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  • Bebe Buell (2011)

    September, 2011

     

    I have to start this piece off by emphatically saying that Bebe Buell has been a good, supporting friend of Boomerocity. She was among the first ten interviews granted to this site and she has been so generous in voicing her support of our endeavor ever since. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

    I’m not alone in feeling this way. It’s that kind, loving heart that has drawn people into her vortex and her music has been a melodic hook that has kept them captivated. All one has to do is read her interaction with fans on her Facebook page and the incredible, favorable press that she receives – even when she doesn’t have a new CD to promote.

    And, speaking of new CD’s to promote, Bebe has a tremendous new project that lands on September 27th entitled Hard Love. It’s here first album since her highly acclaimed Sugaralbum and promises to not only solidify her already strong fan base but will result in adding more people to it.

    Bebe called me recently to discuss Hard Loveand starts off by bringing me up to date on what has been filling her calendar in recent days.

    “I’m just basking in the afterglow of a year of really, really hard work, making this record, meeting Wendy. I’m coming up on the anniversary of when I met Wendy Dio, which was October 26th, 2010. It’ll be a year and in that year I’ve lost 35 pounds, recorded a new album and getting ready to play live shows again. It’s just amazing. I think it’s a message to anyone who thinks there’s an expiration date on our art.”

    Did she say “35 pounds”? I had to ask how she lost that much weight.

    “Jenny Craig!” And she then breaks out into a song about Jenny that she improvised on the spot. After extolling the virtues of the Ms. Craig’s dietary program coupled with exercise, Bebe concludes the subject by saying, “I think that it was Michele Rundgren (wife of her former beau, Todd) that did that fabulous video of how you incorporate exercise into your everyday, domestic goddess duties. Very funny! I laughed so hard. She really is a funny woman.”

    Ever the rocking artist, Ms. Buell then segues into the realm of music.

    “But, for me, too, being blocked into this creative space and actually having a manager and somebody giving me advice and guidance, it puts a whole different spin on the work. You can actually concentrate on the work. You don’t have to worry about all of the other stuff as much, which is a luxury for me. I’ve been a one-woman army for 35 years.”

    I asked Bebe about how Wendy is doing since the passing of her iconic husband, Ronnie James Dio, on May 16th of last year. Buell is very protective of Wendy’s privacy but was very quick to genuinely and sincerely brag on her new friend and manager.

    “Everybody knows what a brilliant, skillful manager she is. It’s not a secret in the industry. She’s very, very well liked and respected. She knows when to play a heavy hand and she knows when to be sweet. Like any of the great managers, you don’t want to be in the room when she’s ticked off. It’s really wonderful to have somebody like that looking out for me that I can talk to. Niji Entertainment is her and Ronnie’s label and I’m just so honored to be on it. I’ve acquired a new family but it’s a life changing, life affirming family and it’s really wonderful.

    “It’s all come full circle: seeing my dad again for the first time in 2010, finding Wendy in 2010 and then the growth period in 2011 and getting ready to move into 2012 with a brand new, shiny product. I don’t mind being the poster child for ageism and sexism and all that stuff. I really want to represent somebody that has absolutely squished that and kicked it’s butt!”

    With Bebe living on the east coast and Wendy on the west, I had to ask how the two maidens of rock wound up in each other’s orbit.

    “She saw me live and that’s the beauty of this. We didn’t know each other. We weren’t ‘rock chicks’ together. We weren’t rock wives together. We didn’t know each other. I knew of her as a brilliant manager and I think I met her once briefly in the 70’s when Ronnie was in Rainbow – a sort of backstage exchange of two fairy princesses. I think we immediately liked each other, I was thinking she was so beautiful. She looked like an ethereal Maid Marion with the long, gorgeous white hair – that’s really her hair that fairy color – like the girl in Game of Thrones on HBO – that fairy white color!

    “Somebody from the label, Dean Schachtel, had had his eye on me for a couple of years wanting to sign me. He was at Warner Brothers for 18 years and then he moved over to Steve Vai’s label and he wanted to sign me to that label. I respect Steve Vai but I didn’t think that I would fit in on Steve Vai’s label. Where would I fit in here? I don’t think they would know what to do with me, quite frankly.

    “Dean - he and I had been talking on the phone. I had never met him in person. He’s a person that I met through Facebook that had been following my career for awhile and had some leverage and power in the industry - somebody that was respected. 

    “He was at some T. J. Martel event here in New York – uptown. They noticed that some people were gathering their belongings and getting ready to get out of there. Dean asked somebody, ‘Where are you guys going?” ‘Oh, god, we’ve got to get downtown. Bebe Buell’s going onstage at R Bar for Bob Gruen’s birthday party in 15 minutes.’ He’s never seen me live. His interest in me and the band was strictly from out music and from what he’d seen and heard on video and that kind of stuff.

    “To make a long story short, he grabs Wendy, throws her in a car, literally, and they zoom down there. I guess that I was already into my first or second song when they arrived and they sat down at the bar. 

    “If you’ve never been to the R Bar, you don’t realize that the room where the music is, you have to go through another door to get to the show but they have my show blasting through speakers throughout the whole place.

    “Wendy said to Dean, ‘Well, I like whatever I’m hearing here. Whatever music they’re playing, I like that!’ Dean goes, ‘That’s Bebe, Wendy!’ She just thought that I had an unusual, distinct sound is what she told me after meeting me. 

    “She went in and watched me.  I remember seeing Dean from the stage and thinking, ‘That can’t be Dean’ because I only knew him from photographs. ‘He lives in California. What would he be doing here?’ It did turn out to be Dean. He’s 6’7” so he was standing in the middle of the room like a giraffe and I keep seeing that beautiful head of fairy dust hair shining and I kept wondering who it was. The way the lights were hitting me I couldn’t see that it was Wendy and I don’t know if I would have even known at that point. I never met her since we were kids. I had seen pictures of her but I wouldn’t have put that together on stage.

    “I came off stage and Dean came over to me and I said, ‘I thought that was you but I couldn’t be sure’. He turned around and said, ‘I want you to meet Wendy Dio’. The next thing I knew, we were all out to dinner then the next thing I knew, she flew back to New York.”

    With the infectious passion that I’ve come to love about Bebe, she then tells me what sealed the deal with her regarding wanting to work with Ms. Dio.

    “I’ll tell you what sold me – oh, my god! She was in upstate New York and was meant to fly down for a show that I was doing. It was a very important show – a showcase that I was throwing at S.I.R. 

    “There happened to be huge snow storm – one of those storms that scared everybody to death. Of course, her flight was cancelled. Well, Wendy rented a car and drove five hours to be at my showcase! That’s when I knew that she was it. I knew that we had a connection and I knew that we had something. 

    It didn’t take long at all for the two female rock powerhouses to kick it into high gear and get Bebe and Jim working on a new album and honing her image. Buell says that it was, “ . . . pretty immediate. She brought me out to L.A. in February to be a presenter at the Pollstar awards. She also felt that I needed to get some new pictures and a little styling. I mean, she thinks like a real manager. Alan Mercer took these amazing photos. We did the wonderful angel/devil photo (Bebe and Wendy together) and we announced our partnership. 

    “I began Jenny Craig in March. It was not just a joint decision but it was a decision for me. I think that I owe it to my fans when I go on stage to look like a rock star because of the way that I move and the kind of music I play. It’s been an incredible challenge and she (Dio) has made me want to be the best ‘me’. She’s given me a lot of confidence in my talent because I always wondered, ‘Am I too unique or is what I do too ‘underground’’ to ever be something that everybody would get’? She seems to think that the statement I’m making is powerful and it’s time. We’ll see.”

    As we begin to segue to talk about Hard Love, I remarked how it has a different vibe and sound that her previous project, Sugar, has. Buell shared why that was, which lead her to include Black Angel, Timelineand Sugarin the Hard Loveplaylist.

    “Well, Sugar was Pro Tools – it was a ‘machine’ record. It was made because we didn’t have any money. We didn’t have a label and we didn’t have a band. It was just me, Bobbie and Jim in Bobbie’s ex-wife’s home studio. We really had to pool ourselves to get that record made. We jumped around a little. We did the vocals at someone else’s little home studio and then I went up to Boston and mixed at Wooly Mammoth Studios – David Minehan’s studio. We had to call in a lot of favors to get that record made. Jim and Bobbie wrote almost all of the music and we, together, wrote almost all of the lyrics. 

    “Bobbie’s vision about how things sound, he had a very different vision than Jim and I. Jim and I really wanted to play rock.  Bobbie’s the one that hears all of that noise and all that busy stuff in there. That’s why we parted ways because we just don’t see eye to eye musically.

    “I still stand by that record (Sugar). I love it. It was my ‘Enya moment’. I stepped out of the box a little and I made an experimental kind of record and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that in an artist’s career. Sugar did a lot for me in that it let a lot of people know that I was back and that I’m not some punk rock chick. I make a lot of music that’s filled with depth. I had to make the record or I was going to lose my mind. At that point in time, I would have made it with spoons and pots! I mean, I was desperate! I was ready to start singing in the subway. I wanted to do my music so bad that I was about to have a heart attack over it. The stress was enormous. My shrink said to me, ‘You know? God bless you, child! You crossed over. You truly are an artist!’

    “Not only have I gone through this huge transformation but I’ve done it without the aid of any anti-depressants or any of that kind of stuff that women think they need when they get older. You don’t need that crap! You don’t need to put that stuff in your body. You really don’t. I don’t want to sound like a Scientologist right now because I’m not. I know there’s bipolar people and people who really do need medication. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about women that start thinking, ‘Oh, man! I feel a little freaky. Maybe I need to take some Zoloft or maybe I need to take this one or that one’? Lexapro. That’s the one that really seems to be luring women in now. I’m not going there. I’ve been blessed. I don’t even know what a hot flash feels like!

    On Hard Love,Bebe comes blasting out of the chute with Mother of Rock and Roll. I almost expected it to be a look at her reputation as the muse behind some very big, iconic rock tunes but it’s more about her current place in life.

