John Panozzo

Rock groups are not generally known for their longevity, so when a group is able to survive as a top act for over ten years, that is no small achievement. And when one further discovers that three of the group’s members have been playing together for over twenty years, some of the reasons for that success start to become obvious; reasons such as commitment, dedication, hard work, and certainly, the strength that comes from musicians knowing each other’s playing so well.

John Panozzo is the only drummer Styx has ever had; Styx is the only band Panozzo has ever worked with professionally. As people and situations grow and mature, they become refined, and the more subtle elements are allowed to develop. John and Styx have grown and matured together, and this has enabled John to explore many different aspects of his playing while inspiring, and being inspired by, the other group members who were also growing.

Artists must be able to relate to their audiences. Often, a great deal of success will distort an artist’s point of view. Styx has certainly had great success but as a human being, John Panozzo seems unaffected by it. He is truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and in this age of superstars with superegos, it is a genuine pleasure to encounter someone who has reached the top while keeping his feet so firmly on the ground.

RM: I understand your uncle was a drummer.

JP: Yes. My mother’s brother, Tony LoFrano, was a drummer in Chicago. From the time I was old enough to think, he was my idol and I wanted to play drums. So when I was about eight years old, he started teaching me. He wasn’t a believer in going out and buying even a cheap drum set, so for the first five years, I played on a practice pad. I tried to break it, because I wanted a drum. I threw it away one day, but my father picked it out of the garbage. He thought it had been thrown away by mistake. I guess I should have thrown it in the neighbor’s garbage. That would have been the end of it. But that’s how badly I wanted a drum. After five years, I got a snare drum. I gradually worked my way up to a drumset.

RM: What kinds of things did your uncle teach you?

JP: We went over the rudiments, the classical books, the Wilcoxon book, the Stick Control book, the Chapin book; I would say my schooling in percussion has been pretty extensive. He taught me how to think and apply it to my hands and feet. My uncle was a firm believer in keyboard, too. So I learned mallets, but that is not one of my strong points. I can read and play and get through, but I’m no Gary Burton. I was first-chair percussion in my high school band, and that’s where I learned to play tympani.

RM: Have you ever given anyone drum lessons?

JP: Oh yes. When I was in college. I went back to the high school I graduated from and worked with the percussion section. I did that for about two years and I enjoyed it.

RM: Is it something you would like to do again?

JP: I’m not sure. I think I’d approach teaching a lot differently this time around. I would only want to work with the serious students. They’re going to have to study.

I had to set a lot of young people straight. The first thing they wanted to do was buy a drumset. I could have gone that route and worked for a teaching studio where after six weeks you talk the kid into buying a set and you make a commission from it. I don’t believe in that at all. I think that’s being a real charlatan. I wish I had a nickel for every drumset sitting in the closet. I played on a practice pad for five years. Five years may be too long to wait, but you should get an indication first that the child is serious.

RM: Students often have to have a lot of faith. I’ve heard teachers tell their students, “You won’t know why we’re doing this now, but in two or three years you will understand.” The student says, “Can’t you at least give me a hint?”

JP: Not much motivation there, is there? You have to give them a reason for sitting in that room for thirty minutes going, “left, left, right, right, . . .” Let them know why they’re doing it.

RM: What kind of music were you listening to when you first started learning drums?

JP: When I first started in the mid-’50s, I was listening to symphonic music, which I’m very much in love with, and big band stuff. Then when the Beatles came along in ’64, that music kind of turned my head around.

RM: So were you influenced as a drummer by Ringo?

JP: Not so much by Ringo Starr, as just by Beatle music itself. That’s what turned my head around to the pop scene.

RM: How did you approach rock when you started playing it?

JP: I was just copying. We tried to be as close to the record as possible, and that’s how we stayed in business. We just made the transition from playing standards to playing rock. We were getting older and were being influenced by our peers. We wanted to stop playing Bar Mitzvahs and start rocking. When we started rocking, we started getting more work.

RM: You were already working?

JP: Oh sure. I joined the Musicians Union when I was twelve years old. We were working two times a week at weddings and banquets and things like that, like everyone does when they first start out. Then we started working in downtown Chicago hotels, and when you do that, the Union rep shows up to see if everybody has a card. We didn’t want

any trouble, so we joined the Union at a very young age.

RM: And this was the band that Styx grew out of?

JP: Right. Styx is the only band I’ve ever worked with on a steady basis. Most of our gigs were local—the local high schools; the local dance clubs. We never went on the road until we got our recording contract and decided to try and make our mark on the music world.

