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The Guess Who to release first new album in 40 years

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The Guess Who to release first new album in 40 years (photo courtesy The Guess Who)

“We’re pumped up for this album just like the old days!” drummer Garry Peterson said about the upcoming release of the first new album from The Guess Who since 1978. “The Future is What It Used to Be” is set to be released via Cleopatra Records on September 14 on CD, digital formats and limited edition red vinyl.

Peterson is the only member of The Guess Who to have recorded and performed with every incarnation of the band, dating back to the Winnipeg-based lineup of the early 1960s.

After first achieving success in Canada in the mid-60s, producer Jack Richardson mortgaged his home to finance the recording of “Wheatfield Soul,” The Guess Who’s first album for RCA, featuring the top-10 U.S. hit “These Eyes.”

The Guess Who recorded another ten albums over the next six years, scoring 12 more hits in the process, including “American Woman,” “No Time,” “No Sugar Tonight,” “Hand Me Down World,” “Share The Land” and “Clap For The Wolfman.” That success can be attributed in part, Peterson says, to the fact that his band was embraced by both AM top 40 and FM rock radio stations.

“The Guess Who was a product of the radio and press generation,” he said. “And that is what this new record is all about.”

“Playin’ on the Radio” is the lead single from “The Future is What It Used to Be.” It’s a timeless slice of infectious pure pop with tight harmonies and carefully crafted melodicism.

“Those tight harmonies and strong melodies that you mentioned were hallmarks of the original Guess Who,” Peterson said. “This album was conceived to take us back to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, which was a magical era to be part of. We get a lot of young people coming to our concerts today who are truly fascinated by that era.”

Staying true to the project’s original ethos, Peterson says The Guess Who recorded the new album using as much vintage gear as possible.

“I used a set of Camco drums from the late ‘60s or early ‘70s,” he said. “We recorded the record at Blackbird Studios in Nashville. They have lots of vintage gear there, including a Paul McCartney Hofner violin bass that we used on the song ‘Haunted,’ which is a ballad on the new album. Paul Simmons is the studio coordinator there and he was truly instrumental in assisting me during the recording sessions.”

Peterson reveals that part of the emotion he feels surrounding the release of his band’s upcoming album is connected to the fact that he was confined to a wheelchair for much of the recording, the result of an E. coli infection contracted after a knee replacement.

“I still have it,” Peterson said of his condition. “I may have it for the rest of my life, I don’t know. But I feel great today.”

The video for “Playin’ On The Radio” features The Guess Who performing the song in a hot desert train yard. Peterson laughs as he recalls the blistering and dry shoot.

“It was 100 degrees in the Las Vegas desert and we were delirious after eight hours of shooting that video,” he says. “We were all wearing black and Derek was kicking up dust on every tambourine shot. When we were finished, I said ‘I’m 73 years old and I just did my first music video. Who knew?’” he said.

Peterson is surrounded by a band of heavy hitters in the current lineup of The Guess Who. Derek Sharp (AKA: D#) is on lead vocals, guitar and piano. Will Evankovich (AKA: Will E.) covers guitar, harp and vocals. Leonard Shaw provides keyboards, flute, sax and vocals and Rudy Sarzo is on bass and vocals. They’ve recorded and toured with Styx, Green Day, Ozzy Osbourne, Jeff Healey, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot, Del Shannon and Ben E. King, to name a few.

“I’m very proud and honored to have these musicians in The Guess Who,” Peterson said. “We’ve always had great musicians in this band, but this lineup is also very personable and very together.”

Tommy Shaw of Styx makes an appearance on “The Future is What It Used to Be,” a connection made by Will E.

“Will produced Tommy Shaw’s bluegrass album which lead to him cowriting and producing the new album ‘The Mission’ for Styx,” Peterson explains. “We’ve gotten to know those guys quite well.”

The second single from the new album, “In America,” was scheduled for release on August 14, and is a tribute to the limitless potential America offers, according to Peterson, a longtime resident of Greensboro, North Carolina.

“The chorus says ‘In America, get anything you want, anything you need’ and it’s true. If you are willing to work hard enough in America, there is no limit to how far you can go. Isn’t that wonderful? It’s the same in Canada.”

“It’s kind of surreal to be talking about the first new album from The Guess Who in four decades,” Peterson said. “I was really choked up when we were recording it. It was a very emotional and musically cathartic experience for me. I didn’t think that, in my lifetime, I would be back doing the recording the way we used to in the old days. I thought ‘Boy, I am really lucky.’”

According to Peterson, The Guess Who will begin tour rehearsals this week in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The band is scheduled to crisscross the country at least twice before the end of the year. For dates and ticket information, visit www.TheGuessWho.com.

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