Interview: Todd Rundgren

Abigail Saltmarsh During his 40-year career, Todd Rundgren has performed in bands Nazz and Utopia and worked as a musician and producer with some of the biggest names in music, including Meatloaf and Ringo Starr. He spoke to ABIGAIL SALTMARSH. Further listening: Todd Rundgren

Abigail Saltmarsh

During his 40 year career, Todd Rundgren has performed in bands Nazz and Utopia and worked as a musician and producer with some of the biggest names in the business, including Meatloaf and Ringo Starr. Ahead of an appearance in Norwich, ABIGAIL SALTMARSH caught up with him.

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Q: How did the tour go in America?

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A: It went pretty well really, especially considering the release of the album was delayed and one of the audiences didn't even get to hear it before I played. But the response has been gratifying.

Q: When were you last in the UK?

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A: I toured UK and Europe with Joe Jackson three years ago. It was the two of us solo with a string quartet - so this is a whole world of difference! I haven't played in Norwich before.

Q: What can the audience at The Waterfront expect?

A: I'm with my five piece band (five including myself), The Liars. We do a bunch of old favourites, then the new material from Arena, before playing some older stuff again at the end.

Q: How are the songs on your new album Arena different from your older material?

A: It's to do with the last eight years of politics and the way our leaders have been behaving in this cowardly way. The recurring idea on the album is that man needs to elevate his mind.

Q: What has influenced you in the making of the album?

A: The album is a homage to the style of music that was played in the 1970s. I wanted to create that feeling of unity and heroism that you can expect from the great arena bands. I would have to say my sojourn with the New Cars would have to be the biggest factor in my doing this. If Elliot Eastern hadn't broken his collar bone, I wouldn't have started out on my own.

Q: Who have been the most important influences during you 40-year career?

A: Undeniably, I was always a big Yardbirds fan - because they produced two of the best guitarists ever - Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. As time has gone on, I would say they have been the most seminal musicians for me.

Q: As a producer and musician, you have worked with some of the biggest names in the business, who have you enjoyed working with most?

A: Well it's always fun to go out on tour with Ringo, not least because it's an opportunity to play with a Beatle. Through that I also had the chance to play with a lot of other good musicians such as Joe Walsh [The Eagles] and Gary Brooker [Procol Harum].

Q: What have you not achieved in your long career that you would still like to do?

A: Well, I've never been in a film. I think I might like to direct - or to act. I've always thought it might be fun. But I guess it looks like that from the outside. If you do it full-time it must be different. I guess I have to be careful what I wish for!

t Todd Rundgren plays the Waterfront on November 22. Arena is out now.

Further listening: Todd Rundgren

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