Thursday, May 30, 2013

Todd Rundgren live at Debaser, Malmö, Sweden.

Daryl Hall & Todd Rundgren: From Philly to the heights

Daryl Hall & Todd Rundgren: From Philly to the heights

Daryl Hall & Todd Rundgren: From Philly to the heights

Daryl Hall

Born October 11, 1946 in Pottstown, PA, Daryl Hall likes to say he had the good fortune of “being in the right place at the right time.” While attending Temple University in the 1960s, already working as an artist/session man for Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Hall met John Oates—at an elevator after fleeing a gang fight at a local concert. Their fortunes got better from there.
Officially forming their partnership in 1972, the duo that would become known for their unique brand or pop rock/blue-eyed soul began playing folk rock. With the support of manager Tommy Mottola and Ahmet Ertegun, they signed to Atlantic, releasing their debut, Whole Oats, that same year. After stylistic shuffling and a lack of commercial success over a few more albums at Atlantic, the duo headed for New York, and RCA, in 1976. Behind hit singles like “Sara Smile” and “Rich Girl,” 1976’s Bigger Than Both of Us made the duo superstars. Over the next decade, they released six Number One singles from a string of multi-platinum albums (including Voices and Big Bam Boom). By 1987, the R.I.A.A. recognized Daryl Hall & John Oates as the number-one selling duo in music history, a title they hold to this day.
While Daryl Hall & John Oates stormed the charts, Hall built a simultaneous solo career. With Robert Fripp as producer, he recorded Sacred Songs in 1977 (released 1980). By the late ’80s, both Hall and Oates had focused on solo projects, collaborating with each other intermittently. Hall released three more solo albums before reigniting his partnership with Oates, with whom he released four albums between 1997 and 2006.
In 2007, Hall started Live From Daryl’s House, a monthly web series that features Hall hosting jam sessions/intimate performances with acclaimed guest musicians in his own home. Guests of the popular, award-winning series have included Nick Lowe, Ray Manzarek, Sharon Jones and Todd Rundgren.
“Live From Daryl’s House changed my life,” Hall said. “I think it revolutionized music, too, because what it shows is real, not manufactured.”
In addition to the ever-growing web series and continued appreciation for Daryl Hall & John Oates (recipients of BMI’s Icon Award in 2008), Hall continues to write and record, releasing his latest solo album, Laughing Down Crying, in late 2011. “The most rewarding thing to me is meeting new people and never knowing what’s going to happen,” Hall said. “It’s the unknown that excites me.”

Todd Rundgren

Todd Harry Rundgren, born June 22, 1948 in Philadelphia, began playing guitar as a teenager, starting his career as a recording artist before he hit 20. Upon leaving the band Woody’s Truck Stop, Rundgren formed Nazz in 1967. The psychedelic garage rock quartet found some success, releasing three albums between 1968 and 1971 and scoring minor hits with “Open My Eyes,” included on the landmark Nuggets compilation, and “Hello It’s Me,” which became one of Rundgren’s most enduring songs after he rerecorded it as a solo artist.
Rundgren released his first solo album, Runt, in 1970. Dissatisfied with the way the Nazz albums were recorded, Rundgren resolved to learn the art of producing himself. A production deal with Albert Grossman quickly followed, with Rundgren helming projects for Janis Joplin, the Band, Patti Smith and many more in the ensuing years.
His skills as a producer soon found their way into his solo work when he produced, sang all the vocal parts and played all the instruments (for three of the four sides) on what is widely recognized as his masterpiece: 1972’s Something/Anything?. The seminal album has become the touchstone of the power pop genre. Rundgren’s success continued throughout the rest of the decade and into the next, when he produced key albums for New York Dolls, Grand Funk Railroad, Meat Loaf, Daryl Hall & John Oates and more.
The resourcefulness that led Rundgren to become his own producer manifested itself in other areas as well. By the mid-’90s, Rundgren was experimenting with interactive CD-ROM, new video technology and had started one of the first online music subscription services, a decade before it became the norm. In addition to a steady stream of solo albums, production work and touring, Rundgren has toured with Ringo Starr, led the re-formed Cars and lectured at universities. STATE, his most recent album and 24th overall solo album, was released in April.
Of recording his own album, Rundgren told Elmore: “It’s always fun, especially when I’m picking up new ideas, exploring what people are doing and what people are listening to. Research—trying to figure out the lay of the land before you ever start anything—is probably the most fun part.”

What are you listening to right now?

