2007 - Delicious Agony (Online radio station)
Online - October 30, 2007 - with Joe Mallon
Re-broadcast November 4, 2007
Delicious Agony web site
Part 1 (transcribed by Tanya A. Hogan) - (interview mp3)
Part 2 (transcribed by Michael HH) - (interview mp3)
Part 3 (transcribed by Doug Bailey) - (interview mp3)
Part 4 (transcribed by Amy @ Collected Sounds) - (interview mp3)
Part 1 (transcribed by Tanya A. Hogan)
Station ID: Thank you for tuning in to Delicious Agony, Progressive Rock Radio
Show identification: Welcome to Shadow and Light on Delicious Agony. Your progressive rock radio station on the internet. My name is Joe Mallon. Join me for the next two hours as we take a trip through Progressive Music's past present and future.
Show intro: Hey there folks, Iím Joe Mallon. Welcome to Shadow And Light. Every Tuesday at 3 p.m. I try and bring you the best progressive music I can find. And this week, I am very lucky because I got to sit down with singer, songwriter, musician, producer Happy Rhodes to talk with her about her brand new album Find Me. We also discussed her earlier work and which progressive rock influenced her the most. I think youíll be surprised at her answers. But you wonít be surprised at how great the music youíre about to hear, is. Youíll hear selections from her the album as well as music from throughout her career. Thanks for tuning in to this special edition and please welcome, Happy Rhodes.
Music ("She Won't Go" from Find Me)
JM (Joe Mallon): Iím speaking with Happy Rhodes who is kind enough to sit with me for an interview in celebration of her new album Find Me released just a few months [weeks] ago. So, letís start, I'm going to start at the beginning, even though Iím sure a lot of your very ardent fans will be listening; there are probably going to be people listening who arenít that familiar with you. So letís begin with when you first started getting interested in music Ė as an audience member and then as a performer.
HR: Uh, wow! That wouldíve been very, very early I think Öfirst started getting interested in music, well, uhm, just for simplicityís sake, I would say, ah, I was introduced to the guitar by my mom. She had an old, beat up guitar, it was a nylon string. And, uh, you know, she could play a few chords ..and, uhm, I picked up her guitar and, would just, you know, plunk around on it, and she would show me how to do a G chord, she showed me how to do D chord, and I think I was probably about nine or ten at the time(?). And Iíve always been heavy into music because my father used to play music every weekend in the house. So, I had been exposed to a lot of different artists, including a lot of classical music. So, um, then I got interested in the guitar just because it was like, it was just the first instrument I was introduced to, so uhm, I guess within about six months or so, my mom just gave me that guitar, to have, which was like the coolest thing to ever happen to me, and I just immediately started finger-picking! (laughing) I had uh, I had one lesson on guitar, and it was like a group lesson with a bunch of students at my school, and uh, the lesson was on strumming. And strumming like, folk music, and I hated folk music and I just said, ďI am not gonna do that!Ē so I immediately started finger-picking and, uh, it took off from there. The performance aspect of music, for me, was never .. I, I didnít even come up until I was about.. I donít know, about 16 or 17 when I started doing open mic nights at CaffŤ Lena in Saratoga. And, uh, that was petrifying for me, it was just terrifying because I didnít like singing in front of people. Kinda like, Iím one of those kind of people that, I want everything to be absolutely perfect before I present it. Whether itís, you know, some craft that Iíve just done or some technical thing Iíve done or, a song, or whatever. I just always want it to be, if it canít be perfect, thereís no sense in, you know, puttiní it out there. So, I was petrified to play in front of people but CaffŤ Lena was my first foray into thatÖ realm. Itís never been a huge, huge love of mine. I like creating music a lot more than I do performing it, but itís a package deal.
JM: What sort of music did you enjoy growing up?
HR: ÖÖUh, well, letís see, I mean, I ÖIím kind of an, an unusual case because I didnít actually start purchasing music as a kid until I was about 14 years old. I guess maybe 13 or 14, I mean I understand kids these days, you know, can download whatever they want and just listen to music all the time. But, ahmÖ When I was of the age to be able to start purchasing LPís, it wouldíve been ah, Queen! (laughing) It wouldíve been Queen, Queen and more Queen! I was a, a Queen freak! So, ahm,.. thatís what I listened to mostly at that age. Before then, it was pretty varied. I loved a lot of stuff on the radio. I listened to the radio a lot, and occasionally I would try to tape some great song that I loved off of the radio.
JM: I was a big fan of News Of The World so I, I totally get what youíre saying.
JM: Uhm. When did you first, uh discover the extent of your vocal range; one of the things youíre renowned for is your very sweeping, I think itís 4-octave range(?). So when did you first realize that you had all of that room there?