    “I just decided to own it. People are always calling me the mother of Liv Tyler; the girlfriend of this one, the this or that one, the blah blah of this and that. I was thinking of that Keith Richards song where he sings, ‘She’s my little rock and roll . . .’ (from the song T&A) and I was thinking of Liv. I was walking down the street when the lyrics came to me. I started singing, ‘I am the mother of rock and roll’ and then I stopped myself and thought, ‘Is this too narcissistic?’ Then I thought, ‘I can do this!’

    “Then I started thinking that everybody calls me the mother or the lover or the this or the that of everything all the time – and because rock and roll is who I am and my heart and my passion, I decided to take that ‘I am THE mother OF rock and roll’ and what they don’t realize is that I’m saying Liv, too, in that because of Little T&A – my inspiration. There’s a lot of people who inspired me in that song and there’s a little Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, too.

    “I’ve also added a background singer – Louisa Bradshaw. I call her Mysteria. It think having another woman to sing with that completely understands my voice and completely knows how to sing withme has really, really, really given me a whole different kind of freedom to just really express myself and go with the mood.

    “So, yeah, Mother of Rock and Rollis meant to be playful but it’s also meant to be in your face. I’ve decided to own it. Okay, I am a mother and I do mother my friends and I mother the bands that I love. I’m the first one to want to get out the iron and iron the pants and make dinner for everybody.

    “So, there’s that mother in me but there’s also that savage, ravenous rock and roller that could probably out run every single one of them. That’s the part of me that decided, ‘Don’t get even. Don’t get angry. Don’t compete. Just give yourself your own title and go out there and own it. It’s an expression of self invention. I tell people, ‘Forget everything that you think you know about me. Forget it all because the person that you’re going to meet onstage has nothingto do with it. Come with an open mind.’ It’s my statement and it’s very freeing. 

    “Did you watch the Grammy’s? Well, it wasn’t the Grammy’s, it was the Mick Jagger Show because Mick Jagger came out and blew away every single performance of the night. You go, ‘Yes! This is what it’s all about!’ Somebody who gets out there, he’s in great shape. He hasn’t gotten paunchy. He cares. He cares about his fans – looking like Mick Jagger, you know? He just came out there and, oh god, he was devastating how good he was! He ate the show alive!

    Buell and the band offer up three cover songs but the most intriguing to me was their interpretation of the Gang of Four’s I Love A Man In A Uniform? Last year, Bebe reconnected with her father after over thirty years. She wrote briefly about when she had last seen her father, handsomely dressed in his navy uniform. I naturally thought that her choice of the song had something to do with her father.

    “You know, it’s funny, it is by coincidence but it’s just a song that I always wanted to cover. I wanted to cover it in the Gargoyles but the Gargoyles wouldn’t do it. A couple of other times I thought about it and I wanted to cover it. It’s just one of those songs that I felt that I had my own way of delivering it and I thought that I had my own spin on it.

    “That’s one of the things about me: people look to me to see what choice of covers I’m going to have because I pick obscure, fabulous covers – maybe not completely obscure but I take them and make them my own. I felt that this song was appropriate in the climate that we’re living in right now – so many young, beautiful boys going off and getting killed. 

    “When I see the firemen and the cops or even the guy that has to dress up for his job at a restaurant, there’s just something majestic and wonderful about people who aren’t afraid to put on their uniform and go out there and do it, no matter what it is. I just have a connection to that right now.

    “I covered two British bands on this record. The Vibrators Baby Baby and the Gang of Four, A Man in a Uniform. I cut my teeth on the British invasion and I’m still pretty much wrapped up in the whole British thing. I love the English. Right now I’m so madly in love with the Jim Jones Revue. It’s amazing. They are just the real deal. It’s so exciting when a band comes along that’s old enough that you can take them seriously for having their chops but young enough that sound fresh and vibrant. It’s exciting! They use real piano and stuff.

    “A couple of people have said that the sound of this record is the best sound I’ve ever had on a record. It was produced by Stephen DeAcutis (“Stevie D”) and my husband, Jim. A couple of my favorite sounding albums like Damn the Torpedoesby Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Electric– The Cult, that album that Rick Rubin produced. I thought about the production of those records and I thought about, when you listen to those records, you start with song one and you go all the way to the end of the record because every song is listenable; every song has a story and you want to listen to the whole album. I was determined to do that on this record.”

    My personal favorite on this disc is Got It All Wrong and Bebe was kind enough to share the story behind that song.

    “Oh! Well, that’s an interesting one. That’s a song that my husband, Jim, wrote. He wrote that back in the nineties with Frank Ferrer who played drums on 8 of the tracks on the record, who’s now Guns N’ Roses’ drummer. He and Jim used to be in a band called New United Monsters Show and he and Jim wrote that song. And there was this guy named John Robinson who did some lyrics for it. Then I heard the song and I said, ‘Wait a minute! This is an incredible song!’ and I felt that it needed all new lyrics.

    “So, it’s a song that my husband wrote with Frank Ferrer, John Robinson wrote the hook and I wrote the lyrics and the lyrics just poured out of me. The ‘got it all wrong’ hook is John Robinson’s and I just took that – it just spoke to me. 

    “What’s it about? It’s about someone that has lied, done horrible things and has tried to destroy your life but they’re just not winning. It’s almost like a wake-up call. One of the lines in it is, ‘Tell all the people in your head here’s their note of eviction’. People who do the most damage usually create all the drama in their head. It’s not real.

    “But now we have the internet and all these places where people that have issues with celebrities can go in there and they can slaughter you and there’s nobody that can protect you. Because you’re a public person, people can write whatever they want about you. They can write complete bull. Lies. They can fabricate. They can do parodies. This is America! It’s part of it! But those who are a victim of it have the right to say, ‘Nope! That’s not the way it is, babe! Here’s the real story: That a******’s a fruitcake!” Buell says with a laugh of knowing satisfaction.”

    Bebe concludes by saying, “Unfortunately, for me, the fruitcakes – the people that hurt me the worst – it’s usually people that know you who try to seek revenge or are on some sort of vendetta. They’re cowards. They don’t want to come from behind their mask. There’s an actual word that’s been accepted by Webster: frenemy. We’ve got ‘em! I believe that social networking has created that word. We wouldn’t have words like that if it wasn’t for social networking.”

    As for tour plans, the Mother of Rock and Roll says, “I’m opening for the Smithereens on October 8th at The Stone Pony and they’re one of my favorite bands. I’m really excited about that. Then, I’m doing a big unveiling of the new line-up and all the new songs on October 12th at the Hiro Ballroom. The following month I’m going to be opening for a band in the UK – I wish that I could tell you who it is but at this point I’m not allowed to talk about it because it’s going to be a big show and it’s going to be sort of like my unveiling in the UK because I’ve never played London. The fact that I’m going to get to open for this band – it’s a really big coup. I’ll keep you posted.”

    Oh, I just lovesurprises but I do hate waiting for them! But do know that she’ll be hitting the road and just may be appearing in or near your town and Boomerocity will let you know.

  • Global

         

    Global
    Todd Rundgren
    Label: Esoteric Antenna
    Review Date: April 26, 2015

     

    Whenever a Todd Rundgren CD comes out, one knows that they’re about to experience musical genius and brilliance at a Mozartian level. His latest release, “Global, “solidifies those expectations yet again.

    Masterful, intricate, layered melodies and musicianship capture the listener from the opening sounds of “Evrybody” (yes, Todd spelled it that way) to the closing, staticy end of “This Island Earth.” Tight. Electrifying. Hypnotic. Rundgren. 

    Lyrically thought provoking and eyebrow-raising (especially on “Blind”), one is left wondering what depths – and how metaphysical – a conversation with Rundgren might be like if one had the privilege of chatting with him. I met the man backstage at a Ringo concert earlier this year and he seemed everyman enough but, as fans know, the dude is a deep thinker and the lyrics on the songs on this album reflect that.

    If you’re not already a Todd Rundgren fan or have never experienced his music (yeah, right), I would submit “Global” as a great way to be introduced to this great man’s work. If you’re already a fan, then you’re not going to need this review to convince you to purchase this album. In fact, I’d wager that half of you already have and the other half didn’t know he had a new album out until you read this review.

    Glad to be of service.

     

  • Hard Love

    bbuellhardloveHard Love
    By: Bebe Buell
    Label: Niji Entertainment
    Review Date: September, 2011

    Hard Love is the latest studio offering by rock mama, Bebe Buell. I say “rock mama” because she comes roaring out of the gate on this album with her new tune, Mother of Rock and Roll. After years of being called the “mother of Liv (Tyler)”, the mother of fashion, the mother of this and the mother of that, Buell tells Boomerocity that she decided to just own the label, “Mother of Rock and Roll” and own it she does, musically shredding the face of her fans and unsuspecting listeners alike.

    Produced under the steady hand of Stephen “Stevie D” DeAcutis and Buell’s husband and musical sidekick, Jim Wallerstein, Hard Love kicks musical butt. In fact, Jim co-wrote my personal favorite from the disc. Entitled Got It All Wrong, it’s about the fickleness and treachery that is found too often in alleged friendships and rides on some great, straight-forward rock and roll played as it should be.

    Buell fans will notice some tunes on the album which also appeared on her previous album, Sugar. Believe me when I say that you’ll want to own these versions of those tunes. They’re delivered with more rawness and vicious passion that somehow overshadows the previous versions (and that is no small accomplishment!). My personal favorite from that batch of tunes is Buell’s tribute to Joey Ramone, Black Angel, a close friend of Buell’s who is, obviously, still deeply missed.

    Bebe and the band also offer up some great covers, especially the Gang of Four’s I Love A Man In A Uniform. She drives that song like she stole it. I’d love to see Bebe perform this one live as I’m certain it will be quite the crowd pleaser. But, then again, the album’s 11 tunes are sure to be crowd pleasers.

