Written for East West Records, October 2015.
It’s been twenty years since Peter Andre was first catapulted into the public consciousness with his global hit Mysterious Girl. It’s been a remarkable journey: three chart-topping singles; a further seven Top 10 hits; and Platinum, Gold and Silver certifications for seven of his albums to date. And that’s before we even consider his ability to fill large scale venues such as The O2 Arena, Wembley Arena and the Royal Albert Hall.
And twenty years on, who could’ve guessed that Peter Andre would be ready to embark upon a whole new stage in his career? As the ink dries on a brand new deal with East West Records / Warner Music, the English-born Australian is putting the finishes touches to his new swing album.
“As you get older your tastes start to change – you have a family, and you have a glass of wine with your dinner rather than ten beers,” laughs Peter with the kind of bonhomie that’s helped him to command a parallel profession as a successful television personality. “I really enjoyed pop when I was doing it, but as soon as I hit forty I said, that’s it, I’m not getting on stage without a suit and tie anymore!”
Inspired in part by the 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra’s birth, the album is full of Peter’s takes on Rat Pack standards including Come Fly With Me, Mac The Knife and Ain’t That A Kick In The Head. Peter has created a collection of songs which is rich in authentic swingin’ sounds, from the rhythmic diction of his vocals through to live percussion and a full brass section.
The album features the talents of producer Nick Southwood (Oscar-nominated for the song ‘Lost Stars’ which was performed by Adam Levine, Maroon 5 and Keira Knightley), bassist Adam King (collaborator with jazz legends Peter King and Stan Tracey), drummer Adrian Meehan (Robbie Williams) and keyboardist Rich Milner (James Morrison, Morcheeba).
“All of these songs are great great classics,” he says with considerable understatement. “The fact that we’re celebrating hundred years of Frank Sinatra makes the choice even better because you can start to pick some of the favourites that Franky was really well-known for. When you listen to these old classics, you realise what real music is.”
The concept of a swing collection also takes Peter back to his childhood in Harrow, when his father would play the likes of Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. around the family house.
“I played him a demo version of Fly Me To The Moon and he was really impressed,” beams Peter. “And that means a lot because my Dad never really liked any of my music, which I understand – he wasn’t into pop or R&B or soul. So when I finally did some swing with a lot of authenticity, he was into it.”
Although the Andre family maintained roots in England (to this day, his father still owns a barber’s shop a stone’s throw away from Paddington station), they moved to Australia’s Gold Coast when Peter was six-years-old. “It was paradise as far as I was concerned,” he recalls. “It was a dream to move somewhere with so much sun and sandy beaches. But, of course, it was difficult too. There were a lot of blonde-haired, blue-eyed beautiful people and here I was, this curly-haired, English-accented Greek boy. So it was tough at first.”
That challenge extended to his music tastes. His interests – Motown, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson and The Beatles – were considered to be “old people’s music” and marked Peter out as an outsider in a culture in which AC/DC, Metallica and Iron Maiden (“Funnily enough, I love all of that stuff now”) were dominant.
Later, when Peter’s career took-off, it was the poppier songs that crashed into the charts – Mysterious Girl, Flava, I Feel You, Insania and many more – but the deeper cuts were never far away. In fact, his list of collaborators remains impressive, from big solo artists such as Brian McKnight, Coolio, Warren G and Montell Jordan to serious hit-makers such as Diane Warren and Guy Chambers.
For now, though, as much as chart success would be very welcome, the focus for the new record is on building a platform from which Peter’s huge live shows can continue to flourish – especially as the material works exceptionally well within the context of the energy and showmanship of his live performances.
“All I want is for people to see me live,” Peter admits, noting the backing of a ten-piece live band that can effortlessly mash-up swing with fresh versions of his older hits and other pop classics. “If you come to see my show, you’ll be impressed. I’m not the one to say that I’m the best singer or the best dancer, but I love being a showman. It’s the one thing that I’m really proud of and that I feel really confident about.”
Music is the core strand in Peter’s range of activities. There are also his television projects – Peter Andre’s 60 Minute Makeover, a series of documentaries which proved to be the UK’s biggest reality TV show for ten consecutive series, and Sunday Scoop to name but a few, with more to come – as well as his charity work which includes the launch of the Peter Andre Fund in support of Cancer Research UK, plus support for Nordoff Robins, the NSPCC, Cauldwell Children and Health Improvement Project Zanzibar.
His motivation is simple: family. “One of the reasons I do all of the different things I do is because I want to build a fund and a trust for my kids when I’m old and grey,” he admits. “I think everybody wishes that they could be known solely for their music, but I’ve got to be realistic. There are thousands or even millions of great singers that don’t get the opportunity to do anything else and they don’t get the recognition they deserve. It would be heart-wrenching if all you did was music and it was suddenly over.”
Ultimately Peter’s driving factor is exactly what it was twenty years ago. “Music is my first love, and this album is a big step,” he concludes. “I’m not going to take it for granted, that’s for sure. It’s going to be great fun.”