Diablo Magazine’s Peter Crooks: An Interview

May 09. 2005 | By Jason Jurgens

Sure Diablo Magazine isn’t targeted at the stage diving, 40-ounce guzzling, starving musician demographic, but every so often, embedded between the ads on Botox and diamond earrings you’ll find a reference to Green Day or the Foo Fighters…even William Hung. Thank Peter Crooks for that. From snapping the perfect shot of Sheryl Crow and being mocked by Eddie Money to casually bantering with Juliette Binoche and serendipitously bumping into George Lucas, it seems that Crooks is always at the right place at the right time…especially if it has something to do with the Bay Area.

“I realized I was middle aged when I went to see Green Day at the Bill Graham and sat in the balcony to enjoy a comfortable seat and good view,” says Crooks, who is a senior editor at Diablo Magazine. Diablo’s very own celeb photographer, diehard Dylan fan and on-air movie critic is showing us that growing up isn’t such a bad thing.

Owl: As a music lover and movie guru, how important is music to movies?

Peter: Music is an incredibly potent layer of cinema. Even when films were “silent” they were most often accompanied by live music. In contemporary cinema, the music is an integral thread, certainly as important as photography, effects, etc. On the recent Star Wars DVD release George Lucas says that the one component of the original Star Wars film that exceeded his expectations was John Williams’s marvelous symphonic score. Remember when “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” fades to black and then BOOM! The Star Wars title credit with Williams booming score kicks in? That was one of the most exciting instants of my life … when I was 7.

Which movie soundtrack is your favorite?

Difficult to say, I’m not much of a soundtrack collector. Office Space has an amazing rap soundtrack. Last year, Rolfe Kent’s score for Sideways and Jon Brion’s score for I Heart Huckabee’s were pretty fantastic. Cameron Crowe always uses rock music with an expert touch. Tom Petty’s “American Girl” blasting over the radio in Silence of the Lambs and Jackson Brown’s “Somebody’s Baby” in Fast Times at Ridgemont High were both examples of a pop song being used effectively with the context of the story. And Smokey Robinson’s “The Tracks of My Tears” and Barber’s “Adagio For Strings” were used to great effect in Platoon.

What evokes more of your emotions, music or movies?

I cry tears of joy whenever I hear “The Rainbow Connection”. But to compare one to the other is irrelevant, they coexist.

What are your top 5 CDs?

Grateful Dead, American Beauty
Tom Petty, Full Moon Fever
Bob Dylan, Nashville Skyline
Golden Smog, Weird Tales
Emmylou Harris, Roses in the Snow

What musical instrument would you most like to play in a band? Why?

Rhythm guitar in a band like Los Lobos. They jam so easily and effortlessly. I would love to be able to keep up.

What act would you sleep on the sidewalk, just to get tix?

The Jayhawks…one of the most underappreciated bands of all time. They do have devoted fans and I would be proud to spend the night with some of them.

What are your top 5 music movies?

Singin’ In the Rain
This is Spinal Tap
Gimme Shelter

What is your worst concert experience and your best?

My first Dead show was a traffic nightmare and we got to the Shoreline at the intermission, so the first thing I experienced was Drums and Space. It was hard to catch the whole vibe. I hate being late for movies and concerts.

One of the worst and best is Guns N Roses. I saw them on a Monday night in the San Diego Sports Arena with Soundgarden, back in 1991. GNR went on at 11:30 p.m. And played until 2:30 a.m., and just kicked ass the whole night. But then I saw them follow Body Count and Metallica at the Oakland Stadium a few years later. The fans got restless waiting for GNR after Metallica had been awesome. The fans tore the hell out of the left field grass and had a big stupid sod fight and ruined the grass for the A’s, who were supposed to be playing there soon after. So obnoxious. Then Guns N Roses just kind of came out and tanked an Axl was a big bitch the whole time.

Best concert was probably John Prine at the Hanford Fox Theater. It was so worth the three and a half hour drive to be there.

Hear Pete’s Popcorn Picks on 99.7 (KFRC) every Friday morning or checkout www.diablomag.com to read his work.

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