Not only is BLEEDING THROUGH’S Marta Peterson one of the few women we have on the label, she is also one of the few keyboard players we have too, so when she was in London with the band supporting Machine Head on their last UK headline tour, we sat down to chat to Marta about how she came to play keys and end up in one of the most brutal metal bands, and what it’s like being a gal in a male dominated genre…
Roadrunner UK: How old were you when you first got into music and playing keyboard?
Marta Peterson: My first experience with playing anything happened when I was 4. My parents had bought an old upright piano and had put my 8 year old sister in piano lessons. I’d go along to drop her off at the lessons and I guess at one point I asked my mom if I could take lessons too, so then they’d just drop us both off. My sister stopped taking lessons but I continued to like it. I played on that piano for years and years- until I was a teenager. I’d always wanted to do it, it was always my decision – I was never forced to take lessons. I wanted it!
RR UK: Who were your main influences when you were learning?
MP: For a long time I listened to whatever my older sister listened to- Nirvana, Metallica, The Misfits. But I never really related what I played with that music until later. I played regular piano lesson music and classical music. When I got to high school I started playing with the jazz band and I’d fill in playing for the choir; that’s when I started to play more current music.
RR UK: How did you progress from piano lessons onwards?
MP: In high school I played with the jazz band, dixie band, choir, anything that required playing the piano and singing. But I never really thought of playing in a [rock] band. There weren’t people in my town playing metal so much – it’s a small town!
RR UK: When did you realise you could marry piano playing with the rock music you listened to?
MP: Honestly, Bleeding Through was a big influence in that. I bought Portrait of a Goddess (BT’s second album, released in 2002) and thought “This is awesome, I love this music, there’s a fucking keyboard in there!” Genuine story, that’s when I realised that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to play keyboard in that band!
RR UK: Which metal bands featuring keyboard players really stand out for you?
MP: Dimmu Borgir. That guy’s a mad genius, he’s obviously brilliant. And Cradle of Filth as well. They’re keyboard-driven and I remember being heavily influenced by them when I was a teenager. Even outside of metal, bands like Muse, or even Elton John, is cool to me.
RR UK: What’s your practice regime?
MP: I don’t practise as much as I should because I don’t have a teacher to answer to! I don’t really practise on tour because we’re playing every night- there’s not even enough time to forget what you’re doing. I still play when I’m at home. I have a keyboard that’s more like a piano at home. I get all my classical books out and see if my fingers are still agile enough! I still get absorbed in those long classical pieces.
RR UK: How many keyboards do you own? What have you got?
MP: I have a Korg Triton Extreme- that’s the one I usually take out on tour. I have a really beat-up Triton Studio. I flew over to Europe a few times with that before I realised that keyboards get totally thrashed when you travel with them! And I have one at home that’s not mine – it’s my boyfriend’s – it’s like a piano / keyboard thing.
RR UK: You mentioned the piano from when you were a kid, but what was the first piano you got that was truly yours?
MP: Well, when I was in high school, my parents gave me an option – it seemed like an option although I’m sure my mom used her persuasive powers- they offered me a car or a baby grand piano. I was happy driving some crappy car already, so at my parents’ there’s a Kawai baby grand, and I still go home and play that. Even though it’s not at my place I still feel like that’s mine. When I grew up it was like “Do your homework, or play the piano,” so I would just play. I was pretty good at getting my homework done anyway! My parents have always loved that I play music. I’m the only one in my family that plays anything and they’ve always been incredibly supportive. Even when I quit college to join a metal band, they were like “That’s great! Go for it!”
RR UK: What’s it like being a woman in metal – a really male-orientated genre of music?
I suppose it’s natural that it’s mostly male-dominated. Women have a tendency to not like things that are so aggressive – we’re more motherly and sensitive. That’s not to say that we can’t be aggressive or brutal or whatever, but I think it’s fairly natural that there are less women that listen to metal. It’s never going to be an equal balance. I don’t have some ridiculous fantasy that it’s going to even out one day! I don’t think I should have to prove myself, I’m here because I like it, not because I think it’s cool or that I’m a rarity. I think people can assume whatever they want to assume, but come see us play – I’m there for the right reasons, I want to be there, I love what I do and I would still like it if I was a boy or a girl. There’s very few people who have had issue with me being a female [in metal] – more often than not it’s someone working at a club, security or something, who assume that I’m not what I am, that I’m a girlfriend or a wife or a groupie. That’s when I get frustrated, when people assume. It’s fun to see the look on their face when they see me go on-stage!