Peter Frampton on ‘Frampton Comes Alive! 35′ and Becoming a U.S. Citizen: ‘I Wanted to Vote’

LINDSAY: The song “Restraint” off the same album has Soundgarden and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron on it and a grunge influence. It’s the 20th Anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind. How did grunge influence you as an artist?

PETER FRAMPTON: [There's] Pearl Jam’s Twenty [out now] as well, Cameron Crowe’s doc and the double album, which I just listened to. It’s great. You see, what happened in the ’80s was synthesizers took over the world musically and guitars seemed to disappear. It was very frustrating, that period to me, being a guitar player first and foremost. As soon as late ’80s/early ’90s hit and I’m starting to hear bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, all of the sudden I’m hearing no synthesizers, all guitars, bass, and drums again and no perfect production like the ’80s. It sounded more like what Humble Pie would’ve been. So, it was instantly attractive to me and stood out like a sore thumb on the radio. I mean, it was unbelievable. That music was very welcome by me and a lot of the musicians of my era because it was back-to-the-basics guitar music. I love to play keyboards as well, but there’s something about guitar and rock music that go together.

LINDSAY: We’re in a period of anniversaries — the 35th of Frampton Comes Alive, Pearl Jam’s Twenty, Nirvana — and it was also the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I’m speaking to you from New York. I read that day had a big impact on you and encouraged you to become a U.S. citizen even.

PETER FRAMPTON: I was supposed to fly [to New York from Ohio] on the 11th. I woke up that morning, I think I was watching ABC morning TV. Peter Jennings was on. I remember my wife who was taking our child to school said, “Turn the TV on.” The first plane had hit. I saw the second plane hit. We all remember where we were that day. You can never forget it. I’d been starting to talk for years that I must become an American citizen because I want to vote. So, I woke up on the 12th and called my immigration lawyer and said, “It’s time. We’ve got to do this. Everything’s changed now. Nothing’s the same. I want to have my voice heard.”

Peter Frampton with former wife Tina at the 2001 Grammys. (AP Photo/Michael Caulfield)

LINDSAY: How did you take time on September 11, 2011 to reflect on that day?

PETER FRAMPTON: I was in Cincinnati, Ohio, in exactly the same place, actually. I used to live in New York. I was in Westchester for 13 years. New York is like a second home to me. It’s very sad. I watched the programs about the building of the new World Trade Center and that was very optimistic to me. It was very hard to watch some of the other programs…

LINDSAY: Do you think music has a healing effect that helps society move past collective traumas like 9/11? I remember the Concert for NYC and Bruce Springsteen performing, what it did for us in the aftermath of 9/11. That was proof for me on a very grand scale.

PETER FRAMPTON: Yes, music is very powerful. Certain pieces of music can give you physical changes, like goose bumps. Each person is different and you don’t know why it affects someone how it does. It could be without a lyric. It can be just a melody. A simple person playing on guitar or piano and something affects you. It’s also an escape. I think we needed to escape to come to terms with what had happened. I think music has always been a very healing entity.

LINDSAY: Absolutely. Lightening things up a bit now, you’re on Twitter and Facebook

PETER FRAMPTON: (Laughs) Yes, I am.

LINDSAY: I’ve had some fun reading your Twitter feed as of late. Direct Tweets to Peter Stroud and Albert Brooks. You’re poking fun at yourself with fans and the #lesserFramptonalbums hashtag. You’re enjoying the Twitter universe, aren’t you?

PETER FRAMPTON: Yes, I am. You have to be very succinct with Twitter, but your idea is always too long! It amazes me when you see Albert Brooks and Steve Martin sparring. They’ll be joking back and forth between each other. It’s just very interesting to see what people are thinking at any given moments during the day. It can be fun. Sometimes it gets too much for me, but I do enjoy it.

Are you watching any BBC America shows?

PETER FRAMPTON: Oh, yes. Doctor Who. I’m starting to get into the new Doctor and liking it very much. Top Gear, obviously I watch that and find that hilarious.

For remaining tour dates, go to http://frampton.com/live/.

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