Thursday, April 22, 2004

Glands CD waits, but band plays on

The Atlanta Journal - Constitution has an article about the recording of the new Glands CD. The article says that singer Ross Shapiro 'can't exactly put his finger on the direction the new record will take. He can say that the new songs the band is integrating into its live show are, "keyboard-based as opposed to guitar [based]. And, uh, one of them I like has some Todd Rundgren-esque chords in it."

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Todd talks to Richard Allinson -transcript

This is my - very unofficial - transcript of the interview Todd gave to Richard Allinson on his Radio 2 show 20/04/04


RA: ‘Soul Brother’. It’s been a long time coming, but it is, and I didn’t think I’d say this for a long, well, I haven’t said this for a long while – the new single from Todd Rundgen, who we’ve bothered in the wee small hours of lunch-time in Los Angeles. How are you Todd?
TR: I’m pretty good (laughs) I agree with ya, I don’t think I imagined I would hear such a thing either – ‘the new single by…’
RA: Yeah
TR: Yeah
RA: Well, I first, as a young lad, erm, I first heard ‘I saw the Light’ and ‘I (It) wouldn’t have made any difference’ and, or songs like that. Pop Singles. Classic little two and a half minute / three minute pop records. And then I got into your music a lot and suddenly thought – he does much much more than pop records. So where are we now with this album ‘Liars’?
TR: Well some people say it has pop sensibilities, although I wasn’t necessarily consciously applying that I think. What I had in mind was trying to combine the early influences I recalled from when I first got into music; those things that sort of inspired me to seek a musician’s life. And sort of combine them with a, the, more modern approach to production, and maybe a more modern attitude about music, in that, the subject matter could be a little bit deeper than a typical pop song.
RA: Like this album. You pretty much do everything yourself. And you recorded this particular album in your home. Is, is it much more easier to be king of your own castle these days?
TR: Well, I discovered a while ago that I, er, that my particular work meme is, er, is highly dependant on me being isolated from outside influences, and disturbances and stuff like that. I have to turn off the noise of everyday interactions so I can hear what’s actually going on in my head. And for the apst 10 years, I, in some ways I consciously eshued that. I tried to intergrate songwriting into my everyday life more, and I discovered that it, it just wasn’t as intense an experience for me, and … probably not as intense a listening experience,…erm. It’s something that I actually did a little talk about a couple of months ago. The fact that, for me – and maybe for a number of other artists – you can’t really hear what your subconscious is dwelling on until you shut out all that sort of conscious noise and interaction.
RA: That Sounds like hard work then? ‘Cause some people just say- ‘I woke up in the morning and I’m whistling some melody and I put it down and you know … Elton John said he banged out ‘Yellow Brick Road’ in about 20 minutes, and you think , oh, right …
TR: Well I banged out ‘I saw the light’ in about 20 minutes, and …
RA: Touché
TR: Yeah (Laughs) there is something about, you know, things that come about naturally and irresistibly and I have a few songs like that, so that, yeah, I dreamed them, woke up, headed straight for the studio, wrote ‘em down, and in some cases I didn’t even know what they mean, or what the significance of them was. And they find a sort of natural level that the songs that you labour over can never achieve…And still, that isn’t good enough for me (laughs) I have to be the person who, you know, listens too, and examines and criticizes my music more than anybody else does.
RA: Yeah
TR: And if it doesn’t have any staying power for me then I inevitably will do something by the time I get to the next record to raise the bar for myself or challenge myself a little bit more, because I have to be satisfied before anybody else can
RA: Do they ever come back to haunt you then, the old songs?