RM: At what point did you start doing original material?

JP: I’d say around 1969 or ’70. We’d play five or six copy songs and then do one of our own. We were just sneaking our way in there until we were doing nothing but our own material.

RM: How is Chicago as a place to launch a career in music?

JP: Back in 1971, when we started as a recording act, it was very difficult. You either had to go to the West Coast or East Coast, because that’s where all the recording was. There wasn’t really a lot happening in Chicago studios outside of jingles and TV commercials. I think we’ve helped change that.

RM: Can Styx run their business from Chicago?

JP: Our management office is in Los Angeles. Your manager should be where the major record company offices are. He needs to be in touch with them on a daily basis. Sometimes the phone is just not enough.

RM: For a drummer, there’s a lot of percussion happening in Chicago.

JP: Well, “Mr. Percussion” is from Chicago— Bobby Christian. I don’t think he’s active in the music scene that much any more. And Roy Knapp gave me my audition for the Union on a phone book. I walked in there and he said, “Have you studied?” I said, “Yes,” and he said, “Who did you study with?” I said, “Tony LoFrano was my uncle.” He

said, “We don’t have to go any farther,” because he was a personal friend of my uncle. So he asked me to do some fiveand seven-stroke rolls on an old telephone book, and from that point on, I’ve been a member of Local 10-208.

RM: At what point did you stop copying other drummers and start developing your own style?

JP: That happened when we started doing our own material. Then it was time— there was nobody else to listen to. Musically, we were ready for it. We were ready to bust loose and play our own music and do our own thing. That copying business was just for survival. If you wanted to work—that’s what you did. We didn’t just all of a sudden decide to do our own material and then make the switch. We spent a lot of time at Dennis’ house doing our own thing, but we didn’t do it publicly.

RM: Of all the drummers you were imitating, is there one you look back on as having the most influence on your playing?

JP: My style is a conglomeration of a lot of different styles, plus what I have to offer. I think that’s true for the whole band, too. We have three different songwriters, so stylistically, we have three different directions in the songwriting. I have to try and match that. Also. I’ll apply a lot of the classical influence I’ve had into our music. On “Lady,” I freaked a lot of people out by sticking that Bolero in there. I’ve used tympani, and I’m going to use it again, too. You haven’t heard the last of my tympani. I love to play that stuff.

RM: How do you approach a new song?

JP: It’s totally a group effort. If the writer says, “I’d like to go for this particular style,” that’s fine. I appreciate any input. But basically, I have carte blanche on what I do, and that’s what helps make the Styx sound. Somebody will play something, the rest of us will start playing, and we’ll hone it down from there.

RM: Do you ever write in the studio?

JP: Never. Everything is well-prepared before we go into the studio. The studio’s no place to write or rehearse. That’s a place to record. Usually we give ourselves six weeks of rehearsal time, then we go into the studio. We work on stuff on the road every once in a while at a sound check, but you really don’t want to be playing your new material when people are around with tape recorders. We’re not paranoid—just cautious. Sometimes, though, I listen to some of our older albums and think, “I could have done this or I could have done that.” I’d love to play a tour of new music and then record it.

RM: Zappa does that.

JP: And it sounds like it too. He’s honed it down. He’s probably tried everything. He then picks what sounds the best and what feels the best, and then goes in and records it. I think that would be a luxury.

RM: Would your audiences accept a lot of new material?

JP: In the early days, that’s why we had to do copy material. They have to associate what you play with what they’ve heard on the radio. Now we’re in the enviable position where our songs are played on the radio. Of course, then the critics complain that we play a whole set of hits. It just so happens that we’ve been around a long time and we do have some good songs. It’s our responsibility as a band. People are paying for tickets and it’s our responsibility to make those people feel good. We’ll do whatever we can to make sure they don’t walk away saying, “I got ripped off.”

RM: It’s probably a no-win situation. If you didn’t play hits, the critics would complain about that.

JP: You must maintain your integrity in this business. That’s why we have a halfa- million-dollar show up on that stage. We insist upon total control because it’s our career. It costs a little more, but that’s the cost of good business.

RM: Styx has not always been treated well by the critics. How did you feel when you read your first bad review?

JP: The first one, you think. “What could I have possibly done to have this guy hate me like this?” Bad reviews don’t bother me at all now, but of course, I’ve been doing this for a long time.

