Home > Interview > Issue #591.5 Interview w/ Carl Canedy (The Rods)

Issue #591.5 Interview w/ Carl Canedy (The Rods)

Mini-Issue #591.5
May 6, 2011

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-Just what your mother needs — a Detritus Mini-Issue! – Tim

by Tim Wadzinski (tsw512@yahoo.com)

-Interview w/ Carl Canedy (The Rods)
April 30, 2011

New York metallers The Rods are back with their first studio album in 25 years, VENGEANCE, due out later this month through Niji Entertainment Group. As the first single the band — singer/guitarist David “Rock” Feinstein, singer/bassist Garry Bordonaro, and drummer Carl Canedy — is releasing “The Code,” a track featuring Feinstein’s cousin and former Elf band mate, the late, great Ronnie James Dio, on lead vocals. I recently spoke to Canedy about the album, the band’s return, working with Dio, his career as a producer, and more.

DETRITUS: The new album comes out in a few weeks?

CARL CANEDY: Yes, finally. (laughs)

D: Why release a new Rods album in 2011, after so long? What prompted all this?

CC: Well, you know, we’ve been doing live dates and writing material. We’d done this reunion show at The Haunt in Ithaca, NY, and from the first rehearsal it went really well. We’d been writing material, way more material than we’d need for an album, so that’s what the outcome was.

D: Does that mean there’s enough stuff left over for another album? Or are you not looking that far ahead?

CC: I’m hoping this is the first of at least another album or two. I think we’re all thinking that because we have material we’re [still] writing as well. Speaking for myself, I’m not thinking this will be the last Rods album by any means.

D: I like it quite a bit. It’s got a really killer old-school vibe. Was that the plan? Were you trying to accomplish anything in particular? How did the songs come about?

CC: I don’t know if you saw the credits on the album. David and I wrote the title track together, but mainly we each write songs separately. I think that’s just what our style is, be it old-school or whatever, that’s kind of where it goes. In a lot of ways I may be a little more adventurous than David in some things, but David’s just got the energy. To me, it is what it is. With The Rods, we’ve always noticed the one thing we have, and whatever it is we bring songs in and we can tell immediately when we write something whether or not it’s going to be a good Rods song.

D: Who sings each song? It sounds like it’s mostly David, even on your songs. Does Garry sing lead, too?

CC: David sings lead on everything except “The Code” and “Runnin’ Wild.” Garry sings “Runnin’ Wild” and of course Ronnie guests on “The Code.”

D: Okay, ’cause I tell you, when I first heard “I Just Wanna Rock” I swore to God it was a duet with Biff Byford from Saxon!

CC: Oh, it is a duet — David and Garry trade vocals on that. You’re right: I forgot all about that! They do trade vocals.

D: I did pay attention to the credits and saw how you and David split up the song writing evenly. I’ve always loved bands that do that, and that have multiple lead singers — like Kiss for example. I thought it was a really cool vibe you have going. Has it always been that way with The Rods?

CC: If you go back, we still do songs live — David brings back more songs that I’ve written, than I remember to bring back! (laughs) Which is great — he’s such a supporter, and he encourages me. I remember writing the song “The Night Lives To Rock” which was for [1982’s] WILD DOGS, I believe. I can’t remember if it was a duet on the album, but that’s how I wrote it — as a duet. I’m not sure if there was something like that on the first album, but I’ve written those types of song; I’m not sure if David has. But we’ve done those things live quite a bit since day one, trading vocals like that in a song.

D: Since it’s fairly unusual to find a drummer that does a lot of writing, I have to ask which you enjoy more: playing or writing?

