I had the pleasure of reviewing Third International’s ‘Entre Las Americas’ (http://www.skopemag.com/2012/05/09/third-international-entre-las-americas) back in May and most recently the latest singles “Chemical Eyes” and “Good Friday at Little Rock” (http://www.skopemag.com/2012/08/31/third-international-chemical-eyes-bonus). If you like politically & socially conscious music that sounds good then you should love Third International’s material. Get to know the man behind Third International Andrew Pearson as he reveals a lot of fascinating ideas and facts to you. Get ready for some patented “Acid Swamp” courtesy of Andrew Pearson aka Third International that will blow your mind!
J Rae: So how did Third International come about originally and was it always your intention to create politically & socially-conscious music?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: After a long absence from music, during which time I developed another career, it was suggested to me by an old friend and ex-WNEW DJ that I come into the city (NYC) to jam with a couple of people. Things progressed. The drummer (Nick DiFrisco) and I found other musicians; Bill Foster (Ex of Billy Cobham & Larry Coryell) on bass, and Ian McDonald, one of the founders of King Crimson and also Foreigner, on alto sax and flute, and that was it. We started recording. It turned out that I had been writing subconsciously for all the years I was absent, and a flood of ideas came out. I’m older now and there are different things that are important to me than when I was a kid. So the stuff is politically and socially conscious simply because that’s what I think about all the time. Incidentally, the name “Third International” refers to a building designed by Vladimir Tatlin in 1919. He knew it would never be built but did it anyway. It’s a nod to the impossible dream and a finger to the Bolsheviks (who sent Tatlin to Siberia for his troubles).
J Rae: There is a definite mystique that surrounds this band particularly your style of singing and so I have to ask why do you think that is and where does this unique & special force come from?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: It comes from inside. Like a lot of vocalists I had doubts about my voice. I was a guitarist first. Developing a singing style was a series of failed attempts to find out what worked. A lot of thought has gone into the style, plus, I have very broad tastes, so that gives the style its depth. How do you reconcile Buddy Guy/ Pink Floyd? Hendrix/Gabriel? Radiohead/Steely Dan? Or Bob Dylan and the Police? You can’t but you do. There is the issue of tension as well. This whole thing is primarily for my entertainment. I make my own jukebox. But at the same time, there is a constant dissatisfaction that drives me to do better. That paradox used to drive me crazy. It’s why I quit. But now it produces the perfect balance. Yin and Yang.
J Rae: How long have you been involved with music?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: All my life. My dad played the organ in church and taught music. I started playing guitar when I was eight. Had my first band at age 10. Started writing at age 14 thanks to Dylan’s influence and turned pro at 17 and toured Germany for a few years to make my bones. Dropped out of college to get a record deal in London. Came to the states a few years later.
J Rae: So I see that you grew up outside of Birmingham, England during the 60s which was a golden era in music history and not to mention England being a major HOT spot for BIG acts during that same time. I, along with the entire Skope Universe, would love to know more about this first-hand account and what that was really like?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: Birmingham is overshadowed in pop history by Liverpool and the whole Eel Pie Island scene in London, but it spawned many influential bands. It was the birthplace of Heavy Metal. Zeppelin, Sabbath, Trapeze….they all came from there. There was a great club outside of town called The Mothers. It was like our Fillmore. Savoy Brown played every week, all the hip US acts played there, Pink Floyd recorded “Umagumma” there. The Who did their first live performance of ‘Tommy’ there. It was a hotbed. But it was still the sticks. Not London. When I first came to the US I lived on the proceeds of smuggling old Gibson guitars to a store in Birmingham. They simply couldn’t get them there. And they were worth five times what I would buy them for on 48th street in Manhattan! Statute of limitations. Rocks!
J Rae: So I see that you’re currently living just outside of NYC, one of the best cities in the world, and would love to know how long you have lived there and what brought you to New York? I’m originally from NY myself and so I love many things about the city lifestyle but if I were to ask you what is your one favorite thing about New York what would that be and why? Also, very curious to know when you made the move from England to the U.S. and what that whole experience was like?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: It’s THE best. Everywhere else is a small town by comparison. I came here in the Spring of ’73. Watergate. HELLO! I’m thinking “This couldn’t happen in England. This is SO cool!” I came here to write. I was treading water and I just hopped the first train out of Dodge. Actually a plane out of London. I had $300 and two phone numbers. I spent $200 on a Telecaster the second day I was here. I didn’t even have an amp! This place is home to me. I’ve always been a bit out of place. Fringe. But everybody here is so different that it’s impossible to be out of place. People here respect differences in each other, and are more careful in the way they deal with each other because of that. A couple of years ago we had a blackout. Four days. No power. No riots. No looting. Average Joes directing traffic (no traffic lights). In LA or London or Paris it would have been chaos. Mayhem. Not here. That’s what I love about NYC.