    Keep an eye and ear open for Bebe. She’ll definitely be covered by the global press in the months ahead due to the strength of this album and her future show dates.

    This is going to be fun!

  • Kasim Sulton Talks About "3"

    May, 2015

         

    If you’re a hard core Todd Rundgren fan, then you’re familiar with Kasim Sulton. He was part of Todd’s band, Utopia, and is still an essential member of his current band.

    If you’re a current Blue Oyster Cult fan, you’ll know him as the bassist for the band since 2012.  Maybe you’re a Meat Loaf fan. If so, you’ll know Kasim’s work on the “Bat Out of Hell” album.  The multi-talented musician has also worked with Cheap Trick, Ricky Byrd, Celine Dion, Patty Smyth, Indigo Girls, Rick Derringer, Joan Jett and several others.

    Oh, and he’s cut a couple of solo albums of his own, the latest being “3” (reviewed by Boomerocity, here).

    I called Kasim at his home to discuss the making of “3.” But, before chatting about it, I asked what he had been up to lately. He and I passed each other backstage at Ringo’s Greenville, NC, concert back in February so I led in with asking what it was like playing with the former Beatle that night.

    “Well, I had played with Ringo before. It was a very, very long time ago. When I was in Utopia, we did a Jerry Lewis muscular dystrophy telethon one year. They had this huge jam session set up when they were doing it out of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. I forget the theme of it, but there were probably twenty musicians at any given point. Utopia was kinda the house band for that. Ringo was there as was Bill Wyman, Kiki Dee, Dave Spencer, Dave Mason, Doug Kershaw on violin, Rick Derringer, and a few others I can’t bring to mind right now. During the course of the evening, Utopia did some performances by ourselves. Then we did a big jam session, and Ringo was in on the jam session. So I met and played with Ringo before, albeit thirty years ago. 

    “This time was the second time I got to play with him, and it was a little more intimate than ten minutes on stage playing ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’.

    Continuing , he added:

    “Yea, well, that’s a dream gig. Todd’s been doing it for three years, and so has Luke. When a Beatle calls, you answer. You say ‘yes’ no matter what. I had some Blue Ȫyster Cult shows that were coming up that week, and I was a little concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to make the Blue Ӧyster Cult shows. I do about forty or fifty shows with Blue Ӧyster Cult in the course of a year, but they tend to get a little pissy when you miss a show. But if there is anything I was going to miss a show for, it would be because Ringo called and asked me to come in.”

    As for the other things occupying Sulton’s schedule, he said:

    “I have some solo shows coming up this week actually. I leave tomorrow. I have a show in Atlanta on Wednesday; Nashville on Thursday; Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday; and Greenville, South Carolina, on Saturday. I’ve just been prepping for these shows, and getting ready to pile in my car and take a little road trip. 

    “It’s a real fun show. I make you feel like you’re sitting in your own living room. It’s good. It’s a nice sixty to ninety minutes of some stories and my songs. I do a lot of the new record, probably two-thirds of it, and some Utopia songs. I do some songs from other artists that I’m particularly enamored of.”

    Kasim said this about the reception to his CD, “3”:

    “I did an initial round of press the first couple months. I gotta tell you I didn’t get a lukewarm review in the bunch. It’s really great to see press people, journalists, people like you that are really drawn to it, appreciate it, and aren’t afraid to say this is a really great record. I worked really, really hard. It took me a lot longer than I had expected it to take, because I had some personal issues that happened during the recording of it. With each successive song that I finished, I was like, ‘Oh, this isn’t bad. This is gonna be good.’ Then I’d finish another song, and I’d say, ‘Wow, another good song. Ok, great.’ It kinda gave me the courage, the stamina, and the fortitude to push on and make it as good as I possibly could. Even down to the very last steps of mastering and the final mixes, I paid a lot more attention to detail than I ever have on any project I have worked on over the past forty years.”

    He then shared his perspective of the album.

    “I started the record in 2009, I think. I take an inordinate amount of time in between solo projects. I do solo shows pretty regularly and have been doing them since 2000. But records take so

       

    much time, so much energy, so much effort and money. I can’t always block out the proper amount of time that it takes to put one together. I released a record in 2002, and I toured behind it. When I say tour, I did like a couple dozen shows a year along with my other work. At that time, I was heavily involved with Meatloaf, and I was working with Meatloaf probably eight months out of the year. The other four I spend with my family and at home writing. 

    “Come 2009, I was in England, and I had some time off. I had a writing partner in London who’s a very good friend of mine- a guy by the name of Phil Thornalley. I went over to his studio on a day off and said, ‘I’m thinking about putting another record together. Do you think you want to write something?’ 

    “We came up with the first song for the record, and that was actually the first track, ‘Fell In Love For The Last Time’. It just kinda grew from there. I didn’t know where it was going to go. I didn’t know what direction it would take. I didn’t know how many songs would or wouldn’t be on the record. I just continued to write, and with each successive song, I was like, ‘This is going to be okay. This is going to be good’. Most of my material, as witnessed on this record, is very introspective. I don’t necessarily write songs about stuff that I haven’t had experience with. For instance, a song like ‘Clocks All Stopped’ which is the second track from the first single of the record, was my vain attempt at trying to write a song that Utopia might still be recording if we were still together. I co-wrote that one with Phil as well. 

    “The next song, I think, is ‘Watching The World Go By’. It’s my take on my life. ‘The Traveler’ is another one. If I’m in a conversation with someone who doesn’t know me, my history, or what line of work I’m in, and they ask me what I do for a living, invariably I say, ‘I travel’. More than anything else, I’ll travel fourteen hours to work for an hour and a half. So really, most of my life is about traveling, ergo, ‘The Traveler’.

    “Most of the songs, if not all of the songs on the record, are very much about me and my life and how I look at the world. That’s how I put a record together.”

    Sulton then answered a question that he’s had to have been asked a bijillion times: why the title, “3?”

    “It’s my third proper solo record. There’s a couple others floating around the world. There’s a record that I released in 2008 called ‘All Sides’, but that’s a compilation with two or three new songs on it. Most of the songs on that record are songs that had already been released or recorded prior by other people. I had a bunch of demos that I thought might be nice for people to hear, so I put together that record. That’s why it’s a two CD record.

    “The one prior to that was called, ‘The Basement Tapes’, again demos with one or two new songs. So when you come right down to it, my first solo record was in ’80 or ’81 on EMI. My next one was ‘Quid Pro Quo’Then, this one which is my third proper solo record. Also, three is a pretty cool number. It shows up a lot in the universe. It’s body, mind, and spirit; thought, word, and deed; the holy trinity; earth, wind, and fire (not the band, the elements). Three is a good number for me. It just made sense, rather than try to come up with some title like, ‘The Secret Life of Robins and Other Miscellaneous Bullsh*t’, I’d just stamp it with that ‘3’.”

    When I asked if he had ran into any surprises in the making of the album, Kasim opened up a little about the personal side of his life during the recording process.

    “I lost my wife about a year and a half into recording it. We had been married about thirty-one years. I stopped recording for a year while I took care of her. She got sick first. The following six months after she passed away was just me trying to get my life back on track- with my children, being at home, being a single parent- so that threw a monkey wrench in finishing the record. 

    “I quit Meatloaf in 2010. I stopped working with him. That was kinda weird, because prior to that, we had been on the road for a good eight months out of any given year. Six to eight months were with Meatloaf, plus work with other people. I’d go out for a couple months with Todd. My year was really busy up until 2010. Everything rained down at once- my wife being sick, leaving Meatloaf, her passing away, trying to get back to finishing up the record. 

    “I got this brilliant idea that it’d be great to put everybody’s picture on the cover of the record. I solicited the fans and said, ‘For sixty bucks, I’ll put your picture on the cover of the record. I’ll send you a CD and a poster as well as enter you into a contest for me to come play at your house’. I got about three hundred submissions, and the server I was storing all the pictures on crashed. I had to beg people to please re-send their pictures. It was a nightmare.

         

    “Prior to this record, most of my solo work I’ve done by myself. I do all the programming, all the engineering, all the production. I play most of the guitars, bass, drums, keyboards. I thought it would be really nice to have other musicians on this particular record. That presented a little problem, because I was making phone calls to people like Greg Hawkes, Andy Timmons, Todd Rundgren, Roger Powell, Willy Wilcox, and Mark Rivera. I was farming tracks out for people to put their particular expertise on- that was pretty interesting. For instance, when I sent Todd the track for him to play on, I sent it to him in July of 2012. He didn’t send in back until January 2013. You don’t want to be a pest and say, ‘Hey Todd, where’s that track I sent you? Are you EVER going to finish it?’ It’s a favor, so I have to be patient and wait for him to have a free moment to work on my record. 

    “With Roger, I had to actually fly to San Francisco and go into a buddy studio to have him come in and play on it. He didn’t want to do it. I said, ‘Look, please. I’ll fly to San Francisco. I’ll bring the tapes with me. We can sit down, do it in the afternoon, and I’ll take you dinner that night.’ That worked with him. 

    “This is the first record since 1992 that all four Utopia members are on. I really wanted to have that little feather in my cap. People like Andy Timmons who is probably one of the best guitar players in the country… he is just the sweetest guy in the whole world. He is a big fan of mine, and I said, ‘Andy, would you like to play on the song?’ He said, ‘Yeah, absolutely!’, so I sent him the track. He recorded two passes at a solo and sent it back to me. It just wasn’t what I was hearing, so I then I go back and say, ‘Can you do it just a little bit more like this?’ 

    “This is what separates this record from my prior solo records. In the past, I might have said, ‘That’s great! Thanks!’ and moved on. I didn’t. I needed to feel like it was right. That was a big thing for me. Even when it came to the mixing process, I thought, ‘You know what? I need outside input on this record, so I’m going to send it out’. I had a couple other people mix the record for me.”