RM: What would you tell someone who is just getting started and is discouraged by bad reviews?

JP: If you want to be a serious musician, this is not an easy business to break into and remain with. Therefore, you really do have to develop a tough skin. Musicians are known to be sensitive people. People will tear you down and say you’re no good and you’re not going to happen and you’re never going to go anyplace. The way I look at it: They’re afraid—they’re afraid for themselves. That’s the easiest thing to do—to tear down. It’s tough to build up. If you have a dream, you have to go for it. You just have to be persistent and keep going. Don’t worry about what anybody else writes about you, because it really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans anyway. It’s nice to get a good review, but you really shouldn’t let it influence you. You know within yourself whether you’re good, or competent, or whether you’re doing your very best, and that’s the most important thing. If we have a good show and I know everybody’s happy, and I read the next day that “the band wasn’t happening,” I know the band was happening and there may be a million different reasons the reviewer said that. So just hang in there.

RM: During the past year, Styx has been to Europe. How is it for American groups over there?

JP: In order to become successful in Europe, you have to go there and play, just like you do here. But here, you have the help of the radio, because they’ll play your new album. In Europe, radio is very, very strange. Outside of the Armed Forces Radio in Germany, there’s not much happening for American bands to gain any type of exposure. There’s a guy with an accordion and a girl with pigtails singing about the Alps. Their state-of-the- art of advertising consists of putting a poster up on the side of a wall. I’m not saying anything bad about it; that’s just the rules of the game over there. So, consequently, it’s not an easy task to break a band on the European continent. You have to be prepared to go there and just work, work, work.

RM: A lot of groups are experimenting with video these days. Will Styx be getting into that?

JP: We did a video tape for European TV distribution. We did “Too Much Time On My Hands,” “Rockin” The Paradise,” and “Best Of Times.” We did a little skit in a bar. It was the first time we had ever stepped out of character from the people we are on stage, and we had a ball doing it. It was kind of a rush sort of job, but it worked out real nice, so we are going to look into doing more things for video. I don’t know if it’s good to video tape a concert and sell it. You can’t capture that live feeling on video. But video is the medium of the future, that’s for sure.

RM: Paradise Theater‘s lyrics say that we could be facing a massive depression, and if we rededicate ourselves to honest work, we could create a new paradise. That sounds like the story of the economy and the music business. The groups who are making it are the groups who are out on the road taking care of business.

JP: I think the only bands that are happening today are the ones that have been out touring for the last five or ten years. Rush is a working band. They just work and work. Same thing with Styx. Same thing with REO. We have exposed our selves and built up our listening audience. There’s really no other explanation I can think of, other than the fact that we’ve been playing and working very, very hard.

There are two ways to become successful in this business, and one is to become an overnight success—have a hit song that just happens to make it. Those guys don’t usually last very long. The other way is to work and work and actually have some legitimacy to your music, to your personality, and to yourself. We have exposed ourselves to as many life situations as possible, just by being around a long time.

RM: It’s hard for a new act to get started right now. Record companies are not signing new artists the way they used to.

JP: The most important thing with a record company is to have a good attorney when you sign, and make sure the proper promotional dollars are going to be spent. Then you’ve got to go on the road, and with the cost of traveling, moving the musicians and equipment from point A to point B becomes very expensive. In order to make it work, you’ve got to optimize and play in front of as many people as possible. Those gigs just are not happening. If you want to start out as a support act, first you have to fit the bill of the headliner, and that’s not an easy thing to do. Even once you do it, it’s not an easy thing to maintain. We started out as a support act, and we were finding that there were times we were blowing the main act right off the stage. That only lasted for two nights—then we were off the bill. I wouldn’t want to be starting out again. It’s very, very difficult.

RM: Getting back to the music itself, what percentage of what you play tonight will be the same as what you played last night?

JP: Personally, depending on how I feel tonight, I may change four or five riffs or try something totally new that no one has heard before. I need that freedom. Within the tunes, we won’t change the structure, but I might try a few different riffs or kicks where no one is expecting it. It brings everybody back to life again.

RM: So you are well-structured, but you don’t feel like you’re in a straight jacket.

JP: Right. I couldn’t work like that. We’re constantly doing something different. It’s good to remain fresh. Three of us have been together over twenty years, so we have to do things like that every once in a while.

RM: Styx does a two-and-a-half hour show. Do you do any physical conditioning to help yourself maintain the energy level necessary for playing that long?

