The English guitarist and singer Peter Frampton, who plays the Montreal Jazz Festival on Thursday, and later performs his landmark double album Frampton Comes Alive! at Canadian venues in July and September, speaks about his iconic record on its 35th anniversary.
In the 1970s, Eric Clapton resisted the idea of doing a live album, arguing that a concert was meant to be just one night, which is why he eventually called his album that, Just One Night. This summer, by playing Frampton Comes Alive! in full, aren't you moving even further away from playing in the moment?
We'll be doing the set list that we did that night at the Winterland in San Francisco, but we're not recreating it. That was just one night, and I'd say the same thing as Eric.
You won't be playing it lick for lick?
No. If you paid me a billion dollars I wouldn't be able to do it anyway [laughs] I'm not made that way. I am of the moment, always have been. I'm much better at take one than at take two in the studio.
In the song Something's Happening, there's the line "I know it's my year, ain't got no fear - hold me down." It really was your year. How do you feel now, 35 years later, revisiting it?
I think I've come to terms with it. To have something that big, it almost became too much. The overexposure of that record, coupled with a couple of silly projects that I did - a few photos and a film, really - and then it was over.
You're okay going back to it?
I couldn't just do Frampton Comes Alive!. We're doing a three-hour concert, with two acts - one act being that record. Things have come around for me, in part because of my Grammy for my Fingerprints album in 2007. That to me was a validation, finally, as the first piece of success that I had had that meant something to me since Comes Alive!
Do you have anything left of the things we see on the Frampton Comes Alive! album cover?
I don't have the hair.
Right, you even change the "cut my hair" line now when you sing All I Want to Be (Is by Your Side). What about the silky clothes?
The outfit is travelling around, with one of the guitars and the talk box, with the Hard Rock Café collection. I couldn't fit into it anyway. I had a 26-inch waist then. I'm up in the 30s now.
Do you still live the rock 'n' roll lifestyle?
I gave up drugs many, many years ago. And I'm working on my ninth year of sobriety, one day at a time. I have to say it's been the best nine years of my life. I feel more like I did when I was 16. The shell is 61 years old, but inside the passion is as it was when I was 16.
There's the line in Do You Feel Like We Do? , "come on, let's do it again." Could it happen for Peter Frampton again?
Oh, I don't think so. It was a moment in time when all the stars were aligned. I would never want that kind of ferocious success, though. It was a fury of good and bad. Now I'm more happy than ever to go out there as a musician, and to be appreciated, it seems, on a new high. It seems to have come full circle.
Peter Frampton plays Montreal Jazz Festival, June 30; Ottawa Blues Festival, July 10; and Richmond, B.C., Sept. 24. The Frampton Comes Alive Tour plays Toronto, July 9; Calgary, Sept. 26; Regina, Sept. 27; and Winnipeg, Sept. 28.