    I never ask an artist what their favorite song is on an album because it’s like picking heir favorite child. However, I did ask Sulton which song he would using a “calling card,” so to speak, to introduce it to people who might not be familiar with his work.

    “It’s very strange. There are songs on that record that I think are really strong, and there are songs on the record that I think are just good songs. One of the songs that I thought was one of the strongest tends to be a song that people gloss over. They’re not drawn to it, and I was a little surprised. 

    “I think at the end of the day, probably the first two tracks are indicative of what the rest of the record is like. I think ‘Fell In Love For The Last Time’ and ‘Clocks All Stopped’ really are the songs that, to me, best represent the entire record. They’re strong songs, good songs. They’re likeable and hummable. People seem to enjoy them.”

    Being very impressed with who all Kasim pulled in to work on the album with him – some whom I’ve had the privilege of interviewing (Mark Rivera as well as knowing and interviewing Andy Timmons) I asked how was it to work with such an arsenal of diverse and amazing talent like those guys and the others.

    “Just the simple fact that all of those fifteen other musicians that are on the record, when I asked if they’d be interested, they said, ‘Are you kidding me? Of course! Just send me the track’ or ‘I’ll be over on Tuesday’. 

    “It’s one thing to have the acceptance, the accolades, the great reviews from fans and people in the music/journalism/radio business saying, ‘Oh, this is a really great record. Thank you very much for it’. It’s another thing to be accepted and get those same accolades from your peers. To me, it is the ultimate compliment to have other people I grew up listening to and people I think are the top in their field say, ‘This is a good record, Kasim. I’m really proud to be on it. Thank you so much’. 

    “I’m very proud to have the career that I’ve had and to have that caliber of people playing on the record. I wish I would have gotten Luke to play on it. That would have been great.”

    In comparing work on “3” to all of the other albums he’s worked on over his long career, Sulton said: 

    “The difference between this record and any record I’ve worked on in the past was my attention to detail. I pained over every lyric, every note, every part, and every mix. I mastered the record once with one guy and hated it. I had it re-mastered by Greg Calby here in New York. I just did not want to leave anything on the table. 

    “Even with a record like ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ which we did in 1977, we rehearsed for about two weeks. Then we went into the studio and cut the tracks within a week. You didn’t look back. There was no, ‘Should we try it again? Should we try it this way? Should we slow it down or speed it up? Should we take this section out?’ It was just like, ‘Ok, next!’ Most records are done like that. You don’t want to make it seem like it’s the last time you’re ever going to record. If you don’t get something right on this record, well, you’ll get it right on the next one.

    “Again, on this record, I just would not leave anything to chance. I just wanted to make sure there were no stones unturned, nothing I wish I did that I didn’t do. The only way to explain it is I worked really hard, and I don’t like to work.”

    Sulton has seen a ton of changes in the music industry in his long career. I asked him what are the most positive and negative changes he’s seen in the industry over the years.

    “I think there are a lot of reasons the music industry is in the shape it’s in. A lot of it is the caliber of music that’s available today. My son is nineteen, and my daughter is twenty-four. My

         

    nineteen-year-old has never bought a record. When I was nineteen, I must have had five hundred records at home that I’d bought over the years. He’s never bought any music, and I scream at him all the time about downloading or using YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, whatever. I say, ‘You’re taking money off your own plate, dude. Don’t do that. I gotta pay the mortgage!’ A guy named Jimmy Bralower produced Mark’s record ‘Common Bond’ which I love and am on, actually. He says, ‘You know, it used to be that water was free, and you paid for music. Now, music is free, and you have a water bill every month!’

    “I don’t want to complain, because at the end of the day, it is what it is. It’s not going to change. It’s the Wild West. There are no rules. Anything goes. By the same token, any kid with a laptop can sit down and make a record. It didn’t used to be like that. It used to be that you had to go in the studio, come up with at least a $50,000 budget, then hopefully come up with something the record company likes. It doesn’t matter anymore. Now, you almost don’t even want a record company. It’s the surest way not to make any money, but there are some advantages of having a machine behind you. I don’t have that machine. Everything is on my shoulders. Everything I do has to come from me, from the album design to calling musicians to turning on my studio here at home and recording. It’s a lot easier to reach a vast amount of people, but it’s a lot harder to get them to pony up ten or fifteen bucks for a CD. 

    “These days it’s all about live performances. It’s all about going out, playing live, and getting fans one at a time. That’s not so different than it used to be. Radio is still really important. You get a song on the radio. If it gets picked up, and people gravitate to it, there is still nothing better for you promotion-wise. But it costs a ridiculous amount of money to get a record on radio. If you have a small budget like I did for this record, I hired a publicist, and I got a bunch of great reviews and interviews. It’s still about trying to get people excited and jazzed and talking about it. It’s a monumental task. That’s why I’m going out and doing shows in Atlanta, Charlotte, Greenville, and Nashville. I’ll probably do some more later on in the summer. There’s good, and there’s bad. Like I said, at the end of the day, you can’t complain. It just is what it is.

    “Sirius has been great to me. A guy by the name of Mike Marrone, the program director at The Loft, is a fan of mine. He heard the record and said, ‘Kasim, I love the record, and we’re going to play it’. I did a live show at the Sirius XM studios. They broadcast out about a half dozen times over the course of a month. That kind of stuff is invaluable. But, unless you have anywhere between $50,000-$100,000 to get your record on the radio, terrestrial radio isn’t going to play it. They have forty records they play over and over again. Classic rock doesn’t want to touch it, because they’re busy playing ‘Stairway To Heaven’. You’re really between a rock and a hard place.”

    I choked at the dollar amounts that it takes to get a song on the radio and asked if they didn’t used to call that payola.

    “They still do! In my book, it still is. You hire a radio promo guy. He services three hundred stations around the country. A good radio promo guy is $10,000 a month.

    “These days, what you want is a song and a television show. You want to be on Grey’s Anatomy. You want to be on Shameless or The Big Bang Theory. You get a song on one of those TV shows, and that opens a huge amount of doors to go from there. That’s the kind of validation you want these days.”

    I asked Kasim what he would do to fix the music industry if he were named music czar – or if he thought it even needed fixing. 

    “I read an article not too long ago that said Jon Bon Jovi is responsible for ruining the music industry. The article went on to blame, using Jon Bon Jovi as an example, corporate rock, lackluster dreck. I disagree with that. I don’t think Jon ruined the music industry. I think Steve Jobs did. I think iTunes and YouTube ruined the music industry by making it free. I’m not saying that fifteen dollar CDs are the way to go or that music should be expensive. By all means, it shouldn’t be. But if you don’t have to buy something, why bother buying it? Pharrell did an interview where he said his song was streamed 45 million times from Spotify or Pandora, one of those services. He got a check for $2,500 from that. What we’re talking about is the bottom line of money. And it really isn’t about money. It’s not. 

    “I wouldn’t have the faintest idea of where to start to fix the music industry. I just think it’s about good music. Maybe there should be some kind of forum or something where Jimmy Iovine says, ‘These are the records everybody is listening to these days. Let’s support these artists’.  When something new comes out, there would be a panel of people just like you, other writers… even though David Fricke refused to review my album. He said it didn’t wow him. You know who Bob Lefsetz is, right? Well, a good friend of mine, Glen Burtnik, did a record about ten years ago called ‘Palookaville’. It’s a great record. Somehow, Bob got a hold of it and wrote one of his entire newsletters on how amazing this record was. I called Glen and said, ‘Hey Glen, after Bob did the newsletter on your record, did it reflect in sales at all?’ He wrote back two words: ‘No way.’ The Lefsetz Letter goes out to probably 20-30,000 people, I would imagine, but it’s all industry people. What you want to do is get to people like my daughter, the 24-year-olds. But she’s not listening to me- I’m 59 years old! The last thing she’s going to do is pick up a record from 59 year old.”

    I would pay some nominal amount to access YouTube. I don’t listen to Spotify or Pandora, but if I were to, I would pay $20 a year to listen to those if it was important to me. I posited to Sulton if the solution is simple math- taking a percentage of that income (a recognized percentage, say 35% across the top) then prorate the income from that to those who are getting the most activity. 

    “It sounds like an accounting nightmare, but maybe what the solution would be is to take it a step further with a YouTube music channel. For access to the music channel, you pay a premium of twenty bucks a year or whatever. Any music videos on that channel, in order to access it, you have to pay a yearly fee. Then again, what’s to stop somebody from taking that video, copying it, and putting it out on a free site? It becomes this vicious circle. It’s never going to change. The thing to try to do is how to survive and make a living doing what you do with the landscape the way it is currently. That is merchandise: CDs, t-shirts, what have you, and live shows.”

    Kasim then shared what is on his career radar for the next year to five years.

    “Right now, it’s the shows I have coming up and doing as good a show as I possibly can do for the people who come to see me. I’m putting in some more shows after that. I don’t know where. Usually, I go to Chicago, Cleveland, stuff like that. I love playing those places. I have a pretty decent following in those places. I have some more Blue Ӧyster Cult shows coming up later this month and in May/June. I’ll be busy doing that on the weekends. They’re weekend warriors. For the rest of the year, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking maybe I need to do another record right away. I will probably, at some point over the next six months, sit down and try to put together the beginnings of my next record, even thought I just cringe at the thought. It just takes so much work. 

         

    “As far as my five year plan goes, I turn sixty this year. I was with my family yesterday for Easter. My brother-in-law who is married to my sister will be sixty two months later. We’re going to go to Jerusalem. I’ve never been. I’ve been to the Middle East, but only Dubai. We were talking about going to Cuba: ‘Cuba will be great! We’ll just lay on the beach for three or four days.’ Who doesn’t want to go to Cuba? Then I thought about Jerusalem. He’s like, ‘That’s it! That’s where we’re going.’ So we’re talking about going this year for our sixtieth birthdays.

