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Jim Peterik & Toby Hitchcock (Pride Of Lions)

Interview with Jim Peterik & Toby Hitchcock from Pride Of Lions
by Grigoris Chronis at 23 December 2004, 6:58 PM

Pride Of Lions is the perfect example of a band combining skill and talent, maturity and excitement, history and future. Jim Peterik - former member of 80s heroes Survivor and successful composer - found on Toby Hitchcock's voice the young blood and vocal talent he wanted to give birth to a band-return to the energy of Hard Rock/A.O.R… Pride Of Lions have just released their The Destiny Stone second album, so both Jim and Toby were kind enough to use some of their limited spare time to share facts and thoughts from the past, present and the future. Welcome gentlemen!

The Destiny Stone album (congratulations, as we speak, it’s a great effort!) comes out not more than a year after the band’s same titled debut. Should we suppose that lots of ideas were flowing during the debut’s sessions that couldn’t get into the Pride Of Lions CD and are now issued under a new release?

Jim Peterik: Or all songs are fresh, exclusively made for the Destiny Stone album. Good question. Actually some of the ideas were started near the end of the first album come to think of it. I had the basic verse of What Kind Of Fool after it was too late to finish it for the first one. Most of the songs though were started on New Year’s Day in 㤌.

The new album was also recorded in your own World Stage Studio. Is the band satisfied enough from the production’s results?

Jim Peterik: I think we strive to improve each time out. This time I think the production is a bit better than the first due to a redesigned drum room at World Stage. We had a little trouble getting the few of the mixes just right. Second Hand Life in particular - I wish I could mix again. We have since put about 20,000 dollars into the control room so we can better judge the sonics of the mics - especially the bottom end. I think the most important elements of production like arrangements and vocal performances are all very well done in my opinion.

A comment on the lyrics? Who writes the lyrics in general? Are there any autobiographical elements in specific tracks?

Jim Peterik: I think every song is in some way autobiographical. Certainly the title track which addresses my mystical experience of my childhood and certainly Man Behind The Mask which deals with the phony friendships inspired by celebrity status. Also Parallel Lines very much touches on my relationship with my former partner in Survivor. We were both a bit too stubborn to see our own potential as a team.

The session musicians were - more or less - the same again. Jim, are there any plans of building a normal band with a steady lineup or is everything OK with this current project status?

Jim Peterik: Actually I do not consider this a project. We do actual live dates in America and feel very much like a real band. I have chosen to keep the Pride Of Lions entity exclusive to me and Toby but the Pride Of Lions band is solid and really a part of everything.

How are things going with Frontiers? This label is probably the premier one in the Melodic/AOR genre globally. Is there enough support for the band’s goals?

Jim Peterik: Frontiers were instrumental at relighting my pilot light. In life it takes 2 elements - a person to create and an audience that wants to hear the creation. Serafino (e.n: president) at Frontiers convinced me that there was still an audience that wanted to hear my melodic side. His interest inspired me to do my best and find a greater singer to help me complete this vision. They also promote the records very well.

Are there any tour plans? The recording lineup will be featured?

Jim Peterik: It will be the same band as on the records. We are looking at 2 festivals now in August and a few club dates in England. Japan is also a possibility.

How much did the band tour in promoting the Pride Of Lions CD? Which were the fans’ reactions? Any specific tour highlight?

Jim Peterik: Barcelona was a high point. The people went crazy and the spirit was so touching when we did Black Ribbons (Voices Of The World) (e.n.: a song written for the terrorists attack in Madrid, Spain). We’ll never forget it - we got like a 5 minute ovation. A great local band even joined us for Eye Of The Tiger and did an amazing job. If someone could help me to remember their name I would appreciate it. They gave me their album but I loaned it out.

The Black Ribbons (Voices Of The World) CD single was issued in memory of the bomb attacks victims in Madrid, Spain. I read that some people misunderstood the band’s intentions, assuming Pride Of Lions was paying tribute to the terrorists! How did that ever happen What was the reaction of Spanish fans and Press, in particular?

Jim Peterik: I have never heard this reaction! I have only heard heart-felt thanks for the project. How anyone could have gotten that reaction is beyond me. Toby and I have received so many great letters that the song gave them comfort. I hope that will be its lasting legacy.

From the band’s official site: In a computerized world where great melodies and passionate feelings are hard to come by…. Really, is there any space for melodic yet hard-based music to attract teenagers, or young people in general, daily bombarded with aggressive and computerized songs lacking e.g. guitar solos or harmony vocals? How much has Pride Of Lions contributed to this direction?

Jim Peterik: We try in every song to achieve music from the heart. Lasting melodies and heartfelt sentiments that people can relate to. There is room for this in my opinion. Pride Of Lions has shown this. My 15 year old son and all his buddies love only the classic rock. He says it is more real.

Once again, a bonus song for Japan. How does Reckless Love sound? What’s the band’s feedback from the Land of the rising sun?

