Prince’s Family Band
fDeluxe brings together the original members of The Family — a short-lived but much-revered 1980s Prince project. The band, headed by Paul ‘St Paul’ Petersen (lead vocals, bass) has some funk royalty in its ranks and some very accomplished record producers to boot, including Flyte Tyme’s Jellybean Johnson, Eric Leeds and Oliver Leiber. AT spoke to St Paul about his career and you can read some more in this issue’s Last Word. Here he describes fDeluxe’s live approach.
Paul Petersen: Priority number one: be rehearsed and tight, and everything that’s good will follow.
On tour you’ve got to have the right personnel. My motto: no drama. That’s not what I’m out here for. At age 52, I don’t want the drama.
Preproduction for this tour has been easy. We worked through our set list, making it flow, and I’ve worked up some ‘tracks’ for the songs that had string parts, for example. It was a case of making sure the stems are all at the same level so we don’t throw the sound guy a curve ball or get crazy level changes in our monitors.
We haven’t taken any in-ear monitors out on this tour — it’s all wedges.
LOOK AFTER YOUR VOICE
Here’s a tip that might help singers. I call it my Cheater box. If you’re on wedges but you have the occasional disaster where you just can’t hear yourself, something like this might save your life. My mic goes into this ART device which was released years ago when there was a lot of latency in DAWs — it’s basically a direct monitoring box but I use it in a live context. So it takes my mic and adds a little reverb. I’ll then pop that feed into one earpiece. With its top end it gets me above the band frequency-wise. I don’t have to scream to be heard even if the monitors aren’t great, or if it’s a tough room acoustically. It’s saved my life in so many situations. I mean, you can always rely on hearing the bass, drums, and backline, right?, even if they’re not mixed perfectly. But vocals? If you can’t hear yourself and you over-sing, then you can blow your chops within an hour and wreck a tour.
My pedalboard DI is a Demeter tube device from the mid ’80s. It colours the bass in such a way that it doesn’t cloud what I’m doing but it fattens and enhances it. When I’m in the studio I’ll use that or a Great River or an Avalon, depending on the gig.
It’s Gallen-Krueger all the way for me — a brand new Fusion 550 rig. I’m loving my GHS strings as well. I’m greedy; I love playing rock ’n’ roll and I love playing funk and each one of those has different needs as far as the brightness of the strings. I’m using flatwound strings on both types of gigs [Paul Petersen was recently on tour with Peter Frampton] because I like that sound. There’s enough life to clarify that note you’re hitting.
LIKE A BOSS
For an ’80s-revival gig like this we’ll use a lot of Boss pedals. My pedal board is like a Boss Ad. So is Oliver’s and Jellybean’s.
LOOK AFTER YOUR EARS
I joined a band called The Time as keys player in the early ’80s for Prince’s movie, Purple Rain. It was a revelation. Back then our idea of a monitoring system was a huge 18-inch three-way horn-loaded monster. I’d get it as loud as I could to try and be heard over the rest of the band. I’ve gotta tell you, I’m still paying for that to this day. I’ve lost a lot of hearing from those days.