Thursday, August 28, 2008

INTERVIEW: Rachel Hayden from retroblog's, retrodan

With Todd Rundgren’s initial U.S. leg of his “Arena” tour finished, I caught up with Rundgren’s current bassist Rachel Haden to find out her thoughts on the tour and to see what she’s got next on her plate. Rachel is the daughter of jazz musician Charlie Haden and one of the Haden Triplets (along with Petra and Tanya of course). Being from a family overflowing with musical talent, it was pretty much a no-brainer for Rachel to become a musician herself. She has been involved in a variety of different projects over the years including being a member of The Rentals, that dog. and has recently recorded with Neil Hamberger on his album Neil Hamberger sings Country Winners.

So here’s the RetroBlog Q&A with Rachel Haden -

retroDan: Rachel, you’ve spent the summer touring the U.S. with rock icon Todd Rundgren who has been known to tour only with a short list of “regulars” (i.e. Prairie Prince, Jesse Gress, Kasim Sulton). How did you wind up becoming his bassist?
Rachel Haden: That’s a good question. I’m still asking myself that! Prairie is a good friend and recommended me. Thanks Prairie!

retroDan: What has it been like for you touring with Rundgren? any highlights? lowlights? funny stories?
Rachel: It’s been a very challenging and positive experience. I have grown so much as a person and musician on this last tour. Todd has been such a mentor to me. He pushes me out of my comfort zone. He encourages me like no one else has; not only to be the best bass player I can be but also the best person I can be. There has been nothing but highlights and lowlights and funny stories. One time Prairie and I went jogging in what we didn’t know was a swamp full of mosquitos…don’t ask. We turned around quickly.

retroDan: Any favorites off the current setlist?
Rachel: Yes. I would say “Today” and “Weakness” are my favorites thus far…

retroDan: I’m curious - while on tour, what do you do with your time when you’re not on stage?
Rachel: I like to work out in the Hotel gym (if there is one), have a shrimp cocktail with Prairie and watch a lot of TV Land and The Food Network. I also like to take walks and people watch.

retroDan: Rundgren’s summer U.S. leg of his tour ended earlier this month. Will you continue with Rundgren when he heads over to the U.K. in November? What are your plans in the meantime?
Rachel: I will be continuing with the band over in Europe and the U.K. in November. In the meantime I am continuing to write and record on Garageband in my kitchen; with the hopes of putting out a record of my own. My sisters and my brother and I are preparing for the up and coming Haden Family show August 24th at Lincoln Center.

[update: Rundgren will be touring in October as well. Dates are currently in the works. Check the TR Connection for the latest updates.]

retroDan: With your dad being a famous Jazz musician, and you and your siblings being all musically gifted, what was it like growing up with such a musical family? Was it anything like the Partridge family?
Rachel: It was very fun. There was always music being played. We really enjoy singing 3 part harmony and we did that a lot. It was just part of our life, and still is!

retroDan: How often do you get to see your family nowadays?
Rachel: We are all busy with various projects, so not as often as I would like.

retroDan: what were your early musical influences growing up?
Rachel: I listened to a lot of 4AD artists: The Pixies, The Cocteau Twins, The Throwing Muses, Dead Can Dance, Lush, Mark kozelek, His Name Is Alive…the list will go on forever if I don’t stop here!!

retroDan: Aside from all your musical endeavors, what else do you enjoy doing?
Rachel: I enjoy making salads and watching I Love Lucy. I would also like to get out a bit more. I could be a hermit at times.

retroDan: As you’ve mentioned earlier, you’re currently working on new material for your very own solo project. You have a fantastic voice. Even Matt Sharp (The Rentals) has been quoted in the past stating that your voice is the purest that he’s ever heard. Why has it taken this long for you to finally decide to record an album of your own?
Rachel: I’ve been wanting to put out my own music for quite some time now. I’ve worked with various people throughout the years and no one has really stuck with me. Aside from my sisters, it’s not easy to meet musical soul mates. That’s what I want and this takes time.

retroDan: Are those demos on myspace, material for the new album? I’m really fond of the tracks “My Valentine” and “I’m Away”, by the way.
Rachel: Yes. I’m hoping to re-record “My Valentine”…the production is not exactly what I had in my mind…”I’m Away” came out exactly how I imagined. I worked on that one with Jacob Holm-Lupo from Norway. I was lucky enough to be able to fly out there this past year and stay with he and his family. What a magical experience. I’d like to do a whole record there. The musicians I met were outstanding and real. Not to mention the country too.

