Peter Wolf Cries Foul on J. Geils: 'He Broke the Brotherhood'
Peter Wolf is in the midst of a new solo tour, but he promises the J. Geils Band will ride again in 2013 -- despite lingering legalities with guitarist and namesake John "J." Geils.
"We're moving on, and I feel very excited about it," Wolf, who has a handful of east coast solo shows booked through Nov. 3, tells Billboard. The group played nine Houseparty Tour dates in August and September with Duke Levine on guitar, and Wolf crows that "for a Geils fan and people who came to the shows, I feel we made some giant steps, being progressive. So we'll be out there on the highways and byways. As always, we do limited tours; we don't go on these long, extended tours. And maybe we'll pop up this summer on some festivals and things like that. We play it by ear and keep it pretty loose."
Geils, the man, and his label, Francesca Records, are suing bandmates Wolf, Seth Justman, Magic Dick Salwitz and Danny Klein in U.S. District Court in Boston, claiming that he holds the rights to the J. Geils Band name stemming from a 2008 filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The others are contesting his claim. No resolution has yet been announced, and Geils' representatives did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment about the status of the lawsuit.
The J. Geils Band was planning to play some shows later this year -- including a recreation of its 1972 live album "Full House" in Detroit -- but called those off, though Wolf claims that had more to do with logistics than legal sanctions.
"In trying to juggle the different schedules, some of the stuff had to get pushed back," Wolf explains. "It was so close to the holidays and with the elections going on and everything we decided to reschedule the dates and do them at a time where it made more sense to get the message out. I believe it's the end of February we'll get back out. We just plan to keep it going because we all do enjoy it."
As for the schism with Geils, Wolf notes that "any classic band that has gone through the ages goes through twists and turns like this. The Eagles, they've gone through personnel changes. The (Rolling) Stones have gone through different guitar players. Van Halen, the Allman Brothers...Some last, some don't. It's really about how they solve these situations and, more importantly, how they come out of it musically. Unfortunately what happened in the Geils situation was that J kind of broke the brotherhood. That made it sort of difficult to continue (with him)."
For the meantime, Wolf is continuing to promote his lauded 2011 release "Midnight Souvenirs" and reports that he's hard at work on its follow-up, which he's recording on the road in a manner that Wolf compares to Jackson Browne's 1977 travelogue "Running On Empty." "There's some new songs that I put together and some live stuff and some of the older solo stuff that, live, has just taken on a different thing," Wolf says. "Some are live on stage, some are live during rehearsals, there's a couple acoustic things we did. I have quite a bit...I can't say reels and reels because there's no reals anymore, but hard drives and hard drives. It's very energetic. It's like a photographer trying to catch that decisive moment."
Wolf adds that the project is "almost complete but still needs a couple of things." So he's not predicting when or how the material will come out, however. "The luxury is there is no sort of great timeline. We're not fighting for a Christmas or summer release; when it goes down and it's good, it'll come out. There's no constraints or anything like that. We're just taking our time gathering things and get the creme de la creme."