Ladies and gentlemen, I am very proud to present another of our extremely talented long-time members, but one with a very unique and distinctive style that defies pigeonholing into any standard genre: please welcome Mr Rich “Lodato”.
mp3u: If I may say so, the word ‘artist’ seems somehow more appropriate when discussing your work than that of many (dare I say most) in mainstream music. Would you consider much of today’s mainstream output “art” at all?
Lodato: It’s all an art form. All creativity is. It all has various levels as well. The trick is connecting that to someone somewhere. Ya know… “if a tree falls and no one’s there…”
mp3u: One of your songs, “Adorian”, is a paean to a stone dog in your kitchen. If it was a song by anyone else, people might be forgiven for thinking it was a tongue-in-cheek ironic joke, but it is in fact a deadly serious, passionately-sung piece. And judging by the comments, your friends all get it. You are an enigma, but they know it and they like it.
Lodato: I’m like anyone else when it comes to hoping someone gets it. Not all my work has that effect. I have a lot of misses but they’re not misses to me. I basically write for myself and want to be able to reach that idea to others so I don’t feel alone.
mp3u: So you literally feel that without music you would be lost?
Lodato: That’s not going to happen so I can’t answer that. I’m never lost. The music comes from me. I would have to be dead.
mp3u: According to your bio, as far back as your earliest memories you had an interest in music. You have always loved music and it has always been a major part of your life, but I am curious, when did you first start playing or acquire your first instrument? Did you ever have any formal training or are you strictly self-taught?
Lodato: My start in music was a rocky and sad one…
We were the only Italians where I grew up in an all Irish neighborhood in Edgewater New Jersey which runs along the Hudson River. I was the 8th kid out of 12. My father, who was a musician of sorts, did not want me to be a musician and knew when I was very young that that was my main interest, but he just wouldn’t allow me to delve into it. It was very, very frustrating for me and really messed with my head.
mp3u: I can imagine…
Lodato: When I was 15 my father passed and my mom gave me his guitar and mandolin and allowed me to play the piano that I was never allowed to play. I never wanted training. I just wanted to play and I am very stubborn. I wanted to do it all myself and that’s what I did. I wrote my first song in a gas station I worked in. I would practice playing guitar and singing between pumping gas. When I was 16 I joined a rock band and I played bass. That lasted for 6 months or so and then I decided I wanted to go it alone. When I was 19 I moved to San Francisco… 1975… and got my first recording studio set up which consisted of a 1/4″ 4 track Tascam reel to reel and a 2-track mixdown deck. An 8 channel Tascam Console, a 421 mic I used for vocals. I had my Ovation Classical that I just di’d and a spring reverb. I did tape slap for delays and for other effects using the two tape decks. Very cool little set up in a fainting closet that was 5′ x 8′ and I lined the walls with cork to deaden the room as well as to keep too much bleed from the street, and I made some good recordings that I still have archived. I posted one of the songs recorded on that system on this site once. I believe it was “I Think of You”.
Lodato: I have no computer in my studio other than digital hardware recorders. Analog board Neve pre’s and Urei 1176 comps with meek vibe and older lexicon effects units. I do use an Akai mpc4000 for sequencing when I’m not doing acoustic cuts. I like out of the box and it works beautiful for me. My guitars are my original Ovation Classical I saved up for a whole year to get in ’77. It’s amazingly in-tuned with my fingers. I have always played a fretless bass so I don’t know how to play a fretted one. I’m sure it’s cool… I also have a Strat that I use a lot and some folks think it’s an acoustic.
mp3u: You recently had two consecutive number one tracks in the mp3u charts with “I’m in Deep” and “song to the wise”. On your artist page they are the only two tracks listed that topped the chart – were they your first number ones, or have you occasionally deleted tracks from your page?
Lodato: I deleted at least 60 or so songs (some put back up by request) since 2009 when I joined MP3U. I had maybe 5 or 6 #1 spots but I really don’t remember. I get so moody with my music. One day I love something I did and a second later, I have problems with it. Yeah, moody.
mp3u: Deleted over 60 songs, and currently about 60 on your page! You are clearly a very prolific songwriter. So, considering your changing moods or perspectives towards your songs, is there any song which you have always been very pleased with? Your personal favorite song from your own body of work?
