A Conversation with John Slick

Talk about Petra albums, songs, and concerts.
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fiendik
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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by fiendik » Sun Feb 21, 2016 10:42 pm

I guessed it was meat :)
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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by pmal » Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:56 am

I put down green. I thought it was a trick question.

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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by Thief » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:32 am

The Slick Zone? really? :roll:

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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by BriGuyPEI » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:32 pm

Getting back to the questions for John (what am I thinking, trying to get a thread back on track) I have a couple regarding NOTW. I wasn't a Petra fan yet when the album came out, but I imagine people may have been taken aback with their first listen. Coming on the heels of MPTY, people probably thought they had accidentally bought a Vangelis album.

John, was it a tough sell to get Visions included on the album? Especially as the lead track? I love it by the way. Like a said, very Vangelis. Like nothing ever heard on a Petra album - before or since.

Then following that song is the Pink Floyd-sounding Not of This World. For any Petheads who were listening back then, what were your reactions to this album upon first listen?

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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by Thief » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:47 pm

BriGuyPEI wrote:Getting back to the questions for John (what am I thinking, trying to get a thread back on track) I have a couple regarding NOTW. I wasn't a Petra fan yet when the album came out, but I imagine people may have been taken aback with their first listen. Coming on the heels of MPTY, people probably thought they had accidentally bought a Vangelis album.

John, was it a tough sell to get Visions included on the album? Especially as the lead track? I love it by the way. Like a said, very Vangelis. Like nothing ever heard on a Petra album - before or since.

Then following that song is the Pink Floyd-sounding Not of This World. For any Petheads who were listening back then, what were your reactions to this album upon first listen?
I came to listen to this album late (probably late 90's, or maybe early 2000's) but it has become one of my favorites. Easily on my Top 5. I think the "Visions" doxology serves as a perfect bookend to it, and I love the way the music flows from it into the title track, and from "Godpleaser" into the closing reprise. Great album.

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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by sue d. » Mon Feb 22, 2016 3:56 pm

At first glance I thought it said "SICK" zone... sorry about that!
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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by brent » Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:22 pm

Huh. How long has that been up there?

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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by dihigo » Mon Feb 29, 2016 9:27 am

jmslick wrote:
dihigo wrote:John, I saw you wrote this on another thread...
jmslick wrote:Whadayamean, top 5, bottom 5 Petra albums?

I never heard of any other Petra albums but these three...
1 MPTY
2 NOTW
3 NSD
You mean to tell us that during your time in the band, especially when you guys were opening for Servant in 1982, you guys weren't playing anything off the first three Petra records?
No, I mean to tell you that there are only 3 Petra records, that I know of.
All others, purported to be Petra, were probably made by some guy with a four-track cassette machine doing lots of overdubs.
Hey, John. I'm still curious about your set list during the NSD days. Did you guys play anything other than NSD songs on that Servant tour?
What are ya lookin' for the Devil for when ya oughta be lookin' for the Lord?

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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by brent » Mon Feb 29, 2016 9:49 am

I wanna know if Servant let you guys mix through their quad system when they were doing that. Back in the day, I thought it was pretty cool. I am sure if I could listen to it again today, a quad Bull Frog speaker system would sound like poo poo.

My not so fav moment was in Tulsa, when I was helping load out, and I stepped on that back of Sandie's slip on shoe, and about tripped her off of stage. Classic. She was so great.

FF decades later, I was working on a deal to have Rockin' Revival and Worlds of Sand remixed, remastered and re-released. I called their house and talked to her while she was snacking and washing dishes. She spoke highly of you guys and all of the fun.

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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by a.porr » Sat Mar 12, 2016 11:31 am

John,

Let me say like everyone else has said, your work on those three Petra albums was nothing short of inspiring. It is some of my favorite keyboard work Christian or secular!

My question is, and I'm sorry if this has already been asked and I just missed it, but who were some of your influences in synth and hammond playing around the time that you worked on the three Petra albums? I can hear what I think is inspiration from some other players, but your playing stands on it's own merit so I'm not really sure.

