Peter Frampton isn't one to play pitchman for any random product. But he's found something he's in tune with enough to jump on board.
Frampton has joined AxCent Tuning Systems LLC to help promote a campaign on Crowdfunder.com that hopes to raise $1 million to manufacture and market an affordable, mass-consumer edition of its Performer computer-controlled guitar tuning system, which has been used by Frampton as well as Jimmy Page, Graham Nash, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, Tom Keifer and Mark Slaughter. The device resides inside the guitar and makes use of an external app, allowing players to change tuning in seconds and without having to switch instruments. AxCent Tuning hopes to sell the new device for about $400.
"This is one of the very few things that I would actually get involved in to go and raise some (funds) because I've used it for many years and actually believe in it," Frampton, a self-confessed gadget freak who has his own line of Framptone guitar accessories, tells Billboard. "The main thing for me is I can at a moment's notice go from one tuning to the other. I'm always writing songs in different tunings, some of which I forget, so you can put your custom tunings into this guitar and it remembers them for me -- which is more than I can do -- and within a second or two you can change it from that particular tuning back to standard (tuning) and you can play a solo. And it's incredibly precise. It's never failed me."
The just-launched AxCent Tuning campaign already had $310,000 committed prior to the official launch and is looking for a minimum of $10,000. Pledge perks include signed Frampton memorabilia and concert tickets, backstage passes (for $25,000), a signed Gibson guitar ($50,000) and flight and first-class accommodations to any show for $100,000. "And I think you actually get to sleep with me," Frampton says with a laugh. "Well, no you don't. I'm sure there's one in there for that, but we don't have a price worked out yet."
"I"ve always been very gadget-conscious," Frampton adds. "I made my own electric (guitar) out of an acoustic when I first started to play and realized through my dad that the tube radio in the living room could actually work as amplifier as well as a radio, so that was my amp. So, yeah, I've been a gadget freak and therefore an engineer for my own records for many, many years. It's very interesting to me."
The campaign catches Frampton at a busy time. He's out on the road all summer, playing shows with Cheap Trick as well as on his own. And he's working on a new album, which will feature acoustic versions of some of his past favorites -- including "Do You Feel LIke We Do," "Lines On My Face" and the rarity "Sail Away" -- as well as one new song.
"It's much more interesting than I thought it was going to be," says Frampton. "I thought, 'Well, I'll just go into the studio and I'll whip off 10 or 11 of my songs just the way I wrote them.' So I sat down and I started singing them; when I started first listening to them they all sounded like they were on stage, without the band. It's just the way I've been doing these songs for 40 years, some of them. Then I realized this isn't what I want. I want as if you'd come up to the hotel before the show and we were talking and I'd be, 'Hey, I've got this new song 'Lines On My Face' I want to play you,' and I sit on the bed and I pull out an acoustic and I play it to you. That's the quality I'm shooting for."
Frampton has recorded nine songs so far and hopes to have the new album ready for release later this year or in early 2016. He's also planning to mount an acoustic tour this fall with longtime collaborator Gordon Kennedy as well as his son, Julian Frampton.