Recent albums with Jim Peterik revisited: Jim PETERIK & World Stage: "Jim Peterik & World Stage"
(World Stage International Records 2000)
Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner

This is the ex-Survivor keyboardist's album packed with his duets of some great singers. Just by taking a look at the line-up one could sense long before listening to the album that it has to be big. And it is bigger than any of your assumptions. ... I was very pleased by this album. It is definitely worth investing in because (unlike that strong and very annoying recent trend of releasing the 10-11 song / 40-45 minutes long albums) this one features 15 great songs and is more than 72 minutes. (read full review )

JIM PETERIK & WORLD STAGE: "Rock America - Smash Hits Live"
(Frontiers/Now & Then 2002)

Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Jim Peterik took his project WORLD STAGE and made a live spectacle out of it, and "Rock America" is the result. Jim is known for his work with Survivor and as a songwriter for several other AOR artists, but as if that wasn't enough, he invited some of his collaborators to the stage to perform their own hits too... "Rock America" is a decent selection of songs, and I can recommend it to anyone into Peterik's songwriting. It may not rank as a classic release, but I don't think that any AOR fan would be totally disappointed. The cover might make you think of a bargain bin tribute album, but music is in a different league. (read full review)

PRIDE OF LIONS: "Pride Of Lions"
(Frontiers 2003)
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Veteran rocker Jim Peterik (Survivor, Ides Of March) has joined forces with a new young vocalist, the highly talented Toby Hitchcock. This alliance is called Pride Of Lions, and their first album is one of the best pure AOR albums of 2003. The sound is naturally quite close to Survivor, but more powerful than most of their material... it's great to see that not all the 20-something singers are victims of grunge with apathic vocal style...Hitchcock might be going a bit over-the-top here and there, but give him a few years, and he'll be the AOR vocalist of the decade. (read full review)

Ex-Survivor main-man Jim Peterik is someone who needs no introduction. I’d bet serious money any day that there isn’t a single person reading this interview who has never heard a smash-hit penned by him if none other than “Eye of the Tiger” at least.
After a busy period marked by the World Stage albums, Mecca, writing for a bunch of solo artists, and releasing a book, now Jim is back with Pride of Lions, a new project that is rather a band and that features the rising talent of Toby Hitchcock sharing vocal duties with Jim. We asked him about it and got into other topics as well.

How did it feel to work with a youngster like Toby Hitchcock?
It was exciting to me working with a young artist- seeing the rock and roll world through his unjaded eyes- it made me appreciate all the great things that are happening for the band even more- also- his vocal style brought a new aspect to my songs- there are echoes of the great aor singers of the past but there is something fresh about his style also.

In what aspect is your view of the rock n’ roll world different from someone who still has “unjaded eyes”?
I think so- called rock stars sometimes take for granted the fans and the media people they meet every day- without them we would just be guys with guitars playing for no one- I have tried never to lose that innocence I had the first time I played on stage- and that’s what I see in Toby – the will to give it 100% even if there just a few people in the audience- every single person is significant. When he first saw our new pride of lions record for the first time in the racks at a record store in Munich he went nuts! And it made me appreciate it all over again.

In what way was it different to working with your usual seasoned, experienced veteran partners?
He didn’t have any reputation to live up to so he was able to blaze a new trail without pressure. There was a learning curve involved but it didn’t take too long before he was singing songs in one or two takes- unbreakable was basically the first take!

Am I right to think that you tried to push yourself into a strange role-play when writing some of the songs for this album and imagined you were as young as Toby again? I’m thinking of songs like “First Time Around The Sun” and “Music and Me”… If so, tell us more about it, please.
Actually- both of those songs were very personal to my life but they worked through Toby’s persona as well- the music and me story is very much my own- and “First Time Around the Sun” is all about a daily rebirth for anyone- regardless of age- I can see how it could be interpreted as about a young person. Actually the role- playing took place more with “Gone”- it was really about an experience that Toby had years ago.

You have worked with so many people covering so many genres of music. Is there still anyone out there you would really want to work with but you never had the chance?
Most of my heroes don’t need my help! I would love to write with Annie Lennox, Todd Rungren, Sting, - and I would like a second chance to write with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith- we did it once but only just got started.

On the other hand you seem to have quite a lot of people you have been working with for many-many years and you come up with music with (or for) them every now and then. Is there anybody you would never want to work with again because of such a bad experience?
There have been a few- but I would never tell you who! And it’s not because they weren’t talented and great people but sometimes two people’s talents can cancel each other out- its good to find people who are strong in your weak areas and vice- versa.

Do you have different expectations of this album than for example of the World Stage albums?
I would love all my albums to sell a million! But realistically I would love to break through the 10,000 sales barrier for this type of melodic rock and to find a whole new audience as well- we appeared on rock TV in Milan last week and went over well to a fairly broad audience.

Can Frontiers back the promotion of the album any further than what we are used to from them? Can you see any chance for a tour?
Frontiers has already shown me that they intend on going beyond their standard promotion- we were the first of their groups to appear on rock TV in Milan for instance- this kind of thing can spread us to a whole new audience. There is more of that type of thing to come including a real tour with band.

Talking about World Stage... you came up with an album full of duets again. What's the reason? And why not a duet album with a female singer someone like Catchy Richardson or Kelly for instance?
Pride of lions is really a band not just a project- I would love to work with Kelly or Cathy but probably not as a full commitment like with Toby.

I guess most of the readers are familiar with your music projects like Mecca or Survivor or the new ones but could you tell us a bit more about “Songwriting for Dummies”? (Gotta love that title!) How did the initiative come? Did you get any feedback about that project?
”Song writing for dummies” is a dream come true for me- I always wanted a forum to talk about my love affair with song writing- trying to help the beginners along- and sharing some tricks of the trade- when the dummies people approached me- I jumped at the chance- it took us a year to write the book and gave me many grey hairs along the way- but it was worth it!

You almost seem to be more proud of the book than of your music… You also mentioned there was a learning process for Toby when he started to work with you. Do you ever teach? Have you got students like many guitarists or keyboardists do? Or does writing, performing, recording music take all your time?
I am not more proud of the book- but I am proud. It took a year to write and edit- it was quite a lot of work. As far as teaching- I feel I do that almost every day of my life when I work with younger artists in the studio and songwriting- of course I am also learning from them.

Thanks for taking the time and answering our questions.
All the best thanks to you and Rock United for your interest in my career and Pride of Lions- keep the music alive- and keep rocking!

Interview by Endre "Bandi" Hübner,

28 November 2003

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