    “Five years? I don’t know. Hopefully, I’ll still be able to do live shows and doing this. I can’t imagine I’d be doing anything else, because it’s a little late in life to become a plumber. I always threaten myself, ‘You know what? I’m going to just give it all up, sell everything, and I’m going back to DeVry to become an air conditioning technician.’ But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me.”

    I like to ask this question of people who have been in the business a long time – and I never intend it to be a macabre one but I wanted to know: once Kasim’s stepped off the tour bus of life for the final time and is at the great gig in the sky (to borrow a line from Pink Floyd), how does he want to be remembered and what do he hope his legacy will be?

    “That’s a good question. The greatest thing for me is that I have a body of work that will live on well after I’m gone. I’ve been on some great records that will always be available for people to hear. I have worked with some of the best people in the music industry- past, present, and hopefully in the future. I’m not a Beatle. I’m not a Rolling Stone. I wasn’t in Led Zeppelin. I’m not Leonard Bernstein. I haven’t yet written a song that millions of people can sing the lyrics to. The pleasure and the honor is in the journey. My journey has been long, and it’s not over. There’s still a lot to do. I’d love to write a song that everybody knows, so I’m going to keep trying.”

  • Michele Rundgren

    Posted December, 2011

    Michele and Todd Rundgren - Photo Courtesy of Michele Rundgren

    It’s a worn out – but still very relevant – cliché that behind every great man is a great woman.  That saying couldn’t be more true when analyzing some of the greatest names in rock and roll in general and Todd Rundgren in particular.  For, behind the rock icon who has written some of rock’s most iconic tunes and has produced other history-making albums by others, there is his lovely wife, Michele.

    Michele and Todd met in 1984 and, as she tells it, “Fell in love . . . sex, singing, touring, breeding . . . then he moved me to paradise (Kauai) and forced me to raise our progeny. “  No, this isn’t the voice of an embittered woman.  This is the humorous, matter-of-fact run down of a woman who knows who she is, where she has been and a real good idea of where she’s going.

    Michele’s comes shining through as she describes herself a “has been” for she is or “has been”:

    · A trapeze artist

    · A singer, dancer and actor on and off Broadway

    · A member of rock group, The Tubes

    · A backup singer for Todd Rundgren

    · A “Brood Sow” for the same Mr. Rundgren (Rex (Infielder for the Edmonton Capitals), Randy and Keoni call her “Mom”)

    · A frequent guest on “The Late Show With David Letterman” often with the

    · A host of her own PBS radio show, “Chick Rock, Chick Talk” on KKCR in Kauai

    · Is still raising her husband, Mr. Michele Rundgren, four kids and five dogs.

    · Currently, she’s the Director of Human & Creative Resources for DS Vocology, the parent company of a wonderful company, VocalizeU, that offers software and VIP instruction to singers.

    One might think that Michele and Todd would just chill in Hawaii and not worry themselves with cares of life.  As easy as it might be to assume such things, greatness rarely rests and such is the case with both Mr. and Mrs. Rundgren.  When both aren’t cheering their sons on in their endeavors, Todd is still neck deep in his prodigious musical creativity and, as indicated above, Michele is quite the businesswoman, serving on the management team of DS Vocology, a relatively new company that produces a brand spankin’ new software application called VocalizeU which was a big reason why I wanted to speak with her.

    I called Michele at her Southern California office where, despite being inundated with a day’s worth of computer problems, she didn’t let those technical travesties quash what I suspect is her perennial sunny disposition and effervescence.  With a laugh she said, “It’s funny. I guess my karma is up and now, having used computers since the early 80’s, I’m now suddenly paying off my free ride. My tech-problem free life over the last 25 years is now coming back and saying, ‘Oh! We’re going to give it back to you all in one week!’”

    As we settled into the interview, I commented (after running down the list of her past and current accomplishments) how it’s obvious that she stays continuously busy.

    “I guess it’s my parents fault. I was never one to play it safe and easy.  Same with Todd. I think that’s why we’re such a good match is because something always has to be going on. A few times a year we take small chunks of time off to totally relax and try to make each other relax. It’s pretty tough sometimes because we like to live life to its fullest – as packed as we can.

    “The radio show I’ve been away from for two years. Our youngest son, Rebop, got into college at sixteen so I went to San Francisco to go with him for a year.  Then I was offered to be a part of this start-up company – to be a part of DS Vocology – exactly a year ago. I moved to L.A. so now Todd and I date each other! After 26 years, it’s worked out pretty good!”

    I surmised that Todd comes through to see her often because of his work related travels.

    “He always comes to the mainland - L.A. - for at least a day on his way to wherever he has to go. Flying from Hawaii to, say, the East Coast just takes so long, so, yeah, I see him a lot here. I’ve gone home three times in the last year: Once to help do production work on Live From Daryl’s House.  They did Live From Daryl’s House from our house.  That took a lot of pre-production work as well as production work.  Even though they bring their staff and are only there that day, we did a lot of prep work and help at the last second. Everything went wrong that could go wrong.  Charts needed to be printed up right before they start taping. You’re sneaking under cameras and handing them charts and getting the house ready.  I don’t know if you’ve seen it but it was a pretty big event and that’s a pretty big house to get ready.”

    That it is.  Check out the entire episode here at Live From Daryl’s House.

    We move to the subject of VocalizeU and DS Vocology.  I was very intrigued by the product and asked Michele to fill me in on it.

    “One of my dear, dear friends, Dave Stroud, has been a sought after vocal teacher for, gosh, 20-some years.  He came up with a concept to put together a vocal studio in an iPad. It’s really a vocal tool for singers – beginners to professionals.  It can teach somebody how to sing and it can make professional singers sound better. Rather than meeting a voice teacher for anywhere from $100 to $500 an hour, for $40 on your iPad, you’ve got a studio that helps you determine what vocal habits you have, sending you to different workouts to correct the bad habits you have, extend your range and strengthen your voice.  If you decide that you need to work on a song or you want a live voice lesson, there’s a little picture of a telephone in your studio graphics and you tap that and it connects you to a live teacher. We say that it’s a virtual vocal lesson for anyone, anywhere, anytime. It’s pretty cool.

    “We’re hoping to be a virtual college of music so we’re developing a lot of add-ons that are extensions taught by icons.  So, anything you want to learn in the music business, you can learn through VocalizeU.  Our next extensions that connect to our vocal studio are background singing with Denosh Bennett – she sings for all of the famous acts – Colbie Caillat, Drake, Justin Temberlake – a bunch of people.

    “There’s The Art of Management by Justin Timberlake’s label manager (Dre Persons) to teach people how to be a manager. We try to make them really interactive and fun. The art of management is almost like a video game that you can program to really act like a manager where someone’s irate wife calls you on the phone and you have to make some decisions on your phone in the middle of the night in order to pass up to the next level.” Then, with her engaging laugh, she adds, “I’m taking all my experience of what exactly can go wrong on the road and sticking it into that one!”

    Continuing on about the many courses available, Michele adds, “Matt Scannell from Vertical Horizon is doing a singer/songwriter course – beginning, intermediate and advance – and other artists will contribute to that.  Remember Martin Atkins, the drummer for P.I.L.? He’s doing an extension with us that every band can use that helps them become totally self-sufficient since all of the record companies have all disappeared on all the up-and-coming artists. So, this is ‘Band Smart’ How To Make a Living in the Music Business On Your Own.”

    As for the operating platforms that VocalizeU is compatible with, Ms. Rundgren says that, in addition to the iPad, “It will be on Lion OS soon. We even have a version coming out any day now on iPhone. It’s a ‘lite’ version of VocalizeU where you can do your warm-ups and workouts. Hopefully, people will see how cool it is and want to buy the $39.99 VocalizeU.”

    “VocalizeU, it’s amazing. It lets you record songs, import songs, export songs, video, face-to-face voice lessons, it has a journal.  It’s really cool. Sometimes I don’t even know what to say about it. A lot of people look at it and say, ‘Oh my god! This is amazing!’

    “We just did a great deal with Guitar Center. They saw it and said, ‘This is what we’ve been looking for. We have sections for guitar players, keyboard players, drummers and bass players. We don’t have a section for singers and this is it!’

    I asked Michele who would benefit most from the VocalizeU program.

    “You know, we’re trying to own the vertical market of singers.  Singing – that’s the number two hobby in the world.  Golf is first, singers are second. Everyone wants to learn how to sing. Dave developed the tools for his celebrity clientele who are on the road all the time. Adam Lambert, Natasha Bedingfield and all of these people were flying him all over and he just couldn’t continue to go from celebrity to celebrity and service them all. So he came up with VocalizeU for them and then realized it’s not just a tool for people who know how to sing already. It’s a tool for people who want to learn to sing as well. It’s Photoshop® for singers!”

    Even though Michele had earlier touched on future plans for VocalizeU, I asked her what else was on the boards as far as future enhancements and developments are concerned.

    “Well, we have an accredited program for high schoolers and home schoolers - There are over 4 million homeschoolers out there! - that’s going to hit the market probably in Spring. All the music programs are disappearing in schools because of the budget cuts - well, they have been for years. So, we decided to try to cover that market. We’re trying to do a lot of charity work as well, but, if a homeschooler or a high schooler – say there’s one teacher with an iPad that can go around to the schools and give them their music classes – for $40 teachers and parents can buy classes for their kids.

    “It also has a social network.  For instance, a singer in the middle of nowhere in Alabama can actually learn to sing a choir part, then participate online and actually go to some of our events where all the homeschoolers from around the nation are gathering in different areas - he walks in and knows his part and sings his part with all these people and they compete together.

    “So, we’re trying to put music back into everyone’s life.  I’ve made such a great living doing it and it’s filled me up my whole life. I can’t imagine anyone being without it. I want people to have access to tools and knowledge and education no matter where they are.

    “Also, our first four other languages for the program are Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and German. Singing is an international language.  When they sing, ‘guh, guh, guh’ or ‘nay, nay, nay’, those are not English words, those are phonetic sounds that everyone in the world can do as a singer. As long as we translate the educational information part of it, then the ‘doing of it’ is an international sound!  Can you tell I’m excited about it?!  You should see my house in Hawaii. It’s so close to the beach it’s ridiculous but it takes something like this to get me to leave my leisurely lifestyle and jump in!”