retroDan: What’s your typical approach to writing songs? Do you start with a musical phrase? chord progression? lyrical idea?
Rachel: I start with a melody that is inspired by my surroundings or by sounds, like traffic or the drone of the refrigerator. Movies also inspire me. Then I just expand from there with chord progressions. . Lyrics usually come last.

retroDan: What’s the status of the Rentals? Will you be back with them after this stint with Rundgren?
Rachel: I’m not sure what the status of The Rentals is. I have not spoken with Matt for almost a year! Let me know if you find anything out.

retroDan: Any hope for a that dog. reunion?
Rachel: I would love that.

retroDan: I love your Magic Salad video on youtube. But, Rachel, is the liquid from the tuna-can really necessary???
Rachel: I know, but to each his/her own. I like it!!

retroDan: Of all the projects that you’ve been involved with, which ones are you most proud of?
Rachel: All of them.

OK, and lastly, the speed round…

- What’s currently playing on your iPod?
Rachel: Sun Kil Moon, Thomas Newman, Invisible Animals, Buffalo Daughter, Yann Tiersen, Ennio Morricone…

- Read any good books lately?
Rachel: Not lately..I was on a kind of reading kick last year. I read like 5 books in a month! The Bell Jar, The Stranger, Steppenwolf…those were a few of my favorites.

- Favorite movie?
Rachel: No one favorite movie, but I really love Fellini and Jim Jarmusch.

- Your pick: Pro tools or A tascam 4-track cassette recorder?
Rachel: I’m not good at working with programs like Pro-tools and Logic. I’d prefer to work with other people if I’m going to be doing that. I do love Garageband…and of course it all started with my Tascam 4-track. How I still love her!

- A favorite quote?
Rachel: All I know is I know nothing.

Thanks Rachel!

- See Rachel Haden along with the rest of the Haden family at:
Lincoln Center’s 25th Annual Roots of American Music Festival on Sunday, August 24th, 2008.

- check out Rachel Haden on myspace

- also be on the lookout for Todd Rundgren’s upcoming live DVD release (which features Rachel Haden on bass) that was filmed at the 14Jul08 Boulder Colorado show.

- and catch Rundgren (along with Rachel, Prairie Prince, Jesse Gress and Kasim Sulton) on tour this fall/winter. for more information about the new album Arena, visit Rundgren’s official myspace page

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

VIDEO: the New Cars live ...Open my eyes

youtube video upped by runt2

Todd Rundgren and the New Cars singing Open My Eyes a Nazz tune at DTE 09/020/7

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Preview:Las Vegas SUN Article - ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ performed live, 40 years after

Quintet reprises songs of the album the Beatles never played in
By Joe Brown
Tue, Aug 26, 2008 (2 a.m.)

Where were you when you first heard "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club
I was 9 years old the night my dad brought the brand-new album home,
after seeing the Beatles on the cover of Time magazine. Our small
family gathered excitedly around the furniture-sized Magnavox console
and listened to both sides, but I can't remember it being played more
than once after that.
A few years later, I was flipping through the stack of albums and
came across that fascinatingly colorful album cover, with its
psychedelic collage of mysterious characters. I put the needle to the
black vinyl (kids, ask your parents), and my 12-year-old mind was
I still have that now unplayable LP, and "Pepper" has always been
with me — on cassette, CD and now on my iPod, which contains all the
Beatles albums and all the music it opened my young ears to so many
years ago.
The Beatles never performed "Sgt. Pepper" in concert, but Friday at
Texas Station we'll get the closest thing. Las Vegas is the last stop
on a 10-city tour for a unique tribute event called "It Was Forty
Years Ago Today: A Tribute to the Greatest Album of All Time: `Sgt.
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,' " a live presentation of the
epochal album, re-created by an unlikely band of veteran American and
English rockers.

When I'm Sixty-Four
John, Paul, George and Ringo, meet Todd, Denny, Chris and Lou. And Bo.
The re-Fab Five includes Todd Rundgren, 60, a one-man band and record
producer who has recorded faithful solo covers of "Rain"
and "Strawberry Fields Forever," was a consultant on "Beatlemania:
The Movie," and, with his band Utopia, did an album called "Deface
the Music" which was like a lost Beatles album. Rundgren has also
toured several times with Ringo Starr and his All-Stars.