HR: ÖAhhÖ.Well, I didnít, I didnít always have that room, I mean I had to develop it. Iím naturally an alto as you can hear in my voice, and, of course, throughout school I was always in, in the choirs and everything. And I was always stuck as an alto, but it was frustrating for me because thereís a breaking point in everyoneís voice where you go from, your, you know, regular voice to a falsetto, and uh, my breaking point happens very, very low in my register. Iím just, I have a deep, deep voice and thatís my natural range. So I had to actually develop my higher range and I did that just by singing along with Kate Bush records, I mean that, thatís, if you want to develop a high range, thatís the thing to do! (laughing)
JM: Specially the first coupleÖ
HR: Ya, exactly. I mean, I, you know, singiní along with Queen, obviously, itís the same thing, itís like, you know, Roger Taylor could hit notes that you know, would make my grandmother cry. So, itís uh, I, I sang along with Queen, I sang along with Kate Bush, and what elseÖ Uh, later in life when I started getting more into Yes, I would sing along with Jon Anderson, so you know, that was how I developed my upper range. AndÖ of course, in order to get those high notes, I probably did all the wrong things. I would kind of constrict my air, and uhm, not Ďsing out,í just kinda constrict everything so I could like get that Ďhigh pitch.í Uhm, and, as time went on, after I started getting my voice used to being up there, I started trying to sing more, ahÖ healthily, you know like opening up a little bit more so it doesnít damage your, yer voice.
Music ("Winter" from Many Worlds Are Born Tonight)
JM: Well, uh.. youíve mentioned Yes, which is right down the uh, right down the uhm pike for, for our station, weíre a progressive rock radio station so,
JM: ..sets up my next question perfectly, which is uhmÖ Which progressive bands ĖI would say, ďif anyĒóbut I know youíre a big fan of Yes, which of your progressive, which progressive bands would you say are your favorites, and which ones influenced you, and so how did you come across them and, and when ..and, as much as you could think of as progressive music slamming into your music and that sort of thing.
HR: Ah, well let me see if I understand your question. Youíre asking ďwhich progressive band, or bands had the biggest impact on my writing?Ē
JM: Both impact on your writing, and which do you like? Do you still listen to any of them, and, and, when did you start listening to progressive music and how do you think itís influenced your work, and you still listen to it?
HR: Uh, ya. Well, interestingly enough, I, I listen to very little music anymore. Uhm, even the music that I love. Uhm.. I dunno, ďwhy(?)Ē it just, ÖIím not the kind of person that walks into the house after a long day and throws on a CD. I just donít do that. But, ahmÖ I would say that having two older brothers, growing up, I got exposed to some interesting stuff. Ahm.. I very much liked Pink Floyd. I donít know how much Pink Floyd influenced my writing. I would have to say probalby ďnot very much at all,Ē but I definitely was, ahm, exposed to a lot of Pink Floyd. Uh.. Later it was Yes, and in particular, ahm, an album that really, really made a huge impact on me was Olias of Sunhillow which is Jon Andersonís solo, one of his solo albums.
JM: I justÖ
HR: I think his first solo album.
JM: I just picked up a re-master of that, actually itís pretty good.
HR: Ya. Well, thatís uh, a trippy, trippy album and it has a lot goiní on and I really appreciated that, cuz my thing that, uhm, music when I was growiní up is, I just need to be challenged. I donít wanna hear you know, I donít wanna hear Ďfluff,í I donít wanna hear easy pop songs, I wanna hear things that challenge my brain, so that when youíre listening to it, youíre, yer trying to pick out parts. And thatís why I loved Queen so much of course, because ah, they were just ridiculous when it came to vocal parts and musical parts. So I would say that, ahm, definitely, Yes, specifically, Jon Anderson. I also loved Chris Squireís solo work, ahmÖ I, I was exposed to, ah, the Strawbs, ahm, Iím trying to think, thereís so manyÖ Ahm.. But the ones that really, really stuck with me were the ones that wound up with the longevity, and that would be Yes.
JM: Have you ever seen them?
HR: Oh, yeah! (laughing)
JM: Oh, okay.
JM: Ahm.. theyíre still actually, really, really good. I saw them on the 2003 tour and they could still tear it up, pretty well.
HR: Ya, ya. Oh, well, I mean, you know, this might surprise and shock a lot of people, but Iím also a huge Trevor Rabin fan. I just happen to think heís a genius; I have nothing against Steve Howe at all, I mean I love Steve Howe too, but ahm, Trevor Rabin, I mean he, his solo album, ahm, whatís it called, (laughing) now I canít even remember, Canít Look Away I think. Ahm, that is an incredible record, I mean, in terms of, thatís not progressive, but it definitely deep pop, itís, itís not Ďfluffí at all, itís definitely intricate and intense music. And, so I always enjoy listening to him, and uhm, Iíve enjoyed seeing Yes with Trevor, Iíve enjoyed seeing them with Steve, so itís all great for me.
Music ("The Yes Medley" From The Keep)
JM: Well, letís talk a little bit about your song-writing process, if thatís okay.
JM: What, what drive you to write..ah, what drives you after youíve written to actually decide Ďokay, itís time to start recording.í And, an, why did you start, well, looking back at your history, letís cover that one first Ėsorry, so many questions. So, what drives you to write, and then, what drives you to record, after youíve written?
