Interview with Rusty Anderson: December 15th, 2003
This interview took place via phone on December 15th, 2003 by MACCA-Central's webmaster Mike Kovacich and lasted about an hour. Rusty was still in L.A. and Mike was at homebase in Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada.
Listen to the interview:
Segment #2 - Coming Down to Earth & Damaged Goods & Electric Trains (4.3 MB)
Segment #3 - Sentimental Chaos, Ol' Sparky, ishmael (5.2 MB)
Segment #4 - Devil's Spaceship, Catbox Beach, Everybody Deserves and A in this Country (4.8 MB)
Segment #5 - What's Next for Rusty, recording with Paul, Beatrice, Whole Life . . . (4.5 MB)
Transcript of the Interview:
Mike: We're going to be talking about your new CD.
Rusty: Undressing Underwater.
Mike: Last few years must have been a hectic pace with from getting a call from Paul McCartney to record, two tours, various concerts, session work.
Rusty: Yeah, it's lot of stuff.
Mike: Yeah and you managed to get a solo release complete.
Rusty: Yeah funny that worked, I sort of squeezed that in between the touring. You know the one thing I have to say is that Paul knows how to do it. So we went out and played two or three months then we would have two or three months off at least a big chunk of time, and in that time is basically when I recorded "Undressing Underwater".
Mike: So that pace was good for your own solo stuff and keeping you in session work.
Rusty: Right, well I haven't done as much of that in the last couple years but I did some stuff with Courtney Love which was fun and I did a few other things but not quite as much.
Mike: I personally haven't had a chance to listen to "Undressing Underwater" just yet.
Rusty: Hopefully you'll get a CD tomorrow. Corinne send you one ?
Mike: Yes, Hmm-hmm, so maybe we can do a quickie follow-up after, um.
Rusty: Yeah, I'd be happy to.
Mike: Yeah, so I can speak a bit more intelligently after hearing the tracks. Speaking of the tracks, let's go one by one and I do have a track list and of course I'd like to hear your comments.
Rusty: Ah, ok.
Mike: Let's start off with the lead track, "Hurt Myself".
Rusty: Well, "Hurt Myself", that one Paul plays bass on it and he sings some background and plays a little bit of cameo guitar stuff and that was a lot of fun obviously because what happened was I talked to Paul and said, "Hey it be great if you play on something", he said "I'd love to" because I'd given him a CD of some stuff I'm working on. So then I realized we had only 3 days to do this before going to Mexico and then off to Japan and then I wouldn't see him, so I had to pull it together super quick and, we ended up going over to Sunset Sound and David Kahne was on board to produce it and the band was on board to play on it. Yeah, it was just an amazing experience. You know playing, recording this song and Paul is sitting playing bass in the corner, which was just a real mind blower and he makes a mistake. "Shit !, like" (Rusty laughs)
Mike sings: Paul made a mistake ! On your own song, man what a feeling that must have been.
Rusty: Yeah he's a quick learner, he's so musical. He's so musical it's funny though we get in arguements. We were at Abbey Road and I would say "What about that eight note part", he goes "Wait, wait, Eighth note, I don't want to hear about chromatic, I don't know any of that stuff, but you mean chugging?" I'm like yeah ok good, so chugging. (laughing) Then it became talking about different sections of the song. Let's say if we cut the part to eight pieces, which piece is this what you want to work on ? He says, "Well you know the crumply bit". Like ok, I understand.
Mike: So the descriptive words fit?
Rusty: Yeah so sort of won over the musical terms. Any so was real fun to record obviously and that actually we recorded it and it changed a lot from the time I recorded it and sort of re-wrote the melody and re-wrote the lyrics a bit and picked up with David when the touring was done and we sort of finished that song and he produced that. That was a lot of fun.
"Coming Down to Earth", that's a song I had for a while, I don't know what to say about exactly. It's one of my favourites on the record.
Mike: "Coming Down to Earth", you hear that song title, a person realizing, getting down to reality kind of thing?
Rusty: Well, there's so of a quality of spacyness about it which is, I'm one to kind of have oxmoronic, you know paradoxical about things because it seems that everything in life has it's flipside at all times. So there's this certain spacy quality to the song that I think it sort of never comes down to Earth in a way but, Yeah, that's definitely about that experience, the slap in the face experience where you just realize you've been living in a dream world, or living in a false reality that doesn't work for you anymore. And I think actually a large portion of this song is about facing those demons.
Mike: Let's hear Rusty talk about "Damaged Goods", a track he wrote just before connecting up with Paul McCartney.
