Saturday, October 4, 2008

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

Rundgren talks new album, New Cars
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.

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

Friday, October 3, 2008

Article: Rocker Rundgren reflects on his Marin Years

Rocker Rundgren reflects on his Marin years
Paul Liberatore
Article Launched: 10/02/2008 11:52:42 PM PDT

Rocker Todd Rundgren, who once called Marin home, will be one of the performers this weekend at a charity music festival in Sonoma County.
IN 1996, AFTER LIVING in Sausalito for a decade, Todd Rundgren said aloha to Marin and began a new life in Hawaii.
"Marin is a lovely place," he told me then, "but I won't be sorry to leave. It's changed so rapidly in the last 10 years. That's one of the disadvantages of a lovely place. It attracts the feckless nouveau riche."
He ruffled some feathers with cracks like that, especially as he prepared to build a nouveau riche Balinese-Thai-style house and recording studio on the north shore of Kauai, where he still lives.
But they were said with a smile, and he's never really left us entirely.
He comes through on tour a couple of times a year and plays on Saturday at the B.R. Cohn Charity Fall Music Festival in Glen Ellen.
And he'll be visiting his wife, Michelle, who's living in the family's San Francisco apartment while their youngest son, ReBop, 16, attends San Francisco City College.
To be accurate, Rundgren lives these days in an empty nest. His oldest son, Rex, is a shortshop for the Los Angeles Dodgers' Triple A team, the 51s, in Las Vegas. And his middle boy, Randy, played a couple of years of junior college baseball and is now enrolled at a college in Missouri.
"I enjoyed living in Sausalito," Rundgren allows now, a dozen years after leaving Marin. "But the place where I live now is no slouch, either. And I don't yearn for the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area."
The 60-year-old Rundgren, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who became a
star with radio-friendly songs like "We Gotta Get You a Woman," "Hello It's Me" and "Can We Still Be Friends?" does yearn for another hit, the kind of smash that would propel him into playing sports stadiums and arenas again.
That may be why he calls his new album, a classic guitar-driven rock record, "Arena."
"It's old-style, going back to the '70s rock music that would be appropriate for an arena," he says. "We're hoping it's a self-fulfilling prophesy, that eventually arenas will be where the music gets played. But, If you don't have music ready for the arena, you're not going to be in them."

What: B.R. CohnCharity Fall Music Festival
Who: Todd Rundgren, the Doobie Brothers, Kris Kristofferson, the Turtles and Michael Finnegan
When: Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday; doors open at 11 a.m. (Sunday concert sold out)
Where: B.R. Cohn Winery Amphitheater, 15000 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen (Sonoma County)
Tickets: General admission $95 (lawn seating, no chairs permitted); VIP tickets $325
Information: 800-330-4064,
Paul Liberatore can be reached at

Thursday, October 2, 2008


The Magazine of Rock
Todd Rundgren
by Paul Myers

Todd Rundgren Arena (Hi-Fi Recordings, 2008)

Loyalty is essential for fans of the legendarily eclectic Todd Rundgren, because, from album to album, you never know just which Todd you're going to get. Throughout his over four decades as a recording artist, Rundgren has constantly confounded stylistic expectations in the pursuit of his untamed muse. Thus, it's been a wild ride from the so-called "proto power pop" of his first band, Nazz, to the piano-pounding, blue-eyed soul of his Runt years and his seminal 1972 one man band milestone, Something/Anything?

Since then he's also made stops at hard rock, Tropicália, R&B, AM pop ballads, and even a successful stab at laptop drum `n' bass with 2004's Liars. Then, there were the various incarnations of his band Utopia, which evolved from a populous quasi-jazz prog rock ensemble to a populist four-man new wave strike force over several wildly different albums between 1974 and 1986.

As an iconoclastic studio rat, Rundgren has redefined what it means to be a solo artist, particularly when technological advances have enabled him to march to the beat of his own drum machine.

Yet there are commonalities in his work, and even at his most conceptual, Rundgren's diversions always manage to bear melodically inventive fruit. And music aside, his lyrics have constantly strived to reconcile life's biggest spiritual and intellectual questions. As such, Todd's devoted fans trust him to show them a good time, wherever they may end up.