CC: You know, when I started playing drums I started playing guitar shortly after. So for years I’ve gotten this thing where everybody thinks when they see my name as a credit, “Oh, somebody else must’ve written the music,” or “he must’ve contributed a part.” Whereas I usually write all the parts: the riffs, the song, the chorus, the structure. So I’ve been playing guitar pretty much as long as I’ve been playing the drums. What would happen is that I’d practice 6 hours a day and then at night I’d play guitar and make my girlfriends crazy. I played piano, and you know, I just was like non-stop I was so dedicated. I was just crazy; obsessed. So for me, writing songs is a different animal. When I pick up a guitar I sit there and I come up with ideas; it’s easy for me. I have tons and tons of material, just as David does. But you know, I don’t know… I love playing drums, so nothing takes the place of that. But writing songs is really rewarding. I listen to some of my early stuff and I think, “Oh that was so basic.” I was trying to write a song because we needed something quick in the set, like a fast song, or a “type” of song. Whereas now my song writing is different. I let the songs go where they will, whether they’re 5 minutes or 6 minutes or 2 minutes — whatever they are, they are. They exist whatever way they are; I don’t try to steer them anymore. I used to try to write a certain way. A&R people were really good at pushing you — “You need this, you need that.” But when I write a song like “The Code,” which was vision I had that turned out really well, and “Madman,” which was another song that kind of was a vision and then it turned out the way I had envisioned it, it’s really rewarding, but on a totally different level than playing a good set and having a good night.

D: You mentioned “The Code” and “Madman,” which have a more serious tone than the rest of the songs on the album. Do you have to get into a totally different headspace to write stuff like that, as opposed to a more, straight-up, typical “rock ‘n’ roll” song?

CC: Yes. I think both of those were, I don’t know… I think my lyrics are more political now as compared to some of the songs that I used to write, which were, uh… some of them crack me up when I hear them now. (laughs) With “Madman,” I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers. The people who are just so quiet — I remember when I was a kid watching Johnny Carson talking about how they’re always the quiet ones — I’ve always just noticed that there were certain people who were very quiet and then suddenly exploded in rage that’s inside them. Jim Gordon was a big hero of mine because he was a great session drummer — I don’t know if you’re familiar with Jim Gordon, who played with Eric Clapton and on the LAYLA album wrote the second half of “Layla;” [he was] just a huge session drummer as well as the work he did with Delaney & Bonnie and Eric Clapton — but when he killed his mother [in 1983] it always stuck with me. It was just so horrific about how his mother was afraid of him, and he’d had some domestic abuse with Rita Coolidge, and issues there, and suddenly his mom was moving because she was terrified. He convinced her to open the door and I guess he just killed her with a hatchet or something. That always struck me. And my friend was reading “The Lovely Bones,” and every day I had to hear about “The Lovely Bones,” and “Madman” struck me as all those things over the years, the things I’d heard. So that’s kind of how I wrote it, and the song was a little frightening to me when I wrote it but I thought, “You know what, I’m just gonna go with it.” And the riff had been something on one of my basses — I have some guitars hanging on the walls — and one of my basses was hanging on the wall and every time I went by I played the interval, which is the first part of the song, the chorus chords, and the slide down to the open E — I think it’s A flat to E — and it was a really cool little change. I thought, “That’s cool! I gotta do something with that, but it’s really scary.” So that’s kinda how that song evolved. To me that is a pretty frightening song, but it captured what I was looking for, you know? I had to write the dialogue [for the introduction, mimicking news reports about famous serial killers] and my friends here who are DJs and TV people actually did the voices for me, because I couldn’t find any of the pieces I needed for that intro. I wound up going and researching the serial killers and their arrests and what happened. I had to write the script and then my friends read it for me.

D: I wondered about that. When I first saw the track list I figured it was a “madman of rock ‘n’ roll” type of song, but when I listened to it and heard all the voiceover at the beginning I wondered, “Where did he get this stuff?” Thanks for explaining — it’s cool to see how it all comes together.

As far as “The Code” goes, I interviewed David last fall when he was promoting his solo record BITTEN BY THE BEAST, and of course I asked him about the song Ronnie sings on that album, “Metal Will Never Die.” I didn’t know until he told me that it was all of you guys — The Rods — playing on it with Ronnie singing, and he mentioned that another song with Ronnie would be included on this Rods album. I asked him this, and especially now with these two albums coming out relatively close together, and each of them featuring a song with Ronnie as its lead single, I’d like to ask you, too: Were you ever concerned Ronnie’s fans, or anyone else for that matter, would think you guys were exploiting your connection to Ronnie?