TR: Well certainly there are songs that you are required to do over and over and over again beyond the point where they retain any of their original meaning and impact for you. And er, in some ways this, they may pose other challenges. A song like ‘Hello It’s Me’, which is literally the first song that I completed in my life, I still have to perform sometimes. And quite obviously it does have, it doesn’t come from the same place in me that it did when I first wrote it, and maybe I didn’t even know where it was coming from when I first wrote it. It was just stumbling around trying to get something completed and just got lucky. As time goes on, I have more of a …, I take more seriously songs that were harder for me to write, and achieve some success on those terms. For me those are the ones I remember, and I more desire to perform I guess
RA: OK, well I desire to play something else from the new album ‘Liars’. We’ve got Todd Rundgren with us in Los Angeles. That sounds good doesn’t it. It’s late night Radio 2. We’ve played this before, going to play this again. From the new album ‘Liars’ this is ‘Past’
RA: ‘Past’. It’s one of 14 new songs on the new album from Todd Rundgren, who is with us at , what must be just after lunch-time in Los Angeles, cause we’re on summertime now
TR: Oh..I don’t believe we’ve gotten to lunch yet
RA: Ah, the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle lives (laughs)
TR: (laughs) Yeah, it sure does ..yeah, I’ve been up all night
RA: That’s consistent. Erm, It’s been a while since your last album of new material. So, erm, a couple of questions really in one. Because a) What kept you, and b) on this album you’ve covered a hell of a lot of ground because there’s a track on here called “Mammon’ which reminds me of Sisters of Mercy
TR: Oh yes (Laughs)
RA: ‘Stood up’ is psychedelic pop. So I suppose you’ve got some XTC albums in your collection. Then one we’ve just played I think is a brilliant soul ballad… ‘Future’ is very drum and bass. You’re , erm , playing around again aren’t you – you’re tickling us.
TR: Well, I am only reflecting my influences such as they are. Erm, and oddly enough they aren’t necessarily directly derived. ER, one advantageous thing that’s happened to television advertising – at least in this country – is they’ve taken a radical turn away from the sort of traditional way which they would approach music, and have gotten aggressive about adopting avant music styles and applying then to their product placement. I think Moby had a big hand in that one, when he gave everyone really favourable terms in using music from his record if they wanted to put it behind a car advertisement or something. So when I reflected on it, I discovered that a lot of the visceral influences that I was experiencing were coming out of the television as opposed to the radio , ironically enough. I , er, the television was playing more avant music than the radio seemed capable of, so I wanted to definitely recognize those influences and incorporate them, but at the same time, I wanted it, I wanted the music itself to come from a place that had definite roots for me … er going back to the 60’s. So I wanted to create a bit of a détente between the two
RA: ‘Cause you say honesty and truth are the overriding themes of this 14 song collection. But do you think we know too much now, and is it not necessarily honesty and truth that we’re being subjected’s more revelations and discovering that a lot of people – I’m not talking about anyone in particular but – a lot of people in positions of power and influence seem to be abusing those.
TR: Well, I have maintained that people in power and influence were actually people before they were in power and influence, and that lying just comes naturally to everyone and politicians just are able to tell lies on a much grander scale than the rest of us can (laughs) and our everyday lives. And do it in a way that affects so many more people.
RA: Hey Todd, it’s been a real pleasure having you on the show tonight
TR: It’s been my distinct pleasure
RA: And we’re going to see you over here on tour soon…in the new high-tech Todd Rundgren roadshow
TR: Very soon. And it’s bound to be a certain …will be a big homecoming for me. I haven’t had a chance to be with, you know, the old fans for a long time and the old fans have been stalwart enough to bring a batch of new fans along that have never seen me, us play in England, so that’ll be great.
RA: Looking forward to it Todd, thanks a lot
TR: My pleasure
RA: Talking of old favourites, here’s one of the old songs …