Rusty: "Damaged Goods", that one I wrote with a friend of mine, Paul Plagens who is a good friend of mine and we had this short lived band a few years ago. Anyway, that one definitely is about fighting with feelings having a great situation finally occur for you but you're mentally unable to live up to it. The nice thing about making a solo record is I've always been a band guy I've always loved bands the whole commorodary and stuff. The way I approached this record was to have different sort of create different bands within the record that I really enjoyed playing with these people. And this song actually was written at the very end of that band Peel that was right before getting into the Paul McCartney thing. so it's mostly that cast that appears on the song. Abe Barricks on drums, my friend Jim singing with me who played bass in the band.
"Electric Trains" Electric Trains is one that is written and then my friend Parthenon who co-produced a few of the songs on the record, he sort of helped me finish this one. And in doing I sort of realized, "What is this song about ?" then I realized this song was about my brother who died when I was very young and he was my older brother and it sort of helped me finish it very quickly . . . when that realization came up.
Rusty: I guess the song is sort of about a celebration of one's history. Realizing that your roots are always with you. No matter what your do or where you go in life. That you might have some sad things to resolve but also have these really happy memories. There are some fond memories back there and there some things that out of nowhere, there might be a smell or a sight or a feeling all of sudden that just pops out that brings you right back to that being five years old feeling and how powerful that is and how empowering and important it is.
Mike: I think we all have that in life when someone near to us passes away and like you just said a sight or a smell can instantly bring you back.
Rusty: Yeah and because I was young I was five years old I do remember him, and I won't get into all that stuff but the thing that is interesting ,especially for me is a lot of sadness in the family, but eventually the sadness, I mean you never recover from the death of someone close to you but I think there is an eventually like an appreciation of their life. Like your really just glad you had them for the time you had them, and you kind of put into perspective that they weren't meant to be here longer than they were here and that's just the way life is. That's why I say it's a mixed bag it's got some melocoly quality to the song but is also celbratory quality to it.
Mike: The next track "Sentimental Chaos" looking at the name of it, it is an interesting track I'm anticipating.
Rusty: Oh right, you've haven't heard it yet. I guess there is a few of the lyrics printed on the record so you can see some of those. That one was actually written that's the newest written song on the record because I wrote that in the summer, just this last summer actually. The last thing squeezed on the record. because it's amazing how long it takes to finish, you know to complete things. To actually get final mixes and master and all that stuff. That one was actually a jam just sitting that was around and I could never quite make sense out of it to finish it. And I had some inspiration over the summer and that one definately about facing just facing one's demons straight on and the result you get from that. It's sort of an upbeat track, I don't know what to say about that one except that it's pretty cool.
Mike: "Ol' Sparky" ? Rusty: "Ol' Sparky", that's another one that I co-written with my friend Parthanon, he co-produced it also. That one is written out the experience of touring with EdnaSwap. Edna Swap was a band that I was in for a few years and we had like four records out on major labels. Toured the country a bit and it was pretty tough sitting in that little van touring the country and there was a lot of friction with the band. I think it was a good band and a lot of talent in there and a lot of really different ideas of what musics is and the point of it all is. So we had many discussions in the band you know a lot of friction. I don't know if you've ever been privy to the ouring on your first record experience. But it's pretty rough because you spend a lot of time, you're flying around in airplanes first class, you spend a lot of time travelling and packing and sitting there. It's sort of a Zen thing you have to get into going with your surrounding and it's brillant too. I mean it's so much fun playing music especially meeting new people and getting a chance to perform and just the momentum of playing a live show. You go up there no matter what happens you have to keep going no matter how the sound is, no matter what the situation is. You start to out of those experiences really pull it together. You see the band getting tighter and tighter, it's a great experience but some of the frustrating experiences come out in the song "Ol' Sparky". It's basically about being your own cheer leader.
Mike: All right, staying postive through it all.
Rusty: Yeah, sort of like you have completely fragmented realities spinning around you and you have to glue it together and make sense out of it and keep the momentum going and depend on yourself and nobody else. That's kind of what the message in there is. Sometimes that's where we get right.
Mike: Up next Rusty talks about the song, "Ishmael".
Rusty: "ishmael" was a song that I wrote about a book called ishmael actually. Was it Daniel Quinn the author I think. It was a big inspiration to me sort of about the big picture of the impact on human on the earth, the living, the pecking order of evolution and all that kind of stuff. It's a fantastic book. Because the story revolves around a guerilla who's interesting, I gave a copy to Paul because we had some experience the DVD we did. Going to the place where they're studying apes, communicating with. There's a place somewhere, think it was God in Cleveland or something but I think it's moved to some other part of the country communicating via satellite to apes in Japan.
Mike: Really ?