Daryl Hall - Laughing Down CryingDaryl Hall: I don’t listen to other bands. I sucked up enough of that years ago, on the Philly Streets, absorbing everything and making my own versions. I listen to music for information.
TR: I’ll tell you what’s on my Rhapsody. This Heat, Bon Iver, Skrillex, and Oskar Sala—I just discovered him, one of the original electronic musicians.
What was the first record you ever bought?
DH: I was ten or 11 and I got Ike and Tina Turner’s “A Fool In Love.”
TR: A 69-cent cut-out album in the local mall. I bought it because I wanted to own a record. It was a weird compilation called Bopping with probably eight different artists on it, doing all different genres of what at the time passed as rock ‘n’ roll or be-bop.
Where do you buy your music?
Todd Rundgren - StateTR: Mostly Rhapsody and YouTube. I discover it on YouTube and consume it on Rhapsody. I’m buying a service, as opposed to a product, and the service is listening to music. Do you have physical copies of anything? Pretty much no. There’s some CDs and a changer here somewhere that I haven’t plugged in in years, and a box or two of LPs somewhere in the house.
What was the first instrument you played?
DH: My mother was a vocal teacher, so the first thing I had was vocals, literally from birth, ago zero. I was singing in church, in choirs and at home, everywhere. The first instrument I ever played was the piano, then a few other instruments, including a brief association with the trombone, which didn’t work out very well.
TR: The flute, then the clarinet. My elementary school had a music lessons program where you could rent an instrument and every two weeks or so someone would give you a lesson. I wasn’t going to make any progress with a flute. My sister wanted to learn how to play the clarinet, but she never picked it up, so I learned how to play it—sort of. I could play Acker Bilk on it.
What brought you to the instrument you now play?
DH: I had to complete myself as a writer. Today, I’ll write on the piano, then switch to guitar and go back and forth. It changes my chord structures. I got to the guitar relatively late, probably in my early 20s.
TR: I was about eight when I got a guitar, which is what I really wanted to play. I had to take three months of lessons, but lessons in those days were really stupid. They teach you how to play “Jingle Bells” on the guitar. It was acoustic; it wasn’t an electric guitar, which is what I really wanted. I got one years later for Christmas, but my parents didn’t understand that an electric guitar without an amplifier wasn’t really worth much.
Who would you like to write with that you haven’t?
DH: I’ve done a lot of collaborating, with Robert Fripp, Alan Gorrie, and I admire them all. There really isn’t anyone I’d like to collaborate with that I haven’t already. I admire Todd Rundgren, for example, but I wouldn’t want to write with him.
TR: In Utopia, all of our compositions were more or less collaborations. The things that I write about are almost too personal to me—I have a hard time articulating them with somebody else. I admire Elvis Costello as a songwriter, but he’s also someone who rarely collaborates because of the nature of what he does. Most of the people I admire don’t collaborate, they come up with something that’s very personal, and that, to me, is the difficult part of music. I’ve had collaborative sessions with other people on the basis that something might happen, and every single one of them has turned out to be a dry hole.
What musician influenced you most?
DH: I spent my time sucking up all the music I could—of course vocalists like Philippe Wynne, David Ruffin, Marvin Gaye, and of course Smokey Robinson. John Lennon for his writing.
TR: My favorite composer of all time was Maurice Ravel, and even though I have few opportunities to imitate Maurice Ravel, I still learn so much from listening to his records and get opened up to what could be done with music from listening to Ravel. I consider him, in some ways, the father of contemporary music. Not everyone will agree with me.
What was the song or event that made you realize you wanted to be in music?
DH: My first memories, from age four or five, were of being a musician. I never gave anything else a thought. The first time I got paid I was 14, and I got five bucks. As a kid, I had the usual terrible kid jobs—working in discount drug stores, etc., but after college, music’s all I wanted to do.
TR: Probably around high school graduation I realized that I didn’t have the money to go to college and I did have a modicum of talent as a guitar player. The Beatles were still together, so in 1966, all you had to do was find three other guys to at least have a stab at a musical career. In 1966, if you could play a gig on the weekend and come away with $25, you could live all week on that $25, mostly because you were flopping in somebody’s house someplace, and wearing the same clothes all the time.
I never spent a lot of time dwelling on the possibility of not succeeding. You just move from one situation to the next. As long as there’s another situation, you’re in the business. There’s a misconception about what success is in terms of being a musician: it’s simply not having to take another job. It doesn’t matter how crappy a gig is or how poorly it pays. The idea of success measured in the same terms like how much money you’re making a week, or do you own a car, a house, something like that—none of that matters as much as having a gig. Some people can’t get a gig…Then you wind up being an A&R man at a record label.
Who would you like in your rock ‘n’ roll heaven band?
DH: The band I’d like is the one I have now. John Lennon? God, no! What a disaster that would be.
TR: Eric Clapton was always a big influence guitar-wise, and he’s a very nice guy, which makes a lot of difference in a band. Sometimes you’ll put up with someone whose musicianship isn’t up to par with everybody else, but regardless of the level of their skill they contribute to the chemistry and you like spending time with them and they understand what you’re trying to accomplish. Having said that, Eric Clapton’s on guitar. The one drummer that I always regretted never getting into my band was John Siomos, who eventually wound up playing with Peter Frampton. I play with a bass player in Australia, Damien Steele Scott. Horns? Bobby Strickland. He’s somebody that I really get along with, who understands what I’m doing. I’m going to go way off chart on keyboards and say Bill Evans. If I’m going to have backup vocalists, I’m going to audition nice, young, hot women for that. Brand new ones.
What’s your desert island CD?
DH: You mean, “What’s the record that will drive me crazy?” What’s Going On would take the longest.
TR: “What CD do you love now that you will eventually hate?” Is that what you’re asking? Probably Bill Evans Trio with Symphony Orchestra. There are records like Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, which were big influences and big classics, but you listen to once and you’re just worn out from it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

