"A lot of people ask how I got into Todd....in case anyone ever wondered. I am still perplexed how it too me so long, but when yr there, YR THERE! For me, when I "found Todd", I was at a point in my life where I very low. And finding him made me realize that even though you can go your whole life knowing about something, you may not really KNOW. It really gave me hope that there's always more. And it changed my whole outlook on life.
I've told a lot of folk this. I have been obsessed with music since I was in the crib. Ask my sisters (they're both on here and can vouch), and music was big in my household growing up. I would save my allowances from the age of 6 buying ALBUMS. Early ones include Capt. & Tennille, John Travolta, Queen and David Bowie. I guess you could say I had eclectic tastes. My big bro and big sis both were "punks" in the 70s in St. Louis so I was exposed to the weirder side of rock quite early on. For some reason, they weren't into or real aware of Todd. My earliest active memories of Todd were him constantly being on Midnight Special and various video shows as "Pioneering video artist Todd Rundgren and his Utopia" and then there'd be some video or concert with guitar solos. By this time, I was firmly into Devo, Blondie and XTC (I bought Drums and Wires in 1980 - I was 11, it was on import) and I liked things like Gary Numan - pre "Cars". I also had Panaroama when it came out - speaking of Cars!) Todd just seemed very "Mainstream" and "Rock"...but of course, was 10-13 when this was my impression. When "Time Heals" was on, it got shown a lot on HBO as a video between movies - I used to look in the guides to see what times the movies end to catch music videos as MTV didn't launch in St. Louis until Dec. 82). I DID like that video and was curious. But at this point, I was pretty much into what pre-teens are into....cute boys, pop tunes, and all the rest. Fashion. Most of the music from this era, I still like, but I would have rejected say Capt. & Tennille...who I now think are wonderful and Sedaka was definitely BACK! I have realized the music I loved when I was 4 is as valid as it ever was. I just hadn't developed what it was to be "cool". That came about when I was 12-18. I stopped caring again by the time I was 18.
As years went on, I got further into electronic music - mainly dance music and more into bossa nova and exotica. When I hit my early 20s, I started digging into the Beach Boys - mainly due to my friend Christopher who was into dance music and making music. It was timing, really, 'cause Primal Scream's Screamadelica came out and BBs were getting name checked...so I started checking them out. I think that's when my love for pop or as the Japanese call it it,"Soft rock", came about. By this time, I lived in the UK, and I started getting more and more 60s bands that had this psych edge to their pop music. A lot of music in the late 90s really reflected on this sound, mixed with dance beats, soul and lounge vibes. Particularly stuff from Japan. Still electronic by and large. I had a successful indie music PR company (still do...just not as successful) where I promoted lots of indie and mainly electronic music. I started stalking labels like Bungalow and Tricatel and working for them. And then Emperor Norton came to me. They had put out the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. That was when I realized that "Hello, It's Me" and more importantly "A Dream Goes on Forever" (which was a childhood fave of mine...like when it was in the charts) was TODD RUNDGREN. Not just some irritating rock guitar solo video pioneer....a pop genius. Which was what I was into. And I thought "I should check out this Todd". That must have been around 1999.