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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by jmslick » Mon Mar 14, 2016 2:46 pm

a.porr wrote:John,

Let me say like everyone else has said, your work on those three Petra albums was nothing short of inspiring. It is some of my favorite keyboard work Christian or secular!

My question is, and I'm sorry if this has already been asked and I just missed it, but who were some of your influences in synth and hammond playing around the time that you worked on the three Petra albums? I can hear what I think is inspiration from some other players, but your playing stands on it's own merit so I'm not really sure.
You are far to generous with the unsolicited compliments, but thank you.

Since you asked for specifics about influences, I will answer in kind. I find this reminiscing quite enjoyable, so I hope no one will mind if I ramble a bit much, and I don't mean to pontificate, either.

My influences for synth... don't know of any in particular, other than that I used to listen to the flamboyant virtuoso classical organist, Virgil Fox https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gRBCAdC7wI. Fox traveled the world with a huge Rogers electronic organ system, and a "psychedelic" light show. He was often criticized by the elitist musical snobs for "taking liberties" with his choice of registrations (organ stops). I liked Fox's contrasting use of sounds because it lent more depth to the musical interpretation. I met him after a concert and knew that night that I had to pursue more in depth musical education. I quit that band several months later.

My first synth was an Arp Odyssey, around 1973 or so http://www.arpsynth.com/en/about/. I always enjoyed fooling with the controls, and learning about what they actually were for... oscillators, waveform generators, envelope generators, filters, ring modulator, keyboard controlled voltage, modulators, and the myriad ways they could be set and connected. Because of the simplification of user interface driven by need to keep prices low and usability high, most modern synthesizers lack easy access to such fundamentals, hence, most users have no idea how to really design sounds other than hunt and poke and peck and tweak this or that.

When the NSD version of Petra formed, I had no money to buy a synth, but a generous friend, Bill Little of Ada, OK, gave to me a Korg MS-10 monophonic synth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJGixo9E1K8. It had patch points and no preset memory, so one had to be quick to change sounds and have a pretty good idea what would come out. I traveled with that thing for a year or so, until I could afford to buy a Korg PolySix. I later traded the MS-10 and $200 for an old "studio" upright piano which I still play at home.

From about 18 to 21 yrs, I played with a top 40 club band which had a Hammond BV and two 122 Leslies. It had been owned in the family of one of the guys, and had graduated to a rock band. The BV was a pre-B3 model, and had no percussion, but did have an extra tone generator, making it even heavier than a 400 lb B3. We used to lug that thing up and down the stairs when we practiced in the basement of an old musician's union hall. That old organ had a few black keys on the upper manual which would stick down, and had to be manually pulled up. The owner explained that they'd once accidentally dropped it on its back, and even more keys had become stuck. So, the natural solution was to drop it a couple times on the front side! Yeah, I think they really did that.

It was during those years with the club band that I discovered Virgil Fox. I had never heard such music before, and couldn't understand how one guy could play all that at once... I mean, the classical organ had three 61-note keyboards and a 32-note pedal board, and Fox ain't got but 10 fingers and two feet! Being completely ignorant of classical music and composition, I was sure that Fox must have had synchronized tape recorders to play along with. Hey, no MIDI or sequencers in the early 70's, (other than the basic arpeggiators on a modular Moog).

So the Hammond stuff I fooled with and recorded was quite heavily influenced by a classical organist, and also by rock bands of the day, such as Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, John Mayall, Traffic, and Rod Argent. But, I was really clueless about what a Hammond was capable of.

I mentioned that meeting Fox was pivotal; that was because it was a factor in motivating me to formally study classical music. I didn't even start playing keyboards until I was 18. But I got lucky, and met a very good piano mentor, Ira Gerig, who taught piano at the Fort Wayne Bible College. I didn't go to that college, but only studied piano with Gerig for two years.

