 10th, 2017.” With the release date looming, we were able to grab singer Peter Wilson to give us his take on the new disc and more with 10 Quick Ones…
1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?
…And The Fire Within is our first full length release in a bit—we felt we had a lot to say and many great songs to choose from that would make a true statement. The goal was to identify songs that shared common themes and told stories of how people faced and either overcame or succumbed to challenges. …And The Fire Within lives within a backdrop of individuals maneuvering within their particular social and political realities. The songs are heavy and dynamic without sacrificing melody and harmony—this is ultimately our band’s mission. Music was written during late nights in the heart of Midtown Manhattan at our rehearsal space, lyrics were often written and rewritten on subway trains, going to and from these sessions. All of the people we live amongst and the urban jungle we live within inform the music and take root in the themes presented. …And The Fire Within is a big, vibrant album that shakes things up while you sing along. It’s also our first release with HiFi Records. There are indeed some hidden elements that you will find, sonically, lyrically and within the artwork that listeners and fans will appreciate the more they listen to the record and look at the album artwork. …And The Fire Within is a fully realized work—musically, lyrically and conceptually, like how records should be in my opinion. There’s a lot to dig into.
2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?
My mother was a singer with a touring choir for over 25 years; they performed at many famous venues in NYC including Carnegie Hall and St. Patrick’s Cathedral as well as throughout Europe and North America. The Dumka Choir recorded several albums which she helped produce as well. I used to sit and listen in on her rehearsals on Friday nights in the East Village in Manhattan. It was an exciting time to be hanging out in such a creative place. My father was a jazz and ska fanatic, and he constantly played records. Growing up, music was always present in our home. I ended up singing in several bands throughout high school and college while studying voice and playing NYC clubs and other East Coast venues. I also toured a bit nationally in earlier bands, which solidified it for me. You can say it’s in my blood.
3. Who would be your main five musical influences?
This is a very hard response to give with just five artists—Queen, KISS, David Bowie, The Wailers and Thin Lizzy. I cringe leaving off the Beatles, Nina Simone, Sly + the Family Stone, Cheap Trick, Led Zeppelin, the Bad Brains, King’s X, Aretha Franklin, Peter Gabriel, Steel Pulse and Prince as well as a host of others.
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be?
I don’t think I can name a musical collaborator that I would just throw into FTA—I love the chemistry and dynamic that the four of us have. It would have to happen organically with a particular song that was calling for something that the four of us couldn’t provide. I would love to record with adventurous, legendary producers like Bob Ezrin or Peter Collins. I also really dig Nick Raskulinecz and Dave Cobb as producers for the excitement they bring to records.
5. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before?
Melodic loud hard rock with harmonies and a heavy backbeat that’s not afraid to incorporate and explore elements of metal, prog and pop.
6. What’s the best thing about being a musician?
As a singer, I enjoy the power of using my entire body as a musical instrument. It is an empowering feeling. I also think writing music that you are proud of, that successfully captures a feeling, brings a special, warm inner strength that’s hard to describe. Being able to then perform these creations on stage is truly rewarding– it’s the ultimate release and celebration of what you do with other like-minded souls.
7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?
Hilarious question—I’d say Brian cooks, Dan + Ken get the drinks in—rhythm section be damned–and Brian and Dan get acoustic guitars out for some sweet sing-a-long action. I float around and make sure I get fed in between hooting and hollering over the music.
8. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?
Being an oil and mixed media painter—it’s the only form of expression that remotely satisfies my artistic soul as much as singing and writing songs does. I’d love to travel and paint in particular.
9. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”?
Not really—any challenge or rough gig or WTF-moment has brought about a life lesson or ultimately toughened our band up and brought us closer together. Everyone’s journey is different and I know that the music we’ve written for …And The Fire Within would not sound the way it does without the “missteps.”
10. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?
Just one record? Oh man, that’s very difficult to choose. I’m going to cheat and share two—I would love to have been around the original Wailers when they recorded Burnin’, their last album for Island Records in that incarnation. To have heard Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer lay down those harmonies on “Hallelujah Time,” “Pass it On” or “Rastaman Chant” or to see the tracking of “Get Up Stand Up” or “Burnin’ and Lootin’” would have been tremendous. My second choice would be Queen during Queen II or Sheer Heart Attack period in 1974. “Father to Son,” “Ogre Battle,” “March of the Black Queen,” “Funny How Love Is,” “Brighton Rock,” “Tenement Funster,” Lap of the Gods,” “Killer Queen”—just otherworldly music with killer arrangements and performances produced by one of the greatest bands ever, right as they were about to take over the world.
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