Monday, April 19, 2004


Saturday's Jonathan Ross radio show (BBC Radio 2) played 'Soul Brother' from Liars.


Jeff Spevak at the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle interviewed Jesse Gress about the tour. Again the fun begins when they chat about playing through notebook computers. ``You can mix-and-match speaker-cabinet combinations, various microphones set in front of the speaker cabinet, microphones moved various distances from the speaker cabinet,'' Gress says. But is this honest musicianship? ``Why is it a lie?'' Gress asks. ``As soon as you plug into an amp, you're simulating an acoustic guitar. It's not for technology's sake. Todd uses it to make his artistic vision a reality.'' And on the lack of big album sales since the 70's.``It's never one's choice to peak commercially,'' Gress says. ``It happens. The new record's doing really well in England; it's getting five-star reviews. They booked us in the Royal Albert Hall.[actually the Royal Festival Hall Jesse, but we'll let you off] Maybe this is gonna be a British thing."


Interesting article in the The Post Standard/Herald-Journal on Adam Lyons Schlesinger from the Fountains of Wayne [and Welcome Interstate Managers is another CD that you should own if you don't already!] It seems Adam's grandfather got him into the business fromm day one. He was "bringing a show by rockers Jefferson Airplane to the Landmark Theatre (Syracuse).on Dec. 6, 1967, five weeks after his grandson's birth. As was his fashion, he had printed posters advertising the concert, with one small change. Instead of "Murray Bernthal Presents," he had the printer replace that with "Adam Lyons Presents." - Genius. But not only that Adam got the see some cool bands too: "I used to work in the box office at the Landmark when I came up to visit as a kid," Schlesinger says. "I have clear memories of the rock concerts I saw there. Todd Rundgren and Utopia. The Little River Band. The Jerry Garcia Band".


Jeff Miers from the Buffalo News is the latest to heap praise on 'Liars' with yes, yet another 4 star rating 'Liars', he says is "one of his absolute best...marrying some of his most gorgeous melodies, elegant harmonic platforms, and soulful singing to electronic musical beds that avoid being clinical on the strength of Rundgren's impossible- to-miss human touch". He saves most of his praise for the albums title track, where "Rundgren marries an Eastern modality to a two-verse slab of dark electronica that stealthily equates Islamic fundamentalism with Western dogma. Understated but brimming with emotional investment, it's simply one of the most powerful songs he's ever written"


The Columbus Dispatch had a review of last weeks gig at the PromoWest Pavilion "When Todd Rundgren hit the stage at ...he and his band, the Liars, appeared to have a few demons to exorcise. Beginning with Truth From Liars, his latest record, the veteran songwriter, technology guru and guitar hero performed with a vengeance. He attacked several songs like a hard-rock legend, pitching his duotone hair and ratcheting his blue-eyed-soul voice into screams."


Tom Moon of the Philadelphia Inquirer (also in Pittsburgh Post Gazette). A lot of the same stuff that's been in other interviews, and again he talks of realising he is an album, not a singles's artist and the tour. Rundgren says that the shows, with the band that backed him on the With a Twist Tour, will have its share of surprises. The musicians will plug their keyboards and guitars into tablet PCs to access sounds and effects, and the lighting will come from LED arrays, not traditional spotlights... He refuses to draw up a set list, and says he is in the process of rehearsing all of "Liars" and much of his catalog with the intention of playing a 2 1/2-hour show. "I have a lot more fun if we're trying something grandly conceptual, something that makes all of us think. ... When you play the same thing in the same order every night, you can look up after one song and realize the whole evening's already scripted, that you could do the whole thing on autopilot. That can take the wind out of your sails. It's much more fun to react to whatever's going on."

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Ohio gig review

The Akron Beackon Journal published a review yesterday of Todd's Ohio date at the Ohio Theatre. Malcolm X Abram seemed to like what he saw. The band he said played "smoking versions of the humorous I Hate My Frickin' ISP, and the anti-child abuse song Unloved Children" and that "the energy level of the appreciative but reserved crowd raised exponentially after security allowed fans to crowd the front of the stage and sing along to two more oldies, Hello, It's Me, and Just One Victory."

Something about fair Oceanside inspires cartwheels in street

Picked up an interesting piece in the The Oregonian about the town of Oceanside. It seems Todd's mother in law, and Michelle's mom - Pat Gray - is a resident of said town. Pat, a retired schoolteacher, has apparently always been known for her cartwheeeling ability. The article says " As a grade-school teacher, she would occasionally oblige students when they would beg her to turn cartwheels in the halls. Now, on her birthday, she turns cartwheels on Pacific Avenue. "I just wanted to see if I could do it," she said. "I'm a character." Jan. 14 was her 76th birthday, and she turned 11 cartwheels. Brilliant.