HR: ..Well, uh, Öthe thing is that, my ďprocess(?)Ē is basically, I write as I record. Cuz, ahm, usually, nah, you know, some people like to do ďdemoísĒ and then you take them to the studio and it gets produced. Ahm, basically, what I do is, ahm, I write into the, directly into the computer, and most of what I write winds up being the song. Ahm, with the exception of this last album, uhÖ I would write everything into the computer Ėeverything that was electronic stayed original to what I had done. Anything that needed to be live, like we decided drums, and you know, live guitars and so on, those of course would then be translated. But, in many cases, ahm, letís see, one song in particular on Find Me was Ö ďQueen.Ē That song, ahm, I wrote all the guitar parts into the computer, but they wound up being duplicated, live, by a very talented player named um, Teddy Kumple. So, when I, Iím recording at the same time that Iím writing. And what drives me to start a song in the first place , ahÖ. I mean, who knows! It could be anything. Ahm, basically, most the time, itís some weird, anomalous, electronic thing that Iíve just come up with, that I think is just so cool that maybe I could base a song around it. But I never write lyrics first. I mean thatís so rare for me. Cuz, I donít feel like.. itís not like I have some.. Ďgreatí things to say to people, I donít actually feel that I do! (laughing) But I feel like I have a lot of music in me, so when I start writing the music, then usually the ah, the theme or the, the feeling of the music is whatís gonna dictate what the song is about.
JM: When did you first start, or, I guess, both when and why did you first start recording? I know it was back in the, ah, early eighties, what inspired you to say, Ďokay, well, I have these songs; I should actually record themí?
HR: Ö.Uh, ÖWell, I, I knew I wanted to be ahm, a recording artist, so to speak. Ahm, I had no idea how I was going to do that, seeing as how, you know, I was pretty darn shy at the time, and uh, Ö.anti-social and had no, I mean, I didnít know anybody, how was I gonna like get money, I mean, here I am 18-years old, how am I gonna get money to record an album. So I decided that I would go to a local recording studio and, Öjust kinda walk in and ask if I could be like an apprentice, like just work there for free. And learn how things get recorded. And just, like, I donít know, in some weird way I thought that would help open doors for me. If I could just learn how recording works, then uh, you know, then maybe I could get a foot in somewhere. And I, I toyed with the idea of just learning to become an engineer. Ahm, and just, you know, in stead of music, or just maybe try to do both. But, but what happened was, I walked into a studio in Rensselaer, New York and the, ah head engineer there was Pat Tessitore and uhm, you know, he agreed to let me just hang out and watch. I, there wasnít really much I could do, I wasnít really an apprentice, but I could just Ďhangí and, you know, learn from him. And uh, as a lesson, as my first lesson, as a matter of fact, he said, ďwell, youíre a musician, so why donít you bring in your guitar,Ē at the time I only had a guitar. I had no ahm, electronics or anything. He said, ďbring in your guitar,Ē and uh, ďweíll put you in a booth and you can play, ..well, you know, whatever, and weíll record a couple songs, and that, by doing that, Iíll, youíll learn how it works.Ē So I did; I brought in my guitar, started singing and, uh, he recorded me. And I came out and, he just looked me and he said, ďyouíre not going to be an engineer.Ē (laughing) I said, ďWhat?Ē He goes, ďHow many more songs do you have?Ē and I said, ďwell, gotta quite a few!Ē and he goes, ďwell, weíre gonna start recording your songs.Ē And, I mean, that was just the kindness of his heart. He just, for free, now, just started recording everything I wrote! And, uhm, it was great! I mean the, and those sessions, wound up being the first two, more than the first two, but basically the first two albums of mine, which are Rhodes I and my Rhodes II; thereís a compilation of all these little ďtunesĒ that I wrote when I was young, you know?
JM: So you have these albums and theyíre on cassette. How did you imagine they would find an audience, or did you worry about that, at all?
Part 2 (transcribed by Michael HH)
HR: Well, when I first started releasing them, it was very very, I think it was very early in the days, I don't know if CD's were, they were just coming out probably.... and it was, you know, early, and I don't know, I mean I don't know if I thought that I would eventually wind up on a major label, and um, you know things would take off from there, I don't really remember what I was thinking but at the time the label that I was on was 'Aural Gratification' owned by Kevin Bartlett and basically we would just have the cassettes available in local stores and stuff, um but what happened was, certain people - certain acquaintances would get a copy of a cassette and then dub it, you know make a compilation, and then send somebody else a cassette and say 'Oh you might want to check out this artist you know, track number four is Happy Rhodes' blah blah blah, and then, you know, things would start happening - that's how Vickie Mapes wound up getting my music because I think someone had sent her a cassette of a compilation and I was one of the songs on it so it just took off, I didn't plan anything, I didn't really think anything out it's just some times if things are meant to happen they're gonna happen."
JM: Okay, and then with Warpaint, you started... the magic of compact discs...
JM: ... became available
HR: Right, incidentally, Warpaint was actually the first album that I wrote all the music specifically to release for that CD as opposed to the first four, um were compilations of just songs that I had recorded, you know, through the years.
