From the eye of the tiger to the heart of the lion

An exclusive interview with the king of AOR: Jim Peterik.

As the first Swedish media outlet, The Maloik Rock Blog had the privilege to get an interview with Jim Peterik of Pride of Lions. Ten top ten songs on Billboard, one Grammy Award and one Academy Award nomination, this is how it sounded when we got a moment with him on our own.

Hi Jim, how are you?

I’m OK and the connection is OK. But please make sure I can hear you loud.

OK, I’ll talk closer to the phone so you can hear the sound of home.

Good one! You know your Pride of Lions. I actually haven’t listened to the new album in a couple of months, and before I talked to you I wanted to refresh my memory with my own album. So I listened to it about an hour ago, and it’s a pretty damned good work! I’m very pleased with it.

I totally agree. But if we start with the current situation with the Corona pandemic, how has that affected you?

Well, it’s no fun. Because, as a musician, I love songwriting and I love studio work. But for me, getting out there on stage and rockin’, that’s a part of the equation. I always get such inspiration from the audiences, when you get up there and start rockin’, and I don’t have that to fall back on right now. We’ve had some livestreams with Jim Peterik solo and also with The Ides of March. And of course, we did the video for Pride of Lions’ ”Carry Me Back”, where we kind of re-created the vibe of playing live.

And then I’ve been writing with other artists. As you might know, I wrote 5-6 song of the Dennis DeYoung album “26 East: Part 1”, which came out a few of months ago, and now we’re working on “Part 2”, so I’m still busy in terms of being a writer. I’m also working with Robert Lamm of Chicago for a new Chicago album. But there’s still nothing like playing live. I really miss it.

Speaking of the Dennis DeYoung album, that’s brilliant as well. I think it’s the best album he’s made in his solo career. But it strucked me when I heard the song ”Run for the Roses” that it sounds very much Pride of Lions?

Good catch! Every song was a little bit different. Sometimes Dennis would come to me with a piece of music, and I would help him finish it. With “Run For the Roses” I was actually in Italy and I was walking through a graveyard, I love going to graveyards and I like looking at the inscriptions and the tombstones. It’s really a very strange vibe but I like it. Every day we run for the roses, you know, and I see all these lives that passes. And I started writing this song and had my phone, and I made Dennis just a real rough iPhone demo and he just absolutely flipped out. Dennis is a great lyricist, and he just really nailed it.

If we talk about the new Pride of Lions album, how was the recording affected by the current situation?

We were very, very fortunate. I was inspired last year and wanted to finish this album and I had no knowledge that we were going to be hit by this disease. But I just felt the need to keep going. The Ides of March had just finished an album and I was in this creative mood and I said that I wanted to start write right now because I had all these songs that I was inspired to write. So we wrote the whole album in 2019 and recorded it January-February this year. So when Corona hit March 15, we were done, we were mixed, we were mastered. I’m very thankful that I finished it before the virus took hold.

How does the songwriting process with Pride of Lions works, does it differs from other collaborations with you other bands?

Well, with Pride of Lions I’m the only writer. Toby is an amazing singer, he’s co-written a few songs earlier on in the band’s career, but he puts all his talent into the voice, the incredible voice of Toby Hitchcock. Larry Millas is my best friend since the third grade, he and I started The Ides of March back in 1964, and he’s still my trusted engineer after 55 years. But Larry is always helpful in the studio, not only from an engineer point of view, he’s a good ear, a second ear. He always have an opinion and most of times I take that opinion and I trust his judgement. It was a couple of songs in the process of writing where he was so damned helpful that I gave him co-writing credit on ”Unfinished Heart” and ”Carry Me Back”.

How do you and Toby split up the singing?

That was part of the grand plan way back in 2003. This was always a plan that I had, to re-create what Survivor was gonna be originally. When I started Survivor, the first guy I called was Frankie Sullivan. And then I called Dave Bickler. And then Gary Smith and Dennis Johnson. We wasn’t called Survivor at the beginning, we were called The Jim Peterik Band. But at a point, it was changing, and we felt it was a real band. We needed a name, so I came up with the name Survivor since the liner note from my 1976 solo album was “Jim Peterik is a survivor”. So I told Frankie, “What about Survivor”? And he said “Well, it’s OK…”, But Scotti Brothers loved that name, so we became Survivor.

