He has also written many songs for artists and groups such as Sammy Hagar, Van Zant, Beach Boys, 38 Special, Cheap Trick and Reo Speedwagon. He continues to produce and inspire people with his solo works and with Ides of March, Pride of Lions, Peterik/Scherer, and more recently with Scherer/Batten, a project which brings songs from him and also his production.
We had the opportunity to talk to this true music legend, who told us a bit more about this new project, and of course, some stories from his career. Check out:
RtM: Before we talk about the Scherer/Batten project, I would like to go back a little in time, and ask if at the beginning of your career at the time of the release of the first album with Ides of March, you imagined one day to be a winner of awards such as a Grammy, selling a few million albums, having hits at the top of the charts, or having an Oscar-nominated song? How far have you come in relation to your dreams?
Jim Peterik: (Laughts) When you’re 19 with a number one record you’re living in the moment. We were not contemplating long term success or what impact if any we would have in the bigger scheme of things. So I’d have to say I’ve exceeded my young dreams. By a long shot!!
RtM: I was recalling a subject I read a long time ago, where you told about the inspiration to write "Vehicle", which became your first big hit. I would like you to remind us a bit of the history of this song, especially for younger fans and readers, and describe to us how did you feel at the time, seeing that the song ended up having such a great repercussion?
JP: The Cliff’s notes is that I wrote "Vehicle" to win back my girlfriend. I guess it worked because Karen and I have now been happily married for 45 years!
|"I have a word of joy and optimism to share which has nothing to do with commerce. It’s about passion."
JP: Frankie and I started the band in the winter of 1977. Our goal was to make hard, melodic rock. I’m sure Foreigner was in our sites with their powerful mainstream sound. And a great lead singer.
RtM: Well, I have to talk about "Eye of the Tiger", which is a song that turned out to be an anthem, and is always remembered in scenes that refer to the action or bravery in movies, commercials and sporting events, being inspiration to overcome obstacles, besides having received already many cover versions. You wrote so many other great songs, but would you tell us a little about the importance of this song in your story?
JP: Every artist seems to have that one song that breaks out and defines him. Eye of the Tiger is that song for me. The stories I hear from people of how that song influenced their lives are really more valuable to me than the monetary side. The accounts of rising up over illness, long odds and challenges feed my soul daily.
And what do you think about this Survivor with Frankie and other musicians?
JP: Frankie obtained the rights to use the name when I left the band in 1996. I’m happy that he continues to spread the music we created to so many.
|"Every artist seems to have that one song that breaks out and defines him. Eye of the Tiger is that song for me."
JP: Through the years I had at least two near- misses with working with Marc. Each time I’d hear his amazing tenor in some adjacent studio and get his number then promptly misplace it! Finally our stars align and it’s been a very rich vein of mutual inspiration. This latest cd, "Battle Zone" by Marc Scherer/Jennifer Batten is the ultimate culmination.
RtM: Speaking of discovering and producing new talent, we have your Pride of Lions companion, Toby Hitchcock, another great voice you presented to Melodic Rock fans. Opening a parenthesis, I'd like you to talk about Toby and his work with you on Pride of Lions.
JP: My niece Kelly Ferro gave me a heads up on a singer she heard when she herself was auditioning for a Dick Clark talent TV show back in 2002. After i finally tracked him down (in the first row of an Ides Of March show in his hometown Of Valporaiso Indiana he came and recorded (and auditioned) at my studio. When my label Frontiers heard him they agreed I’d found the Singer for my new band Pride Of Lions.
RtM: Frontiers has already been responsible for many returns. Have they, or some other label, proposed to release a new Survivor album? Have you even thought about launching something new, or even considered any possibility?
JP: My current projects include the Ides Of March- Pride of Lions- Scherer/Batten and The Songs. All new and current.
|"Finally our stars align and it’s been a very rich vein of mutual inspiration." (about the partnership with Marc Scherer)
JP: I was recording a new album with Marc of some of my favorite songs from my past catalogue that I always felt needed a second chance. We brought in the amazing Jennifer Batten to do some guitar work but as we heard her awesome work we new she was destined to be more than a sideman. She became a vital part of a powerful new entity- Scherer/Batten. As my wife Karen said when she first heard a few songs she said: “She’s like a second voice”. The 3 of us ended up writing 3 brand new songs for the record including the title track.
RtM: And how was it to work with Jennifer?
JP: She is a joy to work with. Always super prepared, Creative and focused.
RtM: There were songs that you started working on them, but they ended up being left out?
JP: Yes. There are a few. But I think we chose wisely.
RtM: About the songs that entered the album, which ones did you must like the final result? I need to tell you that the new version for "The Sound of Your Voice", which had been recorded by 38 Special, I thought it was incredible, more vibrant and modern.
JP: That’s one of my favorite cuts too. And Jeff Carlisi, Don Barnes and Danny Chauncey Love it too!
RtM: And the process of producing the album? Was it a lot of work, because the number of people and great musicians involved, and with busy agendas?
JP: Everyone kind of put their lives on hold for this record. It was pretty efficient rock machine compared to most.
RtM: How do you see the music industry nowadays? Many artists have come to say that it's hardly worth making new songs or recording albums. What do you think about it, and what moves you to continue producing and creating new music?
JP: I do this from the need of communicating my music to as many people as I can. I have a word of joy and optimism to share which has nothing to do with commerce. It’s about passion.
RtM: Jim, I would like to ask many more things, but I do not want to take up too much of your time to answer us, and let me say that we love your work!