CC: That is a great question. You know, speaking just for myself, that’s been an issue from day one. First, because when Ronnie came, this was a gift really to Rock and to the band to do these songs. But you know David and Ronnie were very close. They were talking about doing an Elf reunion, David was going to L.A., he came back and they actually worked on a song that was tracked and wound up happening for one of his albums. The fact that that was done, there’s a lot of love there; it was a gesture, it was kindness — it was never meant to be part of Ronnie’s legacy. And my concern, when Ronnie was diagnosed and when of course Ronnie died, was “This isn’t cool.” I was concerned that as a Rods album after all these years, Ronnie’s appearance would really overshadow the Rods album. And I wanted, first of all, the Rods album to be what it was: it’s a Rods album. And, you know, if you like The Rods that’s cool, and if you don’t, if it’s not your cup of tea, then you’re probably gonna hate the whole thing. So, either you get it or you don’t, but I wanted it to stand on its own. As much as I love the idea that Ronnie sang the songs — and for me it was a career highlight to work with him, and just to have him sing one of my songs; you know, just as a song writer to say, “Wow! Look what he was able to do with a song that I wrote.” — just an honor, and very humbling but by the same token very concerned that it happened this way. Would I have made it the lead single? Personally, I would not have. Speaking for myself — but I know it’s this way with all of us — none of us were interested in exploiting anything of Ronnie. We saw people come out of the woodwork to exploit [Ronnie’s death] and it’s just not something any of us ever wanted to do. And quite honestly, I don’t think that we needed to do that. A Rods album is what it is. We’re not expecting to fill stadiums because we put out a new album. We are realistic in our expectations. I think it’s a great Rods album — and that’s without Ronnie’s track. But of course Ronnie’s track is what it is, you know? The guy’s a legend and his appearance on it is definitely, at this point, part of his legacy. It’s sad that’s the case because it was such a joyful thing when he did it. So for us, now it’s being released as a single and it appears to some people — or it could appear to some people — like some kind of exploitation when in fact, from our aspect, it was just not that at all. I’m sad about that, that the appearance could be taken that way. But that’s the way it is. I mean, it’s a great track and it should be out there. We just have to deal with how people perceive it. Hopefully Ronnie’s fans will be thrilled with it because I think he’s such a great singer and I think he gave a great performance. Hopefully at the end of the day the song will stand on its own and his performance will be part of what his fans love about him — the fact that he’s just one of the greatest singers.

D: I think it’s a cool song and I can empathize with you, and what you’re saying. I mean, geez, if I had someone like that sing one of my songs I’d want the whole world to know.

CC: Yes, but I didn’t want it this way, as part of his legacy, and it’s a very bittersweet thing for us, for Garry and for David.

D: Aside from that, here’s a cliche question: What’s your favorite song on the album?

CC: (thinks for a while) It’s hard for me to say because I love “I Just Wanna Rock.” I love Rock’s songs; Rock’s material is so cool in that it is what it is, you know? He’s been who he is from day one, from the first Elf album. I used to go see him back when Elf was together, with Ronnie. We used to rehearse in the same house. They would rehearse in the house and we would rehearse in the garage. He’s been that way from day one. The guy just had Marshall stacks cranked to the max — that’s how he played. (laughs) So that’s who he is and I love the fact that he just sticks to what he does. I love his songs. For me, “The Code” is kind of a personal triumph in that Ronnie sang it and my daughter was able to sing the harmonies in the break — she’s a singer, and it was great to have her on something that I recorded, now that she’s almost 21. So that’s great. I think “Madman” was one of those songs that is a great success for me, just in the fact that I had envisioned that song and it was a lot of work to get it to sound that raw, that crazy, that psycho. So I was really happy about that. So, I don’t know — I mean I don’t really know that I have one favorite song. There’s things about so many of these songs that I love. I love “Ride Free Or Die” just because it’s a cool biker song. I don’t know… (laughs) I guess if you had pin me down to one I would probably say “The Code” would be my favorite song.

D: I’m staring at the album cover right now — it’s just a cool cover. Does someone really have a guitar like that? (laughs) It’s awesome.

CC: Eric Philippe from Belgium did this. I would love for him to read something in an article about how much we love him. He’s a Rods fan and a he’s a phenomenal graphic designer. He came up with the guitar, and actually David has a guitar very similar to that guitar. It’s really cool that he came up with this concept. Eric is unbelievable. He’s been there from day one for us; he’s just been a great guidance, helping with artwork and ideas. I think it’s a cool cover. I thought he did a great job.

D: I see you have some European shows coming up in June with the Dio Disciples. How are you going to handle that set list? Are you there to promote the new album, or are you reintroducing the band by playing a “greatest hits” set?