But along the lane, my grand plan for splitting vocals with Dave Bickler, who is such a good singer, and later Jimi, such an incredible singer, kind of changed. I’ve always missed singing.  I was the lead singer The Ides of March, and you hear me here – I’m a good singer. I don’t have the range of Toby, but it was always my plan to split vocals with Dave and Jimi. So when I started Pride of Lions in the early 2000, it was kind of my mission statement to do that. So when I write a song for Pride of Lions, I purposely write it where the verses are in my register, a little bit lower, and then it’ll build to a crescendo in the chorus where Toby just nailing the high tender vocal which I could never hit in my whole life. So with Pride of Lions I purposely write it in two different ranges, so that we can trade our vocals.

My favorite song of the new album is ”Give it Away”. I really love songs with a bit of an up-tempo. Generally the love songs are the ballads, but it’s the same as with “Sound of Home, I like it when you get really happy and can feel the love and joy in the song and still want to dance to it.

I think the challenge of bringing a love song up-tempo is really difficult. It’s much easier to write a ballad love song, it’s harder to write a love song in up-tempo. But I have a history of doing that, with songs as “I Can’t Hold Back”. It’s a challenge to write a meaningful love song in up-tempo, but ”Give it Away” is an good example. It’s not just a meaningless rocker, it really got some substance to it. And it refers to the importance of love, not possessions, it’s really personal.

Yes, I agree and I love the lyrics as well. If you don’t have the substance it’ll be more like Whitesnake’s ”Lie down I think I love you” in the 80’s.

Haha, yeah it’s a challenge to write a love song and don’t be really corny about it. A lot of the songs comes from real life. We played for free and never really made the kind of money people think we made with The Ides of March and even with Survivor, because the expenses are so heavy, with the travels and the hotels. But when you hit that stage nothing matters, because you just want to get up there and hear the people scream and react to your music. That’s really what that song’s all about.

Some of the songs on the new album feels like a stroll down the memory lane. Like ”Carry Me Back”, where you’re singing about the summer of 1983. That was the summer when you toured with the “Eye of the Tiger” album and released ”Caught in the Game”?

It’s really funny, Toby was singing that lyrics and he wasn’t even born in 1983, but it was a great era for me. My wife was on the road with me, when we were playing in cities like New Orleans and Los Angeles. You know, she was one of these Yoko Ono girls that would tag along with me. Once in a while she would take off from work as an interior designer to be with me touring the “Eye of the Tiger” album. We were having a blast.

If I interpreter it correctly, the song ”Rock’n’Roll Boomtown” hints that the glory days on The Strip wasn’t that glory for all, maybe?

When we came to Los Angeles with The Ides of March in the early 70’s, we were just kids from Berlin, Illinois, and we had been to the West Coast. We were just gobsmacked by what we saw. All of the beautiful palm trees and the billboards at The Sunset Strip. All of the bands coming, Bob Seger this and that, the land of hype and glory. And the hookers at the Strip, and we didn’t know they were hooker and we just thought “They are very friendly” and Larry said “Well, they should, they are hookers!”. So naive, you know. But Hollywood was THE place, and the records were spinning and we were doing the Dick Clark Show. It was just happening, you know this magic town. But the platinum dreams kind of soured after a while and it started getting run down and it lost a lot of its glitter. But in the early 70’s, Rock’n’roll Boomtown was totally happening, and that is what the song is all about. But it has faded over the years.

Speaking of memory lane, what would you say are the key milestones in your life. The ones that really defines you, who and where you are today as a person and a musician?

It’s very, very good question. I mean, my bands are very important in my life, but there’s one particular lady that I’ve been married to now for 48 years. And that was a milestone. I met her when we went to different high schools, but we went to see The Turtles, and we met in line waiting for the doors to open, and she was just gorgeous. And she asked “Aren’t you Peterik? I saw you with The Ides of March and you guys were awesome!” And I said to myself, there is a God. And we started to talk and we fell in love that night. And five years later we got married. And now, 48 years later, we’re still in love, still love music, still love each other, and now we have son and two grandchildren, one and three years old. Music was always very important, but she’s the one special person who really shaped my life.

And musically? I guess it’s “Vehicle” and “Eye of the Tiger”?

Well, “Eye of the Tiger” was a milestone as you said. People ask we what’s the best song I’ve ever wrote, and I always say I haven’t written it yet. It’s a kind of tongue in cheek, but I always feel like the best is ahead of me. Whether I ever beat the success of ”Eye of the Tiger”, I’ll always be trying.

”Vehicle” was a big milestone in 1970, by The Ides of March. In the summer of -70, -71 and -72 we were non-stop on the road with Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin and The Greatful Dead, playing Canada and America. So “Vehicle” really set me on the road, and I’ll never forget the success of that song.