Music ("The Wretches Gone Awry" from Rhodes I)
JM: Was Warpaint the first one that actually had a photograph as a cover?
HR: Well, they all had photographs but they were photographs taken by me of paintings that I had done, (laughs) but yeah, Warpaint was the first one that actually had a professional photograph of my face on the cover.
JM: The compilations that you have released are also really interesting, like the RhodesSongs with "Ashes to Ashes," and then The Keep with "The Yes Medley." Do you enjoy performing other artists' songs as well, just kind of sitting around, or even recording them or performing them live, is that something that you like doing?
HR: It's something I like doing if it is something that really moves me, like, one of my favorite writers is actually Neil Finn, I just um, ... and Tim Finn too, I mean both of them, they are just amazing writers. So um, so I just loved the song "Don't Dream it's Over," felt like doing it live, just because I think it is a beautiful song, and I'm obviously not the only person who thinks that because it has been covered quite a number of times. So yeah, just any, if I really, really like a song, like I really love "Run to Me" by the Bee Gees, I mean, It's the Bee Gees! but you know, it's a great song, I love that song. So every time I feel moved by someone's song, I'll do it. But again, because I don't buy music a lot and I don't listen to a lot of new stuff, I probably should, but I don't, so anything that I'm going to do a cover of, it's probably going to be something pretty old. (laughs)
JM: Well, I did notice by the way, that on The Keep your "Yes Medley" is three quarters Trevor Rabin songs so ... Definitely no worries about where your interests lie as far as that's concerned...
HR: (laughs) Somebody's got to do it...
JM: Yeah, well, it's a shame that that whole era seems to be consigned to the 'gated drums equals bad part of musical history' now, that sort of um, revisionism that says that the Yes that included Trevor Rabin was not the real one and they were terrible etc etc, if Trevor Rabin hadn't come along none of these guys would have jobs. It's unfortunate but you know, he really did revitalize them in a way that...
HR: Yeah, yeah,...
JM: ... and I agree with you he's an amazing pop writer and producer so ...
HR: Yeah, I mean just the sheer talent of the guy has, because I mean, he can sing, he can write, I mean, how many instruments can the guy play he's just, he's very very accomplished so.... I think he deserves everything that he has.
JM: So did you decide I mean so you at that point decide okay put down the engineering stuff so to speak and just concentrate on recording the songs, um ... So you produce yourself though most of the time, or have in the past produced yourself, what do you see as the difference between being the producer and being the engineer, 'cause there are some people like for instance Steve Albini who says 'No no no, I flip the switches and that's my job' and then there are other people like, lets say Mutt Lang, 'producer' means everything up to and including writing the songs and taking five hundred takes to get a drum sound right. Where do you see your world of production in that?
HR: Yeah, well that's very true, it's got to be the same in film too. It's really hard to define the word producer, everybody has their own definition of it. Producer could mean you're the money person, you're the person who picks up the phone and you know, calls all the contacts and gets all the right people together and so on and so forth. In music generally the producer is the person who, you know, hears the raw demo of a song and decides the direction of it and decides what kind of musicians should be on it and.. and all that stuff. For me again because I record as I write I also produce as I write. This last album Find Me is produced by Bob Muller and I totally took a hands off approach to this - I gave him, you know, it's like I present all my material to him, there were times, and this is unusual for me but there were times when he would say, 'This song needs to be reworked, I think you need to make the chorus longer, you need to do this or this needs another section, write a new section for this'. I'm always very resistant to anybody telling me what I should do for a song. But um, I stayed very open to comments and suggestions on this one and usually did everything that he asked and it's great because it still all wound up coming from me. He is the producer but he didn't write anything, I wrote everything and most of the stuff that I presented him is still the same, but you know, that's the difference and in the past producing myself - It's not always a good idea for one to produce oneself I think because I think in the past I would have disagreed with myself I would have said 'Hey I'm always going to produce myself' but it's not always the best thing for an artist. It's good to have other people, you know, a third opinion, second opinion whatever...
JM: So you feel like having that outside ear helped you clarify some things maybe that wouldn't have come to light otherwise?
HR: Well, sure, I mean there are so many decisions that I made about my music in the past that I look back and go 'Oh man that was goofy, what the hell did I do that for?' And you know, if I had just listened to somebody or had somebody telling me 'This is really corny sound, you really don't want to use that...' and it would have been better, but hey, that's the way it goes....
Music ("Feed The Fire" from Warpaint)
JM: So why don't we talk about the recording process of Find Me. When did you start working on it?
HR: Oh I started writing it probably '98, '99, but I was actually still writing for the album up until, oh when would that have been, I don't know probably 2003? Still writing on it? Um So ... I normally would never take that long to do an album but there, the studio that I was recording at of course the owner of the studio's Bob Muller who also produced the album, he's also my husband, and um obviously I wasn't paying anything to the studio for recording there but the price you pay for not paying for studio time is that when paying clients do come in, and it was quite a very successful busy studio, you have to make way for the paying client. So my recording schedule had to you know, revolve around all of that and that made it really, really difficult. So it wound up taking a very long time and that is probably the only reasons I was still writing in 2003 or whatever....