Even casual fans, though, will rejoice upon hearing that Rundgren has decided, on his 20th solo release, Arena, to crank up a good old "sing-along, guitar-rock" record. Naturally, Rundgren's philosophical bent leads him to spike these metallic leanings with a lyrical dissertation on the nature of anger, violence, and courage; albeit one that you can pump your fist and make devil horn hands to. Fittingly, the cover photo depicts a leaping Rundgren in a decidedly gladiatorial pose, bare-chested with guitar and shield at hand. What's put him on the warpath?

Well, it appears that, like many of us, Rundgren has had enough of eight years of the Bush Doctrine, and continuing on from Liars, a study of human deception, Arena dwells on the next step: Emotional consequences. I don't know about you, but when I find out someone's been lying to me, I usually get mad before I get even. Rundgren must feel that way too, because he opens with a track called "Mad." Starting with nimble acoustic fingerpicking in a cave-like reverb, the track escalates into stadium-sized rock rage as Rundgren's righteous anger boils over atop an aggressive eighth-note bass pulse and hard rock power riffing.

"This is more than upset,"Rundgren screams,"It's as enraged as I get / And you ain't seen me mad yet / And now I'm mad."

After staking out his hard-rocking territory, there's a brief soulful blues interlude on "Afraid" before he cranks it up again on "Mercenary." Rundgren could easily be talking about Blackwater, Inc.—the private military contractors hired by the Bushies in Iraq—when he sings, "Close your eyes and plug your ears and turn away / I will execute the task without dismay / Just leave upon the table what you've agreed to pay… I will do your dirty work."

"Gun" opens fire with a loaded Stratocaster over a Texas roadhouse boogie shuffle augmented with military chanting: "This is my rifle and this is my gun / This is for fighting and this is for fun." He's packin' heat, for sure, but one wonders how many NRA-lovin' Texas rednecks would lock and load to Rundgren's lyrical message: "I'm young, dumb, and I've got a gun / Public idiot number one / The constitution says that I'm so blessed / That I can clean my piece on the Supreme Court steps.

"Rundgren doesn't appear worried though, and fearlessly sticks to his thematic guns on the album's most striking tune, "Courage", a pressing call to find the bravery to follow one's convictions. Bold and anthemic, it's classic Rundgren, pondering the kind of emotional struggle he's previously explored in songs like "Real Man" from Initiation or "Determination" from Hermit of Mink Hollow.

"Weakness" glides masterfully back into Philly soul turf, this time with Hendrix-style ascending bass and guitar riffery, droning Hammond organ and a Wall o' Todd vocal chorus evocative of Something/Anything?

Next, Rundgren cranks up his best Angus Young guitar tone and affects a curiously Brian Johnson-like vocal rasp on "Strike." Sonically, it's as close as Rundgren has ever gotten to one of those massive Mutt Lange productions, complete with macho voices imploring the listener to "Strike while the iron is hot," and taunting, "Are you ready to rumble? / Are you just gonna grumble?

"Inversely, the slinky, cat-like "Pissin" calls out the kind of macho for macho's sake bore that launches futile battles just to win a pissing contest. Then, the testosterone subsides as themes of Zen enlightenment and reconciliation permeate the next three songs, "Today", "Bardo", and a proverb called "Mountaintop", in which a shuffling fuzz boogie riff roots a protagonist's lyrical search for a higher view of his world.

Nearing the end of the cycle, the manic Utopian rocker "Panic" implores the listener to avoid making rash decisions, even if the "room is on fire" before Arena's big finale, "Manup", hammers home the album's call to arms in a blazing finish.

In spite of the fact that Rundgren made Arena alone on his little laptop, the word that most comes to mind throughout is "big." This is big music—with big ideas, big drums, big vocals, and even bigger guitars—to be played in big halls. It's also the most accessible guitar-rock album Rundgren has made in years. To the Arena, then, and let the games begin.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Try Your Luck - Arena Tour Raffles - Great Memorabilia from Todd & The Band!

Attention Toddheads!
Whether you're going to a Todd Rundgren gig this October or not, YOU can now enter the exciting new ARENA tour raffles and possibly win some great prizes!
1) Stop by the merch counter at any of these gigs and purchase your raffle tickets from the TR Merch Girls
2) Purchase tickets for the raffle(s) of your choice by making a payment to . Be sure to let them know which raffle(s) you want to participate in by putting the city name in the comment section on your paypal payment
Drawings will be held immediately following each gig and you don't have to be present to win. If you happen to be there and win a raffle item you can take the prize home with you! If you're not there and win a raffle item, the TR Merch Girls will ship the prize to you!