And then it wasn’t until 82 when I hit a major milestone and I got that faithful call from Sylvester Stallone and a message on my answering machine ”Hey, you Jim, it’s a nice answering machine you got there. Give me a call, it’s Sylvester Stallone.” And I thought that someone was puttin’ me on. My wife heard the message and she said “You better call him back”, so I called that L.A. number and I said ”This this is Jim Peterik, is this really Sylvester Stallone?”, and he answered ”Hey, Jimbo! Call me Sly!” and I was goin’ holy shit, really, that’s you?

And he said ”Yeah, I really love your band Survivor!” And he said he’s got this new movie called ”Rocky III” and I really want you to write something for the kids, something with the pulse, can you help me out? I said absolutely, and he sent me a rough cut of the movie. I got together with Frankie, he came over to my house and set this Betamax on the kitchen table and we watched this rough cut of the movie. There was other music underneath the action, so at the beginning Queen was playing “Another One Bites the Dust”, and it worked really, really well, so I called Stallone and said “You got a song, what’s going on?” and he said that he couldn’t get the publishing of that song, you’ve got to beat “Another One Bites the Dust”, and I said “OK, got it, no problem!”

I love a challenge, and three days later we had a demo of “Eye of the Tiger”. On the second take we just felt that magic. It was just incredible, the energy! And we cut it, just a demo we thought, and sent it to Stallone. And he said “You guys really did it, that’s a song that’s gonna outlive me and you”. And we were just blown away, but it turns out that they use the demo for the movie, so when you see the movie it’s actually a different recording which a lot of people don’t know. But if you compare the two they’re subtly different, because they couldn’t wait for us to do the real one, you know the one in the big studio with the great sound and everything, so they used the demo. And it sounded great, but we re-cut it about two months later in L.A. when we’re cutting the whole “Eye of the Tiger” album. Just to recapture that vibe that we had on that demo wasn’t easy, but we finally did recapture the magic of it with better sound and that’s the one you hear when you buy the album.

I recently read a survey among British marathon runners, where they listed the best songs to run to, and “Eye of the Tiger” was number one. That’s the song you really need to have in your earphones to pull off a marathon.

I’m really honored, you know, that people sweat to my song. And it’s really funny, we have this show in America called “Dancing with the Stars”, and every week they have a different celebrity, and there’s this this weird and popular show called “The Tiger King”, which is huge in America. And the girl in “The Tiger King” went on “Dancing with the Stars” and danced to “Eye of the Tiger”. You’ve gotta check it out! But it’s an honor when they take your music and makes a big deal out of it, and it’s been seen by five million people. She’s a terrible dancer, but it doesn’t matter that I could dance better than she did, haha.

You were then asked to write the theme song as well to ”Rocky IV”, called “Burning Heart”, how did you feel about that? It must have been a tough one to follow up.

It’s so true, but we did our best. We were on tour with REO Speedwagon and we got a call from Stallone who said “What are you guys gonna do again for my new movie?” and we asked him to send us the script. I remember Frankie an I sitting around the pool reading the script and we got together with a little Wurlitzer piano which we sat up in a hotel suite. And we wrote “Burning Heart” right on the road. We had a break and went into the studio with Jamison and Droubay and Stephan and we cut the track. We knew it was going to be really tough to beat “Eye of the Tiger”, but we did a good job. It’s really a tough act to follow, but we put so much work into the lyric of it. Stallone demanded every line to be great. We met with him in Hollywood and he said “It’s great but the chorus isn’t working yet, it’s kind of lame”. The original lyric was “In the human heart, just about to burst” and Frankie said “What about In the Burning Heart?” and he just said yeah, you got it.

I hesitated, because Vandenberg had a song called ” Burning Heart”, but we got reassured that you can’t copyright a title and that it was going to be bigger than Vandenberg’s song. So we called it “Burning Heart”.

You have so many projects going on at once, you have Pride of Lions, The Ides of March, World Stage, The Stormchasers, Lifeforce and solo projects as the recent duet single with Cathy Richardson. How do you manage to keep them all apart?

I have a file cabin in my brain, a mental filing system. I know the brand of Pride of Lions, I know the brand of Cathy Richardson, I know Lifeforce, I know The Ides of March. They’re all rock’n’roll but they’re all subtly different. And now I’m writing with Robert Lamm of Chicago and that’s a different muscle to flex, it’s more jazzy, you know those jazzy chord changes. That’s all Robert Lamm, we’re writing together and I’m thinking we’re writing some great stuff that’s totally different than Pride of Lions or The Ides of March.

