Gabriel’s ‘I/O’ Takes Shape

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Peter Gabriel’s long-percolating album project is moving ahead under the working title “I/O,” representing the initials “Input/Output,” the connection points on musical hardware.

The alternative rock legend tells that the name reflects his obsession with technology — a passion inherited from his father, an electrical engineer by trade — and music, passed on from his mother.

“I’ve not done much in the way of music for the past six months, but I’m getting back into it now,” comments the musician, who wears a range of hats, including those of humanitarian and Internet businessman.

Gabriel spoke with Billboard ahead of BMI’s annual London awards tonight (Oct. 16), at which he will be enshrined as a BMI Icon, joining previous recipients such as Ray Davies, Van Morrison, the Bee Gees, James Brown and Dolly Parton. For Gabriel, it’s the latest in a long list of prestigious accolades, which include the annual Music Industry Trusts Award in 2004, a lifetime achievement gong at the Ivor Novello Awards in May, and the Midem Personality of the Year Award next January.

“It’s like buses. None come along for an age, then they all arrive at once. I guess its God’s way of saying, it’s your time. Give up,” he laughs, before admitting being particularly touched for the awards bestowed on him for his songwriting.

The British singer/songwriter, who has not settled on a release date for “I/O”, says the album would be issued through a recording deal with EMI, covering territories outside North America. However, a new arrangement forged between the artist’s Real World Records and British entertainment investment firm Ingenious might play a decisive role in the U.S. release.

Ingenious’ music Venture Capital Trusts have teamed with the world music label to create a new company, VCT Investments Ltd, which will have a funding budget of ?1.75 million ($3.56 million) and the capacity to sign and release a roster of 10-15 artists.

Gabriel, meanwhile, refuses to rule out a future reunion with Genesis, which hit the road this year for a comeback tour. Having entered into early conversations with his former band mates Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, Gabriel admits he could not commit to combining the band’s schedule with his own packed agenda. “I still have some affection for some of the songs, such as ‘Supper’s Ready’ and ‘The Lamb Lies Down (on Broadway),'” he says. “I’m pleased for them, but I’m less motivated to look backwards.”

Much of his energies in recent months have been invested in the Elders, a project which gathers world leaders into its online “global village” to help solve global issues. Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu are among the “Elders” participating.

“The Elders has been a big thing for me this year. We’ve been trying to get it off the ground since 1999, but it really came to be this year,” Gabriel says. “You’ve seen what the Internet can do with the encyclopedia through Wikipedia, and what it’s done for broadcasting through YouTube. What can it do with politics?”

Gabriel will also headline an HIV/AIDS awareness concert in Johannesburg on Dec. 1.


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