Todd Rundgren talks "turning dumpster fires into hit records" on Joe Bonamassa's Live From Nerdville

Article Contributed by Big Hassle Media | Published on Thursday, March 18, 2021

In this week’s interview on Joe Bonamassa’s series Live From Nerdville, Joe speaks candidly with the one-and-only Todd Rundgren on the verge of his Clearly Human Virtual Tour that has been making major headlines!

In the hour long interview, Todd dives into everything from working with Janis Joplin, who apparently didn’t enjoy the traditional studio recording process and rather lived for the on-stage fan interaction, to his experience as the master producer who could turn “dumpster fires into hit records.” In his wild ride from singer-songwriter to producer, expanding his breadth of multi-instrumental skills along the way, Todd has worked with so many major artists and bands, helping them to bend their respective genres along the way and keep fans interested! In this episode he shares stories about Meat Loaf, Hall & Oates, New York Dolls, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Cream, Grand Funk Railroad – Todd has seen it all! He even gets into the history of the Blues, where he and Joe discuss the evolution through the different generations, from the legendary Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters, and beyond through today.

“You listen to Eric Clapton with The Bluesbreakers and your balls drop!” – TODD RUNDGREN

“I never met someone who was so not into the process of making a record, getting ready to make a record or the actual recording itself!” TODD RUNDGREN - Referring to Janis Joplin

Todd goes on to discuss that at an early age, with his guitar, “I started learning every George Harrison guitar solo! Continuing on, they discuss things like Todd growing up in Philly, and about how James Cotton is one of the first guys who gave him a break with producing his 1970 album for Capitol Records. During this time, Todd spent a lot of time at New York’s “Café A Go Go” where he saw all of the Blues greats of the time from Paul Butterfield to Cream which he claims that he sat six feet away from Eric Clapton’s amp and how every night, he would go home with his ears ringing!

“I was such a rat around [Café A Go Go] that I got to hang out after hours when Eric Clapton showed up and did a jam session for the people hanging around along with Clapton was Howling Wolf, and Muddy Waters. Wow! Here I am, a scrawny 19-year-old white kid watching history that nobody else would ever hear!” – TR

Rundgren on James Cotton – “He was the sweetest guy in the world! He was wonderful to work with but more in an outsider kind of way, if he learned a song in a certain way, he was never going to unlearn it. So, we let him play it the way it was and then just slowed down the Bariac recorder to keep the song in tune when he played it!”

The chat moves on to Grand Funk Railroad and comparing them to Cream, then talking about Criteria Studios, Badfinger, Bearsville Studio Sessions and the production of Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” as well as John Stork and his amazing studio designs. Rundgren also get into his new virtual tour coming up and how he’s embracing the digital age, interactive albums and livestreams as a means to connect with the fans.