Todd Rundgren, fully Todd Harry Rundgren

Rundgren, fully Todd Harry Rundgren

American Songwriter, Composer, Multi-Instrumentalist, and Producer, Wells Scholar Professor at Indiana University Bloomington

Author Quotes

The New York Dolls did not think of themselves as punk rock. There was no such term at the time. They were just another band in what was called the New York scene.

The problem turned out to be that I never was that kind of an artist.

The Toddstock thing is the closest thing, I have to say, a Grateful Dead sort of thing where it all lapses over from the formality of a concert into more of a lifestyle thing.

There's no really deep personal messages anymore in a lot of popular music. More than anything, they're (artists) trying to out-do each other: 'What is the outrage that will get people buzzing and tweeting?' 'She said c**k five times in a row! Wait, the song's called Peacock. I get it!

There's only one band that could ever even pretend to assume the mantle of what the Beatles did, who have been so pre-eminent and world-dominating that they could effect a paradigm shift in the culture, who have been willing to leverage their success into musical change, and that is U2 - regardless of what the result of that is.

This is one of the best gigs anyone could possibly have... You travel the same way that Ringo does, you stay in the same hotels that Ringo does - you are essentially a Beatle! In Nagoya (in Japan), when we got off the train we were mobbed as if we were Beatles. It's just a lot of fun

We bought property after Iniki in '92. I figured we'd never find better bargains. As it turned out, we didn't get a bargain, but we did find the spot we wanted to live on. It actually took a couple years to secure that spot. Then, after we moved, it took over 10 years to start construction on the house. It's still a work in progress.

Well, a couple of years ago, I completed an album called Arena. It was something of a tribute to guitar players that had influenced me in a certain kind of music that I hadn't really delved that far into. Nowadays, we make the records and then we find someone to distribute them, as opposed to the old days when you had a multi-album contract with somebody. During that process, we found someone willing to distribute that album, and they also had coincidentally acquired the publishing rights to the Robert Johnson catalog but they had no actual recordings of Robert Johnson songs, they only had the publishing rights. So in order to kind of activate that whole thing, they wanted someone to re-record some Robert Johnson material, and in order to get my album distributed, I agreed to do that. The reason why I agreed to it, or the reason I felt comfortable agreeing to it, was because my very first gig out of high school was in a blues band, so this was a chance for me to sit there and revisit my own past but do it in a way that highlighted the work of a foundational blues master. Through that roundabout method, I wound up studying the catalog of Robert Johnson in a way that I actually hadn't before, but the interesting or peculiar thing about that was that I delivered that record two and a half years ago, or something like that, and it only came out last Spring. I toured behind the record with the expectation that it was coming out and the label just kept pushing the release off by six months at a time. By the time the record came out, I was done touring behind it. We would do maybe one or two songs from the Robert Johnson catalog, but if you really wanted to see me get down and dirty with it, I'm sorry, it's too late, I already did.

Well, I'm sort of optimistic about the progress that the internet has made in a strictly sort of presentational standpoint. It used to be, and I mentioned this before, the internet was originally intended to be a marketplace for anything but ideas. It was a place where colleges could interconnect with each other and college students could interconnect with each other and people would use it mostly for research. Then we suddenly got it into our heads that we can make a lot of money off of this thing, and now, it is the sewer of all of those things that overly capitalized things eventually become. It would be really great if someone would invent a new internet with the specific purpose of not making money off of it, but making it what it originally was, a free marketplace of ideas, and there are still aspects of the internet that are that. Wikipedia, essentially, is still the bastion of the original ideals of the internet. It is built and maintained by the users of the internet and gains its integrity from that. Entire industries have grown to depend on it. I can't imagine what MSNBC would do in terms of research if they didn't have Wikipedia.

When I got out of high school, I was in a blues band. It was the kind of music I was interested in, and listening to, mostly because it was becoming a vehicle for a generation of guitarists - like Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. Mike Bloomfield. And that's what I wanted to be, principally: a guitar player.

When I got out of the Nazz, I had it in my mind that simply to be eclectic was an important aspect of making music. It was something that I derived from The Beatles.

When the Beatles first came out, you had to go to a certain amount of trouble to have long hair. You just couldn't have it immediately. Anything you can just go out and get - like platform shoes - is not going to inspire people as much as something they have to go through a little bit of hell to have.