BackTalk: Todd Rundgren’s Swampland Utopia

BackTalk: Todd Rundgren’s Swampland Utopia

Musician and producer Todd Rundgren first took the world stage in the mid-60s, fronting his band the Nazz. This June, Rundgren celebrates his 65th birthday at a party in swampy rural Louisiana, where his most loyal fans and disciples will pay for the opportunity to enter his personal space for six days. A previous “Toddstock” event celebrating Rundgren’s 60th took place at his palatial Hawaiian home in Kauai. Toddstock II v6.5 will find Rundgren and his minions celebrating and jamming on the mainland, along the Mississippi River at Nottoway Plantation, the South’s largest remaining antebellum mansion.
Todd Rundgren, photo, Clayton Call
Todd Rundgren (Photo: Clayton Call)
At his Louisiana birthday party, Rundgren will premiere the three-piece band he’s put together to tour State. The State tour officially begins 80 miles away in New Orleans, the day after Toddstock ends. Via phone from his home in Hawaii, the musical legend laughs away the risk involved with offering himself up to those who’d pay $799 to hang out with him – though as he explains in the interview below, that not-insignificant ticket price gets fans more than face-time with the wizard, the true star.

So who do you expect at your birthday party? Overly-dedicated superfans? Your family? Artists and others you’ve worked with?
We certainly expect to see the fans that show up to all the gigs and who want an opportunity to hang out with each other outside of that context. The only real agenda item we have this time is we’ll be premiering a version of State.

But aren’t you scared of the type of people who would pay $800 just to be around you?
The $800 isn’t simply to hang out with me. $800 is six days of getting fed and drunk money. When we had the first event, a few people early on would get a little over-excited, they wanted to monopolize the conversation. But eventually they calm down because they realize they have a whole week to get everything covered. Then a lot of them have been around for so long that they’ve developed almost a community ethos of their own, which is easily conveyed to people who have not experienced it. Oftentimes it’s hard to tell who’s strictly a fan, and who is a volunteer, and who’s actually a collaborator [laughs].

The last Toddstock in Hawaii was at your house. Why move it to Nottoway in Louisiana?
In Hawaii we set up a couple big tents so people could camp in the lot next to my house. But moving it to the mainland has a couple advantages, along with the party being more easily accessible: people can opt to stay in an actual room; they don’t have to camp if they don’t feel like it. Or you can bring an RV—which, it’s pretty much impossible to drive an RV to Kauai. Nottoway has wi-fi all over the entire estate, and it has the kitchens where they will prepare the food. That unburdens us from a lot of the stuff we’d have to otherwise deal with. If anyone wants to take a little hop into New Orleans it’s very close, and we expect people to take advantage of whatever kinds of local activities there are at Nottoway: river-boating, alligator wrestling…

Are you expecting any of your famous friends to attend? Since it’s your retirement party I figured all the stars would be out…
Retirement party?! I’m not retiring! I couldn’t afford it!

Kidding. I’m just going to the event myself, and so hoping Daryl Hall is there.
Daryl doesn’t get out much. He did a show here [Live at Daryl’s House] in Hawaii with me only because they were traveling back from Japan. But when he’s not on tour he pretty much holes up in Connecticut and I certainly don’t expect him to show up out of the blue. Then again, it being my birthday maybe he will. In terms of celebrities I haven’t gone out of my way to invite anybody. They don’t necessarily want to endure my fans unless I prep them for it.

I read that people shouldn’t think of this as rock-n-roll fantasy camp. You won’t be jamming with your fans?
You never know what’s going to happen. We will have a little jamming area set up. I am looking to just kind of goof off myself [laughs]. The last time we had this event I had to rehearse my band all week so I really didn’t get to enjoy myself and relax much at all except in the evening. So I am hoping to get some relaxing time in, and socialize.