It was from Gerig that I learned about the old liturgical music piece, "Doxology", which I used on a few Petra recordings, notably the "Visions" synth mashup, and also across the bridge of More Power To Ya (which can't be heard due to JDB's "gospel" mix, unless one knows to listen for it). Anyway, Gerig had me learn to play chord progressions over the Doxology in all 12 keys. That was a tremendous thing to learn, because it opened the way for me to be able to play reasonably comfortably in any key.

After two years of studying Bach, Beethoven and Debussy with Gerig, I had developed enough pianistic skill to be admitted to Indiana University music division. I guess all that says is that they were hurting for students and had really low admission criteria. :lol:

Other musical influences came from the music in our home. My father was a jazz fan, and daily played records (remember "record"?) of Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Billy Holiday, Jimmy Rushing, Thelonious Monk, Ahmad Jamal, Red Garland, etc. I also met Oscar Peterson in our living room in Fort Wayne Indiana, about 1962. All I remember is looking up at a huge black figure and shaking his hand. He played our grand piano, and my dad recorded some on the old Ampex 2-track tape machine.

Another musical house guest was Tee Carson, a former US Marshal, who played jazz piano, and later became a back-up pianist for the Basie Band https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95WubfU7B20. My dad played "All Over Me" for Tee, who listened then growled... "that moved me."

Now I will ask you to elaborate on your question: "I can hear what I think is inspiration from some other players...?"

Thanks!
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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by soundguy » Fri Jun 24, 2016 11:59 am

Hey John, been a Petra since 1974. Knew Bill pretty well and briefly went to church with Greg in Naperville, IL. Reading your replies proves you are a funny but humble guy. I must say, I missed, immediately, your tasteful playing when you were replaced. I like Mr. Lawry's skills but your subtleness was key to the sound I appreciated most. Kind of like Mark Kelly's bass playing. He was more than tasteful!
Petra and Sweet Comfort Band were my two favorites in the late 70's and 80's. Petra does come in number 1 with you on keys and Mark on bass. Trying to do covers of your songs was what we lived for as high school kids. We tried but it was always so bad!
Thanks for sharing your gift with us for a few years!!

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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by Natebor » Sat Jun 25, 2016 5:08 am

A couple months late to the party, but just wanted to say: MPTA and NOTW have been in constant rotation, never leaving my car since I got wheels in 87 or so. (Can't say that about much CCM from 83 time frame) Love both albums in their entirety, but in the last couple years, Not By Sight has gone from being another tune on a great album to one of my favorites that really encouraged me in a rough spot.

I'm also floored that Ive never heard he doxology in the MPTY bridge. I joke those two albums would NOT be on my "desert island" list to make room for others, since I felt like after making all the instruments out of bamboo and coconuts, I could probably "learn" the parts from memory, even for the instruments I don't already play.

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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by Natebor » Fri Jul 01, 2016 1:15 pm

Who would have thought that on that album, the actual hidden part was in More Power To Ya, not Judas Kiss (which wasn't exactly hidden). I listened to that bridge 5 or 6 times on the way to work. I hear the piano part, he sawtooth synth part, but not the doxology. Granted, my windows were down, but still... Any further clues where it might be most noticeable?

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Re: A Conversation with John Slick

Post by jmslick » Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:35 pm

Natebor wrote:A couple months late to the party, but just wanted to say: MPTA and NOTW have been in constant rotation, never leaving my car since I got wheels in 87 or so. (Can't say that about much CCM from 83 time frame) Love both albums in their entirety, but in the last couple years, Not By Sight has gone from being another tune on a great album to one of my favorites that really encouraged me in a rough spot.

I'm also floored that Ive never heard he doxology in the MPTY bridge. I joke those two albums would NOT be on my "desert island" list to make room for others, since I felt like after making all the instruments out of bamboo and coconuts, I could probably "learn" the parts from memory, even for the instruments I don't already play.
1) Thanks for the kind words about Not By Sight. I'm glad to know that it was encouraging for you. Maybe my years with Petra actually did some good for others, more than just for us. Thank you.

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