Daniel Pecchio is the bassist for Glass Harp, and also lends his flute, vocal and songwriting skills to the group. While technically not an original member of Glass Harp, Dan has been an integral part of the band since before the first album back in 1970. In conjunction with my review of Glass Harp's new CD, Hourglass, Dan was kind enough to provide the following interview via a few emails and phone calls.
rb: Dan, thanks for being willing to do this interview. I appreciate it greatly.
dp: My pleasure.
rb: I can't recall hearing of any other bands that returned to the recording studio with their original lineup intact after a three-decade hiatus. Is it still a little surprising to you that Glass Harp's fourth project, Hourglass, is now a reality?
dp: It is most surprising. There have in fact been a number of bands that have done the same and been roundly criticized by critics for doing so. In that sense it was a gamble. On the other hand, we never were concerned with critics because we wrote from our hearts and it was the people who bought the records that we had any concern for as far as opinions.
rb: A friend asked me what Hourglass was like, and my reaction was that while there were some new sounds, I got the feeling that three friends realized how much fun it had been to play together and decided to recapture some of the old magic without merely rehashing old ideas. It sounds like you guys just had a good time doing this.
dp: We did. John and Phil are very generous musicians to work with and when we work on a song that is written by another member we treat it with the idea of trying to help the writer get across what was intended; in other words we never try to insert our own agendas.
rb: I imagine it was a thrill for you to collaborate with your son Ted on That Way. As I recall, he joined Glass Harp on stage for Child of The Universe during the Strings Attached concert. Share a little about Ted, his musical involvement, and your musical connection. Do you have other children?
dp: My son Ted (Toto) is one of the finer musicians I know. He spent the last couple years touring with Col. Bruce Hampton, who could be described as the Frank Zappa of the Southeast, Bruce has a reputation of using great players in his band. Ted is now playing with Pat Sweeney and just finished recording a new CD with Pat that got great reviews in Blueswax.com. I taught Ted nothing musically speaking--he is self taught. We enjoy being father and son and don't often sit around playing together but I showed him That Way and told him I was looking for a bridge for Phil to play through. He picked up a guitar and came up with it in five minutes. Ted is my oldest son (33 yrs) and Danny is my youngest son (10 yrs). Both are the apple of my eye and enjoy each other always.
rb: That's great. I have two sons myself. One song that really stood out the first time I heard Hourglass was My Prayer, co-written by you and Phil. Were the lyrics a collaboration, or did one of you write most of those?
dp: I wrote the lyrics and Phil came up with music for the bridge.
rb: Probably my favorite "oldie" that you wrote is Never Is A Long Time, partly because of the lyrics and partly because of Phil's guitar part. It appeared on Synergy, on Live! at Carnegie Hall and a great version is on Strings Attached. Could you share a little of the history behind that song?
dp: We have some times been criticized for having inane lyrics and I always feel this is the song they were talking about. The song was a vehicle for one of the best solos in rock and roll. So with a solo like that, who is listening to the lyrics?
rb: I always enjoyed the lyrics. There have been thousands of far more inane songs recorded! I liked the parallel between "never is a long time" and "always is a long time." In any case, which of the original three Glass Harp albums is your personal favorite?
dp: I don't listen to the albums as a unit because we play songs from all the albums. I enjoy them all. My attachment to the individual albums comes from the enjoyment of actually making them. So I enjoyed them all for different reasons in that regard.
rb: I've really enjoyed the Live! at Carnegie Hall CD, recorded when you opened for The Kinks in November of 1971. Did hearing the CD bring back a lot of memories of that night?
dp: I remember Phil changing the stuff in Can You See Me and I had to play a section we never rehearsed. The place itself was stunning. The Kinks were very rude to us and it was their crowd. I didn't think we would go over very well. Before I knew it, it was over and we got a standing ovation.
rb: Which Glass Harp song do you most enjoy playing live?
dp: Changes, Can You See Me, and Look in the Sky.
rb: You've known Phil Keaggy for decades. He seems to be a very humble man, even better as a human than as a guitarist, which is saying something. What's it like to collaborate with him on stage?
dp: It is a joy because he allows me to be fearless in my playing. Phil isn't concerned about a mistake--he cares more about the ability to create. John and I both drive him and follow him on musical journeys.
rb: Obviously a key part of the Glass Harp sound is the strong foundation laid down by John's drumming and your bass playing. Did you and John click almost immediately?
dp: My playing is completely drummer dependent; John inspires all that I play.
rb: Was there any particular reason you didn't play the flute on Hourglass? I always felt that helped define the Glass Harp sound on the early projects.
dp: Phil played synth flute of That Way when we were at his studio. I came home and duplicated the part but it was a hassle to drop it in the track to replace Phil's synth part so we didn't do it. My flute playing is marginal at best. I learned to play it after the first album and being young and daring included it in some songs on later albums and live. The live performances were always an adventure of hit and miss regarding my flute. I was lucky to have a reasonable performance at Carnegie Hall. If we do some live dates on the road I may try it out again to see how age, of both me and the flute, has affected my playing.
rb: In the 60s you were in a band called The Poppy, and an earlier version of Glass Harp opened for you. Was that the first time you heard Phil and John play?
dp: I had heard Phil play in other bands around town but John and Phil opened up for The Poppy. I went out front to hear Phil and as I walked in front of John while he was playing his kick drum almost split my chest open. I had never heard a drummer play with such strength and passion and individual style.
rb: Do you have any humorous Glass Harp anecdotes you could share with us?
dp: Too many--you will have to see the movie!
rb: After Glass Harp, you spent a few years with the Michael Stanley Band, from about 1974-1980. Do you still have contact with Michael and your other former bandmates?
dp: Not really. When band members go on to other projects you generally don't hang in the same circles. I bump into him at a store now and then. I did a set with Michael in Cleveland in July with the other original guys; it was fun.
rb: I understand that car racing was--or maybe still is--a passion for you. Tell us a little about that side of your life.
dp: After playing with John and Phil you need to do something thrilling to replace them and race car driving was close. I enjoyed it, did well in it, and if I had more money than I knew what to do with I would still be involved at some level.
rb: What gear are you using these days?
dp: Guitar-wise I use my 1961 Fender Jazz Bass for local gigs and recordings. For away trips I use a Fender P Light Bass that I got in 2000 and is only the second bass I have ever owned.
Rig: I usually use an Ampeg SVT Tube head if I can get it and either an eight x ten bottom or four x ten bottom. I just acquired a Boss RC-20 Loop Station that I may use on the road or recording.
rb: Would you mind sharing a little about your personal spiritual journey?
dp: From the first time I can recall seeing the crucifix on the wall of my house as a child I questioned who He was and why He was there and was told and believed He was my Savior and had come to pay for our sins and open to us the gates of heaven. I have always known and believe that. I have not always walked the walk but never doubted Him. When my son Danny was born we set out to raise him with the knowledge of the Lord by example and through instruction in the Catholic and Evangelical Church.
rb: Dan, thanks again for taking the time to chat (and type). I wish you and your family the best, and I hope some day to hear you play live with John and Phil.