In 2000, I was in Japan with my friend Douglas Stewart (See BMX Bandits for further details) for his wedding, and we were in Recofan shopping and he handed me "With a Twist" and said, "do you have this? It's got a great Martin Dennyesque cover of "Hello, It's Me'" and I said "Oh, Todd Rundgren. Is he any good? I've been meaning to check him out." Douglas then told me Todd was amazing, and when I asked where to start, he said that was quite a big problem as there really wasn't a greatest hits to start with because he was more an album artist. All were great in his opinion, but he had a LOT of albums. After much consideration, he said that S/A was a good bet as I'd know songs on it and it was his most successful, but not necessarily his best. But probably easy to get into. I bought "With a Twist". I didn't play it much but DID love the "Hello, It's Me" version. And I always meant to go and listen more 'cause I did like the LP and recognized several songs. About 6 mos. later, I found S/A in a charity shop for $4 and bought it, but as it was double vinyl, I rarely listened to it. But...again, I did enjoy it and did play it DJing sometimes. I was still "Todd Curious"
Then in Aug. 08, I saw that Todd was playing in Edinburgh in Nov. and it was only £23 with booking fee. I thought it seemed very reasonable, but it was a Friday nite which is prime tips for a waitress. However, I decided to bite the bullet and go see him - on my own - invited my ex who wimped out on the day. Nov. 7, 08. I had done my research and that he was doing his new LP which was "arena rock". Played some of the songs on MySpace and it didn't sound like he'd lost it like many other older artists. So away I went. (I think when Todd played in Glasgow in 04, I was likely tour managing and never realized he was in town). I came back and just started youtubing and wiki and all that. Reading, reading and watching and listening. I decided I would just buy no more than two CDs per week to get to see if I really wanted to go deep. I had a chance meeting with my psych rock friend Alasdair and told him I'd seen Todd and he came round with his band's demo...and brought me AWATS to listen to, Runt to listen to (we listened to both...this was my first listen to AWATS and I was like "Well, I'm gonna have to get THIS one...I bought it at the end of Nov) and he lent me Faithful and I burned a copy of the Nazz CD anthology. I had just bought the Go Ahead Ignore Me anthology and was waiting for it to arrive in the post (it must have been like Nov. 11th). The 2nd CD I bought was Healing... I chose something from the 80s 'cause I figured that was something I was least likely to enjoy...would date. I pretty much knew after that there was going to be a tattoo. After that, the order gets dodgy. New World Order, Todd, Initiation, Liars were probably next. Arena was a rather late one. Up Against it was the last one - as that was pricey. I got that in Aug maybe. I don't have EVERYTHING, but I have almost everything. Not all singles or anything collectory. Just the music. I mean, I even have the Undercover soundtrack. I can't say I know all the music or all the song titles of every track. Lots of that I don't know. But I'd say by the end of Nov. 08, I knew it was for real. I hadn't even met the Todd fans yet. But when you know...YOU KNOW.
So that's how Todd has wound up tattooed on my heart....'cause there's always more!"
Now it's 37 shows later...that's right. The two Oslo shows and one Bergen show I'm going to will make it an even 40! My second Todd show was at the Norweigian Wood festival in June 09. I had booked a cheap flight to Oslo and lost my job less than a week later. It was my 40th bday on June 21st, and I desperately wanted to go see Todd. I decided to put out an appeal on Facebook Facebook to see if instead of buying me a drink, friends would just paypal me a pound. Within 24 hours, I had over £200 and was able to go to Norway. Upon arriving at the festival, I met with some TR fans from TR Connection (the popular Todd Rundgren fan site that Todd himself endorses) that spent the rest of the time buying me drinks, dinner, and even let me stay at their flat til I needed to catch my morning flight. I met Audun Vinger there as well. The tattoo attracts a LOT of attention. So my love for Norway and their TR fans is something that words canNOT express.
I have flown to the US 8 times since "finding Todd", and the Netherlands twice. Not to mention these two TRips to Norway and a week long tour around the UK. I went to the TR's Musical Survival Camp last June and spent a week in the Catskill Mountains with Todd and his friends, with nightly jam sessions, drinking, dinner, drum circles....you name it! They're doing it again this July but it's TR's Musical REVIVAL Camp at the Full Moon Resort in NY. Of course, I'm going. I refer to myself as a "semi-professional Todd Rundgren stalker". The friends I have made through TR are plentiful and some of the best people I have ever known. The messages in his music seem to unite the sorta people that I want to know. Well, NEED to know. It lets me know that I'm not alone in this little adventure called life. All roads lead to Utopia, although I'm not sure if we'll ever get there. Still, I'm going to enjoy the ride!
Todd Rundgren er hovedgjest under musikkonferansen Bylarm 2012, og kan møtes i samtale med Audun Vinger på Folketeatret lørdag 18 februar kl. 12.