I dont think its ever been done before, where a major player
had joined or revived a band
TR: Actually it has. I dont think that this idea would have, or
it would have been a more dangerous idea if not for the whole Queen
/ Paul Rogers thing that happened. In most cases these bands are reformed,
theyve usually got the original member or most of the original
members. The Doors recently reformed. They got into a lot of trouble
with Morrisons estate because they didnt make a distinction
between the old Doors and the new Doors and thats why were
called The New Cars. There is the possibility that original members
of The Cars would reform and they would have the right to just plain
call themselves The Cars. And the reality is that neither Ric nor Tom,
the original drummer, want to become touring musicians again. Its
not the easiest life and if you have something else that you can do,
your days will probably be more productive (laughter) doing that then
what typically occurs on the road. Its perfectly understandable
that they declined to go out but then theres always the possibility
that Greg and Elliot and Ric and Tom would reform and that would really
be The Cars. So, yeah there is a distinction that it can lead to some
confusion but fortunately theres only one version of the band
out (laughter) this summer and thats The New Cars.
RS: Not Tonight is a brilliant song that sounds like vintage
Cars. Any info on how that song evolved?
TR: As a matter of fact, it was the very last song that we completed
and we were almost resisting trying to go for that
down the original Cars highway in a sense. And we kind of had that kind
of like set aside as a last resort. We recorded like two and a half
One of them we gave up on half way through and then
two other ones we finished first and then we finally had this track
with no real lyric idea, I couldnt figure out what this song was
going to be about and thats why we werent making any progress.
And Elliot had been suggesting something
he came up with the basic chord structure and thats what he heard.
And I just at one point for some reason got real contrarian and figured,
the song has to be called Not Tonight. Itll
be all the things that you would do except youre too damn busy
to do (laughter) them. And the song just evolved really quickly from
there. So that was the most collaborative one that had pieces of music
that Greg had come up with, and chord changes that Elliot had come up
with and the lyrics and melody of the song, essentially I came up with.
RS: Not Tonight had a great hybrid Cars / Nazz sound in
TR: Yeah, we think of this sort of almost as a hybrid cause Prairie
and Kaz have been playing with me so long, its almost as if you
put two bands together. A lot of people only notice that I have taken
the front man position but the rhythm section is just as important and
the fact that they and I had played together for so long kind of helped
it all come together quicker and also characterize what it sounded like
once it did.
RS: I was amazed that one of the live tracks on the Its Alive
CD is Open My Eyes which was the first song on the first
Nazz album from 1968.
TR: Thats for all those Nazz fans (laughter) that are still out
RS: Are you bringing out some other solo classics on board for the live
TR: Theres a couple more of my songs that were working into
the set. Weve got to find a happy medium there. Therell
probably be fans of mine there but we are going out as The New Cars
not the New Utopia. (laughter) So there will be other opportunities
in there and hopefully theyll be musically gratifying it theyre
not familiar to the audience otherwise they may likely be familiar.
I mean most everybody has heard I Saw The Light at a certain
point and most everybody will have heard Bang The Drum All Day
even if they dont know who the original artist was. (laughter)
RS: So a New Cars studio album is imminent?
TR: Well the live album is
essentially, thats done and thats
coming out like June 9th or something like that. But once weve
been on the road for a while, I think its highly likely well
do a DVD of the show. And when we do that, that will of course have
new versions of whatever songs are in the set at that point, which obviously
will include a lot of stuff thats on the live album.
RS: So the three studio cuts on the CD advance sent to the magazine
are on the Its Alive! album?
TR: The three studio cuts are on the album but theres the studio
versions and we already know at least one of the songs, having performed
one of the new songs
no, two of them. That means we only have one
more to learn. (laughter) And once weve done that, yeah all of
those studio tracks will then eventually appear as live versions.
RS: Has Ric Ocasek heard the New Cars CD? What does he think about it?
TR: Hes not contacted anyone with an opinion but the presumption
is, that if he doesnt then everythings fine. (laughter)
We can continue on. The situation is not like some of these other
not like the Doors situation, where they just went out and called
themselves The Doors and didnt make any accommodation to Jim Morrisons
estate or anything like that and then it wound up to be law suit city.
