Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Peter Daily has collaborated with legends, toured with your favorite artists, and even penned a k-pop hit (Kim Hyun Joong’s “His Habit”).
The son of touring gospel artists, Daily spent part of his youth growing up on a tour bus, and caught the performance bug at an early age. Performing, however, was cruelly taken away from him in early 2017 when he was involved in a car accident he has little recollection of. Thankfully, he worked his way back – which included learning how to walk again – and is now ready to embark on his latest solo venture, spreading a little “Good News.”
I caught up with Daily to find out more about “Good News,” as well as his unique upbringing, and the journey he took to get back on stage – a stage he would once again share with longtime friend and collaborator Pigeon John – after his accident. Daily also discussed one of the biggest “WOW!” moments of his career, and the one thing he feels every great artist has in common.
Let’s start by talking about your single, “Good News.” The world is in need of some good news, how will this song provide it?
That’s a great question. Hopefully people will listen, and feel happy about it.
I feel like that tune is upbeat, and it kind of reminds me of when I listen to certain Beach Boys songs. I’m not saying I sound like the Beach Boys, but certain Beach Boys songs, when I listen to them I just think of sunshine. With “Good News” I kind of feel that way … when it all came together it just made me feel good.
It’s easy as an artist, and as a writer, to go super depressing, but I’m not gonna go super dark.
We have a lot of darkness right now.
Yeah. I could be really dark, and get into politics, but it’s just like we just need some good news, so hopefully people listen to it, and they’ll be enthusiastic about life, like taking a minute to just say, “Man, I’m happy to be alive.”
Enjoy the moment. Just try to be happy.
You have quite the history in music, starting with your childhood when you, in your own words, basically grew up on a tour bus. Did you always come back to school in the fall with some amazing “what I did on my summer vacation” stories?
I wish, but no. I was homeschooled until 1990.
All through the ‘80s I was on a tour bus, and my mom homeschooled me because my parents would perform gospel music, and they were always going from church to church.
In about 1990 we moved to Denver from Dallas, where we were kind of based, for my father to become a pastor at a church. It was then that I started going to a Christian school. There was a bit of a culture shock when you spend the whole 1980s just by yourself, and in the 1990s now you’re going to school with other kids. It’s kind of weird.
And there’s definitely a shock in terms of the last time you saw kids on a regular basis you were super young, and then it’s like all of a sudden everyone is almost grown up.
Yeah, it was bizarre, especially meeting people that are … I hate to say showbiz kids. That’s kind of a weird thing because my parents would say we were in show business, we were gospel singers, but …
It wasn’t sex, drugs, and rock n roll, but it was still performing in front of crowds.
Yeah. I remember Halloween one year I dressed as Spiderman. I feel like everyone had the Spiderman outfit in the late ‘80s, with the plastic Spiderman face. I remember we were in St. Louis at a campground, a KOA campground, but downtown, with our bus parked. There were other tour busses from bands, and I went trick-or-treating from bus to bus. That was normal to me. It was a weird kind of life.
Now you’re all grown up, and you’ve done just about everything an artist can do. What moments, or achievements from your career stand out as having really made you feel like, “Wow! I just did that!”
I have a band called Royal Band, and a few years back we were making a record, and we worked with a bunch of different people here in LA, some session dudes, some really good players, and people that were deep in the business on records that I listened to, and admired. I ended up getting to work with Brian Ray, who plays guitar with Paul McCartney, and I’m a huge McCartney fan.
Brian Ray was Etta James’ musical director out of high school. The dude’s kind of a freak phenom. He’s written songs for Smokey Robinson. The dude plays every instrument. I was already a fan of him just being a nerd about music, so when it worked out that he got to play on the record, that’s one of those moments that’s like, just for me as a musician, it was like oh man that’s really cool! This dude’s playing on my album.
When we were doing that record we had a bunch of different people playing on the record that were heavy people, heavy dudes, and Brian was one of the only ones that when we came in the studio he was like, “Hey Pete, tell me about these tunes. What are they about? What are your influences?” So it was cool to talk with him, and go beyond just surface.