Rusty: All this stuff anyway so it's just funny how all that sort of came around this last couple years. Because they have this large vocabulary and there very, very intellegent. So the book sort of ties in with that but that's what the song is in reference to but I think it has a slightly ah hopefully more universal message in the big picture. It's funny talking about these songs because you haven't heard them yet.
Mike: I'm looking at the word and hearing your description of the song and ok that's gotta be a wicked track.
Rusty: Yeah it'll be curious to hear what you think after you actually hear it.
Mike: It's interesting to find out the inspiration and what the song is about because somehow listening to it for myself anyways it is a different experience ok that's what he was thinking about and that's what he was writing about. It makes a song much much more personal.
Rusty: Oh yeah definately. Definately, what funny to because talking about a song like where I was cominfor me is when I finally when I gravitate towards the song, yeah I really like that song and then finding out later what was going throught that person's head. Like say Mick Jagger, I heard Sympathy for the Devil as a child and then finally finding out that he'd written it around Mastering the Margarita and then reading the book Mastering the Margarita and then you start to go "Oh, I see", and you see the evolution of it, it is pretty interesting. and you realize how much work goes into a song. Unless it just a throw away kind of lyric.
Mike: "Devil's Spaceship".
Rusty: "Devil's Spaceship", that song is sort of about dating hell.
Mike: Dating hell. (Mike laughs)
Rusty: Yeah, dating hell. I'm sure most of us can relate to that unless your one of the few who have all of sudden had an arranged marriage or something. I just sort of like the . . .
Mike: Premise ?
Rusty: nature of Devil's Spaceship xuz you usually think about devils being underground or something having some sort of deep in the earth lava connection, fire and stuff, but the spaceship feels more towards heaven. It's about feeling out of your element at all time I guess.
Mike: I picture the song "Catbox Beach".
Rusty: Actually is a surf reggae instrumental. It's almost an instrumental it does have a few words, oh's and ah's. That's the track that Stewart Copeland plays on.
Mike: Yes, actually Brian Ray plays bass on it.
Rusty: Yeah it's funny I've got some of the McCartney band people which are obvoiusly very good friends of mine. Brian plays bass on that he plays a little bit of acoustic on the first song and Abe plays song on the first song, Abe also plays drums on Coming Down to Earth which is the second song. It's always a pleasure working with him he's such a great, all those guys are great, Wix is awesome. Back to Catbox Beach, that one Stewart plays an exquisite performance and thing that's really cool about Stewart's playing is that he's very musical, it's subtle but if you listen to every bar, it's different.
It funny because in the 80's because of drum machines there was this thing where all of a sudden drummers had to play exactly every bar the same as the last bar. Mike: Glad the 80's are over .
Rusty: Yeah, well it's kind of back in a way. It's in a weird state now because of hip-hop you've got this thing about loops you know where you loop something over and over, the same thing. But that has now evolved in a sense. Getting all that out of the way, Stewart performance is cool because you listen you hear every bar just a little different, a little subtlety, a little grace note pick up or maybe it's just emphasising a certain beat more than another or a fill or switching doing little cowbell, I mean a bell cymball hit in the middle of a bar a couple times and then he'll go to another thing. It was really great just to listen to him play and to play with him.
Mike: The name "Catbox Beach" just snapped it out or something that just hit you in the face, ok here we go.
Rusty: Well the funny thing when I wrote this song it started off in an experiment in writing a classical rock piece. Like taking a classical melody and putting it to rock. I', like wait a minute this is like a surf song so just went with that direction.
Mike: There you go.
Rusty: And then the center towards the reggae thing because Stewart's playing I thought well we should have some reggae element, and I thought well that's kind of interesting anyway. I like bringing those two together because the sort of different eras. You've got the surf era, which is really 60's and you've got the reggae thing which is sort of the 70's, I guess it started late 60's or whatever, two completely different continents that they dirived from. Then again you have a lot of surfer into reggae these days.
Mike: "Everybody Deserves an A in this Country"
Rusty: "Everybody Deserves an A in this Country" was a song that was sort of written on mushrooms. We had this mushroom day some friends of mine were hangin out and I'm not a big drug person I don't do drugs much but it was sort of like this payote ceremony ritual thing with mushrooms and music. And so we just set up all the instruments. The only problem I found out is that on mushrooms it's impossible to sing because you laugh non-stop like you spasmatically laugh. Mike is laughing in the background And so it this weird thing we jam and try to sing and come up with crazy stuff anf hat's basically is what that song is, mushroom experience song. But it does actually sound kind of normal in a certain way. Something about is very much like a normal sort of glamrock track and something else is very not normal about it. So I thought I'd leave it in it's pure form and throw it on there.
