Getting established in the busy music industry takes time, effort and a whole lot of cash. Living in squalid conditions, driving cars that are older than your fans and debt are all problems to expect when trying to live off playing music. In the end, there's always one shining moment when everything comes together and that labour of love is birthed to the public--sometimes to acclimation, others to tumbleweeds. Peter Katz, an Ontario- based singer-songwriter, knows all of the trials and tribulations required to deliver a little of bundle of joy to the ears of people everywhere while he recorded his debut album More Nights and now trying to support his newborn record with a cross-country tour too.
"I'm very excited [to tour]," says Katz. "This is the first record that I'm very proud of. I've had records that I've toured with before, but they were demos as far as I was concerned. My goal for this record was to make a record that could stand up to any record on the shelf."
The business of art is something that almost no musician wants to talk about. Katz, though, is quite candid in his efforts to try and create a record that stands up to the giants like U2 and Bob Dylan.
"I said to my producer from the start that I didn't want to not do anything because it was too expensive," explains Katz. "We would find a way to make it work. I was very fortunate to get money from the government and then I had to put up the rest. I got a line of credit and a couple of credit cards and used some savings that I've had since I was a kid."
The job of playing music doesn't always pay well. An artist has to sometimes shave off his beard, roll up his vintage shirt's sleeves and get his hands dirty to keep himself fed, despite the constraints it puts on touring.
"For the past while I've been playing music, but I also have a job at a student pub part-time as a bartender and waiter," laughs Katz. "I'm very fortunate that my good friend is my manager [at the pub], and a big supporter of my music. I also do songwriting workshops in high schools and elementary schools. I'm involved in a couple of arts in schools programs and those are sporadic enough to be worked around my schedule."
It's no coincidence that Katz works in a pub that allows him to tour and support his music.
"It's funny, the place where I work is actually the very first place that I played," explains Katz. "It's got an open mic night that's still running and my manager [at the pub] there is the host of the night, so that's how him and I met. I still play at the open mic night and try out new material there."
Playing for a collection of students who may not necessarily know of his work isn't daunting to Katz. Instead, he views it as a learning experience, someplace where new material goes to be judged and to tighten up his sets.
"The person that's reacting to it the most is me," admits Katz. "You can play something in your living room and you think it sounds pretty good, but you play it in front of people and you find yourself cringing at certain lines. The best part of that process is the honesty-meter that playing your songs in front of people causes."
Peter Katz's true love is with touring. Playing music, connecting with his audiences during his solo shows and improving as an artist are all reasons to fill up his car and hit the road again and again.
"That's kind of the reason why I try to stay on the road sometimes," explains Katz. "When I'm on the road I can make a living as a musician. I'm playing music all the time, singing all the time, writing all the time and hopefully getting better [as a musician]. That's a good reason to stay on the road.
The pressures of trying to play music, record music and trying to pay off the debt he has incurred in living his dream doesn't discourage Peter Katz at all. In fact, he seems poised to work his ass off in an attempt to succeed in living off a career in music.
"I'm definitely flat broke," says Katz. "But I have something that I really love [my album, More Nights] and I'm excited to get it out there. To me, that's priceless."