Todd Rundgren on his need for constant creative motion: ‘Come on, it’s not 1973 anymore’

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Todd Rundgren’s made a career out of left turns, up to and including his new electronica-focused State project. Still, with the proliferation of classic-rock radio formats, there is still the odd disappointed patron.

Come in to a Rundgren show expecting a steady diet of “I Saw the Light”-style singer-songwriter introspection, and you’re in for a mighty shock. Just over the course of his last few albums, Rundgren has also presented new wave renditions of popular songs he’s overseen as a producer and then done ultra-modern updates on Robert Johnson’s deep-blues songs.

“Every once in a while,” Rundgren admits in this new video, “a guy shows up at the concert with his date, thinking that it’s going to be an evening of tender ballads (laughs), and they both go home disappointed. You know, I feel sorry for them, and I’m certainly happy to refund the ticket price, but geez — come on. It’s 2013 now. It’s not 1973 anymore.”

Even back then, of course, Rundgren was shaking things up. Something/Anything, which produced the smash AM hit “Hello, It’s Me” in 1972, was followed by the prog rock effort A Wizard, a True Star and then Todd, which found him deep into experimentation with synthesizers.

And so it went, through so many permutations that his very versatility has become the only norm.

“Fortunately, most of the fans who are still listening now are cognizant of that fact,” Rundgren adds. “So, there’s a little less indignance than I used to experience back in the day when people still remembered Something/Anything and all the hits from that, even though I might be two, three, four albums removed from it. At this point, anyone who has stuck with me this long is there for the ride, is there for the constant evolution or devolution or whatever of the music — the fact that it isn’t the same every time, that it’s not presented the same way every time.”

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