By MIKE CHAIKEN
After having said farewell to the major labels, Todd Rundgren’s musical output depended on the whims of his inspiration.
When he felt like recording, Todd said in a phone interview from Florida, he would do so. And when he had a completed album, he would set out to find a distributor to get that record into the hands of the fans.
But after going it alone for a while on the rough seas of record distribution, Esoteric Antenna Records approached him.
“They asked me to (record) and they said, ‘We’ll pay for it,’” said Todd. “It was just like the good old days.”
The first result of that contract was his album, “State,” which was released in 2013.
And April 7, Todd released his follow-up on Esoteric Antenna, “Global.”
To support “Global,” Todd—who now calls Hawaii home—will make a few different stops in Connecticut this month.
For “State,” Todd explained, he wasn’t really ready to record and really had no mind set about what kind of concept he wanted to tackle for the album. He had been working on some other projects, more avant garde and more instrumental. So the songs culled for “State” were ones that didn’t quite fit those other projects.
But for “Global,” Todd had more time. And once he had composed the song, “Global Nation” (which ended up on the finished record), he knew he had found his direction for the record.
With song titles such as “Global Nation,” “Holyland,” “Earth Mother,” “Terra Firma,” and “This Island Earth,” a concept reveals itself for Todd’s latest. The album appears to be about the environment.
For “Global,” Todd said he wanted to tackle the issue of planetary consciousness. While doing so, he wanted to diverge from his past tendencies, which was to take a more scolding tone. This time, Todd said, he opted for more cheerleading.
The songwriting also pulled in diverging genres as well such as EDM and neo-soul, he explained. He wanted a record that tapped into unexpected influences.
“I get my inspiration from a lot of different places,” said Todd.
On “State,” for example, Todd said he was inspired by a younger generation that was inspired by him. Todd said he gets a lot of requests by younger artists to do remixes. And a lot of these artists are inspired by Todd’s seminal album, “A Wizard, A True Star.”
“They know more about me than I know.”
For “State,” Todd said he decided to do some musical research on the latest trends. So, he began to acquaint himself with Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.
Todd said “State” became about updating himself for today’s music scene while offering up his own creative sensibilities into the new musical stew.
For “Global,” Todd played and sang nearly every note on the record. It’s something he has made a point of doing going back to his first breakout hit album, “Something/ Anything.”
Todd prefers the sound he can create by playing all of the instruments. There is a musical tightness that is only possible with a self-produced record. “You know how the players can play,” said Todd, because those players are one’s self.
Todd said playing all of the instruments himself also has become a practical matter. Living in Hawaii these days, said Todd, there is not a large pool of musicians available even if he wanted to record with others.
When Todd takes to the road for “Global,” he said there will be some experimental elements to the presentation. But he also said he will be “making proper concessions to the modern sensibilities of audiences by providing some level of production.”
“They want to see a little bit of a show,” said Todd.
The musical weight this time around will be handled by a DJ (a pair of backup singers also joins the musical fray). On his last tour, Todd said he tried to handle singing and DJ duties himself. But he felt him it left him a little unfocused. This time, he can focus on his front man duties while his musical partners take care of the other tasks.
The set list for the tour will concentrate on the new music from “Global,” as well as offering up a good dose of music from “State,” said Todd. When there is a new record out, said Todd, “What is the point of playing old music.” The performance should be about getting the audience on board with the new record, said Todd.
However, fans of his older material won’t be entirely left stranded. Todd said he will reach back into his catalogue as well. But the audience should expect the arrangements to be fresh and not mere reproductions of the original recordings.
On Sunday, May 10, Todd performs at the Infinity Hall in Norfolk at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $65. For tickets, go infinityHall.com.
Then on Tuesday, May 12, Todd performs at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield at 8 p.m. Tickets are $65. For tickets, go to RidgefieldPlayhouse.org
For more information about Todd go to www.tr-i.com
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.