    And how about plans to apply the same concept to musicians?

    “Yes!  But our forte and our greatest knowledge base for us right now happens to be in the singers world.  So, yes, we’ll expand quite a bit but we should really tap into every single area for singers that we know how to do before we start working on guitar and bass. Other people are doing the instruments and no one is doing voice as in-depth as we are.”

    I had to ask the obvious question of how singers can secure their own copy of VocalizeU.

    “It’s VocalizeU in the Apple App Store!  Also, very, very soon, you’ll start to see some of our clients selling it on their website because they use it – such as Adam Lambert, Natasha Bedingfield, Jordan Sparks, a lot of the American Idol people that we coach. Almost everyone loves it so we’re letting them take it to their fan base and that’s part of our marketing. Because our celebrity clientele uses it and loves it, they’re willing to say, ‘I’m willing to tell my fans about this’. But, again, the easiest way to buy VocalizeU is at the Apple App Store - $39.99, I think.”

    And what does the Nazz man think about VocalizeU?

    “It’s funny, I’m going to show it to him the night before our launch party. He knows what I’m doing but I haven’t shown it to him because I wanted to do it without him. I want him to be really proud of it. He’s teasing me a lot but he’s going to see it the night before the launch party. There’ll be lots of press there and they’ll ask him about it so I don’t want him to go, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t seen it!’ But, he is really proud of me.  I even asked him after I was here for four months, ‘Is this working okay? We just date each other and live in two different cities?’  He said, ‘Is it okay if I said that I really like it?’  I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s okay!’

    So, shifting my focus from VocalizeU to Michele specifically and find out what else she’s up to since she’s the poster child of multi-tasking and has the personal goal of keeping Todd a kept man.

    “This has been my focus for a year solid.  It’s been 14 hour days 6 or 7 days a week. But I still occasionally have to – when he does some revival thing like Todd/Healing or AWATS or Utopia, I’ll be able to carve out some time and design and make him some costumes and help him with putting a tour together and helping with Live From Daryl’s House.  Those are the only things I’ve had any time to do other than to tune in to my son’s baseball games occasionally.

    “Up until then, I was raising kids and had the radio show. I toured with a comedy act for awhile. I was not too bad at the comedy thing. I never experienced silence. Everybody always laughed but that is the hardest performance I’ve ever done is comedy. It’s scary and I have no stage fright whatsoever. But with comedy you can fail every 30 seconds – even though I never did, I don’t want to do it anymore! Never!”

    That statement surprised me because it’s obvious that comedy comes easy to Michele.

    “It does come easy for me but, when you sing, you just open your soul and express yourself through your voice and it’s very rewarding personally. The audience automatically claps for you. They’re predisposed to clap. They’re predisposed to enjoy that kind.

    “In comedy, the audience is almost predisposed to fold their arms and go, ‘Okay now, prove it to me’. Even though I proved it to them over and over and experienced tons of laughter all the time, it’s just not as rewarding. Instead, it’s a fear of pleasing them every 10 seconds – every 30 seconds – that fear of ‘Are they going to like this? Are they going to like this?’ Where singing, I don’t care! I always have a good time when I sing! I don’t care if they have a good time or not!” And when Michele says all of this, she says it with a genuine, infectious laugh while concluding, “I think it’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done and I’ve had some pretty tough gigs. But, oh man!  It’s a love/hate thing. It really is.

    “Singing is way safer! If I hit a wrong note, I just vibrate my way out of it!”

    Since Michele is married to one of the premier maestros of our time, I was curious what she was listening to on her iPod these days – aside from his work, of course.

    “It’s funny. I listen to our clients’ music when they come because they’re usually asking for a little bit of performance coaching and my partner, Dave, does vocal coaching. But it’s usually what Rebop is listening to. My son is 19 and I always like what I hear. I don’t listen to the radio anymore. I just let him bring music to me and thank God I love the kind of music he’s playing! My oldest boys, Rex and Randy? Ugh! I couldn’t stand their rap!”

    Speaking of music, when Michele learned that I grew up in Phoenix, she immediately opened the door to the next subject I was planning on asking her about anyway: Her stint with the Phoenix based band, The Tubes.   I asked her what there might be about her and the band that fans might not readily know.

    “I was actually a Broadway kid so I worked my whole life to get onto Broadway and audition for Kenny Ortega and was cast in a Broadway show that he was directing. I was also singing on Long Island after hours in little cover rock bands. He (Ortega) found out about that and called me into his office and asked me about it. I thought I was in trouble. I go, “I’ll quit! I’ll quit!’ He said, ‘No, I have a better job for you.’ I was like, ‘No! No! No! Please!’ He said, ‘You have to trust me. I know what I’m doing.’

    “So, he sent me off to hang out with a band called The Tubes who was recording with David Foster at the time. He said, ‘Pack all your bags because you’re going to do this.’ So I went to the studio and was recording with Dave Foster and The Tubes and left for a European tour. It ended up being some of the best years of my life. It was amazing. I loved getting paid tons of money touring the world and having everybody wanting your autograph or a piece of your hair or clothing, being on a tour bus – I loved it!  It was a democracy and everybody could contribute. We all would write in the bus or make costumes or decide to do something or build a set together. It was absolutely amazing!  Todd produced two of The Tubes’ records. That’s how I met Todd. Then, when The Tubes lost their record deal, I just sort of went to work for Todd instead. I found out, ‘Oh! The democracy is over! Sing every note as written!’”

    With Todd Rundgren arguably considered one of the most brilliant and intimidating musical geniuses in rock and roll, I asked Michele what is one of the most misunderstood or least known aspect about her husband.

    “That’s very, very easy. I constantly, constantly have Todd fans come up to me who are amazing. We recognize that Todd fans have put our kids through college and helped us pay the mortgage. Of course, he’s giving them something that they cherish as well. It’s definitely a two way street. We’re very appreciative of them and we have events like, for his 60th birthday we invited fans to camp on our property for a week and have a celebration – and they did! That was really wild!  Toddstock!

    “I think the most misunderstood thing is the fans are constantly telling me how lucky I am. ‘Oh, you’re so lucky! Does he play the guitar for you and sing?’  They think he is the man behind the music and that it’s a performance that he gives to me, too. But it’s not. He really is kind of a hermit and all that kind of creativity stays inside his brain.  His focus is all music. It’s almost like some idiot savant sitting in the corner who really doesn’t communicate with anybody at home unless you literally pull him up and say, ‘Okay, now we get to go talk or walk on the beach.’

    “So, I facilitate that for him. I am the wife and the mom who runs the house and the family so that when he is not thinking about music, he can come into that world. We make it safe for him to also leave us mentally. He’s not really with us mentally very often but that’s not horrible for us. We’re the type of people that we understand that kind of focus.  It takes a while. Each kid is mad at dad at a certain point. It’s like, ‘I can’t believe that he’s not really a father’ then you have to show them, ‘Yes, he is. He’s just not like the TV dads.’  It’s hard to explain.”

    I’ve seen it many times where fans, whether they realize it or not, come crashing into the life of a celebrity without having any thought or consideration about the celeb’s feelings or privacy.  Michele shared her insights into that aspect of their lives.

    “I think that’s why he loves Hawaii so much – especially Kauai.  We have a lot of celebrities who live there and we’re very protective of them. I’d say that everyone is extremely respectful. Nobody walks up to our house like they used to in Sausilito or Woodstock.  Nobody’s knocking on the door. Nobody’s camping in our backyard.   We don’t have to have any guards at our kids Little League games or nursery schools like we used to. So it really is paradise for us. Yeah, he can walk on the beach everyday and nobody knows who he is or, if they do, they’re like, ‘hi’ and that’s it.”

    While Michele Rundgren has seen and accomplished a lot, I asked what she hadn’t accomplished that she wishes to.

    “Boy, I don’t think there’s anything that I haven’t done yet that I wanted to do. The only goal that I’ve never accomplished was my own solo record but I’ve had ten thousand goals that I have reached. I think the only that I think I regret is to not be able to continue my career as a singer. But having made the choice to move Kauai and raise my sons – it was the correct thing to do even though it was painful as an artist. Todd even said, ‘Hey, one of us has to stay home’ because our boys were hard to control and Todd and I were the only ones who could control them. ‘So, one of us has to stay home and I sell more tickets than you do’.  ‘OH! Yep, you’re right!’

    “I’d say that I wish that I could have continued as a performer. So now I’m getting a little bit of joy – I’m getting a lot of joy actually – out of helping up-and-coming performers succeed and have their dreams of having a voice, having a career, having a great show – that’s what I do now and that’s what I really love!”

    I followed up with Michele after the launch party to see how everything went.  She was ecstatic with the turn out and results.

    “It was so successful, Rolling Stone Lounge asked us to do a weekly VocalizeU party. I thanked them but WHEW . . . a party for 1000 guests every week? I have to sleep sometime! We had many celebrities at the party.  Even my husband, Todd, had fun! I think Todd's and my sons favorite part of the party were the VocalizeU girls. Hot, young singers dressed in white VocalizeU onesie’s with just enough rhinestone bras showing to make the demo sparkle. Rex and Randy each got 4 demos. Hmmmm.

    “The voice of VocalizeU and Justin Timberlake's latest artist signed to his Tennman records, "Bren", sang her showcase and brought the house down. What a voice ! Then, Natasha Bedingfield and her brother, Daniel, did an a cappella jam to close out the night. I am so proud of the work I have been a part of for the last year.”

    Why blew my mind is the surprise that she is giving to Boomerocity readers who happen to own iPhones.  “My holiday gift to all of your readers is a FREE lite version of VocalizeU for their iPhones. Just go to the app store and type in VocalizeU lite free. We put it up this morning. I hope the lite version encourages people to buy the full suite of VocalizeU tools that every singer deserves!”