J Rae: I couldn’t help but notice that you have done a lot of traveling over the years and you still do for your work. So first I want to ask what type of work do you do besides music where you are traveling all the time? And second, since you’ve been to a lot of destinations it sounds like what have been some of your favorite spots and why?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: Pilot. I captain an Airbus 320 for a major US airline. I used to fly all over the world but truthfully, it gets old. I like it here. I like the US. Time changes are also very fatiguing. They don’t wear well. Like hangovers. Favorite countries? Costa Rica and Thailand. CR because it is literally the edge of the world (That’s what “The Edge” from Entre Las Americas is all about) and Thailand for the culture, people, beauty. My favorite cities outside the US are Paris and Buenos Aires. Paris for the history, art and culture and BA for its spirit and beautiful women. And football (soccer). I’m a Boca Juniors fan.
J Rae: Switching gears now I’d love to talk about your new single “Chemical Eyes” and what this song truly means to you? I realize that global warming is a theme on “Chemical Eyes” but I feel that there is a much more important factor at stake here. So…would you care to delve more into this subject for all of the loyal Skope readers out there?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: Right now I believe there is a global socialist effort to redistribute wealth. I think it’s futile. Evil. Wealth is created when people are incentivized to create it via opportunity. It is never given. The issue of global warming is a perfect tool for this attempted reengineering of society. Terrify everybody with doomsday proclamations, blame somebody who has more than you, and you can sit back on the couch and lap up all this pseudo science they are peddling. While it is true that the earth is warming (if we look at it over a recent period….longer statistical parameters produce different estimates), it is dubious that there is a correlation between man’s energy consumption and the change in atmospheric temperature. Even well written green advocacy sites such as BerkleyEarth fail to take into account the decimation of the rain forests and its effect on CO2 levels. To do that would call into question population control (Chop trees>plant soybeans>feed the increasing masses) and nobody wants to touch that. Look at the taxpayer money spent on so called research that promotes the idea of reliance on green energy, versus objective studies. The bias is staggering. Scientists have agendas and they benefit from this grant money. The father of Global Warming, a NASA atmospheric scientist by the name of James Hansen actually used the SAME data to predict global COOLING until he found salvation in solar Jesus and the new font of wealth. We overfish the seas, overplant the fields and wreck the topsoil, chop down the forests…and it’s perfectly OK. But extract oil or gas out of the rock and suddenly we are irresponsible earth killers! I am ALL for renewable energy. But what the protagonists fail to admit is that transmission costs make it non viable, receptor technology (solar) is totally inefficient at present (up o 14% at the last count) and the wind doesn’t always blow when you want it to. So we generate “Tax Breaks” (read: We want your money to subsidize an otherwise failed business) or we create “Carbon Credits” (read: IF you have the money, do what you want, we’ll just penalize you). This is FASCISM. Eco lawyers get rich filing suits. Researchers get grants to patronize us with their pseudo science. Politicians get to control us by making us fearful enough to hand them our money. Our opportunities suffer. Our businesses suffer. Our jobs suffer.
Lastly, since we have had the data (30 years or so) it appears that Mars is heating in a similar fashion to Earth. And the reason is………? Martians with Hummers?
J Rae: Your second new single “Good Friday at Little Rock” is actually an old poem you wrote back in 1996, which happened to win a New York Times award and was even published in a book of newly recognized American poets that same year, entitled “Of Moonlight and Wishes”?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: Yah. Of Moonlight and Wishes! I would never have thought of a title like that. Conjures up images of Barbara Streisand and Barry Manilow having it off in a back alley. Eeeww. Back in’96 Wall Street was a-boomin’ and we on the coasts were all getting rich. My travels take me a lot to the heartland and things were different there. The Bus-Of-Plenty wasn’t stopping there. Well it still isn’t. Our beloved Middle America is hurting and it needs to be recognized. So I thought, with the election coming and all, and the prospect of four more years of hardship, I had to get it out.
J Rae: Speaking in terms of your poetic ability, which obviously has been recognized already, what are major differences between writing poems/verses just for fun on paper vs. writing them for designated lines in a song form? Have you always been into reading & writing poetry and has it always been a part of you and your music? How many poems do you think you have written and read to date? And lastly here, who is your favorite poet and what is your favorite poem of all time?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: I always write lyrics. I am a songsmith. There is a natural cadence in syntax. There is rhythm all around us. That gives rise to melody. Last night I heard music in a dripping faucet. The intro to “Chemical Eyes” was actually the notes the tires of a car made on the road. The driver couldn’t keep his foot steady on the gas pedal. He had a repetitive series of positions. 5 positions in a series of six. 1-2-3-4-5-4. Six different speeds. Six different notes. Hey presto, “Chemical Eyes”! But sometimes a line of verse will come to me and it too, has a melody. Certain syllables seem to want to go a certain way, pitch wise. Occasionally a line will get changed to make it more singable, but that is getting less and less it seems. I’ve written tens of thousands of stanzas. I don’t read much poetry. More prose, in which I find a poetic sense. Authors like Jeanette Winterson or Somerset Maugham have it in their writing. Favorite poets though? Coleridge, Milton, Keats, Virgil. Classics.
