Pete Lesperance | interview
Here is an interview with Pete Lesperance. It originally appeared in issue #18 of the British magazine "Boulevard" in early 1993. (Much thanks to Peter Sims - who coincidentally, conducted the interview!)
I guess one of the biggest surprises in last issue's poll resultswas CanadianAORsupremos HaremScarem coming a very respectable 10th in the best album category. Not that it wasn't well deserved but with such little press coverage, the album simply wasn't all that well known when the poll was conducted. A higher placing would surely have been achieved with the same sort of exposure, as say, Tall Stories. Whilst on holiday in Toronto this summer I was given the opportunity to talk to guitarist Pete Lesperance and began by telling him about the poll results.
"Wow, that's great. It wasn't even released in England."
Before "Harem Scarem" came out though I had originallyheard a 10 song demoofyoursand I'm told that it actually came out on CD. Is that correct?
"Yeah, that's how we did it at first. We were more of a recording project before we were a fully fledged,on the road kind of rock band. We had recorded an 11 track CD demo before we had played a gig together. So the focus has been on getting a deal and doing records more than being in a band and playing in clubs. We only made about 200 of those CDs though and they went to promo people and record companies, so they're pretty rare now. I don't even have one."
How did Harem Scarem come together originally?
"We were all in a band previous to this, playing in the Southern Ontario area. Harry (Hess, vocals) and Darren (Smith, drums) were in a band called Blind Vengeance...."
Yeah, I just picked up a copy of their LP yesterday for adollar.
"Oh no. Have you heard it yet? It's hilarious. It's heavy metal more or less (Having since heard the LP Ican confirm that it is rather dodgy power metal). That's the kind of band I was in with Mike (Gionet, bass). Me and Harry got this project going and we just decided we didn't want to do the cover thing in the bars so we started writing right away. Harry already had about eight songs written at that point."
So it's true to say you are influenced more by the melodic side ofrock ratherthanstraightheavy metal.
"Oh, definitely. Bands like Queen, Def Leppard, TNT..."
TNT - great band.
"Oh I love them....I'm a huge fan. I'm not so hot on the new record but "Intuition" was incredible, that'slike my ultimate I think."
Did it take long to get the deal with WEA once the demo wasrecorded?
"Basically it took us two years before we started to get the interest, but it took about six months toactually hammer out and sign it all."
The album was produced by you, Harry, and engineer Kevin Doyle. Wasit always an intention toproduce yourselves?
"No actually. We went through a bit of a hellish experience in that we already had two producers involved but we ended that before it even started and then we got this other guy and we canned him first day into the sessions. So that's when me and Harry decided that we wanted to do it ourselves...we didn't like the idea of anyone telling us how to record our material and WEA were really good with us. We have pretty much complete creative control. We picked everyone we wanted to work with or write with and any creative arguments we have we usually win."
With three top 40 singles in Canada, the album has been selling steadily since its release and has also been picked up for release in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Holland, but surprisingly not in Japan.
"That's very strange that we didn't get a Japanese release - it's the sort of stuff they like overthere.... anything North Americanised and schlocky. And we're both [laughs]."
Turning to Harem Scarem's future plans, how far advanced are youwith the next album?
"We're just starting. We've got a couple of songs from before that are already sitting there and we're juststarting on new material now. It's not a problem....we've got so many ideas between Harry and myself that it's just a matter of coming off the road long enough to throw something together. Plus we're gonna be doing some co-writing, possibly with Jim Vallance.... there's a chance anyway. Hopefully Christopher Ward again. I guess we'll be going into the studio to record in early January and it will probably be done by early Spring. We've still got another single to release before then."
Any clues as to the direction that new material will take?
"I'd say along the same lines, maybe with a bit more of an edge to it. The stuff that we're writing is a little bit heavier but still definitely radio-ready hard rock."
Which in these days with nearly band claiming to be "going backto our roots"and becoming much heavier, is reassuring to know, especially as Harem Scarem "going back to their roots" would mean the prospect of more Blind Vengeance like material. Just stick with the schlocky stuff please guys!Interview by Boulevard
Originally posted at BOULEVARD magazine