Cost: 2 tickets for $10, or 5 tickets for $20. Paypal raffle ticket buyers will receive their raffle numbers via e-mail.
All proceeds go to Todd, the band, and the Toddstore!
Support the artists and possibly win prizes for doing it!

Below is a list of the prizes being raffled:
10/1 (Seattle) Runt LP (Ampex Label) autographed by Todd RundgrenLiars DVD autographed by Todd RundgrenPrairie Prince signed drumsticks (the ones used that night during the gig!)Kasim Sulton CD autographed by KasimSet of Rachel Guitar Picks (new blue color to match her new guitar "Bluey" and featuring the stockings artwork!)
10/6 (Chicago)One of Rachel's Haden's Bass Guitars autographed by RachelUtopia/Oops Wrong Planet LP autographed by Todd and Kasim Japanese Import CD – Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren autographed by TRPrairie Prince signed drumsticks (the ones used that night during the gig!)Liars Promo CD - autographed by Todd Rundgren
10/7 (Madison)Giant Marquee Arena Poster from Belly Up Aspen - Signed by TRUtopia LP - signed by Todd and KasimPrairie Prince signed drumsticks (the ones used that night during the gig!)Guitar book written and autographed by Jesse Gress
10/9 (Morristown)Guitar book written and autographed by Jesse Gress1974 Rolling Stone newspaper with Todd on the cover and autographed by Todd twice, once on the cover and once on the article (written by Cameron Crowe) Liars DVD autographed by Todd Rundgren...Prairie Prince signed drumsticks (the ones used that night during the gig!)Something/Anything LP - autographed by Todd Rundgren
10/10 (Pittsburgh)A Capella LP - autographed by Todd RundgrenFillmore - San Francisco 1989 poster Todd Rundgren Big Bamboo - autographed by Todd Rundgren Prairie Prince signed drumsticks (the ones used that night during the gig!)Kasim Sulton CD autographed by KasimArena t-shirt - autographed by Rachel Haden
10/11 (Tarrytown)One of Rachel's Haden's Bass Guitars autographed by RachelHealing LP w/33-1/3 insert (Tiny Demons & Time Heals) autographed by ToddGuitar book written and autographed by Jesse GressPrairie Prince signed drumsticks (the ones used that night during the gig!)Liars t-shirt - autographed by Todd
10/13 (Knoxville)Promo Copy Adventures in Utopia LP - signed by TR and KasimJapanese Import CD Best of Todd Rundgren (autographed by Todd)Liars Promo CD - signed by TRPrairie Prince signed drumsticks (the ones used that night during the gig!)Kasim Sulton CD autographed by Kasim
10/15 (Ashville)Runt LP (Ampex Label) autographed by Todd Rundgren Toddstock poster & Toddstock boxer shorts both autographed by ToddArena CD - autographed by Todd RundgrenPrairie Prince signed drumsticks (the ones used that night during the gig!)Set of Rachel Guitar Picks (new blue color to match her new guitar "Bluey" and featuring the stockings artwork!)
You decide which raffles you want to participate in!

Itunes download ¿

oct 1 9:40 am eastern time
WHAT GIVES HI-FI...........

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Isthmus Promotions are giving away some tickets to the Madison, Wisconsin show.

Here's the link to the contest entry page.

Win tickets to Todd Rundgren!
Don't miss Todd Rundgren when he rocks the Barrymore Theater
on Tuesday, October 7 at 7:30 pm!
This beloved pop-rocker continues to thrill audiences for over three decades! Win tickets today to see him up and close and personal!




Doug and CruiserMel will be breaking down the new album from Todd
Rundgren that will be released on this day 9/30/08! Listeners are
welcome to call in and give their reviews if they like.

Special guests include Jesse Gress, Prairie Prince, and Kasim Sulton
who will be calling in for a few minutes to give us their takes on the
album and tour!!!! Still chasing Rachel and she might be on as well!

All listeners must be partying or they'll be blocked ;-)!

8:30pm ET at

Sunday, September 28, 2008

INTERVIEW< radio interview KSLX

That Todd ARENA radio interview/review is now archived at KSLX's website at:

Each ARENA album ordered via KSLX's website link comes with an autographed CD insert from Todd. If you haven't ordered your copy yet, this is a good way to get that special and personal commemorative touch from TR on your own CD. posted by EJ