JP: No, I don’t do that. I sweat a lot on stage, but I don’t feel totally drained afterward even though I may look like it. It’s incredible to play in front of 15,000 people. I feed on all of that input. In fact, I’ve often thought that if we could harness that energy from the crowd, we could run our lights with it. That would make an interesting science experiment for all of you high school kids.

RM: You have quite an array of equipment.

JP: I love my drums! Next to my wife, I love my drums. I use everything I have up there. Nothing is worse than carrying a lot of stuff and never using it—just putting it up there for show. I removed a couple of things from my set-up because we stopped doing the songs I used them on.

All of my drums are wood, because wood has a warm feeling. I use two, 22″ kick drums, with four rack toms: 8 x 1 2 , 9 x 13, 10 x 14, and 12 x 15. The two center ones are my main drums; the small one is for high effects (the tuning is very tight for an 8 x 12); the large one is for low effects. I use a bank of Octobans tuned to a diatonic scale, and I have an 18 x 18 floor tom which is a real killer—alow-end, meaty-type drum.

For live playing I use 14″ hi-hats; for studio I sometimes use 15″, depending on what it is I’m playing. I have an array of cymbals around me: a 21″ ride, a 20″ to my right, 20″ medium and 20″ thin to my left, 16″, 17″, and 18″ in front of me, and two little 12″ and 13″ cymbals. They are all Zildjians. I play very heavy and Zildjian cymbals hold up for me. Everything is within reach. I’m not jumping three feet this way and three feet that way. Although the set is large, it’s compact.

For live playing, I use Evans heads, the Rock model. They hold up well for me and don’t give the undesirable over tone that some of the thinner heads give. This is the first tour I’ve taken the bottom heads off. I resisted that for a long time because I like the tone of two heads on a drum. In the studio, depending on what kind of song we’re playing, I’ll either go with the Evans head or I’ll go with an Ambassador head.

RM: Why did you remove the bottom heads for this tour?

JP: Actually, it was a request from our sound man. He asked me if I would be so kind as to remove the bottom heads so that he could stick the microphones up inside the drums, so in the interest of science, I did that. I’m not displeased with it at all; the drums sound good. That’s the most important thing. But for a long time, I resisted taking the bottom heads off. Being a traditionalist, I guess, I like the way two heads sound on a drum. That’s the way it’s made—that’s the way it should be played.

RM: Do you use two heads in the studio?

JP: Yes I do. Always.

RM: What do you demand from a drum?

How did you decide on Tama?

JP: Well, I’ve been playing a long time, and I’ve had various different brands of drums. Those drums all sounded good, but the most important thing is service and reliability. Tama seemed to have the product at the time. Their stands are incredibly strong. They take all kinds of abuse from stagehands and everybody else who handles your equipment. The drums themselves—Tama seems to have the nicest wood drum on the market. Tama just seemed to be the drum for the time, and it still is. I can afford my own drums; I don’t have to go and ask anyone for equipment, so that wasn’t really a consideration. I like the way they sound. I like the durability, and they service me very well on the road.

RM: What kind of electronic percussion have you used?

JP: I used the Tama Snyper on the Cornerstone tour, and I used it on the Paradise album. Once again, I resisted the electronic drum scene. They were a pain in the neck when they first came out, and I think they were put on the market much too soon. When you’re playing four or five nights a week, you don’t need the added aggravation of, “This is broken.” But I think now, a lot of them are fairly well-perfected and they can take the strain of the road.

RM: What about your other percussion instruments?

JP: I use orchestra bells, and I have a variety of wind chimes. I use tympani on stage for the end of “Suite Madame Blue.” It’s part of showmanship and it’s something I’ve always wanted to bring. I’ve finally found a place in the music for tympani to fit, although I’m not using them in the classical manner they were designed for. I have the Ludwig Symphonic model. They sound glorious, they look beautiful, and I’m real happy with them. It’s a delight for a fellow like myself who played tympani for seven years. It’s a luxury to own your own tympani. Usually, you have to go to a school or something. Consequently, when I’m home, I can put on my records, follow the music, and play along with people like the Chicago Symphony.

RM: What sticks do you prefer?

JP: I use, and have used since day one, a 5A, unlike a lot of rock drummers of today. On this tour, I’ve made some changes. On some songs, in order to get the impact and stage ambience I desire, I go to a 3S. The cymbal sound is lousy, but it gives me the sound that is necessary in some of these larger halls that we’re playing. When you’re sitting center stage, and your keyboard player is twenty feet to the right, and one of your guitar players is twenty feet to the left, if you’re going to be a responsible part of the rhythm section, you’ve got to play hard. You’ve got to play loud. I find that the 3S helps give me the added power that I need. But because of the style of our music, I might go back to 5A’s in the same song. For articulate work, I use the 5A.