Jim Peterik:: Reckless love is perhaps the hardest thing we have done. It was inspired by the music we heard when I played the Gods fest in 㥫. I tried to harness that energy. So far Japan is going nuts for this record. It’s selling very well!

Greece has a strong core of Melodic Rock/AOR fans. Are there any plans to visit Greece in the near future?

Jim Peterik: No specific plans yet but it’s not out of the question. We would love to come to Greece - the people are very passionate about great melodies.

How does it feel working with such a young vocalist like Toby, with such a great voice but minimum experience so far? What do you see are the pros and cons of inexperience and juvenescence VS enthusiasm and talent?

Jim Peterik: I think working with Toby has been a great experience. He seems to grow as a singer each time out. Also I am learning all his different sides vocally and as a producer I can push him to live up to his full potential.

Jim, under what circumstances did you discover Toby? Furthermore, if sometime he chooses to leave this project, in order to form a normal band, how do you think you will feel?

Jim Peterik: I was introduced to him by my singing niece Kelly Moulik who met him at an audition night for a Dick Clark TV show. She brought him over to my recording studio for me to hear and I flipped out. Then I recorded Love Is On The Rocks with him and the record company flipped out too. As far as Toby’s future- I think he is very happy now with Pride Of Lions and the longer we are together the more it feels like a real band.

Jim, you’ve been writing music for and cooperating with (or being a member of) great bands & artists (to name a few: Ides Of March, Survivor, 38 Special, Johnny Van Zant, Dennis De Young, Night Ranger, Starship) from all over the world for so many years. What’s your criterion for success in a musician’s career? The selling units, the fans’ acceptance, the Press’ recognition, the internal gratification? In which level each factor do you think contributes to success (or, at least, should contribute)?

Jim Peterik: I think success starts in the heart. After I’ve finished a song it is the feeling of satisfaction that I have done my best and created something lasting. If after that the public agrees then my instincts are validated. But to me if it is a hit in my own criteria- then it is a hit. I must say that as important as sales are as a gauge of success- just one letter from a passionate fan can make me feel like a million bucks!

It’s a fact that Survivor has left a mark on your career in the music business. I won’t ask why you left the band, only if there’s any possibility to see Jim Peterik again on stage (or in a recording studio) again. Is there any kind of correspondence with any former or current members?

Jim Peterik: I really do not correspond with the band. I wish them the best of course but it was just not working for my objectives in life and music. I am feeling good about everything I am doing in my life currently.

Are there any plans for another World Stage album or tour sometime in the future?

Jim Peterik: I am doing a big World Stage show in Chicago on February 5th, 㤍. It will have many great guests such as Kelly Keagy of Night Ranger, Tom Keifer of Cinderella, Rick Emmett of Triumph (e.n.: legends), Kevin Chalfant of The Storm, Anthony Gomes, Jeff Boyle, Cathy Richardson, The Ides Of March and many more. We are considering doing a live DVD of this show. An album is possible also in 2005.

Toby, how does it feel working with such a rock legend like Jim Peterik? Can you remember your reaction when you firstly heard of his interest in you?

Toby Hitchcock: I feel that Jim is just a normal person. Even though I know he is a rock legend, it doesn’t strike me that way. Now, Jim has just become One of the guys. As far as my reaction with his interest in me, I was really excited that someone of his caliber would be interested in a person like me.

In what level has working with Jim helped you in developing not only your musical skills but also your behavior in general, regarding the music industry?

Toby Hitchcock: Well, vocally, Jim has shown me a lot. Just his guidance in this area has been very helpful. You can’t argue with a genius! (Unless, of course, you’re a fool…)

Apart from being the vocalist for Pride Of Lions, is there any other band/project you’re involved into? Really, are there any bands you have participated to in the past?

Toby Hitchcock: I have been involved with a local band for about 4 years now. It’s a band that I love and allows me to perform on a different level than POL and keeps my mind open to all different kinds of training.

Toby, let’s talk a little bit about your influences. Who are the singers you think have inspired you ’till now? Furthermore, which band would you like to join as a frontman, if you ever had the opportunity?

Toby Hitchcock: My influences range from Toto, Survivor, Stevie Wonder, Brian Mcknight and Maxwell, to my very own Mom & Dad. As far as being a frontman to an already existing group, I haven’t really given it much thought. I’ll get back to you on that!!! (HAHA…)

Looking into the distant future, what do you think you will say to your grandchildren when they’ll want to know about their grandfather’s first steps in the music business?

Toby Hitchcock: I will tell them to never turn any opportunity down. Every experience in life is one that you can learn from and grow from. And there is always opportunity. THANKS EVERYONE!!!

A message to readers and Melodic Rock/AOR fans in general.

Jim Peterik: Toby and I just want to say thank you for keeping the torch of Melodic Rock alive. I think there is a lot of life left in this genre if it is done right.


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