The NonStick Pans are a power pop/alternative rock music project led by a talented fan of The Beatles – Peter Rugman. Born in Lancashire, this comedian, actor and singer-songwriter recently released a new music video called ‘Jennifer String’. We chat with Peter about video animation, how The Beatles influenced him and his greatest accomplishments.
You released ‘Jennifer String’ in 2018. What made you decide to release an official video for it in 2020?
Money and time. We musicians tend to haemorrhage a lot of that. ‘Jennifer String’ was released in 2018, just before Christmas, along with the rest of Nineteen Sixty Four. As we’re an independent little project I knew we were in it for the long haul but figured the wait would be worth it.
Can you tell us about the concept of the ‘Jennifer String’ video?
The entire video pays homage to The Beatles. Even while writing the song, the imagery from ‘Yellow Submarine’ was in the back of my mind. The song is the simple story of a family. It revolves around the notion of how we all, to some extent, alter the way we live to pander to other people’s expectations. The Beatles were incredibly adept at drawing out the fantastical from the mundane and I wanted to recreate that feeling in my work.
Why did you choose to do an animated music video instead of a live video like ‘Goodbye’?
‘Goodbye’ is a very personal song for me. I played around with the idea of doing a video for the studio track, but honestly, it felt a bit insincere. I instead decided on recording a stripped back and live performance of the song as a more genuine way of preserving the sentiment. ‘Jennifer String’ on the other hand is a loud, driving, jangly piece of power-pop which we felt was better suited to an animated music video. Within this medium, we had more room to be playful and bold with the imagery.
Let’s talk about the song ‘Jennifer String’. What inspired this track?
Actually, it was another Beatles track from the Revolver album, ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’- a Lennon penned song that’s definitely one my all-time favourites. I started with a similar arrangement in mind, found the chords and played around until I found an appropriate McCartney-esque bassline. The song wrote itself from there. I plotted the barebones of most of it on a laptop whilst travelling on a train down from Preston – that journey very likely inspired the story on some level.
Do you find this track particularly significant or just another one on the album Nineteen Sixty Four?
For me, every song on the album is significant. When you write them from scratch they’re kind of like your children and you really shouldn’t prefer some to the others, but you kind of end up doing so anyway. My favourites fluctuate, but ‘Jennifer String’ is definitely up there. It’s one of the songs I consider to be well crafted in both its melody and sentiment.
Cliche questions now: how did the band form and how did you decide on the band name?
I had been writing songs and recording demos, but just never releasing them for the good part of a decade. I was waiting for the perfect set of circumstances to arrive. I’d need to organically meet the right people to ‘form’ a band with first a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. They’d also need to be into the same music as me, of course. Thing is, that part is easier said than done. In my experience, the world has an abundance of rhythm guitarists and drummers; however, they are hard to find, and even if you do find one the chances that they are already attached to other bands/projects are quite high. I found that a few talented musicians I’d come across were content to play as a hobby, but weren’t that committed to the idea taking it up full time.
Over time, I just accepted the possibility that this perfect sequence of events might not happen. I now had the resources to release my music with or without that figurative band by collaborating with my brother Ed and extremely talented session musicians. So I figured, why wait any longer? So, with no interest in releasing anything as a solo artist, I created a fictional band The NonStick Pans. I picked the daftest name I could think of.
What is your greatest accomplishment personally and professionally?
Getting through drama school. I have a BA in Acting which is essentially a £30,000 piece of paper to prove I’m unemployed AND in debt. Drama school was brutal and exhausting. Unlike a typical university, there’s no time to socialise. You’re there every day from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, often later.
It was made harder for me because my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer just before ‘Comedy Term’ – turns out there’s a real balancing act between bumbling around as a clown and deep anticipatory grief. I subsequently developed horrendous insomnia and went for days without sleep.
She died, nearly a year after her diagnosis, in the middle of rehearsals for a Chekhov play in which I was the lead – I played a melancholic Russian man who was struggling with depression as his wife slowly died from a terminal illness. I went back into rehearsals the very next day. Needless to say, there was some real unintentional ‘method acting’ involved. I came back because I felt it was what I needed to do. Doing that play and completing the course was a cathartic experience and necessary for me finding a way back to who I was.
Professionally, there are many things that I’m proud of, but none more than releasing Nineteen Sixty Four. The entire album was a product of collaboration and a labour of love.
Where do you see yourself in 2022?
Hopefully, outside enjoying the freedom to hug people – consensually, of course.
Do you have any advice for people in emerging bands?
Don’t wait. Make music and make it now. Get out there and perform as much as you can. I’d do well to remember that advice myself.
Do you have any message for people during this lockdown period?
Feel what you feel and feel it as fully as you can. Cry like a baby if you need to. We’re all going through a collective trauma right now and will be responding in different ways. Just know that however you feel, it’s entirely normal and you’re not alone.