If you’re like me, you probably know Todd Rundgren’s name without really having a recollection of his musical catalogue. I knew Rundgren is beloved and respected by musicians, I knew he was a big deal in the 1970s and probably the 1980s too. But I really didn’t have a sound or a song catalogue in mind when I read this interview with him. Apparently, Rundgren has been working this whole time – he tours constantly, sometimes as a stand-alone act and sometimes with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. He still records music and he’s got a new album coming out, White Knight, which features collaborations with Trent Reznor, Daryl Hall, Donald Fagen, Joe Walsh and more.
To promote the album, Rundgren chatted with Variety about working with the older guys and with the younger guys on the album – he has lovely things to say about Trent Reznor – and he talked about how the music industry has changed, but he doesn’t sound bitter about it at all. The thing that’s getting the most headlines though is the political part. These quotes have been picked up by conservative media outlets who are trying “Dixie Chick” him.
Variety: Donald Fagen sings lead on the anti-Trump song “Man in the Tin Foil Hat,” but it’s hard to tell who wrote what in the tune, because the chord progressions and biting humor both sound like both of you.
Rundgren: That was one of the more interesting collaborations on the record, because it’s the only one in which me and my collaborator were in the same physical place at the same time. I’ve known Donald since he spent some time living out at Kauai, where I still live, and he just happened to be on vacation on the island in January. We went out to dinner, and I thought, well, geez, why don’t I just spring it on him? The song was primarily driven by our common frustration with what happened in the recent election. It was still pretty fresh, and we were still pretty mad about it, so it happened pretty organically. So who knows?
Variety: The anti-Trump song you did with Fagen reminded me of when I saw you perform in Los Angeles last year, and right after you made some remarks about your feelings about Trump, the couple next to me angrily walked out. You left the impression that doesn’t bother you.
Rundgren: No. If I had the power, I’d say: If you’re a Trump supporter, don’t come to my show, because you won’t have a good time. And also, I don’t understand your frickin’ values. Because I’m not singing about that. If you don’t understand that basic thing, you’re just fooling yourself. I guarantee that in this show, if you’re a Trump supporter, you will likely be offended. Let the buyer beware! I mean, if you can’t take a joke, or you can’t admit that you’ve made a mistake, you don’t belong with the rest of us. [Laughs]
I don’t know of any celebrity or musician who has said anything like this, flat-out, since Trump was elected. A lot of celebrities and performers have bitched publicly about Trump and his supporters of course. Michael Shannon even said that Trump-supporting senior citizens are “ready for the urn.” But I don’t think anyone other than Rundgren has said, flat-out, to Trump supporters and Deplorables that they should not even buy their album or come to their show or see their movie. Most actors and performers (cough-Miley-cough) still want to retain their base of support across all political demographics. I respect that Todd Rundgren is like “f–k that noise, if you’re a Deplorable, I don’t want your money.”
Photos courtesy of WENN.