RM: You mentioned removing the bottom heads for this tour. Could that be the reason that you had to go to a larger stick?

JP: For a long time, I thought yes, and perhaps subconsciously that caused me for the first time to go to a stick that was designed for the street. But we certainly haven’t lost the tonality, and that’s the most important thing.

RM: Have you ever had any hearing problems from sitting in the midst of all that sound for ten years?

JP: I have noticed that in some aspects, my hearing has degenerated. I think that’s basically due to the kind of cymbal work that I do. That’s ten years on the concert stage, plus the years I was playing before that. I’d be lying if I said no.

RM: Do you wear any kind of ear protection?

JP: I’ve tried earplugs for about five bars of a song, and then ripped them out while I was still playing. I’ve got to be able to hear everybody. I can’t play with ear plugs, but I’d like to be able to, so when I’m thirty-five years old I won’t have a horn sticking in my ear. going “eh?”

RM: Have you ever used a decibel meter on stage to see what the group is putting out?

JP: No. I’ve never been terribly concerned with that. I’ve never felt that we were intentionally ruining our hearing or playing excessively loud. We’re a rock act and rock music should be loud when it’s live. But I don’t think we’re an excessively loud band.

RM: How does the fact that your brother is the bass player affect the rhythm section?

JP: We are, and have been, the only rhythm section for this unit. I think that, because we’re brothers, we can say things to each other that other guys might not be able to say. We critique ourselves every night. We tape the show, bring it back to the room, and listen. As brothers, we can be honest and frank with each other. We have no ego axe to grind. That has helped the band out a lot.

RM: What is your philosophy about the function of a drummer?

JP: I think the drummer is more than the guy in the back who keeps the rhythm happening. That’s changing very, very rapidly, and I’m delighted. Guys like Phil Collins and Peter Erskine are changing those things. I think we’re given more freedom now. But then, that all depends on what artist you’re working with. Some people still don’t want that drummer to let loose, but that’s not the case in our group. I get to play whatever I want. I’m careful not to step on anybody— that’s just professional courtesy. But I’ve been able to grow just as much as any of the other musicians in the band. And that means a lot, personally. Chuck and I may have the appearance of being sidemen. For Styx, we are the foundation and we allow the three guys up front the freedom to move around.

On a lot of our early albums, I don’t think I was assertive enough. The drums were recorded well, but they weren’t always brought out well in the mix. However, in the last two albums, I’ve had a hand in the mix and I’ve tried to keep the drums where they should be.

RM: When you’re in the studio, how much interplay is there between you and the engineer in determining how your drums will sound?

JP: On our first four albums, I had very little to say about it. He knew what he was looking for and what type of tuning was needed to get the sound he wanted. We weren’t very sophisticated in those days. We were just glad to have a record contract at all and glad to be in the studio. So we kind of went along with the program.

But then you grow, and you learn. I did a lot of listening in the studio during those first four albums. I watched, and I learned, because the studio is a whole different ballgame from live performance. Up to that point, I’d never been in the studio before, other than to do some demo tapes we made to secure our record contract. Then around our fifth album, I started asserting myself a little bit more. I’d say, you know, “I think the drums are tuned a little bit too low for this particular song. I’d like to do some different things.” Now, I have a very good relationship with our engineer.

Basically, I’m now responsible for my tuning. I’ll come in and maybe spend a half a day with the engineer, prior to the rest of the band’s arrival. We’ll just work on drum sounds. Stylistically, each song is different, so on an album with eight or nine songs, I’m usually taking a drum off here, or using a certain cymbal for a certain part there. Sometimes I’ll have the drums on carpeting; sometimes I’ll have them on wood. On the last two albums, I’ve had pretty good success recording on the wood surface. I like the brightness that comes with playing on a wood floor. Also, I dislike terribly being in a drum booth. I don’t like feeling that I’m in a different room than the rest of the band. I usually just put baffles in front of the bass drums. The other instruments go directly into the board, so I don’t have to worry too much about leakage. So basically, we’ve been in it so long that when we go into the studio now, we know what we’re doing.

RM: Listening to all of your albums, I’ve noticed that sometimes you do function as sort of a sideman, but other times, you are what’s happening in the song.

