‘Winds of Change’: Legendary Singer/Songwriter Jim Peterik Discusses New World Stage Album

Nearly twenty years after the release of “Jim Peterik’s World Stage,” the legendary singer/songwriter and Ides of March frontman is back with one of the biggest and most grandiose albums of the year, ‘Winds of Change.’

Set for release on April 26 ‘Winds of Change’ features Peterik collaborating with an arsenal of melodic rock’s greatest superstars, including Dennis DeYoung (ex-Styx), Kevin Chalfant (ex-The Storm), Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger), Toby Hitchcock (Pride Of Lions), Mike Reno (Loverboy) and Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon). As an added bonus, ‘Winds of Change’ also features the previously unreleased track, “Love You All Over The World,” sung by the late Jimi Jamison.

Jim Peterik and World Stage arose from the idea that the musical and spiritual collaboration of great artists and friends could make something magical. ‘Winds of Change’ continues that trend by not only displaying the versatility and talents of Peterik but also the musical embellishment by a seasoned (and legendary) cast of singers, musicians and friends.

I recently spoke with Jim Peterik about ‘Winds of Change’ and more in this exclusive new interview.

What inspired the new World Stage album?

Jim Peterik: It was a phone call put me in motion. I’m a non-stop writer. Every day I’m writing concepts and pieces of songs and looking for a reason to rally the troops and put out something meaningful. One day I got a call from Serafino Perugino,who’s a great friend and mentor. He was a big fan of the first World Stage album and told me that it was time for a new album. I got to work and started making calls to the people I wanted to be involved, including Don Barnes [38 Special], Kevin Chalfant, Toby Hitchcock [Pride of Lions], Kevin Cronin [REO Speedwagon], The Nelsons and Kelly Keagy [Night Ranger].

Let’s talk about a few songs from the new album, starting with the title track. What can you tell me about “Winds of Change?”

About a year ago I was writing songs with Don Barnes and Danny Chauncey for a new 38 Special album. One of the songs was called “Winds of Change.” It was my favorite of the new songs we’d written. When I was asked about doing a new World Stage album I asked Don about finishing up a song to use. That’s when he said, “Well, how about ‘Winds of Change’?” I was like, “Oh, hell yeah! [laughs]”. I was blown away. So, I got a final vocal from Don, took it back to Chicago and built the track around it. It was a blessing that he let me use a track that was earmarked for a 38 Special album.

How about the track “Proof Of Heaven” with Dennis DeYoung?

It’s a musical collaboration and a masterpiece. The lyric is mainly Dennis. He’s an amazing lyricist. On his 2009 album, and on a lot of his previous solo work, it was almost as if he was running away from his legacy. On this track he’s running toward it. He’s very aware of his part in the sound of Styx; the grandiosity and the pomp and circumstance. And of course, there’s that voice. I knew as soon as we finished the song that we had something special. It’s been a thrill working with him.

The song, “Just For You,” that you wrote with Kevin Cronin actually appeared on the 1999 REO Speedwagon album, ‘The Ballads.’ What made you decide to revisit it?

The history of that song is a little bit different than some of the other songs on the album. What you hear is the demo from when Kevin came over to my house and humbly recorded it. Kevin and I always felt there was something special about the frailty and feeling of the demo vocal of “Just For You” that made it even more special than the final version. So, when I asked Kevin about stripping it down to the bare demo and putting it on the album, he said absolutely.

One of the biggest treasures on the album has to be the track “Love You All Over The World,” which features the late Jimi Jamison. How did it come about?

Back in 2009, Jimi came to me with the idea of doing a country/southern flavored album. He came to Chicago and I wrote about eight songs for him. One of them being a standout track called “Love You All Over The World.” Nothing became of the project because a few months later we were asked about doing a rock album together, which became ‘Crossroads Moment’. We shelved the country idea but had all these tracks hanging around. I decided to call his family and got their blessing to take the song, strip away everything but Jimi’s voice, and build a track around it that was less country and more of mainstream AOR rock that we made our bones on. I can’t tell you how otherworldly it was to put the fader up on the console in the studio and hear Jimi’s voice filling the room. All the musicians were spellbound and privileged to work with this amazing singer. Even though Jimi was gone he was still in the room and it inspired a great performance. That’s one of the tracks that’s extremely special to me.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Survivor album, ‘Vital Signs’. When you look back now, with so much perspective, what thoughts come to mind?

What comes to my mind is calling my manager after we cut a track and telling him to order the Porsche. Then to go in and cut “I See You In Everyone” and telling him to order the Mercedes [laughs]. We knew we had something really magical with the infusion of a brand-new singer named Jimi Jamison. It was also our chance to do an untethered album and show the world that we weren’t just a “Rocky” band. I’ll never forget packing up our gear toward the end of recording and Frankie [Sullivan] started playing this wonderful, arpeggiated line on his Strat. I started playing piano along with it. We didn’t know it at the time but we were writing “I Can’t Hold Back.” The next morning, I was walking on the beach and finished the lyrics. We went in and cut it and that became the first single. We caught lightning in a bottle around that time. That album still ranks as my favorite of all. There’s not a weak track on it. I’m very proud of that record.