I play by ear, and Brian, when he came in he hadn’t heard any of the songs. I had a Fender Rhoades (piano) set up, and he was like, “Play me the song,” and I remember he just picked up his guitar and was just in the song, like he knew the song forever. Love you Brian.
That was a big high. I know you also had a pretty tough low, being involved in a car accident in 2017 that left you needing to learn how to walk again. What happened, and what are some of the things that helped you through the emotional aspect of the recovery process?
Man, I think I’m still kind of going through the emotional recovery process even though it’s been almost five years. I developed kind of a hardcore case of PTSD after the accident.
I had an electric car, and I was driving to my studio. I had hit something on the freeway. Something had gotten lodged, and the electric cars are kind of funky, sometimes they’re just kind of weird. I had to pull over. The battery wouldn’t turn on. You gotta have someone come, and it’s not like jumping your battery. I called whoever I needed to call, and that’s all I remember. I woke up in the hospital.
A person had hit me on the freeway, not paying attention, as I was parked on the shoulder. I woke up in the hospital, and they’re like your hip is shattered, you’ve broken every rib, your nose is broken, you busted your teeth out.
Were you waiting in the car?
Yeah, I was just waiting in the car, and keep in mind it was 12 o’clock at night, at the end of May, on a stretch of highway that’s a big highway, and there was no traffic, for LA. It was kind of a quiet night.
The thing is my car was a two door Honda with no backseat, so they had to cut me out of the passenger seat. I looked at the pictures later, and I’m like wow, this is crazy, I don’t remember any of this!
I had surgery, and went through that whole process. It was tough, emotionally. I didn’t have any connection to my leg. They were like at some point it will connect, and you’ll be able to move it, and I’ll tell ya, it’s debilitating when you’re stuck. You’re kind of helpless in a bed. My sister, God bless her, my sister Tori helped me recover. She was on school break, so she helped me get in and out (of bed), get in the walker, go to the bathroom, and clean up. She was really helpful, but it’s like everything was taken away, you’re just relegated to a bed until …
Until further notice.
Until further notice.
I had been producing, and working on projects. I had to give up my studio space. It was a weird undoing of work just to do nothing. So it’s been a rough road. Even just sitting there thinking will I ever write a song again?
I remember sitting there, I couldn’t listen to hardly any music at first because it was like what for? Why?
So it’s like what do I do when I get out of this? Music’s my whole life. If I put together a resume, what do I do if I can’t do this? Thankfully, I bounced back.
At the end of September of the year of my car accident Pigeon John played a festival here in LA called the Music Tastes Good festival. By that time I was starting to kind of be able to walk, but it was a bit weird. He was like, “Hey, can you play the show? I’d love for you to come and play keys.” Usually I play drums and keys, and do a bunch of things for him, but for this show there was a full band. He was like, “If you could come just to play keys it would be really dope.” I was like, “OK, I’ll do it,” and I’m glad that happened, because that really helped get the wheels turning again. It was like, OK, it’s gonna be OK.
That’s an incredible moment. Speaking of Pigeon John, you’re his musical director when he’s on tour, and you guys have opened for everyone from Brandi Carlile, to MF DOOM, to Mike Patton. Is there any one thing that connects all of their performances?
You know, I would say just talent. That’s maybe an elementary type of response, but all of those acts – the ones you mentioned, and Of Montreal, The Pharcyde, Arrested Development, Mutemath – all these people, they’re all just really great at what they do, no matter the genre. I think that’s why we were able to tour with not just rap acts.
It’s like The Beatles – were they rock n roll? Yeah. Were they a bit country? Yeah. Were they pop? Yeah. They could do all these things not necessarily saying “I’m going to be country,” or “I’m going to be pop,” they just loved the music, and they knew what their thing was, they were based in rock and roll, but they respected all these other genres, dabbled in all kinds of things, which is pop music.
All those acts that you mentioned, and we’re talking about, I feel like embrace music similar to maybe the way The Beatles did – the commitment to their art, their craft.
Finally, being a songwriter, is there any one song you WISH you had written?
Man … that is a great great question. It’s so tough, because there are so many great songs, and I like so many different artists.
Off the top of my head, “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney.
I love that song, and the era in which he wrote it.