What do you drink when you relax?
Well, during the daytime usually beer. And then at night we open up the martini bar. The fans last time built their own mai-tai bar. They got sick of martinis so they opened up another bar that made mai-tais.

So Toddstock will also feature you playing State. I’ve described State to friends as being like a Todd Rundgren rave record. It’s almost got a ’90s techno vibe, that nonetheless feels very fresh. To you, what is State about?
I had originally thought I was going to do a larger project that would involve a lot of collaborations, but with the deadline I realized I had to scale back to something a little bit more attainable. I decided I wanted to make a modern-sounding record, particularly because I’ve been working with some younger artists recently who cite my earlier work as influential to them. There’s a DJ from Norway, producer/recording artist Lindstrom; then from Australia, a new band called Tame Impala. When they started talking about albums like A Wizard, A True Star, I thought maybe I had to recover some of that approach to making records. And that was what inspired the direction I took with State. I also did a lot of musical research. I went on YouTube and listened to a lot of what is going on now—and as soon as I heard something I liked I stopped listening to it [laughs]. And then finally I got down to the process of trying to unload my subconscious into the computer.

State does sound like music the younger people today would like. It would work really well at some of these concerts they have now where people don’t look at the stage, they just dance.
[Laughs] That’s kind of the direction I am going with it. Lindstrom and I did a little studio work and I saw him DJ one night and it reminded me of what I was doing back in 1993, and so I thought maybe I should recapture some of that—the advantage being that all of that technology that was so difficult to deal with in those days is now, these days, just off-the-shelf. It wouldn’t be a question of me climbing this giant hill, this enormous learning curve. I wouldn’t have the hours and hours of preparation that went into say, the No World Order show. This time to do it live I don’t have to translate everything from one format to another; I can use a laptop. [The live show] can all be done as part of the whole overall process of recording the record.

So are you going to present State as a Todd Rundgren Dance Party kind of thing?
Kind of like that. Lights will be an important part of it. The band is stripped way down, just drums (Prairie Prince from The Tubes) and guitar (Jesse Gress). And there may be moments when they don’t play, when I go off on some improvisation or something. It’s not a formal concert presentation; it will be different every night.

So it’s safe to say the State tour won’t be a typical Greatest Hits show?
There may be a few hits, but it won’t be like my so-called Performing Art Center Show, which is supposed to be easy and for the dilettante to absorb.

You by this point couldn’t possibly have people coming to your shows expecting to have their expectations met.
Ideally, no. [laughs]. People come with few expectations. Or at least in the early parts of the tours they have no expectations. Then word gets out about what I am doing and if they haven’t bought their tickets yet who knows, they might decide not to [laughs]. Sales for this tour have been well even though people must be aware that I’ll be doing a new record for the most part.

A superfan of yours told me you had invented a new form of technology for this tour. He also warned me that you weren’t going to tell me about it.
What? [laughs heartily] I don’t know who came up with that. Maybe they think some way I’m building my new setup is revolutionary, but I don’t necessarily feel that way. I recorded State on my Apple laptop, and software called Reason. Aside from a little audio interface, a little guitar and singing, it was all done on that computer. The last time I did something like this it required me to more or less build the entire system from scratch using a programming language.

Once when I saw you, in the days before laptops, and you had taped music in the background, you said to the crowd, ‘Someday everybody will be doing this.’
[laughs] I think I was being facetious. But it wasn’t the last time I did it.

Have you made any steps toward digitizing yourself so you can live on into eternity, digitally? Artificial intelligence Todd? Hologram Todd?
Well, I’ve heard some pretty good cover bands at some of these birthday parties [chuckles]. I may just franchise it out to the officially authorized cover bands that will go out and play Utopia songs or something like that, something I’m not willing to do anymore.

Do you stand behind what you said in 1974: that you would give it all for one moment of enlightenment?
I probably said that before I had kids.

Band announced for the "Evening with shows"

the Liars band will be the band for the Evening with shows

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Encore Medley - Todd Rundgren

Can We Still Be Friends/I Saw The Light/Hello It's Me at the Varsity Theater on May 20, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Todd Rundgren, Photos from the “State” Tour


Todd Rundgren, Photos from the “State” Tour

By on May 22, 2013   
Cincinnati,  Todd Rundgren leads a high energy, almost Electronic Dance Music , with an incredible light show.  This isn’t your father’s Todd.  This show was an pulse pounding high intensity workout that had 50 and 60 year olds jumping up and down in time to the beat as if they were at a Rave.  A lean, fit Rundgren was singing,  jumping and dancing without even breathing hard — yet expending enough energy for two aerobics classes.  Wow.
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Radio 6 interview

Todd friends, don't miss this Co Live! Radio 6 interview - thanks Bart Versteeg :)