JM: Were you recording all this time or did you wait until you finished the writing to start the studio-based recordings of the re-singing of the vocals and the live guitar...
HR: Uh no I had been writing, I mean, for me it's like if I'm not...I don't always write like some people are just always writing and then they'll you know compile what they have written thus far and you know, work it in to a CD. I only write when I'm ready to make a CD and then I boom! I sit down and start writing so... when I started writing for this next one it was with the intention of you know, putting out the my 11th CD. Um, so no, I didn't wait until the studio time was opening up, I had to get it all written first and then you know, start working on it.
JM: Did you work on it all the time, for instance, you wrote the song and then okay, now I want to do the vocals so there's a bit of time here, so it's been you've been working on it all this time has it been, like, took four years off, and then still recording it...
HR: No, it was dribs and drabs always always working on something until it got to the point where the recoding was done, the recording and the mixing was done, then a huge time lapse happened because we were having a lot of problems getting the right mastering engineer for it, by then we had moved out of New York and out in to the country and I had to get the art work done, so it's like, the album itself was finished and sat for a long time without any forward progression because the mastering was such a pain and a few songs had to be actually be reworked a little bit and remixed and that took a long time as well, 'cause we were doing it now long distance because it was not like we were in New York at the studio any more so... For me the artwork in particular - cause I'm you know, it's like usually, with the exception of Many Worlds are Born Tonight usually I'm solely responsible for the artwork and um.... because finishing the CD - not recording it, but finishing the CD in terms of you know, now it is out of my hands. I did all my work, all my work was done and now it needed to be mastered and remixed on some songs and blah blah blah, um, so now I'm idle and I'm free to go on with my life, but I was taking my sweet time getting the artwork done because it just wasn't coming up, there was no pressure to do it... It's just like and I wasn't quite sure what I wanted the concept to be and... you know... still I didn't know, you know how the album was going to sound put all together in the right order and some times you know, some time you have to wait until all thats done before you can figure out okay this is what it should look like. But um, something came up, I had a show coming up, and we decided that I should really 'haul' and get artwork finished quickly and I did just that, I mean it was like the quickest artwork job I've ever done in my life. And it just wound up being all my drawings because where I'm living now, the talent pool for photographers, good photographers, is yet untapped.
HR: I don't know anybody around here and I'm not sure there are talented photographer around here, there probably are but... because when you are in the country it takes a lot longer to network.... and uh, I just didn't really have the time or energy to go traveling to New York and do that whole thing so... I just all the artwork I needed, I just took my own photographs and I drew my own pictures and slapped it together.
JM: Is that sort of the um, 'modus operandi' for almost all of your albums up until Many Worlds - you were sort of responsible for the artwork and the packaging for those as well?
HR: Absolutely yes...
JM: ... so you're an old hand perhaps, so that is why you were able to get it done so quickly.....
HR: I guess so... It was certainly the concept that came about was certainly wound up being a surprise to me, I mean it was originally going to be something completely different but... When you can only rely on your own resources sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
JM: So as I was mentioning I really love the electronic sounds on the new album, um, going to get a little 'nerdish' here, What sort of instrumentation, what sort of instruments do you use when you are recording?
HR: Well, now you are going to force me to try to remember what I did (both laugh) which is not going to be easy. Well my favorite, my absolute favorite thing to mess around with is, well two things I would say, one is the Wave Station, I think it is a Korg Wave Station, which is ridiculously hard to find anymore, it's a pretty rare item...
JM: Is that the MI or....
HR: No, no, Wave Station, it's actually a rack unit.
JM: Oh, okay yeah....
HR: It does incredible things, I mean when it first came out it was kind of over used and you could recognize a Wave Station sound immediately. But, I kind of think it's limitless in terms of what the things, the weird things you can do with it if you just, if you are patient and that is one thing I have is patience. I will sit in front of an electronic box for hours and days if it takes it. Just to get a weird unrecognizable sound. My other favorite thing is my G-Force which is an effects unit. Which is actually meant for guitar but um, I just - I use it on everything (Laughs)
JM: So you're completely unafraid of using an effects unit on vocals, drums... anything so...
HR: Oh I mean, it's, it's, I consider it another instrument.
JM: Do you use... I think if I understand correctly, you have these things at home and can just go nuts whenever you have an idea. Is that right? So does that lead you do you find just spending a lot more time on a song than you would if, let's say you had to pay to go in and you had an hour with the wave station, gives you more sort of impetus to do lots of interesting things?
HR: Well, I mean, yeah obviously, I don't know anybody though who is in a position to be able to pay to go in to a studio to write, I mean these days it's just like - well first of all there are not studios left, I mean, half the studios in New York City closed down in the last five years. But um, I mean, you know, if you're gonna, you have to do that at home, you have to have the gear in your hands, in your home, to do that because you really do need to spend time, if you have the patience. If I didn't have that stuff at home, I mean - I don't know, my writing style would be completely different if I had to actually go somewhere else to do it...