But do you have periods when you write songs for specific projects or bands, or does a song just pop up in your head and you think that “This is a Pride of Lions song”?

I’m very goal driven. Give me a goal and I really get to work. And usually I have goals so I’m fortunate, but I write better when I have a target. Like, when I’m writing for Pride of Lions I’m thinking Pride of Lions, Pride of Lions day and night… and it’s the same for The Ides of March. But if I don’t have a target I’m a man without a country, I need those targets to really do my best and to focus me.

When you collaborate with other artists, do they usually contact you or do you as a ”songwriting master” or do you approach some of them?

It’s always different. With Robert Lamm of Chicago, The Ides of March opened for Chicago in a concert in Illinois. Afterwards, this was three years ago, and it was the first time I met Robert Lamm. I don’t know how we escaped each other all these years. But you have to remember, they’re called Chicago but none of them lives in Chicago! It’s pretty ironic. But I met Robert and told him how much I admired his songwriting, all these great songs like “25 or 6 to 4”. And he had some of his new Robert Lamm solo album with him, and I had a Pride of Lions album and a The Ides of March album, so we traded CD’s, and he loved my stuff and I loved his stuff so we started writing over the phone. He sent me a song sketch and we wrote our very first song together over the phone and then we just kept going, and now we’ve written about ten songs together and there will be a new Chicago album coming out next year. It’s going to be a really good record with his jazz influences and my lyrical sensibilities.

When we were talking about your focus on a specific band when you’re writing songs, one song that surprised me was ”Damn That Dream”, my favorite song on the latest Dennis DeYoung album. It reminds me of City Boy and 10CC, it doesn’t sounds like Jim Peterik nor Dennis DeYoung. But it’s a brilliant song.

Wow, you have a very good taste. That’s my favorite too. And you happened to nail one of my favorite bands of all time, and that’s City Boy. You know, I never thought of it, but now that you mention it does echo the harmonies of City Boy – a huge compliment! And the production is very Mutt Lange, when you really break it down. Which is City Boy also, so thank you for that.

A bit off topic, but City Boy did one of the coolest things ever when they played in Stockholm in the late 70’s. They stayed at this fancy hotel, and when they were going to the show a limousine waited for them outside the entrance. But instead of taking the limo, they asked for the way to the nearest subway because they wanted to go to the show together with their fans.

That is really cool, thank you for sharing that!

Your son, Colin, plays drums on the fantastic title track of your new album, and he also plays keyboards on ”Proof of Heaven” together with you and Dennis DeYoung.

Yeah, of course I’m very proud of him. Just looking at him from an outsiders, he’s really versatile and very talented. He owns a studio called The Jam Lab which is about 4 000 square feet in Brookfield, Illinois, where he produces all their acts and holds livestream concerts from the stage there. And he’s a really great songwriter and great keyboard player. He also has this cover band. Ever since he was like 13, he was really drawn to the music of Steely Dan and by the time he was like 21 he was going to every concert when they came to Chicago. One time they played three night in a row and every night they played a different album and he was there on every night. And a few years ago he put together a Steely Dan tribute band called The Brooklyn Charmers. They are playing all of the Mid West, but now they are limited to live stream concerts. He plays the Donald Fagen role, and he nails the vocal sound and the phrasing and the keyboard work that is all him. They are just astoundingly good, with double lead parts and a great drummer and a great bass player. So to everyone, just check them out, The Brooklyn Charmers, and you’ll hear some amazing Steely Dan music.

I will definitely do! He has good taste in music, your son. Was a music career as natural a choice for him as for you?

Yeah, it was the same kind of journey. We didn’t really have a choice, the music found us you know. I was never tempted to be anything but a musician, and my mother and father – who was also a musician – really supported my dream of making it a life’s mission, making it my world. I went to college just to kind of please my parents and study music and a lot of other things. But I actually quit college before graduating because The Ides of March suddenly hit with ”Vehicle” and we went out on the road and I would have missed all the school. My dad said “Screw school, just do your thing. You’ve got a number one record, what would you be sitting in class for?”. He was a musician too, but the wasn’t a professional musician. He grew up in the Depression and played in kind of a Polka band with all these kind of corny songs. He couldn’t read a note in music, just like me. We play by ear, and to me some of the best musicians don’t rely on charts or written-out music. It’s all in the heart, it’s all in the ear, you know.