    You heard the lady so what are you waiting for?  Click on the iTunes banner on this page and search for VocalizeU lite free. However, I have a hunch that you’re going to want to have the whole suite of functionality so you may as well go ahead and purchase the whole enchilada.  At $39.99, it’s such a steal. Also, because Michele is such a great lady, she’s given me the link to the great pictures shot at the launch party.  You can check ‘em all out right here. You just might recognize a person or two.

    Oh, and remember: When you make it big as a singer, a) thank Michele and the DS Vocology team and, b) please, please, please, grant me an interview.

  • Ringo's All Starr Band 2010

    Posted June, 2010

    This month will witness the latest tour and incarnation (the 11th, to be exact) of Ringo and His All Starr Band. This will be one of those special and rare opportunities to see the “lovable Beatle” performing many of the hits from his impressive solo work as well as from the Beatles’ extensive catalog. Ringo also will be sharing the spotlight with each of All Starr band mates as they sing some of their hits, as well.

    Ringo kicked off his first All Starr band back in the summer of 1989. The band consisted ofClarence Clemons (Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, the Jerry Garcia Band and the Grateful Dead), the late Rick Danko (The Band),Levon Helm (also of The Band),Dr. John, legendary session drummer,Jim Keltner (who worked on many of the greatest classic rock albums ever recorded),Nils Lofgren (Neil Young, E Street Band), the late Billy Preston and the incomparableJoe Walsh.

    Over the next twenty years, other big names such asBurton Cummings, Dave Edmunds,Randy Bachman, the lateJohn Entwistle,Peter Frampton,Todd Rundgren,Billy Squier,Greg Lake andEric Carmen, to name just a few, joined Ringo band of merry men, delighting audiences everywhere. Who wouldn’t want to see Ringo perform not only the great Beatles tunes but his many great songs from his long solo career? I mean, really! Who wouldn’t?

    The eleventh All Starr Band is made up of another impressive group of some of the best artists in rock and roll history. The multi-talentedEdgar Winter returns for his third tour of duty with Ringo as well asGary Wright for his second stint. On their maiden voyage with Ringo areRick Derringer (Hang On Sloopy, Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo),Richard Page (Mr. Mister),Wally Palmar (the Romantics) andGregg Bissonette (Maynard Ferguson, David Lee Roth, Carlos Santana, Toto).

    This tour is, in part, in support of Starr’s 15th solo album entitled Y Not that features ten great new tunes crafted, sung in the signature Ringo Starr style. You can read more on Y Not byclicking here to read the Boomerocity review of the album.

    To find out more about the latest All Starr Band tour, I tracked down Rick Derringer and Gary Wright. I chatted by with Derringer first, as he was in route to a sound check before a show with Pat Travers. Derringer shares that, “ . . .basically, Ringo’s agent has been a big fan and he tried to do it a couple of years ago but, for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. This year, they had the slot to fill and I was the perfect guy to do it.”

    After breaking my heart by telling me that Dallas isn’t on the tour’s list of stops, I asked Rick what he thought can people expect from a show from the tour?

    “Well, they get to hear all the songs that Ringo sang with the Beatles and all of his solo hits. And then, everybody in the band is required to have had at least two hits that they’ve sung. So, you get to hear two songs from Gary Wright and two from Edgar Winter; two from Wally and the Romantics and two from the guy who sang lead from Mr. Mister and two from me! It’s a big show.”

    Having watched Derringer perform several times, I can personally tell you that you’re in for a real treat that you’ll not want to miss.

    Duringmy recent interview with Gary Wright, I asked him what it meant to him, from a career fulfillment standpoint, to be part of Ringo’s All-Starr Band not just once but twice.

    “Let me preface it by saying that I was a huge Beatles fan. I saw them when they first appeared at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1962 – whenever that was. I was a huge Beatle fan. I played on all of George Harrison’s solo albums and to have been a close friend of his and I met Ringo through George because he played on George’s first solo album, All Things Must Pass. So, I’ve known Ringo over the years. All of a sudden, out of the blue, to get a call two years ago to join him – well, first of all, I was overjoyed. 

    “He’s a great drummer – a fantastic drummer. He’s got an incredible feel. And, he’s a wonderful, wonderful human being! He’s giving; he’s very kind; he’s funny; he’s just a great person to be around. He treats the musicians really wonderfully. And, it’s a joy! It’s like touring at its best. It can’t hardly get any better than that!”

    In discussing Ringo’s line-up for this tour, each band member is mentioned with accolades by Gary: Edgar Winter as a great keyboardist; Rick Derringer and his phenomenal guitar work, Gary goes on by adding, “ . . . Richard Page from Mr. Mister – he’s got great songs like Kyrie, Eléison and Broken Wing. And Wally Palmer from (The Romantics’) Talking In My Sleep and That’s What I Like About You – they’re all great songs.

    “The thing about the Ringo show is that it’s hit after hit after hit and the audience loves it, which is good. It’s like those old doo-wop shows from the 50’s when there’d be ten artists on the bill and each group would come up and sing one, two or three of their big songs and everyone would people would go crazy. It’s that identity factor that people love to hear their favorite artist.”

    Ringo’s All Starr Tour kicks off June 24th in Niagra Falls, Ontario, and concludes at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on August 7th. Click here to see if the boys are coming to a city near year. If they are within a couple of hours driving distance or a good, quick flight from where you live, I would highly encourage you to take this opportunity to catch Ringo and the boys in concert.

    While you’re at it, why not pick up or download Y Not? If you’re waffling about buying it, again, you can read the Boomerocity review of ithere.

  • State

    statecoverState
    Artist: Todd Rundgren
    Label: Esoteric Antenna/Cherry Red
    Released: April 9, 2013
    Reviewed: April 7, 2013

    Look up the word “prolific” in the dictionary and you just might see a picture of Todd Rundgren and, if you don’t, you should. Why? Well, for starters, there’s the fact that he has just released his 24th solo album, State, two albums with his first band, The Nazz, and nine albums with his iconic group, Utopia. His self-taught wizardry as a producer and engineer in the recording studio led him to produce, engineer and perform on some huge projects by other artists. Folks such as Robbie Robertson, Meat Loaf, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Patti Smith, The Tubes, XTC, Cheap Trick, The Psychedelic Furs and many, many others. More recently, he made up a part of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.

    Back to Rundgren’s latest creation, State, it is a fusion of rock, soul, R&B and electronica that is at once danceable, groundbreaking, spiritual, challenging and infectious. Die-hard Rundgren fans will love and devour the entire disc. While less avid fans might not like all of State, they will definitely find plenty to love about this project.

    Making up the randomly selected “Boomerocity Three Picks” are:

    Imagination, is both haunting and somewhat “futuristic” in a Pink Floyd/The Wall sort of way. I found myself having a hard time proceeding to the next track because of the infinite number of hooks (both lyrically as well as from Rundgren’s synth and guitar work) in this intriguing tune.

    Serious, is one of those signature Rundgren tunes that are most definitely danceable and will likely find itself being played in the better dance clubs across the fruited plain and around the globe.

    Something In My Mouth is both deep and hypnotic with an so many intricately beautiful layers as to be nearly incalculable (but I would wager that Mr. Rundgren knows exactly how many there are).

    Rundgren fans will most definitely want – no, must have – this wonderfully intricate, complex, innovative, genius of an album. Yeah, it’s that good.

    State Track Listing

    Imagination
    Serious
    In My Mouth
    Ping Me
    Angry Bird
    Smoke
    Collide-A-Scope
    Something From Nothing
    Party Liquor
    Sir Reality

  • Todd Rundgren Discusses White Knight, Music, & Ringo

    Posted May 2017

     

    ToddRundgren001 cropSometimes when an artist of any stripe is described, the word “genius” is used. I’d go so far as to say that it is often overused. However, one artist who more than deserves such a label is Todd Rundgren.

    Rundgren is one of those rare artists who require more than one superlative to describe his creative output. Innovative? That’s a given. Prolific? Just look up his discography and the answer will hit you between the eyes. Timeless? Absolutely. All of those certainly work and are quite applicable. I’d also go so far as to describe Todd as being often on the bleeding edge of musical evolution yet has the uncanny ability to create classics that will endure the ages.

    How else would you explain his popularity to sell out his own tour, be asked to join Yes on theirYestival tour and the work with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr band for the past six years?

    His fans loyalty are the stuff of folklore. Affectionately referred to as “Toddies,” their passion for all things Todd could be to those of Deadheads and Trekkies combined.

    prior to a show with Ringo as he fervently looked for some guests who were apparently no-shows. He was desperately attempting to find them so that they could meet the band. In either case, his stardom could’ve garnered disinterest in either story but he and his team displayed incredible graciousness. That’s what makes me a fan.

    Everything Knoxville Logo EditedFrom a statistical standpoint, Rundgren has a musical catalog that has – and will continue to – stand the test of time. SteveI view Rundgren and his team from a slightly different perspective. For one thing, Todd and his management team have tremendous hearts. They didn’t know me from Adam when I contacted them for an unearned favor to cheer up a friend and loyal reader. Without any question, the obliged. I also watched Todd backstage 

    Orchard from the radio station, The Frog, in the upper peninsula of Michigan, tells me that Todd’s biggest selling project was his 1972 double album, “Something/Anything,” which included his huge hits, “I Saw The Light” and “I Saw the Light,” and “Hello It’s Me” (his biggest hit that charted at #5). Other Toddie hits include “We Gotta Get You A Woman,” and his remake of the Beach Boys classic, “Good Vibrations” in 1976 which reached #36.

    It was for the promotion of his current tour to promote his new CD, White Night, that I had the distinct privilege to interview Todd by phone. While making small talk, I had mentioned that I had interviewed his lovely wife, Michele, a few years ago (here) for her work on a voice training app, he piped up and said, “Well, she’s moved on from that. Now she’s a restaurateur. Ha! Ha! She opened up a tiki bar/exotica restaurant out on Kauai where we live. She’s probably there at this moment.”