In this particular instance all of those kinds of conditions and agreements
have already been made and signed off on. His opinion musically, while
it might be of some interest to us, is not going to affect, essentially
the relationship that is defined in our agreement, that enables him
and Ben Orrs estate to participate in this whole thing. As I mentioned,
thats one of the reasons why were called The New Cars, rather
than just The Cars. Somehow Paul Rogers and the remaining members of
Queen are able to call themselves Queen or Paul Rogers and Queen. (laughter)
Thats original enough to make the distinction. Nobodys expecting
Freddie to show up unexpectedly. Rock and roll heaven maybe
RS: Interesting that your solo releases and Ric Ocasek's new CD are
both on Sanctuary.
TR: Sanctuary is a distribution company principally. They dont
do a whole lot of original recording developments. And indeed the album
that they put out of mine, I completed myself and offered to them for
distribution. They didnt underwrite the expenses of making it
and usually dont. Often, theyll acquire the rights to records
that were previously out on another label but have been dropped from
the catalog. And in that sense theyre very much like a European
version of Rhino Records. Thats how all of those Nazz albums originally
reappeared on the market after SGC Records disappeared.
RS: Your recent release on Sanctuary is The Best Of Todd Rundgren
TR: Yeah, so we had a separate agreement with them to plumb this catalog
of live recordings, some video, but mostly audio recordings of live
shows, live radio broadcasts and various other things that I have funded.
Performances going back even in to the mid to early 70s. So they
go into that vast library of stuff and pick out things that they think
would make good live recordings, they send them to me, I spiff them
up a little bit and then they release them. And thats an agreement
that weve had since before they distributed the Liars album
and that continues now.
RS: The Best Of Todd Rundgren Live is a great concept for a live
CD. Even though the tracks are taken from different shows over different
years, it sounds like one whole show...Its so much better idea
then fading down and going to a different show.
TR: Yeah, well you lose a lot of momentum that way for one thing. All
the excitement of a live show goes away as soon as it goes silent. (laughter)
And I thought it would be generally more exciting and convey more of
the live feel if the tracks were all kind of like put in a similar acoustic
space and the audience seemed to be just one audience. You could almost
construe it as, starting out, lets say with a smaller group of
musicians and then more and more people like walking on stage (laughter)
in between the tunes and in some cases walking off again. Maybe the
kind of show that you would do when you were retiring. When you wanted
to go back and visit your performance career.
RS: Its one of the best live albums Ive heard.
RS: Your were working with Bas Hartong over at Sanctuary?
TR: Bas has left. The company kind of downsized and refocused mostly
back in Europe where they originated. So Bas was kind of like the point
man there and I used to do all the projects with him. He was the one
who would go through the library and find the performances that he thought
should be released. Now hes independent or hes working somewhere
else. Im not exactly sure where. I got an email from him saying
where he was.
RS: Future plans on Sanctuary?
TR: We had some arrangements with them. We had one sort of big arrangement
that we announced whereas I was giving them some like exclusivity on
a range of my services. But that agreement, when they began to downsize,
was weighing too heavily on them (laughter) so that we kind of like
ended that agreement but we still have a relationship with them; they
still release some of our catalog but the likelihood that they will
be releasing the next solo album that I do is probably slim.
RS: I saw a Nazz CD box set from Japan selling for $120.
TR: Whoa! The Japanese, they really get into the completeness of the
package. And they remaster. There may be vinyl in there for all I know.
(laughter) I mean theres only two records that we actually did,
so Im not sure how they trump it up into a hundred and twenty
dollar box set. But hey, more power to em. Theres probably
like collectables in there that you cant get anywhere else.
RS: They also have a Nazz III Lp blue label promo for $300
TR: Yike! (laughter) Holy moly.
RS: So theres not going to be reissues of the Nazz Cds in the
TR: I dont know whos in control of that right now. And no
one ever approached me about trying to either reconstruct original masters
or original versions of for instance, the second album which at first
was made as a double album and then came out as two single albums. And
I think theres some attempt to get that all reordered but nobody
has given me the opportunity to actually mess with original masters
so its out of my control, more or less.
RS: One last question. So youre not running for President in 2008?
Id vote for you.
TR: (laughter) Its turned into such an ugly job at this point.
When you say a thing like that, even if you were serious, who wants
to inherit the mess that this clown left? Its the worst time to
be president. Somebody a little bit more foolhardy than I is gonna have
to take on that problem! (laughter) Ill be talking to you soon
you take care or yourself and all my best to your mom. See
Thanks to Todd Rundgren @
Tenth Street Entertainment, Kim Estlund, Rhino and Sanctuary Records