It's great if you can afford to carry a string section on the road with you, but most people are used to the idea of just a keyboard player creating those string sounds.

'State' can be a word that is a noun or a verb or an adverb - it's kind of why I chose that title. It's not to confound the audience but to keep me from painting myself into a cul-de-sac in the early stages of making a record by having too high concept or having some really strict set of rules I have to adhere to.

It's hard for me to say that what I'm doing isn't even really music, because deep inside of me, what I want to do is much greater than music.

That's what I like about Frank Ocean or Bon Iver - they try to capture a feeling in the most sincere way.

I think there are always people who, when they get the bug to play an instrument, they want to get as good as they can with it rather than just be simply adequate at it. You run into them every once in a while - some kid who wants to be the next Stevie Ray Vaughan, for whatever reason, and plays exactly like him.

It's no longer necessary to slave over the vocals. I don't sing the lyrics until I write them, and singing is the very last thing I do. I record the entire track, and then I worry about lyrics and vocals. The music will suggest where the words are going to a certain extent.

The Nazz survived for 18 months - that was my first taste of fame on some level and of the overall experience of being in a band. There are good and bad aspects, and I got to taste some of both, and, well, it's not as much fun as what you see in 'A Hard Day's Night,' let me just say that.

I used to have sort of mixed feelings about a producer whose only skills seemed to be going into the studio, schmoozing the artists and making them feel good. I can see now that in some cases, that's what you have to do because that's the only way you're going to get them to produce.

I've become kind of a haven for people who like pop music, but that's not the only thing they like. They also like music in general and want to be able to expand their own horizons. They haven't completely given up on music and are willing to have somebody mediate new things that are happening in music to them.

I want to be known as a professional weirdo. There aren't many Salvador Dalis or Buckminster Fullers left. If I become popular enough, I can establish the next step for records.

Meat Loaf had a label at the time who was going to pay for it, but I guess they were a little bit shy about it because they were already talking, "Let's get a 60 piece orchestra for this song." We got it, actually. It wasn't my idea, but to kind of drive home that this was Springsteen spoof, Steinman insisted on us having Max Weinberg and Roy Bitten from the E Street Band playing on the record. So we'd been rehearsing for a week, maybe 10 days, and we're ready to go into the studio to start this record and the day before, Meat Loaf comes to me and says, "I don't think my label understands me, I want to get off of them." My response was, "I'm not your manager, I can't tell you what to do. But you know, we're supposed to go into the studio tomorrow and start recording this record, and if you fire your label, there'll be nobody to pay for it." And he went and did it. I had to go to the record company to say, "Put it on my tab. Charge it to me and after it's done, you'll get right of first refusal. So we finished the record and they turned it down, so does Warner Brothers. I'm stuck with this record that cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars to make and no label, nobody to release it, so they and their lawyer start going out and they start trying to sell the record. They couldn't find a producer before and now they can't find a label for it. Finally, after six or eight months, they find this tiny little label, Cleveland International, which is a subsidiary of CBS, distributed by Epic, and one of the biggest labels in the world at the time. It doesn't exist anymore, but the guy just, for some reason, heard the record, had faith in it, put out one single and nothing happened, put out another single and nothing happened, and then put out the third single and finally something happened. During all of this time, two things are going on. Meat Loaf is touring relentlessly; any place he can play, he will play, and TV suddenly comes online and starts playing "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" in its entirety constantly and that was what eventually broke it, and then, here we are, (Bat Out Of Hell) is the fifth biggest selling album of all time. From Bruce Springsteen spoof to biggest selling album of all time, a bigger selling album than Bruce Springsteen ever had.

I was lucky enough to grow up in an era when radio was less formatted. It was really special. You could hear a jazz song then a pop song then a show tune then some jazz. Basically, whatever the DJ felt like playing, he would play. He was educating you and exposing you to things you would never hear otherwise.

Music is the way I understand how to communicate now, the way that I've learned how to communicate... but it will eventually have to go beyond that. You see, I've realized that music is not what keeps people involved - it's the attitude behind the music.

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American Songwriter, Composer, Multi-Instrumentalist, and Producer, Wells Scholar Professor at Indiana University Bloomington