Mike: What's next for Rusty Anderson?
Rusty: Well I'd like to start playing some gigs, I'm starting to rehearse with the band and get that together, we'll see what happens there. There's some talk about doing some more recording at Abbey Road because Paul he's doing ... we've been working on this record. We've been going back and forth to London recording. That's been a real fun experience and I think you know Paul having the baby.
Very beautiful baby by the way, I saw her, she was two days old little Beatrice, a perfect little specimen of a child, gorgeous. So I think that whole thing was a detour of recording the record which obviously he knew about and planned around it. Actually what happened was that Beatrice was born a couple of weeks early. We were at Abbey Road and I was talking to Paul on the couch. "How's it going at home, bla, bla" he said, "Ah really good well actually Heather's dialated to like 10cm or something", so oh, well that sounds like the due date to be moved up, then he goes, "Yeah, maybe so I don't know", and then he gets a phone call "Oopps, I gotta go", and then she was born that night. So that recording was cut a little short.
So but I think after spending a bit of time we were talking about maybe February, March or something getting back together and doing some more recording. I think also Paul wants to really take his sweet time making this record. Which is interesting because when we did Driving Rain, it was the speed of light. The first day I met Paul within an hour or two we recording and we recorded three songs that day and they all made it to the record pretty much intact from the way we recording them.
Rusty: I mean the bulk of the song was done then and there.
Mike: Are you picking up any tracks from the Driving Rain sessions ?
Rusty: I have no idea. I have no idea
Mike: So it's all new material that you have been working on.
Rusty: That we have been working on, absolutely, yeah. There was a song or two particular, there was one song I really liked and I thought should have been on Driving Rain and I mentioned it to Paul and he says, "ah next record". So who knows, maybe he'll put it on this one.
Mike: What was the name of that?.
Rusty: I can't really guess, I think it's called, "Always Be There".
Mike: Always Be There. I've got some list of some outtakes somewhere around here and I'll have to see if that's on it.
Rusty: Ah ok, yeah who knows.
Mike: "Whole Life". What was the experience working for that cause ?
Rusty: Well that was interesting because it was all of sudden last minute where Paul went into the studio and, "Oh yeah Dave Stewart's coming by and we've got this song that I want to finish up". I wasn't sure if, I thought well Dave Stewart plays guitar you know maybe I won't even be part of this so I don't know what he's really talking about. So, but then we all got together and we all sort of did it live so it was cool. Dave Stewart played acoustic and Paul and I played electric and Brian played bass and Abe played drums. It was really fun actually. It was kind of cool meeting Dave Stewart who I never met before. Just getting in there and really quickly getting the song together. Then we all got around the mike, I guess the four of us, Paul, Abe, Brian and I did all the background vocals and then pretty quickly it was mixed that night.
Mike: And shipped off to the website.
Rusty: Exactly, it was just one of those fun, quick you know experiences that was completely out of the blue, unexpected.
Mike: So your working on getting a band together, guys you worked with before?
Rusty: Well Dusty, which rhymes with Rusty he played drums on "Everybody Deserves an A in this Country", I jammed with him before and he's playing drums. There's a couple of other guys that you wouldn't know. Yeah it's a real fun group of guys everybody sings, were starting to get that going. Hoping to play some gigs in L.A. around January and we'll sort of see how it goes taking it in a low stress kind a way.
Mike: Be sure to tell Corinne to let us know when and where and we'll put the notice up and get your place packed.
Rusty: Yeah that would be great that would be fantastic
Mike: Tenative name for the band ?
Rusty: We were jokingly calling it, "Rusty, Dusty and the Placemats".
Mike: That ain't bad.
Rusty: I don't know probably just Rusty Anderson.
Mike: I guess that's about it unless there is a couple things you want to mention.
Rusty: Well I guess just to say, if you go to my website, which is RustyAndeson.com you can buy the CD or go straight to CDbaby. There's some other places it's available to. I'm sort of pushing CDbaby because they've been real cool to us. So other than that I guess that's kind a it.
Mike: Ok, well be putting the links up for CDbaby for the Rusty Anderson CD "Undressing Underwater". Rusty, thanks again for this interview.
Rusty: Thank you Mike, it was great talking to you again. .
Mike: And I believe I we'll do another quickie one after I get a listen to it so I can make some comments and ask some other questions.
Rusty: Yeah, it'll be curious to see what you think.
Mike: Yeah, yeah.
Rusty: Well, enjoy and call me anytime.
Mike: Well have a good Christmas and keep in touch to what's going on in January.
Rusty: Will do, Merry Christmas to you, I wish you a happy holidays.
Rusty: Ok my friend.
Mike: Goodbye now.