PETER NORTHCOTE IS OUR ‘MAIN GUY’ ON ELECTRIC GUITAR IN AUSTRALIA AND BOARD MEMBER OF THE CHARITY WE SUPPORT, THE AUSTRALIAN CHILDREN’S MUSIC FOUNDATION. HE’S THE FOCUS OF THIS MONTH’S ‘INTERVIEW WITH A ROCKSTAR’!
What was your most memorable ‘rockstar’ moment?
1990 performing with ‘Dragon’ in front of 80,000 people at the Commonwealth Games stadium in Auckland, supporting Elton John. I had been waiting for the beer to arrive in our caravan so I could take one on stage (I never drink before a gig, but happily take one on stage…..and I don’t drink spirits) The manager of the band kept telling me ‘it’s coming’. It didn’t!
The 5-minute call came and the band started walking to the stage. No beer….I thought, ‘bugga it . . . I’ll have a vodka and lemonade - that’ll taste less like paint thinner than having it straight!’.
Ran to the stage (I was last) and frustratedly put the sugary drink on my amp. It fell….all over me, and my guitar, and I heard “1, 2, 3, 4”.
Sticky fingers….I had ‘em!
Why do you think music is such a powerful driver of emotion?
Music can remind us of a time, place, person, major turning points in our lives. The words, the melody, the harmony all connects with us in one big powerful ‘soup’ of sensory connection. That’s why we are here on this planet. To connect. It reminds us more than anything that we are not alone and we are all one. And….it just feels good.
What have you been able to translate from the music industry into being successful in business?
Most of all, that I am a professional. Just like any other CEO or business owner.
When I was young I had a problem with authority figures. I thought, they thought, they were better than me. The only difference was the suit!
I soon realized that they would come up to me after shows and compliment me and tell me how they wished they had my talent/job.
I see myself as a professional with benefits (really good ones!). The main thing I have over them is that I actually LOVE my job. I get applauded every 4 or 5 minutes for what I do. It’s rare anyone of authority gets that.
Business is easy. Simple things: Be on time, dress appropriately, do your homework, practice your craft, make sure your tools of the trade are in top condition, get along well with and respect your colleagues, trust your instinct, lead from your heart and not your head.
I am the CEO of the biggest company I know of - MINE!
But the challenge of getting it right each night is why I do this. I love the challenge. This makes for a great business.
And, if you are performing, and people see you are connected and accepting the challenge, they will connect with you. You’ve then succeeded in your business to the highest degree.
A band has multiple members and, as in the corporate world, it’s important to work as a team. What do you believe is the ingredient for having a successful team?
Picking the right members is of utmost importance. Having trust that they will do all the things needed. Know the tunes, be on time, dress appropriately, etc etc. Being in a band is not a democracy. There needs to be a dictator….and leader….but, I also believe you have to delegate to a certain degree. Picking the right people will make a team gel and move forward together like you can never imagine. The leader must guide, steer and take the rewards and losses on the chin. Have respect and gratitude for all the members if the team is to become successful.
You are no doubt very passionate about music and having passion for your work is one contributing factor to being successful. What other ingredients do you believe are key to being successful in your chosen career?
I have always gone above and beyond the call of duty. I think of quality before the dollar. I do so many things I don’t get paid for. But I wouldn’t do them if I didn’t love it.
I’ve learnt practical things. Like doing my own posters (for live public gigs), knowing and understanding how to advertise, booking and paying the people I engage.
I have always gone out into the audience and met with the people at my shows. Not because I want to drum up more work, but because I genuinely love meeting with people and talking with them. Getting to know who they are and why the came to the show. How music affects them. In other words, I’ve gotten to know my customers on a personal level.
We talk about our passion of music and they see it in what I do, I see it in them at the shows.
We are very perceptive. We know when someone isn’t genuine. I believe I have wrapped up my passion and pleasure into my work to the point where what I do is who I am. There is no difference to Peter the person and Peter the musician. There is just me and this is who I am and what I do.