Lodato: I’ve liked my music for the first time in my life for the last 10 years. It’s all good to me. But if I had to choose, I love performing “Under My Hat”.
mp3u: Some might think I approached you partly because of your recent chart successes, but the truth is I actually first approached you about doing an interview before those two number ones, right?
Lodato: Right. And I’m quite grateful!!
mp3u: It’s quite a coincidence that after being approached you had not just one but two number ones, consecutively! Perhaps being approached to do an interview is a kind of Midas touch (Just kidding)
Lodato: This will be the third interview I have done in the last 2 years. I love the attention! I also like people to know a little about the person behind the music. Any kind of attention inspires me. When a songs does well, I want to hear the song more so I can feel what the listener is feeling. Or at least make believe I can.
mp3u: One song of yours that was very well received was “Weather”. A number of people mentioned that the background music consisted of only two chords, but rather than a criticism, this was a compliment that you had the talent to actually craft a song around two chords, whereas most would never get away with it. Does this song have special significance to you?
Lodato: I love to meditate. I have always loved chants, litanies, long notes to sing around. I find a whole world around one note and often sing around 1 note. I was recently in New Orleans in the French Quarter. It was 8am and I heard in the distance a trumpeter leaning on one note for the longest time. It seemed forever but I got all caught up in that one note and being in Jackson square I started to sing around the note and all the reflection bounced together off the stone buildings. It was a beautiful moment. “Weather” has that kind of feeling for me. I have a few others like that. Some songs you wouldn’t know right off the bat that they’re comprised of 1 or 2 chords. That’s where filler comes in real handy to keeps it interesting. I have been doing that kind of thing for 40 years now.
mp3u: You have collabed with quite a few other mp3u musicians, notably Tony Miller, Terry Wigmore, Vin, So I’m an Islander, Michael Ritchie, Joseph Rodriguez, KtA and Dave Meredith. Are there any others I have missed, or that you would like to specially mention?
Lodato: I have also worked with Dan Michaelson and PPB aka Angel of Dawn, DSS Music, DeggsyMusic, Liquid, TR Blunt, Dawn Sinclair (amazing lyricist). Over the years there have been many artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with but a lot of those encounters were not recorded or were lost.
mp3u: What other artists on mp3u do you enjoy listening to?
Lodato: So, so many others. This place is so packed full of talented people it amazes me! I have to mention Dan Michaelson first off as he was so supportive when I came to this site and his music is absolutely gorgeous! Carol Sue Kirkpatrick is a powerful force to be reckoned with! I’m a huge fan of Vin’s aka A Brighter Day aka Riddle.. lol!! ..I’ve had a few names myself over the years… Essence has an angelic voice. Terry Wigmore is multi talented and a beautiful guy. Eric Bad Love Junkie – what’s not to love about Bad Love! Erik Jurado. My lord, he is an amazing player! As well Michael Ritchie, what a fine musician he is. Dave Meredith is a prolific monster talent. James Bell and his band Alive are on my playlist a lot and I can’t not mention the very talented James Oakwood as well as a lot of newer arrivals like DNA Codex, Lazy Jane, Christy – another angelic voice! (well, she’s not exactly new..) I just can’t name them all there’s just too many but all I can say is when I have a peek at the site, I wind up staying for at least an hour or two from so much great great music to be had.
mp3u: Do you usually listen to artists you know and like – catching up on their latest offerings – or do you often check out new artists music on the site too?
Lodato: I do both. I always want to let an artist I like know I like them and that I hear what they’re doing. That’s what I want for myself from others as well. This site is the most interactive site I know of when it comes to musicians generously giving their music, wisdom, support and feedback! What’s not to love?
mp3u: If you had a message for any aspiring musicians just starting out on their musical path, what would it be?
Lodato: Listen to your heart and don’t be afraid to show who you really are and the music will blossom.
mp3u: Thank you very much for your time Rich! I think I can speak for most members when I say we’re looking forward equally to hearing many more Lodato collabs and solo works alike! And I think that wraps up today’s interview, folks. I’ve heard through the grapevine that the next interview will be with a very different kind of genre, so keep your ears open and expect the unexpected.