Music ("Ode" from Ecto)
Part 3 (transcribed by Doug Bailey)
JM: I know that you have a very, very ardent fan base. In fact, the mailing list ďEctoĒ is named for one of your early albums. The Internet and you...what has been the effect of the Internet on your career?
HR: Well, itís made my career. I wouldnít have a career if it werenít for the Internet, and, you know, I must say people like Jessica Dembski [Koeppel] and Vickie Mapes. I mean, these are people who latched onto my music and started getting the word out in a BIG way. And to this day Vickie Mapes is still pushing my career. Whatever my career is, it is because largely of Vickie Mapes and her efforts. When this whole thing started I didnít even know what the Internet was. Obviously I had a computer, but all I did with a computer was make music, so...it was all a mystery to me.
JM: Do you find yourself being interested in getting involved with that fan community in a more interactive way, or would it be better to just let them sort of enjoy the music as they want to?
HR: I think itís not my style...when I say Iím ďantisocialĒ Iím pretty serious about that. I donít mean that Iím anti-social in terms of ďI canít get along in societyĒ. I can. But I canít be around people too much because I kind of feel like I get very very affected on a personal level by people. Not necessarily in a bad way, but, like, if Iím having an hour-long conversation with someone, that conversation will stay with me for the rest of the night. Iíll think about it, and Iíll, you know, just constantly brew on it, because people affect me, you know? I really like to listen to people, I like to learn about their lives, but I can only take so much, because I become saturated. I really do take in SO much. I kind of feel like Iím better off, and everyone else is better off, if I just stay with my quiet life and let everyone just independently enjoy what Iíve done. Iím always open to comments, or, you know, questions or anything like that. Iím really happy to talk to people, but I donít put myself out there actively.
JM: That kind of brings me to the question about live performance. I know that you perform occasionally, but not a whole lot. I saw you at Ecto West which I think was in 2001 or 2002, with the unfortunate incident with the Leatherman tool...
JM: But you still did a great set. Do you...for the new CD are you planning any live performances outside the EctoFest appearance you made earlier this year?
HR: Letís just say Iím open to it...I havenít actively started planning anything yet. Itís kinda like, I finished the CD, so abruptly, so kinda quickly, just so I could have it available for the EctoFest 2007 that, now that itís out, of course, that question is coming up, and I havenít had a chance to get my head around it yet. Itís a little harder because my husband and I also...my husband owns and runs Dangerous Music, which is an equipment company. We manufacture (professional) audio equipment. I actually work for the company. Iím 42 now, we have a house, so, itís like, the thought of doing any kind of intensive touring is a little daunting, and probably impractical at this point. But I understand the importance of supporting the CD, now that itís officially out. I will probably plan something, Iím not sure how soon, but itíll happen.
JM: So do you enjoy, when you do have a performance schedule, do you enjoy performing live?
HR: I do...you know, I really only enjoy performing live when I feel prepared. There have been times, most recently at EctoFest 2007, when Iíve just not really...my head just wasnít there, and I wasnít really prepared. Then it just becomes nerve-wracking for me. If I feel prepared, yea, I feel great. Iím also kind of tired of performing acoustically because, itís like, especially with this Find Me CD, thereís really not much acoustic about it. Itís rock, itís rock and electronic, and I kinda would like, for once, would like to get out there with a band again, and not just do a duo or a trio. Iíve done that, Iíve done that a million times, and Iím kinda tired of it now. And again, Iím in the country, so all of my musical contacts are mostly based in New York at this point. And so, in order to coordinate something, Iím going to have to hook up with these people again.
Music ("One And Many" from Find Me)
JM: Letís talk a little about the new CD, if we can. As you said, itís sort-of filled with rock and electronics. Yet thereís still a couple very...well, I donít want to say acoustic, but very ballad-based...like The Chosen One, and not really Little Brother, but definitely The Chosen One, which is a more acoustic-type of song.
JM: Do you find that you really enjoy playing the rocking stuff better, or the acoustic, or is it...
HR: Do you mean live?
JM: No, when youíre recording...you find that you have sort-of a drive to make things loud and, for lack of a better word, Queen-like.
HR: (chuckles) Actually, yeah. (chuckles again) I mean, in a live setting, itís... having LOUD is a pain in the ass because, itís just...I donít happen to have a very strong voice. Just sheer power-wise, I donít have a very strong voice, so...when the band had to be loud, to push...you know, to rock out, itís really difficult for me to compete, or to keep up with that vocally. So, itís a drag sometimes live. Studio-wise, however, itís just...if I were mixing my own--like for Find Me, if I were mixing the record, all of the drums and all of the base would completely overshadowing the vocals. I mean, I would just CRANK Ďem. ĎCause I just love it, you know? Itís like, AH...when you hear it, live drums, live base, live guitar, itís just...itís just an amazing thing.
JM: You talked a little bit about performing live by yourself. What about, ah, I think you participated in, sort-of, being a side-person for Project Lo, a few years ago. Did you find that more entertaining, and is there anything of that nature hovering in the future, where you just are with other people, touring with other people or playing out with them?
