Frampton Back With "Now"

Album will be guitarist's first in nine years

To say Peter Frampton will "come alive" with the September release of Now isn't really accurate, as he has been a perennial road vet for the past three decades. But the album is his first new studio recording in nearly a decade.

"I figured Peter Gabriel could get away with Us and Up, so he's got two letter titles cornered, so we went for a three-letters," Frampton jokes. "Actually, to me, it's just that I'm ready. I've been in the business a long time, but it's been a long drought for me. This album is just about what's happening now. And it's a different now in this world, isn't it? It has all sorts of connotations. I just like the fact that it's instant and says what I'm releasing."

Among the album's tracks is a cover of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," a tribute by Frampton to his late friend. Frampton first played while on a tour of Australia with the British Rock Symphony a few years ago along with Roger Daltrey and Alice Cooper. "We were supposed to do covers," Frampton says, "and I chose that one for obvious reasons: I'm a guitar player and I love the song and have for years." Shortly after Harrison's death, Frampton and his band brought the song back during a benefit for victims of September 11th. "It was a special night, which is often the case when no one is getting paid," he says. "I never really thought about recording it, but at that moment when we came off stage we thought, 'We have to record this.'"

Frampton says most of the material is recent, including "Not Forgotten," his ode to the victims of September 11th. "A lot of people were moved to write after September 11th, it had to affect us all in a way," he says. "I hate things that are too direct, though. I'm not looking for the schmaltz factor."

As for the delay in getting the album recorded, Frampton cites a two-pronged problem: recording in the comfort of his own home and the current climate in the music industry ("I'll be honest, it's been hard to get a deal"). As for the former, Now is the first album he recorded beginning to end in his basement studio. "I know you shouldn't mix business with pleasure, but I have this incredible basement," he says. "We didn't have to go anywhere. Written, rehearsed, recorded, overdubbed and mixed at home. It's a double-edged sword though. You can leave a song for three weeks before getting back to it."

And while Frampton exudes excitement about the new record, he's also eager to get back on tour. "You know me, I'm the road dog of road dogs," he says. "I've been working on the record so long now that we haven't done a lot of touring. So we're very much looking forward to playing the hits and slipping in a few new ones when they aren't looking."