Beatlemore 2012 Musician: Tim Peck '04
Interviewed by Samantha Hoffmann '13
Campus is buzzing, excitement is building in town…Beatlemore Skidmania must be fast approaching. Have you gotten your tickets yet? If not, best run over to the Zankel Box Office NOW – this is one of the biggest musical events of Skidmore’s calendar. This year, 17 acts will perform in the Arthur Zankel Music Center Friday, November 16, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, November 17 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. While many will be performing or attending the show for the first time, Beatlemore veteran Tim Peck ‘04 shares with us a unique perspective of having returned as a faculty member after having been a student involved with the first Beatlemore event in 2001.
Samantha Hoffmann: What academic path led you to return to your alma mater as a faculty member?
Tim Peck: I came to Skidmore as a music major, a little more focused than most– I had applied to Skidmore and a bunch of conservatories. After Skidmore, I got a teaching gig at a high school in Connecticut, teaching rock and roll music and recording technology. While I was a masters candidate at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I heard John Nazarenko was going on sabbatical, who I studied with while I was here, and that’s how I landed this.
SH: How does it feel to be back on the other side of things?
TP: It’s really neat. I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s amazing seeing the new facility, Zankel. We just had humble Filene while I was here. We had fewer music majors back then, but for that building it was a lot of people, and it was very crowded. I used to spend many late nights here rehearsing, because there was no other time. I usually took the 10 to 2 shift at night.
SH: You were part of the first Beatlemore. Did you have a big role in the event’s organization?
TP: It’s very interesting. We were all in Gordon’s Beatles seminar, and we spent a lot of time talking about the music. I was a sophomore in this upper level seminar that I had somehow snuck my way into, and there were all of these upper classmen that were really passionate about The Beatles. They wanted to play the music, put together a concert. It was kind of thrown together, it really wasn’t a big deal. I think it was just the people in the class and a few others who got involved, and we just threw a concert. Being that young, I didn’t really have a sense of the organizational process, it felt like it just happened. It certainly wasn’t what it is now.
SH: What act were you a part of in that first concert?
TP: I was doing an organ trio – organ, drums, and guitar, with another faculty member, Chuck D’Aloia, who taught guitar. We had been playing and we had some Beatles stuff in our set already, so that was a really easy transition. We did Taxman, a great arrangement of that.
SH: Did you continue to be involved with Beatlemore the following years?
TP: Yes, I was definitely involved every year in different bands and projects - from a noise rock duo with my roommate, to some more straight jazz, and other rock. We certainly weren’t trying to cover the songs straight. Then the faculty band, The Rust Brothers, showed up and played the B-side of Abbey Road, the suite, and everyone was amazed they nailed that whole thing. That really upped the ante for the following years.
SH: Did you ever think back then that this would continue for over a decade?
TP: The thing that surprised me the most was how much it grew over just those first three years. Because like I said, it didn’t feel like a big deal. I had been hoping that it would continue, because it was a really fun event. Even in those three years we went from a pretty full auditorium, to a full house – standing room only. And I came back a couple times as an alum to play with the faculty band, and one of those times Campus Safety was there holding back people. It was still in Filene, and all of the seats and stairs were filled, people on the floor, standing in the back, and Campus Safety would not let more people in. I was really surprised that it had become so popular. And now, it’s grown into a whole regional event with the live streaming.
SH: Has your favorite Beatles song changed from back then to now?
TP: Things have definitely changed over time, and I became a super-fan through the classes. I had been into The Beatles because my parents liked them, my father especially, but I hadn’t really payed attention. In the class, this was back when Napster was a thing, and we spent a lot of time talking about some song, and all of us would go home and spend the night looking for the rarest bootleg version of each song. Now, I have both of the CD box sets, and I’m very tempted to buy the vinyl version, but I haven’t gotten there yet. As far as songs go, I’ve been really interested in “Michelle” lately, and “Sexy Sadie”…“Taxman” has always been the stand out track. They creep their way in. It just proves that there’s enough compositional merit behind them that they can be reinterpreted - they’re not stuck in their original forms.
SH: Do you think that’s why this concert has continued to grow – that compositional malleability?
TP: I think so. I’m always fascinated that more people don’t do the early stuff. To me, it takes a lot more work to do something like “Blackbird,” because it’s so spare, to see how you can play with that. Some of the later stuff is more produced and it’s easier to find something to latch on to. We did “I Saw Her Standing There” with one of the groups I was in, and it’s a great song, with the back up harmonies, and how it’s constructed – a lot to sink your teeth into.
SH: Why should people come see Beatlemore Skidmania?
TP: I don’t understand people who refuse to listen to The Beatles. I don’t know if that is a factor of The Beatles themselves, or if it’s related to my wide musical interests – I play jazz, classical, the whole spectrum, but I feel they are really compositionally rich. To me, it’s fun to dig into the songs and see why they exist in the form they do. I just hope the concert is a way for other people to find ways to appreciate this music they may think is older or out of date.
14 November, 2012