HR: Well, I mean, I loved playing in Project Lo, mostly because it wasnít about me. Itís just like, really, you spend your whole life being Happy Rhodes, or whoever you are, and you know, itís all about you, and youíve got a band backing up you. Itís like, really nice to just be part of something thatís not about you anymore, youíre just a supporting player. That made it pretty fun for me. And also, I just adore Bon Lozaga and Hanny Rowe, theyíre like two of my best friends. Itís always fun hanging with those guys. In terms of doing more of that kind of stuff in the future, Iím not usually asked. I mean, I have been asked to participate in some projects that Iíve turned down because I didnít feel like I would bring anything useful to that particular project. But 1) Iím not going out seeking projects with other musicians, and 2) nobodyís really seeking me out. Iím open, Iím open to just about anything.
JM: Okay. Well, thatís good to hear. Sounds more sort-of like David Bowie on the Idiot tour for Iggy Pop, where he just played keyboards and did backing vocals. That would be kind of a cool thing for you.
HR: Yeah. That would be.
Music (Bon Lozaga - "Sonic Abandon" - from the album Progday '95 (Disc Two))
JM: You mentioned a while back, perhaps another bit of music coming up...in other words, are you starting to think about your next CD at all? Or putting...
HR: Iím not thinking about it, because, I mean, again, I donít really, until I sit down in front of the instruments, I donít usually feel much. Basically I just feel like a drive inside me, not any ideas, necessarily, but I feel a drive, and Iím starting to feel that drive again. I canít start writing just yet, because the studioís not finished. Itís not quite put together yet. I have to get a new recording platform, so... Once that happens, Iím there. Iím sitting down, and Iíll start, and weíll see whatís gonna play. I think itís gonna be, probably more of a, I donít know how Iíd put it. Iím gonna make it a little more outside. Itís not going to be anything life Find Me. It probably wonít have that same sort of progressive-ish, live, instrumentation-feel to it. Itís going to be, hopefully, a little more off-center.
JM: Do you have sort-of an interest in, for lack of a better word, avant-garde electronic music, that might inform that? Iíd noticed sort-of a bit of that on Find Me when we were talking about the Wave Station. For lack of a better word, non-traditional sounds. Do you find any kind of influence from--Iíd read somewhere that you were a big fan of Switched On Bach growing up. Did you follow that, sort-of, Wendy Carlos-sort of thing at all?
HR: The whole Switch On Bach thing, which I was introduced to pretty early on, I thought that was frickiní amazing. I thought, like, hereís this classical piece of music being played with electronics. I thought, ďwow, that is so weird, and so cool.Ē Iíve always been fascinated with that. Iíve always been drawn to artists who use cool electronics. Unlike you, I had gotten way more heavy into, you know, in terms of being attracted to electronic music. Iím trying to think of, besides Switched On Bach, everyone was using--Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel, you know, huge innovators there. The band...trying to think of the bandís name, that I loved so much...a non-vocal band, it was just instrumental, electronic music...very very cool, I canít think of it right now, but it was definitely a big thing for me.
JM: Do you ever--
HR: Art of Noise.
JM: Art of Noise. Oh, okay, yeah, they are--well, again, a tangential Yes connection. Trevor Horn producing them, and so forth. Their first album is just amazing. The whole idea of taking the Fairlight and making it the only instrument you need...
JM: ...was kind of an exceptional innovation at the time.
Music (The Art Of Noise - "Who's Afraid (Of The Art Of Noise)" from the 1984 album (Who's Afraid Of?) The Art Of Noise!)
JM: What sort-of things do you do when youíre not making music?
HR: Um...gee. (chuckles) Well, I build (professional) audio gear, and I watch movies...Iím a big movie fan. And I just try to keep creative. I like to do all kinds of things. Like right now, Iím actually constructing a very scary witch for my front lawn so I can freak-out the country folk. (laughs)
JM: For Halloween I assume?
HR: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah...I made a witch last year and I kept it really tame, because I didnít want to scare anybody. But this year Iím gonna try to make it good and scary just because thatís what I do... I like monsters, so...I just try to stay creative. I like little projects, I like to hand-make things.
JM: Have you thought about some sort of art exhibit for your work? Because I know the people who enjoy your music are also big fans of your art, as evinced on your covers. So, have you ever thought about putting something--an exhibition--together?
HR: I appreciate that question, but (laughs) I think my type of artwork could only be exhibited at a K-Mart. (laughs) Really, honestly, for one, Iím a horrible painter, I canít paint worth anything. My skills are very very raw, nothingís refined. I can draw like the dickens. I can do a portrait of somebody in pastel, and itís gonna be...look just like them, itís like amazing. But my technique is really bad, you know? All across the board. Itís like...I have the basic skills of drawing, but my techniques are really bad, so. No, I would never exhibit anything. But what I would like to do is get more heavily into doing art. I made a sculpture out of circuit boards, of a moth. Itís kinda...Iím kind of proud of that, I thought it was a pretty cool thing. I want to do more circuit board sculptures and things, and I want to get back into painting, definitely. So, Iíd like to do more.