Is he the reason why horns are quite prominent in The Ides of March?

Yeah, my dad was a sax player, and I was a sax player all through grade school and high school. I was always drawn to the horns. In The Ides of March, we started with a trumpet player. Then we really got hooked on the soul music, and we added another trumpet and a trombone and suddenly we had this whole section. Our heroes was the Memphis sax people like Sam & Dave, and then Blood, Sweat & Tears hit the scene and they became our heroes. We went to see them live and was totally blown away, and that’s when I wrote ”Vehicle”, inspired by BS&T. In fact, my vocal on “Vehicle” – everybody thought it was Blood, Sweat & Tears, which was really unfortunate. Still to this day, people think “Vehicle” is by Blood, Sweat & Tears, and it really pisses me off. I go “No, I was 19 years old and we’re The Ides of March, damn it!”.

Blood, Sweat & Tears had a Swedish member for a couple of years, the guitarist Jojje Wadenius.

Yes, they did and he was great! All the people that came through Blood, Sweat & Tears were always super talented. Bobby Colomby, their drummer, always demanded the highest form of musicianship.

Back to you, you also have your own record company, World Stage International, where you find and develop new talents. What kind of music is it, any specific genre or any kind?

It is any kind. It’s not like Warner Brothers or something like that. It’s really for pet projects that really can’t find a home, like Lisa McClowry, just this great singer. I put her solo album on my label, as well as some amazing New Age bands, like Acoustic Alchemy. They’re my heroes when it comes to smooth jazz in New Age music. I love their music so much that I approached them, who are English by the way, when they toured America. Lisa and I opened for them, and then we met them after the show and I said “Me and my wife’s been fan of your music for twenty years, would you consider me writing lyrics to your instrumentals? They talked to their manager and they said yes. So for the next year I worked on Lisa McClowry sings Acoustic Alchemy. And that’s an album I would like you to check out some day, it’s one of my favorite albums that I have produced.

I understand that we have a favorite band in common: Cheap Trick. I actually saw them at The House of Blues in Los Angeles on their ”Woke Up with a Monster” tour back in 1994. And you co-wrote two songs for that album that year?

Yes, I wrote ten songs with Rick but only two made the record, which was a bit disappointing.

Wow, when will you release the remaining eight?

You know what, some day, some day… I have Robin singing on a couple of these songs. Robin is one of my favorite singers of all time, I’ve always said that he is Paul McCartney and John Lennon all in one voice. Just absolutely incredible, one of the best singers ever in rock. It was such a thrill having him in the studio, I was getting goosebumps, such a natural talent. Ted Templeman was the producer of that Cheap Trick album, as you know. Such a great producer with The Doobie Brothers and a small group called Van Halen, haha! And he always relied on Donn Landee, the engineer, so all his records including Van Halen sound so amazing. I call Van Halen metal light, it was heavy but pleasant to listen to. It wasn’t hard on ears, just commercial heavy metal.

With Pride of Lions, you have been in Italy, Germany and Belgium. So when will you come to Sweden?

Well, there’s a good chance. Serafino (Perugino at Frontiers Records) is very positive that he’s gonna hire us to do the Frontiers Fest in April, and we want to expand that. So after that festival I can plan coming to Sweden and England and maybe Germany.

Have you ever been to Sweden?

No, I have not, and I really, really look forward to that. From what I’ve seen it’s just a beautiful country with great people and just phenomenal music. So much great pop music comes out of Sweden. What are they drinking, do they drink some Kool-Aid or what?

Swedish beer!

Swedish beer? That works! It’s so melodic with great hooks, like Abba. One of my favorite acts. If there’s one of my that is one of my top ten songs ever, it has to be “Dancing Queen”. That’s a song that makes me cry. When it hits that chorus, I cheer up. What is it about that song that makes me cheer up? I don’t know, but that’s the power of a great pop song – great melody, great performance. Oh, my God what a song.

Yeah, it’s a great song. My favorite song by Abba is ”When All is Said and Done” from their last album ”The Visitors”. They knew that they were going to split up, and they wrote this song and it’s such a beautiful exit to their career.

I will get that song, I can’t wait to hear it. I’ll check it out for sure.

If we go back in time a bit, how come Survivor didn’t come to Europe during the 80’s?

I really don’t want to get into that, I wanted to, believe me. But certain people did not want to travel, and it was very frustrating. I would have love to do a whole lot more, we were in Japan twice and that was great. To hit Europe would have been great, but it just wasn’t to be. That’s all I want to say about it.