J Rae: So I see that you included a band on your last album ‘Entre Las Americas’ however on your recent single release you decided to go at it 100% on your own this time. What was the purpose behind the change and how has everything turned out in terms of overall sound, style, approach and production?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: I have been fortunate to work with some very talented people, and my going it alone is no reflection on their ability. But I had a singular idea to create this “Acid Swamp” style and I knew I could do it. I didn’t want it interpreted or morphed. I had a very clear idea. I wanted it done quickly too, to follow ‘Entre Las Americas’ into the market and I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
J Rae: I’m sorry but I absolutely have to ask this especially since you write politically & socially-targeted lyrics and that is Barack Obama or Mitt Romney? As you could probably tell from my last two reviews for Third International I’m not a huge Obama supporter–lol. I’m personally a fan of honest-to-god truth and change that will better ALL people, so whoever can offer that then he or she has got my vote! Unfortunately I know I’m stretching there and reaching for the stars with that request but you never know! So Andrew based on two choices between Obama vs. Romney, who do you think would be the best person to get this country moving in a right & just direction, at least for now?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: Pass. This is Public Relations Suicide. Most young people and artists are going to support Obama and any other view regarded as anathema. So to piss everybody off I have to say Romney, on purely economic grounds. Look, his religion (all religions for that matter) I think is off the chain. Totally whacked. But our constitution puts that in its little box and there’s not a whole lot he can do to impose theocratic will. It ain’t Iran. Obama, however, wants to dismantle certain inconvenient safeguards that prevent him from rewriting the constitution, and then it gets dangerous. Then we can become Iran. I don’t want to go there. Just for the record though, I think they’re both liars. They have to be in order to placate the self serving masses. Having said that I am saddened by the way the Republican Party has been hijacked by religious fanatics. When they finally realize that there are more of us centrists around who don’t buy into the god thing than there are bible thumpers preaching right wing salvation, then they will become the dominant party. Then the Dems can hang it up. Once they lose the support of the good comics and the intellectuals, they are toast. But for now…. I think Obama will win in November.
J Rae: Other than the new two-track single you just released, anything else exciting going on that you’d care to share with Skope?
Andrew Pearson/Third International: Yeah. Lots. I am in the process of rebuilding my studio (Calicut) which is a major engineering project. So I get to dig drains and build foundations and whatnot in my spare time. I am auditioning rhythm sections. I really want to be able to settle down with some guys and develop the sound. Past recordings have been done, essentially with session guys. Adrian Harpham, the drummer on ELA, spent the summer touring Europe (he’s now in Japan), Dave Eggar the cellist, works with Beyonce and Coldplay so he’s really busy. Bill Foster, the bassist is locked into a teaching gig upstate. I need to be able to rehearse regularly with the same guys. It’s the only way I am going to put together a live act I am happy with. The only other exciting thing going on is I just bought a Honda CBR 600RR crotch rocket and I’ve been a delinquent and spending my free hours (few as they are) barreling around the local neighborhood on it.
J Rae: Okay so I’m a BIG believer in REAL change for the good of all people and so here’s your chance to motivate people worldwide to do right. What crucial steps are necessary toward bettering this world right here and now? Hit us with it Andrew and don’t hold back man–we’re listening!
Andrew Pearson/Third International: Let me preface this by saying I don’t think anyone can change the world. You can only change yourself. Setting out to change the world is a dangerous business. As Ayn Rand said, “Most atrocities have been committed by people with good intentions”. So the crucial step is actually within you. There is only one person who lives your life. YOU. Take responsibility for everything that affects you. Even if you’re not responsible for it. You have it in you, as a member of our species, to do great and wonderful things. Do them. Accept that the world is not fair. Life is not fair. Get your hands around that concept and get off your ass. Don’t expect help. Be kind to others. Be honest. Be good. And most of all, don’t expect any payback because there isn’t any! It’s one shot in the barrel, so love life. Bathe in it.
It’s time to make this world a better place for ALL to live in. Change starts within YOU so let’s do this! To find out more about Third International SKOPE out: http://www.reverbnation.com/thethirdinternational.
By Jimmy Rae