    With an extensive tour schedule slated for this year – both for his own work as well as with Ringo Starr, I asked if he still enjoyed touring or did he prefer to work in the studio.

    “I enjoy being at home and I enjoy the process of making music. But, that doesn’t necessarily require me at home. But touring actually is, I think, a vital aspect of contemporary artists’ life. For one thing, you’re gonna make most of your money touring. You’ll only make a fraction of that selling records. And, so, if you really want to capitalize on any success that you had, you have to go out on the road, anyway.

    “But, for me, I think, despite the fact, after a while, you get into a routine of sleeping in different beds all the time and eating different kinds of food all the time. And you start to miss the stability of your own house. Still, being on the road is the best way to communicate with the audience. Also, depending on the kind of show that you do, it keeps you fit. When I’m at home, I just kinda sit around most of the time. But when I’m out on the road, I get two hours of exercise a night.”

    ToddRundgren003As for what Toddies can expect from the shows on his solo andYestival tours later this year, Rundgren said: “Well, we’re doing pretty much the same thing on both tours. Although, probably a shorter set when we go out with Yes. Our own show, it is close to two hours. It’s a pretty high level of production, this time. A lot ofvideo. Full band and, also, background singers and stuff, so it’s a really big “shoe”, this time.”

    As was mentioned earlier, Todd has been working with Ringo Starr for approximately six years. I asked him how working with the former Beatle affected him as a songwriter, performer, and producer.

    “Let me see, now. The first time I played with Ringo was actually in the late seventies. We were playing a Jerry Lewis telethon. We put together a little super group just for one gig. Played over on the UNLV campus in kind of a gymnasium or something like that. Jerry would kind of wave to us every once in a while and he would send the limousines full ofshow girls over to hang out with us, Ha! Ha! in our dressing rooms. That was years and years before he (Ringo) started the All-Starrs.

    “He didn’t start the All-Starrs until the late eighties, I guess. I didn’t play with the All-Starrs until the third iteration of it, which was around 1993, I think, or ’92. And, then, I played with him again a couple of years later with a different line-up. And, then, a long time went by and, then, this particular line-up got put together. This is kind of the band that he’s been looking for all these years when he’s been putting together combinations of musicians because this will be the sixth year that the same line-up has actually been playing under the All-Starrs banner.

    “So, by now, it’s not the same sort of, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m playing with Ringo!’ Ha! Ha! Because we’ve become, like – we’re in

     

    our sixth year, now. If we go to a seventh year, we’ll haveoutlasted the Beatles!”

    During an interview a couple of years ago, Toto’s Steve “Luke” Lukather (who is also an All-Starr band member) commented about how cool it was to be able to travel the tour in a private Gulfstream jet. When I mentioned that to Rundgren, he added to the comment.

    “Uh, yeah! Ringo has a way that he does things – that he’s comfortable with. There are some things that are maybe a little strange or something like that when you’re in the band. But one of the things that definitely – one of his behaviors that we definitely appreciate is the fact that he insists on flying in a private aircraft whenever have to go any distance. He doesn’t like traveling in a bus. He doesn’t even like being in a car for that long. If it’s longer than, like, a two orthree-hour drive going somewhere, we’re going to wind up flying. Yeah, an incredibleperk!

    I said, “It kind of spoils you, huh?” and he replied:

    “Yeah, it does! It’s like after you’ve been on the road a month or two months flying in a private plane and the first time you ToddRundgren006go on a commercial jet, you’re kind of, like, pissed off, ha! ha! about all the stuff you have to go through just to get into your crappy seat and eat the crappy food.”

    At the time of our chat, I hadn’t yet received an advance copy of Rundgren’s soon-to-be-released CD, White Knight. I asked him to tell me about it.

    “I imagine what’s going out now is links. I don’t know if they’ve got actual hard copies of anything. The record label, Cleopatra, is very much into kind of the material artifact – the old fashioned productized music. They wanted to have an LP come out the same time as the CD and the electronic release happens. So, essentially, it’s the tail wagging the dog process like it was back in the seventies. Ha! Ha! We have to wait for the LP to get made and, then, everything else can happen. Ha! Ha! That, apparently, has the longest lead time – like, almost three months to get an LP made. There’s a lot of demand for vinyl. A lot of vinyl collectors now and a lot of the old plants went out of business. There’s just more demand than there is manufacturing.”

    And about the album itself?

    “Yeah, an album doesn’t have to necessarily have a singular theme beyond the fact that I’m working with a lot of other musicians. That’s a decision I made when Cleopatra approached me about making a record. I made most of all of my recent records myself out on the island because it’s too hard to call up somebody and have them come on over for a casual session. It requires a different process. But things have come along in recent years in terms of file sharing services and greater bandwidth available to people. It’s become a lot morecommonplace to do these kinds of collaborations where you send files back and forth and you’re not necessarily in the same room.

    “So, I thought I’d take advantage of that. I started calling up people who I wanted to work with. Whenever somebody agreed, I got the process started. They’re actually more potential collaborators thanappear on the final record just because at a certain point you have a deadline. You say, ‘Okay, this is when I have to deliver.’ If somebody doesn’t send in whatever it is – send in their contribution – then, it just doesn’t make it. But, it could possibly come out later. That’s the electronic part. But, as you may guess, by the range of different artists that are on there, the music is, likewise, eclectic. If there’s a musical theme in it at all, I was trying to recapture a little bit of a certain era where funk music and eighties synth-pop overlap. Kind of lush sounds of eighties synthesizers and the funky bass lines of Earth, Wind and Fire and that sort of thing. That’s the area that I’m trying to be rutilant of in a musical sense but the lyrics are any variety of things but certainly more contemporary than that.”

    ToddRundgren007With the music business in a wide bit of disarray, I asked Todd what he would do to fix the industry if he were made Global Music Czar – or did it even need any fixing.

    “Global Music Czar. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Well, people tend to think – and especially the public at large tends to think – that whatever they hear at the Grammy’s, that’s what’s happening in music. And, certainly, that’s what’s happening in the industrial partin music. A lot hasn’t changed. I have to say that, in recent years, most ofpop music has been dominated by female artists. The biggest artists in the world are like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. And their audience is all teenage girls. Ha! Ha! The music industry has been dominated, quite a bit, by whatever the spending habits are of adolescent girls. They’ve made Taylor Swift the most highly paid artist/musician in the world.

    “But there are other things going on that – if you go online and do a little research – you should find out that there are a lot of different ways to approach this; a lot of different levels of success and some of them don’t have anything to do with the traditional record business.

    “I know of an artist – his name is Bones – I know him because I knew him when he was born. Ha! Ha! He’s the son of the guy who does my merchandise – who also does their merchandise. They have never sold music. They have never made a record deal and has never asked for any money for the music that they post online. They make all their money doing concerts and selling merchandise. No records at all. They make minute and a half videos and now there’s probably three hundred of them up there. That’s how they popularize themselves – using the internet exclusively and, at this point, they’re making incredible amounts of money without anything that looks like a record label – without any of those issues. I don’t know what they’re doing about the publishing the songs that they write – if somebody covers one of their songs. I’m sure that there must be some sort of publishing arrangement. But they have no record label. They have no masters. No CDs. No video discs. Nothing of that sort of nature. Only t-shirts. They just sell hundreds of thousands of dollars in t-shirts. Ha! Ha!”

    With Rundgren remaining neck-deep in the music business, I asked him who was commanding his attention, musically, theseToddRundgren010 days.

    “Commanding? Ha! Ha! I happen to be in L.A., now. I’m on my way to rehearsals for my tour but I happen to be in L.A., now, because I am sitting in for a couple of nights with a young band named the Lemon Twigs who are playing Coachella tomorrow night and playing in Pomona tonight. They wanted to have me guest on a song so I will sit in with them in Pomona tonight which will give us an opportunity to work through the song. Then, tomorrow, the Coachella Festival I will sit in on the same song with them. And, then, I will move on to rehearsal for my own thing – thendoing some press and PR for a couple of days.”

    Todd Rundgren is known to be a great collaborator so I asked who would he like to collaborate with in the future.

    “Well, like I say, there’s still an outstanding list of collaborators that we never got anything – we didn’t get anything completed, yet. But things could still happen with some of them. A lot of times people have their own releases and that conflicts, in a way. They want to focus on what they’re doing. So, anything’s possible. But, at this point, I’m on the road. I’m trying to get a show mounted. Things are pretty hectic in that regard. Until we get into some sort of stride or routine with that, I’m going to stay focused on that.”

    When you step off the tour bus of life up at that great gig in the sky, how do you want to be remembered and what do you hope your legacy will be?

    “Well, if you don’t leave a legacy until you die, ha! ha!, that’s kinda sad, you know? If people can’t figure out what you’ve done until after you’re dead, that’s kind of – you really don’t want to have to go to that extreme to get remembered. I would rather be remembered while I’m still alive.

    ToddRundgren012“Musical success is something that comes and goes. You’re popular. People forget about you. Maybe you can come back. Maybe you can find an audience to sustain you for the rest of your career – however long that lasts. The thing that I always wanted to do was to become a father. It’s not like a big public thing that I talk about all the time but, for me personally, that’s the most important thing that I did was to become a father. That, I’ll be remembered through the kids that I have, I guess. Ha! Ha! And what they do in life and their kids, as well, because I’m just part of a lineage of fathers and sons, anyway.”

    And, that, my friends, is what makes Todd Rundgren a real man.

    Keep up with all things Todd at www.tri-i.com or here on Facebook. 

Featured Photo

Jim Keltner.Broken Glass DW

Our Featured Photo by Boomerocity friend and famed rock photographer, Rob Shanahan (robshanahan.com), is is a bit different from past featured photos. 

 

 

The Boomerocity Interview Vault

Interviews

Posted June, 2013 If you’re, say, oh, I don’t know, over the age of eight...

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