Peter Zaremba: 4/4 to the Four Corners of the Earth
Written by Art Fredette on November 27, 2020
Since 1976, THE FLESHTONES have been blending R&R and R&B, serving it across the globe with smiles, attitude, sweat and calling it SUPER ROCK! The band has recently released a new recording “Face of The Screaming Werewolf”. I figured this would be a good time to talk with Peter Zaremba the legendary frontman of the band. Peter has a true Rock-n-Roll renaissance man. He is a radio host, artist, travel writer , recording artist and troubadour. Let’s hear what he has to say.
RRX: I first became aware of you by watching IRS the Cutting edge as a TV host but you are the frontman for The Fleshtones, a radio host on Little Steven’s channel and a travel writer. How does each of these roles differ and what is your approach?
PZ: My approach is the same, but I don’t throw myself around when I’m hosting for Little Steven’s Underground Garage or travel/food writing -which had totally bitten the dust a while ago. Too bad that was a fun way to make money and friends. Like hosting the Cutting Edge I approach all these things as a fan -not as a ‘professional’, so apologies to Jon and Val the directors of the Cutting Edge who had to put up with me. But I think I gave them something ‘fresh’. The viewpoint of a fan, not a hack. And that’s why making music with the Fleshtones is still fun, we’re a bunch of fans although I suspect Bill and Ken of previous professionalism.
RRX: The Fleshtones are best known as a touring band with legendary live shows. How has the band coped with the shut down of live performances?
PZ: The truth is 2020 has been the first year we haven’t performed since we started in 1976, so that’s how we’ve ‘coped’ or not coped really. And the band is scattered across the globe which makes it hard for us to do any ‘virtual’ performances. Keith however has been doing stuff with his friends in Sweden and France -lucky Keith. he’s such a great performer it would be a real crime if he couldn’t, but a little Covid isn’t gonna hold him back! And I’m ready to go when the call finally comes in.
RRX: What do you see as the future for live music and touring?
PZ: I am fearful. Most ‘live’ venues were barely holding on as it was. They were a true labor of love by a surprisingly few devoted people around the globe like YOU. If this pandemic persists, which I hope it does not, things don’t look good. Who wants to go out and get infected? Peoples attitudes are different now than say 1969 when the Hong Kong flu killed well over a 100,000 Americans and our response was -Woodstock. That said, I don’t want to be responsible for anyone getting ill so I’ll just pray for an effective vaccine or that this just burns itself out as other pandemics have done.
RRX: I have noticed that each band member has “side” projects , one of yours being Peter Zaremba’s Love Delegation. How does the experience differ from a Fleshtones recording?
PZ: The Love Delegation was very similar to The Fleshtones. That was just at a time when we weren’t able to release any records and I had a pile of songs I wanted to do. Keith and I were deep into the Pyramid/ Lower East Side scene then. a huge pool of incredible talent so The Love Delegation was the natural -and fun, thing to do. Besides, I didn’t see the Fleshtones recording high energy ‘garage disco’ tracks. Maybe that was a mistake. Anyway with Wendy Wild and Ricky Rothschild being gone so is any chance of a return of the Love Delegation. Besides, I couldn’t finance recordings like that like I did then. And how DID I finance those?! ! I took a real hit! Keith’s doing stuff with his pals in Sweden and Ken with friends on the Beacon, NY scene, with a release on Rum Bar Records of songs he had already recorded with us re-recorded in a personal style. My only project is a series of Count Zaremba 45s -but I only sing in French. Again I had the time on my hands and figured if I bother doing something not Fleshtones it should be different. These records are just me and our friend Florent Barbier who records and plays almost all the instruments, besides coaching me in French which is his hardest job of all. So far we’ve done two 45s. I’ve got a really hot song in mind for the third record. I hope Flo is free so we can record it! I’m excited!!
RRX: And now for a different type of question. Everyone asks musicians about their influences. Influences don’t interest me. What I would like to know is, who are your guilty please bands?
PZ: Right off the top of my head Bert Kaempfert -the German king of ‘easy listening’. His recordings are genius. We’ve got a ‘tip of the hat’ to Burt on our latest album. I like polka bands, but what’s that to feel guilty about? Other than that, nothing really comes to mind. I really never understood heavy metal or most hard rock so I can’t surprise you with that and if I said Billy Joel just to shock you I wouldn’t be telling the truth, but he did record one great track with his first band The Hassles -’Traveling Band’.
Thanks Artie -great questions. I really hope I get to see you sooner than later -in action!