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Progressive Rock Interviews

Terry Draper

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Terry Draper from 2017


I'm actually shocked that I haven't interviewed you for Music Street Journal before. I know we did the interview for Poetry of the Air, but this is the first MSJ interview. So, I'm guessing most people know about your work with Klaatu. Can you catch the readers up on your musical world since then?

Nice opening, Gary… “Catch them up?" It’s been 35 years since Klaatu dissolved. That was a lifetime ago! And I’ve been busy writing & recording. 2018 will witness the release of my fourteenth solo album, Once Upon A Memory.

I’ve also created three musicals with my friend, Mary MacDonald Rival, Tesla Rocks, Let’s Write A Musical About Amelia Earhart and My Uncle Sherlock (still in progress).

MSJ: Lately you've been releasing music on guitar shaped USB sticks. What are your thoughts on the various mediums on which people can release music?

I guess that I’m a bit of a dinosaur in the digital age. I don’t do downloads, and I imagine that most of my audience (being somewhat close to my age) feels the same. Combine that with the fact that music sales have declined in general, a new format was in order. I have a room full of CDs from my various albums that have taken up residence and refuse to move.  The custom USB stick is empty, of course, so it allows me to load any album on to it… unlike a premade CD. 4 GB also allows for an elaborate "booklet" at full size, a few videos as well as the 15 or 20 songs (wav files). I include a "hold-in-your-hand" postcard of each album, as well. Speaking of dinosaurs… I’m looking at the possibility of a vinyl release, a "best of" collection, in the new year.


If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

Good question… I’ve been in a band and/or doing music for over 50 years. I can’t imagine not doing it. But in my youth I had aspirations in archaeology which still fascinates me.


What are some of your best memories from the Klaatu days?

During the making of Endangered Species in Los Angeles we were introduced to Dolly Parton by the studio manager. We happened to be in the studio lounge at the time playing pinball and Dolly said “Can I play with ya’ll?” We said, "yes" and played a round of pinball with Dolly on the Dolly Parton pinball machine - memorable moment.


Who would you see as your musical influences?

The Beatles, The Moody Blues and progressive rock as well as European "folk singer" Peter Sarstedt, most notably but my musical adventure actually began much earlier when Mom, Dad and  I moved in with Grandma Draper. Much to my delight, I had to share a bedroom with my Uncle Bill who was ten years my senior. He possessed a record player and a collection of 78s. Upon returning home from school, I would be bombarded by the likes of Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Little Richard and, of course, Elvis. I was six years old at the time! On my tenth birthday, Uncle Bill gave me my first L.P. (long playing record), Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits. I am still a fan of Roy. As well, my record collection consisted of many 45's... Phil Spectre’s "girl groups" and The Beach Boys. When The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, it occurred to me that learning to play music (and not just listen to it), could be a good idea.


What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?

A lot has been said… I’m partial to "melodic," "timeless" and "compelling."


What's ahead for you?

I will continue writing and recording. It still amuses me and keeps boredom at bay. I’m looking forward to "staging" the musicals.


I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

I find that I don’t mind labels… They help us to navigate through a myriad of musical genres. I usually describe my music as "progressive pop."


Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?

I quite enjoy working with the supporting cast that I now enjoy… Bill Nadeau, Brenda Webb and Ray Paul, to mention a few. Generally, I’m open to work with anyone who wants to be a part of my musical adventure.

Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

There has been and always will be a market for "bootlegged" music, and that’s what "streaming" is… in my opinion The artist receives less than pittance. I don’t know how young artists are surviving. I no longer allow my new releases to be streamed.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?

I’ve enjoyed many concerts over the years but "live" albums are usually a disappointment. I avoid them.


If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Kanye West. Not only do I find "rap" unmusical, I find that ego and talent are inversely proportionate.


If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

Every one of the many times that I saw Frank Zappa or The Mothers live, I witnessed the ultimate band. Any one of his ensembles would be a delight to revisit. There was only one Frank.


If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

Memorable concerts besides FZ and the Mothers would be Genesis (with Gabriel, of course), ELP and early King Crimson. Although I saw The Beatles twice, it would have been nice to hear them!

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I found a couple of vintage Peter Sarstedt albums on line recently. Check him out…

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?

Many… James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, David Baldacci and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
The "Happy Together" tour. Turtles, Cowsills, Association, Raiders, Buckinghams and Grassroots.
MSJ: Do you remember your first concert?
The Three Stooges… 1961.

Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?

Not really… I love Logic Audio IX on my MAC.
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Carpenters, Streisand, Sinatra.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
I remember setting my kit riser up on top of a grand piano - Sorrento Hotel in Sudbury, Ontario, 1968. Unbeknownst to me the riser was moving and eventually my drum stool and I fell off the stage in the middle of a song. No injuries were sustained except my wounded pride.

If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

I would choose from the people I have played with… currently and from the past. I’m not particularly interested in meeting my "musical heroes!" What if they turned out to be a****les?
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
My amazing chicken wings.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
There’s not much I’d rather do than write and record music. I dedicate a great deal of thought and care to the process. When people say “Look at the big picture," I tell them to concern themselves with the details and the big picture will take care of itself. 

I invite your readers to "come on over" and have a listen…


MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 1 at
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