VAN WERT — The Guess Who prides itself on continuing the authentic sound of music in the 1960s and ’70s, which can’t help but highlight the changes in the industry since then.
The band peaked on Billboard charts in 1970 with No. 1 hits “American Woman” and “No Sugar Tonight.” Following a 40-year break from releasing a studio album, The Guess Who released “The Future is What it Used to Be” in 2018.
Founding member and current drummer Garry Peterson, said the band felt it was important to release the album specifically because of those changes.
“It’s been very difficult once we went through the disco era, and now country music is the pop music of today,” he explained. “There was no place for a classic rock act to create new classic rock music of that era and what radio station would play it?”
Peterson credits a lot of that change to the internet, which continues to open doors for artists to be able to release their own music for digital download instead of relying on it circulating the radio waves to gain popularity.
“There’s been a change in the industry of music where we used to produce albums in the late ’60s, early ’70s to be able to tour. If you had a hit album, you toured that album because people knew it and came to see it,” Peterson said. “Now, it’s totally reversed … we produced an album to be able to tour, and now you tour to be able to do an album. You make all of your money touring now, whereas then, you made more money recording than touring.”
The Guess Who are currently on what Peterson called a “continuous tour,” playing songs from their new album and all of their old hits. As a result, the band has seen a change in the venues it plays as well.
“Really, we play every month of the year now. We are starting to see more of a trend playing in January, February and March even though it’s winter because of the performing arts centers and casinos,” Peterson explained. “It’s a new phenomenon I’ve been seeing in the last year. It’s a comfortable place to see the band, whether you are young or old, and acoustically, they’re wonderful places to play, so the experience a person will get at a performing arts center may not be the crazy Woodstock feeling of an outside show, but it’s a whole other world for genuine music lovers to come and hear and see a band in a setting that’s made to showcase entertainment.”
Another new platform Peterson has taken a liking to is social media. He often likes to check the band’s Facebook page to view comments from concert-goers. Following the show in Altoona, Pennsylvania, he said he saw a comment from a 39-year-old fan who went to her first Guess Who show and is now a fan for life.
That performance also reminded Peterson that he’s a fan for life of performing. He said he doesn’t have any intention of retiring any time soon. In fact, the running joke is one day he may just collapse on his drums.
“We had a tough couple of days there (leading up to the show). When we started out, my plane was leaking oil from the engine, so I had to fly out the day of the show, and I was so tired. But, I got on stage and before I knew it, we were playing the last song of the show,” Peterson said. “Now what does that say that even as tired and exhausted as I was, going on stage was still so enjoyable, that it was over before I knew it? I’m 74, I’ll be 75 in May, and if I’m still enjoying it that much, I’m really fortunate and happy about that.”
In terms of what’s next for The Guess Who, Peterson said he sees the band moving away from releasing new recordings and focusing more on live videos of new songs. The band released three videos with its 2018 album that hit very well with the fans. It continues to be new territory, but the band is up for the challenge.
“If you want to just stay in the old world, that’s not what we were trying to do. We’re trying to be a part of the new world as well,” Peterson said. “With a lot of old fans, obviously nostalgia is a great force, and they want to go back to that era, but we get a lot of young fans as well. That’s why we did this (2018) album, to satisfy older fans and take them back to what they remember and that golden age of rock and pop music, but also to meet a lot of younger fans who say they wish they were alive then to experience it.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.