Lou Gramm, 58, formerly lead singer of Foreigner, set his powerful
voice to such '70s radio staples as "Hot Blooded" and "Juke Box
Hero," and is readying a Christian rock album with his Lou Gramm Band.

Denny Laine, 63, guitarist and singer with the Moody Blues, played in
Paul McCartney's band Wings for 10 years and co-wrote the worldwide
hit "Mull of Kintyre."

Christopher Cross, 57, the smooth-voiced king of "yacht rock," is the
only artist to receive all of the Big Four Grammy Awards (best
record, song, album and new artist) in the same year.

Bo Bice, 33, a singer and guitarist, was runner-up to Carrie
Underwood on "American Idol" and has gone on to a solo career as a
Southern rocker.

"It is kind of a weird group," Bice says with a laugh. "When they
first tapped me for this, I was like, wow, this is a different
lineup. It wasn't like someone was trying to put together the most
Beatles-like group of guys. Instead they picked people that were like
polar opposites and put them together."
Bice gets to sing "With a Little Help From My Friends," "It's Getting
Better" and "Lovely Rita," though each singer has learned all the
songs, in case one of them can't make a show. "Todd could probably
play the whole album all by himself," Bice says.

With a Little Help From My Friends

Critics have always tagged Rundgren with the term "Beatlesque," for
his pop music sweet tooth and ornate production style. Surprisingly
he's more of a "Revolver" man than a "Pepper" fan.

"I was not one of those people who went crazy over `Sgt. Pepper' when
it first came out. Probably because I wasn't taking acid at the
time," he says on the phone, chuckling, before a preshow sound check
in Baltimore. "Whatever else I appreciate about the Beatles, I was
most mystified with their ability to craft pop tunes, and I always
wanted to have some of that skill. The more you play these songs you
realize how sort of whimsical and sometimes silly they are. As a
matter of fact, I get to do the most silly songs on the whole
record," says Rundgren, who sings "Being for the Benefit of Mr.
Kite," and "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "Good Morning, Good
Morning" in the tribute show.

A Day in the Life

The whole Lonely Hearts gang has been riding from gig to gig on a
luxurious bus, says Bice, calling from Seven Springs, Pa., where the
tour began. Because the veteran rockers have seen and done and
survived it all, this road show isn't marked by much of the
debauchery of decades past. Bice, whose wife gave birth to their
second son, Caleb, a week before the tour began, says he spends most
of his time updating his blog and keeping in touch with his wife and
two sons on his Apple iChat camera.

"Everybody knows I'm more of a Southern rock guy, but I grew up in
England for five or six years. And their Lynyrd Skynyrd is the
Beatles and the Stones," says Bice, who is perhaps the most unusual
choice for a Beatles salute. "When you sit and listen, you really see
how ahead of the curve the Beatles were. That was the first concept
album. Without that album we might not have had `The Wall' or `Dark
Side of the Moon.' "

It's Getting Better

Rundgren who is about to release "Arena," his first full-length
record of original studio material in four years, says the one-off
group's approach to the "Sgt. Pepper" songs will be "pretty faithful"
to the original recordings.

"All the headliners take turns singing the songs, and we have a five-
piece band, plus a symphonette, which is a seven-piece string quartet
and a harp player and two reed players," Rundgren says. Leading the
band is guitarist Jesse Gress, who dreamed up the tribute; with ex-
Tubes and New Cars drummer Prairie Prince, the Cars' keyboardist Greg
Hawke and John Ferenzik, a guitarist in Rundgren's band. "So we can
pretty much reproduce anything that was done on the record. I think
we make up for the literalness with a little bit of theatricality. I
do all of my songs in some sort of costume. I'm something of a
ringmaster in `Mr. Kite,' and I actually dress up like a flower
in `Lucy in the Sky,' he says, laughing.

"Sgt. Pepper" was released June 1, 1967, so it was really 41 years
ago this summer that the mind-blowing album debuted. Still, "It Was
Forty Years Ago Today" sounds like an event that shouldn't be missed
by any Beatles fan.

Having been some days in preparation, a splendid time is guaranteed
for all.

What: It Was 40 Years Ago Today: A Tribute to "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band"
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Dallas Events Center at Texas Station in North Las Vegas
Admission: $32.50-$45.50; 631-1000,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Video: Guitar solos

just a slow day for news, so here is something different

todd guitar solos up on youtube by siskokid