CC: I think we’re going to do what we’ve been doing. We’re still working on our set list. We haven’t finalized the amount of time we have. But you know, there are certain songs Rods fans just wanna hear — “Crank It Up,” “Power Lover,” “Nothing Going On In The City,” “Hurricane” — there’s songs that fans just expect to hear. But there are also some new songs that are going over really well, we’re playing a lot. We have a lot of material. It’s been tough for us over the last few years to try to condense those songs to put them into a set. We’ve been experimenting. I think we’ll do a little bit of both.

D: Are you the type of band that mixes it up from night to night, or do you try to have a set show with a consistent performance every night?

CC: You know, we change things, but we’ll probably have a show that’s very close to the same each night. But we do change things. I mean, we don’t get crazy and suddenly on the bus go “Let’s just do this song from the first album that we haven’t played in 25 years!” We don’t get that crazy, but we’ll switch things up and blow a different song in. Overall the set will remain fairly consistent.

D: Forgive me but I haven’t checked the website. Do you have any shows planned for the US? Of course I’m specifically interested to hear if you’re coming to Chicago.

CC: I would love to play Chicago. We have a lot of people who ask us to come to that area; that’s one area we’ve never played. We’ve missed Detroit, Chicago. I’d love to be out there. I know there’s talk of US dates but I haven’t heard anything specific about what they are. Right now we have three shows that we’re playing locally as tune-up dates for the European stuff, including one coming up June 4 at the Haunt again. Those are all very close to where we’re based on the East Coast here. We’re all assuming there will be US dates but nothing’s confirmed; let’s keep our fingers crossed.

D: I know you’ve produced a lot of other bands. I’m wondering A) are you still doing that, and B) what do you get out of working in that capacity with another band that you don’t get from working with The Rods?

CC: Well that’s a great question. I just finished producing a band from Miami, Blunken, which we’re just shopping now. You can check those guys out if you want. They’re like a prog band; they’re heavy. To me it’s like a roller coaster ride — they’re like Metallica one minute, and the next minute it’s like you’re in Jamaica. (laughs) Just crazy prog. Long songs, like 8 minutes long. It’s cool. It was great producing that album; I really enjoyed it. So I still do it. I still want to continue producing because I love it. What I get out of it is first, it’s great to help somebody realize their vision. Of course it’s disappointing if you try really hard and you’re not always able to achieve that, but more and more I’m kind of able to get bands to where they wanna go. It’s just been a great experience as a producer. It opens your eyes. When I started I was lucky to work with a lot of really fresh talent, and you get to see what’s going on, and you watch them. You know, as much as you’re bringing to the table, you’re learning things. You’re absorbing from each other; it’s a give and take. It’s great to see the end product and it’s great to see these bands kind of come into their own in the studio. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve always been part of that from day one, with working on arrangements. I’ve always been involved in that in every band I’ve been in. Even in cover bands, working on arrangements is something I love to do.

D: Thanks, Carl. I want to wish you all the best with the new album, and I hope to see you in Chicago.

CC: Thank you, Tim. We really appreciate the support.

-VENGEANCE is due out May 24, and the band’s upcoming tune-up shows are as follows:

5/21 – Suzy’s Tavern, Auburn, NY
6/3 – Brews Brothers, Pittston, PA
6/4 – The Haunt, Ithaca, NY

The European tour with Dio Disciples is scheduled as follows:

6/11 – Download Festival, East Midlands, UK
6/12 – Academy, Newcastle, UK
6/14 – Garage, Glasgow, Scotland
6/15 – Sleigh Rooms, Wolverhampton, UK
6/16 – Academy 2, Manchester, UK
6/17 – Islington Academy, London, UK
6/19 – De Pul, Uden, The Netherlands
6/20 – Colos Saal, Aschafensburg, Germany
6/21 – Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany
6/22 – C Club, Berlin, Germany
6/24 – Graspop Festival, Dessel, Belgium (tentative)
6/25 – Matrix, Bochum, Germany
6/27 – Szene Wien, Vienna, Austria
6/28 – Konzerthaus Schuur, Lucerne, Switzerland
6/29 – Milan, Italy (w/ Dio Disciples & Anvil)

Thanks to Chipster PR for setting up this interview.

Relevant links:


Carl Canedy

David “Rock” Feinstein

Eric Philippe

The Rods

*** OUT ***

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