JP: It depends on the song, and what I think the writer is looking for. I don’t feel that I have to have my glorious moment in every song that’s presented to me.

RM: So you try to play what’s appropriate to the song.

JP: Yes I do, without compromising myself and without being just a sideman.

RM: Are you interested in doing regular studio work?

JP: I enjoy recording, to a degree. But I’m the type of individual that needs to be on the move all of the time. Most drummers are like that. I think if I could get steady work in the studios, and work a couple of hours a day, I’d enjoy that very much. But after that, I’d need to move on and do something else. After two hours in the studio, give me a marching drum and let me do a parade.

Speaking of studio work, I would like to see the Union move in a direction where each person who performs on a record would receive a royalty rate, as opposed to just a standard fee. The side guys are getting ripped off like crazy. I receive a royalty on an album because I’m part of the band. But if you bring in a conga player or a timbale player, you pay them and then say, “Well, so long, guys.” If they performed on a record and helped make that record a hit, they should definitely be taken care of.

RM: But to be fair, they would have to pay a flat rate plus a royalty, because otherwise, it could work the other way. If the record was not a success but the musician invested his time . . .

JP: Oh yeah, that’s right. He’d have to get paid for the session, but he should also get a royalty. I think these cats should be paid their fair share for their part in a success.

RM: Do you like working with other percussionists’?

JP: With Styx, we haven’t used any other percussionists. But I have a friend in Chicago, and we get together and play duets.

RM: Have you kept up with your reading?

JP: Yes. All the time. As a matter of fact, I carry my books with me on the road. I

try to spend some time with it every day. I don’t want to lose that reading because when Styx is no longer a viable entity. I’d like to get back into symphony playing. So I keep up on my reading all of the time. Sight reading is good for you.

RM: I presume you still listen to a variety of music.

JP: All kinds of things, from some of the punk rock things that are going on now, to the Canadian bagpipe band, Blackwatch. I love hearing the thirty pipers and ten drummers. It’s like rock and roll. My music changes with my mood. When I want to relax, I listen to [Mozart’s] “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” or music in that genre. If I want to hear some real funky stuff, I’ll put on some Harvey Mason.

RM: A few minutes ago, you mentioned your wife. How do you maintain a family life while leading the life of a touring rock musician?

JP: I don’t have any children, and I probably won’t have as long as I’m on the road, touring. When I have kids, I’ll want to be home with them. We have our own plane, so that makes it feasible for me to bring my wife on the road. I don’t find it too difficult at all, because we tour about four or five days a week, and then we fly home, cut our grass or shovel the snow. We take care of the business of the day, and then we go back out again. Every once in a while, we’ll be out for two weeks, but you need to keep your feet on the ground. In this business there are so many ups and downs. Going home once a week helps me cope and still be myself.

A question I’m often asked is, “How have you changed?” I really don’t think I’ve changed that much. A lot of people around me are changing due to our success, but I haven’t changed—I’ve grown. I don’t think I’m a big shot or anything like that. You can tend to believe that if you don’t align yourself with the right people. Some people will build you up and make you feel like a king. That’s dangerous. Sure, we all need to be told once in a while, “You’re doing a hell of a job,” but going back to what I said earlier, you have to be yourself. The minute you lose sight of that, I think you’re in big trouble.

RM: Some people may think you have changed because they view your success as having been sudden. But from your viewpoint, I don’t suppose it happened overnight.

JP: There haven’t been many sudden changes, no. There has been a steady growth, but it wasn’t like one day we got a telegram saying, “You’re a huge success.” It’s been in increments. I think perhaps that’s helped us cope with the success we’ve had. I had no idea what this was going to be.

RM: When you were sixteen, what was your idea of success?

JP: When I was sixteen, my plan was to go to college and then get a job on Wall Street. Music was a large part of my life, but it was still a side job. My schooling was the most important thing to me. I’m sure a lot of people would expect me to say that my music was most important, but then, I never dreamed what this would be like. Music was always enjoyment. I thought that maybe if I tried to make a living from it, that would take the fun away. So far, it’s still been fun and it’s still a pleasure. But the minute it becomes a chore, I’ll do something else. Then I’ll go back to my music the way it was when I started and it will be total enjoyment—total pleasure. It must remain that for me. Otherwise, you can’t do your best. If you really dislike what you’re doing, or you’re having some problem with it, then you ought to start doing something else, no matter what you’re doing. That’s my belief.