I understand, it was the same with Journey during the same period. Steve Perry didn’t either want to fly to Europe. But from one thing to another, are you familiar with any Swedish songwriters or producers?

For sure, please remind me of a few?

For example Erik Martensson, from the band Eclipse. He co-wrote and produced Jimi Jamison last solo album.

Oh yes, he is brilliant! Like I said, the Swedish writers really have an ear for the hook. So good melodies, hooks, they own it.

What kind of music do you listen to yourself when you sit down with a glass of Pinot Noir?

It’s usually a Martini, a Gin Martini shaken very cold with olives, that’s my favorite. But I listen to everything. When I’m one on one, I listen to smooth jazz or some of the solo stuff by Michael McDonald or whatever they play on the local radio station. They sample the best of the new music. For a while I couldn’t even listen to the new stuff, it sucked. Now there’s some great bands coming out again, it’s very refreshing. So I listen, take it all in and go to the piano and use that inspiration to write a new song. It’s just a circle, really.

Which is the best record you ever made with your own songs?

My favorite record is ”Vital Signs”. Nine songs and no fillers. We auditioned a lot of singers after Dave left the band, and a lot of singers were just not good. But we almost said yes to one who was really good, and two days later a guy from Memphis came in named Jimi Jamison. He was recommended by my former manager Frank Rand. He said there’s a great singer in this band called Cobra, and I think he’s leaving the band, you should hear him. So he sent me the Cobra record, and I heard this voice. I didn’t really care for the songs much, but I heard certain quality in his voice that I really loved.

So we flew him in from Memphis. Frankie and I had just written ”Broken Promises” and that was the first song we showed him. And he hit the mic and sang that song flawlessly, his ear was like a tape recorder. I said “Jamison, did you heard the song before?” and he said “No, it’s the first time” and I said “How did you pick It up so fast” and he said “Well, I just got a good ear”. I’ll say… The second song we taught him was ”The Search Is Over”, which we had just finished. He loved the song, and we played it in E flat. But on the high note his voice cracked, so I stopped and said to Frankie that we better lower the key. And Jamison gave us the favorite quote “Oh, man, give half a man a chance”. So we played it again in E flat, that higher key, and this time he just nailed the high note. That’s the kind of guy he was, he would always give it a hundred percent. If he thought he could do something, he would go all the way. I still get goosebumps thinking of that first playback in the studio when he sang “The Search Is Over”, and we’re sitting there almost in tears because it was so damn good. I will never forget those moments.

“Vital Signs” is actually my favorite record too. Is ”The Search is Over” the best song that you have written?

It is. It sounds a little bit sad, but when it comes time to pick my gravestone, it will say “Jim Peterik: The Search Is Over”. Seriously, I told my wife “If I go before you, write this down” and she said “Got it, Jim”.

Which song do you wish that you had written?

”God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys. I mean, the text and the melody and the chord changes just shows you what kind of genius Brian Wilson is. And when I got a chance to write with Brian Wilson, it was like a dream come true for me. We wrote a song called ”That’s Why God Made the Radio” along with Joe Thomas and Larry Millas in 2012, and it was one of the hugest thrills of my life.

You live in the small town of Burr Ridge, Illinois, with a population of 10,000. You must be the local rockstar that everybody knows?

Correct, and I don’t mind. But I can’t go to the supermarket with Karen because so many people are stopping me over the meat counter to talk. I love it, but my wife starts getting annoyed because we just want to shop, we don’t want to stop. So now I go alone to the supermarket, haha!

To me, you’re the king of AOR, who are you in your own mind?

Well, I’m more than AOR. You know, I’m spanning from smooth jazz to much heavier things like “With All Due Respect” from Dennis DeYoung’s new album, that’s my riff. I can still rock with a AC/DC kind of riff, but Pride of Lions would be the ultimate expression of who I am. And of course The Ides of March with the more soulful R&B thing. Somewhere in between those two band are really who I am.

One last question. If you have to choose: tiger or lion?

Haha, tigers made me more money, but you know lions are good too, especially Pride of Lions. But tigers really, really are a big part of my life.

Okay, Jim, thanks you so much for a great interview, it’s really been a pleasure. And I hope to see you at Sweden Rock Festival with Pride of Lions one day.

You’re welcome, and I really value your knowledge and your passion for great music. I’ll be sure to find you if we play Sweden, thank you and take care!

By Tony Johansson