Music ("Chosen One" from Find Me)
JM: Let's talk just a bit more about the new CD I know I keep flashing back and forth to it. There have been some questions about specific songs. The one that I think about is "The Chosen One", because the lyrics are sort of aboutÖthe lead character of the song feels like she's never going be, to find a happy relationship. And as you said, you're married, and so do you find that throughout your writing you've written from character viewpoints, from your own viewpoint from both. And how do you sort of reconcile people who might say 'you wrote that song, but you're happily married, is there something wrong is something up?' that sort of thing.
HR: OK well first of all, I wasn't married when I wrote that song. (laughs) Cause I only just got married last year.
JM: Mazel Tov!
HR: (laughs) Thanks. My husband and I have been together for 9 years but we only just got married last year. This last CD, Find Me in particular, is probably more personal than anything else I've done. Even more personal than my early early stuff. It's all from my personal point of view. If I am using the word "I" or "me" it's gonna be about me, it's gonna be personal. And "Chosen One" was basically, just like a little insecurity. It's like I never wanted to be married. My entire life I never found it an important aspect of my life. I've never been like the kind of girl who always dreamt about her wedding day and wanted to plan everything, and in fact when I got married I didn't plan anything. It just wasn't a big deal to me. But what I did want and long for was the feeling of having been chosen by someone, you know what I mean? It's like that's something that I neverÖeven when I was in successful relationships, one in particular, I still didn't feel chosen. I almost felt like it was a convenience more than anything. I never felt special enough to be specifically chosen by one person to spend the rest of their lives with me. So basically it was a 'woe is me' self-pitying kind of tune, which doesn't apply anymore because I've since married but it's still valid.
JM: The songs are about you, they're not about characters that have these situations.
HR: Exactly, even the song "Charlie," which is inspired by Charles Crumb, that song is not about Charles Crumb. It's called "Charlie," but it's really about me, so. AndÖ
JM: Can you talkÖ(he interrupts her)Ögo onÖ
HR: I'm sorry, I am just going to expound on that, in stark contrast to my previous CD, which was Many World Are Born Tonight, that CD was personal in a different way. Where that was more about fantasy and characters and a lot of that was really outside of myself.
JM: Could you talk a little more about "Charlie"?
HR: Well, I guess, I think I was very moved in a weird way by the documentary "Crumb". Which is about Robert Crumb, the famous cartoonist, and all different aspects in his life were covered in that documentary including the lives of his two brothers. They did not have a particularly happy life and childhood, I should say, they all wound up having a bit of strangeness to them. I am trying to be kind here.
JM: Yeah, it's a very unsettling, at times, documentary
HR: Oh yeah absolutely and, (laughs) I mean very unsettling, and it's something I can really identify with. Now, I'm not to say that I canÖRobert Crumb is a weird dude okay? But he found a place in life, he found someplace to be acceptable and to get out his demons, whatever they are, and do that thing. His other brothers Max and Charlie, I don't think they successfully found their places. And they had a lot of demons, that's for sure. And I just felt so very moved by the sadness and I just felt like I had the kind of childhood, certain things about my past, where I could have wound up like Charlie. I could have wound up not having the happy life that I have, I feel like I am well-adjusted and successful, at least enough for me and I feel happy. But it could have gone in such the other direction. And that's what "Charlie" is about.
Music ("Charlie" from Find Me)
JM: Well where can people find Find Me? CD Baby and other venues?
HR: Sure, CD Baby has it right now and it just usually takes them awhile to get everything scanned and get everything up and running so it should be any day now where they're making is available. I don't have it on my website yet but I hope to have it up there soon. I am trying to get my website overhauled, reworked and so it's not for sale there yet, but everything else is still for sale there.
JM: OK, will it be available digitally, do you know? Through eMusic or Itunes?
JM: Happy, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate you sitting down with me.
HR: You're very welcome.
JM: And I hope everyone who is listening will run to CD Baby, Find Me will be available. I love it, it's one of my favorite CDs of the year.
There you go folks, my interview with singer/songwriter/producer/musician Happy Rhodes. Once again her brand new album, Find Me is available through CD Baby. If you click the link on any of the songs that appear on the playlist or go to the Delicious Agony forums where I'll post the playlist for this episode. You will find your way to her website and from her web site you will find your way to purchasing that terrific new album. She also has several of her older works for sale, you can find those through her website as well.
If you missed part of the interview or want to share it with your friends we archive it on the Delicious Agony website just click Interview in the left hand menu. If you like what you've heard please consider supporting Delicious Agony by going to our homepage and either clicking on our Google links or banner adds or making a donation through our PayPal link. We depend on listeners like you to help us continue to help us bring you the best in progressive rock. Thanks again for tuning into Shadow and Light and remember we bring you the best progressive artists and the best progressive music right here on Delicious Agony.
Music ("Ashes To Ashes" from RhodeSongs)
Music ("Let Me Know, Love" from Rhodes II)
Music ("Temporary And Eternal" from Equipoise)
Music ("Find Me" from Find Me)