Saturday, October 4, 2008

Rundgren talks new album, New Cars - Northwest Herald News Article

Rundgren talks new album, New Cars
By ERIC SCHELKOPF -
Observant fans a few years ago might have caught a glimpse of musician Todd Rundgren sitting in the stands of Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva watching his son, Rex, play for the Kane County Cougars.

These days, Todd Rundgren is touring the country in support of "Arena," his first new studio album in four years. The new album comes on the heels of his recent stint as the frontman of The New Cars, a reunion of sorts for new wave group The Cars.

The writer of such classic hits as "Hello, It's Me" and "Can We Still Be Friends" recently talked about his latest project in an interview prior to his appearance Monday at the Park West in Chicago.

How did you like sitting in Elfstrom Stadium watching your son?

It was great. Those were some of best times that Rex had playing baseball.

You are coming to town with your new album, "Arena," which also describes the album's sound – arena rock.

It does describe the sound and the mood, I suppose. There are a lot of themes of conflict and heroic battles. So the arena theme has something to do with that as well.

Was it fun making the album?

I always enjoy making records. Sometimes it's a little hard getting off the dime. You have to build up a head of steam or a little energy, but that usually comes once I get my head into the process. There is always the possibility that I will get it into my head that I want to make a record and I start making it, and nothing comes out. But fortunately for me, I haven't found myself in that situation yet. I am still able to get the creative juices going and eventually if I stick with it, I've got a record.

This project started after The New Cars tour was cut short.

When we had that accident and Elliot Easton broke his collarbone and The Cars tour came to a screeching halt, I found myself with nothing to do. I figured out the simplest thing to do was a guitar quartet, and as it turned out, that seemed to be what the audience was longing for. I didn't realize there was so much pent up desire for it.

I understand you wrote "Arena" in your house in Hawaii on your laptop.

I recorded it all on my laptop, so I did some of it in the house and I did some of it while I was on the road. I would say that the lion's share of it I did here in my house, but not in anything that you could call a regular studio. Everything went directly into the laptop, so there really wasn't that much in the way of extra hardware. And I didn't really need a special environment.

You recorded the album in your linen closet.

Well, that was the vocals. I needed some place to kind of make noise, without disturbing the neighbors and without being disturbed. And the quietest place is my linen closet.

How did The New Cars project come about?

I've known Elliot Easton for a while. They wanted to get Rick Ocasek [the original Cars singer] to do it, but he was a little hesitant to go out. So I decided I would take a crack at filling in. It seemed to work. The audiences really liked it. The only problem was the accident we had that essentially brought our tour to a halt, our debut tour.

Was that fun to do?I enjoyed it. I enjoy a lot of these roles where I don't have to necessarily be the person totally responsible for the music. In the case of The New Cars, yeah I'm singing all the songs pretty much, but it isn't my material. I am not necessarily on the hook for the song.

TODD RUNDGREN
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago
Tickets: $52.50
Information: 312-559-1212 or www.ticketmaster.com

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