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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

The Rods

Interviewed by Mike Korn

Interview with Carl Canedy of The Rods from 2011


What made now the right time for a new Rods record?

Interesting question. I don't know that we thought it was a good time, other than we had gotten back together, started playing shows and started writing material and decided that we had an album! Wendy and Ronnie had started a label and it seemed like a perfect fit. That was it.
MSJ: Did you think back in 1980 when The Rods started to roll that you would be putting an album out in 2011?
Ummmm...I think I did! I'm shocked that we're where we're at, but back then, you're young and it just seems that you'll go on forever. I think I probably did back then, but
MSJ: You've still got the same three core members as you did back then, which is a very rare and unique thing. What's the secret behind you staying together so long?
We'd sort of taken a break for a number of years. We never really had a problem in the band. We were always friends. We never had a big blow-up or anything like that. I went off and started producing. David opened a restaurant, which is still a great hang out for us, the Hollywood in Portland. And Gary toured with Savoy Brown. We had management which was not very helpful and basically told us that nobody cared about us. We just became discouraged with it because of all that and the Rods ground to a halt. But a few years ago, somebody suggested that we do a couple of shows and it was just like we had never stopped. It was great and it just went on from there.
MSJ: The consensus now is that the Rods could have been a really big deal back in the ‘80s. Would you say it was that bad management that kept you from achieving all that you could have?
You know, I would like to blame the management for everything, but I think we had our own share of faux pas' and whatever. Our management was not creative. Here's an example. After we had come back from the Iron Maiden tour, AC/DC asked us to on tour with them, the For Those About To Rock tour. It was a huge deal for us and Arista Records in the UK was willing to put up the money for us, but Arista in the States didn't want to. We wanted to borrow the money and they refused to let us go into debt to do the tour. That would have been a huge turning point for us, to go back to Europe with AC/DC. So, you know, those were the kind of decisions made by the short-sighted management and they had a big effect on us.

Is it all the management's fault? I don't know. I think they chose the wrong manager for us, but everybody's cool, nobody's bitter. We have to take a certain amount of that responsibility ourselves. Could we have been big? I certainly would want to think “yes.” The fans were so great to us. The fans have always been there for us.

MSJ: You had a legendary run opening for Ozzy Osbourne back in 1981. What memories do you have of that tour?
You know, there are so many great memories of that tour, but the first thing was how nice Rudy (Sarzo, bass player) was on the first date of that tour. Gary had forgotten an extra bass strap for his bass and Rudy gave him one. Rudy was just a cool guy...very friendly, very welcoming. For me, when I was on stage doing my drum solo, Tommy Aldridge was a huge influence on me and during that solo, I'd look over in the wings and see Tommy Aldridge watching me do my solo. “Whoa, this is the coolest thing! One of my heroes is watching me play a solo,”...great moment for me. But probably the most standout moment was the first night when we were all in our dressing room getting ready to go on and suddenly the loudest guitar came on. It was so loud we couldn't hear ourselves talk. It was just these blazing riffs, and it was Randy Rhoads warming up. It wasn't the stuff he was playing with Ozzy, he was playing scales and bows, just phenomenal stuff. We were in awe at that playing.
MSJ: Excluding your newest album, which of the previous Rods albums was the one that clicked the most for you?
I love the first album. I thought that first album was a bunch of guys going into the studio within six months of forming the band. Chris Bubacz, the engineer, who did stuff like Spyro Gyra and the first Metallica album, worked on that first Rods album as well. Great engineer, but he was a student at Freedonia. He was getting us studio time when we would be out feeding our heads in the clubs. That was a great time, that record. Seeing that record come together, going from playing it live to actually hearing it recorded. That was a great experience and a great time. In The Raw was another album we did with Chris Bubacz where we went into the studio for 48-hours straight, which was crazy and we wound up with In The Raw. I took two studio drum sets and put them together to make one set and played everything live. That record was raw and the fans really seemed to like that. I also loved working with Shmoulik (Avigal, vocalist from Picture) on Heavier Than Thou. I played drums on his new solo CD which is being shopped around right now. What a great singer Shmoulik was. Those were just some of the highlights. Each album had its own special feel, but those were some standout moments.
MSJ: Are the songs on Vengeance relatively new or have they been bouncing around for a while?
No, those songs are all written for this album and they're all new. They haven't been sitting in a drawer somewhere.
MSJ: The material really fits in very smoothly with the classic Rods sound.
Right. I think part of that is just the fact that it's who we are. David and I write a lot of material. It's not all suited for the Rods but we know what The Rods are about. We know where the songs fall and we write for that. That's why this album doesn't sound like a big jump away from what the very first album was.
MSJ: Will you be coming out with more albums or is this like a one-timer for the hardcore Rods fans?
I don't see us not recording again. I don't see any plans to stop recording. I actually think we are just hitting our stride now.
MSJ: That's great. Not a lot of bands that have been around for 30 years can make that claim.
Well, that was a big thing we were concerned about when we got back together. Are we gonna have the energy, are we going to have the drive that we had? As it turns out, we did, we all did. We're all into it and we're all able to continue playing well and bring that same energy to the stage. For as long as it lasts, we're hanging in there and having a great time.
MSJ: Do you have any sort of touring plans for the record?
We're going to Europe starting June 11th at the Download Festival in England. We have about three or four weeks in the U.K. and Europe. We'll be doing some warm-up dates here in the States before we go, here in the Northeast. Nothing's been announced officially yet in the States but hopefully this summer we can put some dates together.
MSJ: On the album Vengeance, you have the song "The Code" with Ronnie James Dio. Was that his last recorded output?
To my knowledge, it was one of the last recordings he did. I can't really speak to that. It's definitely one of his last recordings.
MSJ: Did you know him fairly well? Rock is his cousin.
I didn't know Ronnie well. I know we rehearsed at the same house years ago and I really hadn't seen him in a long time. We connected really well back then and had a great time. I really enjoyed his company. He was such a brilliant musician and such a gentleman and great, intelligent guy. I couldn't claim to know him extremely well but I was glad to meet him.
MSJ: You had a great career as a producer of records. Is that something you still dabble in?
You know, I did just produce a band called “Blunken” from Miami and they're shopping their CD now. They're a great band. They're kind of a prog band with really long songs but very cool music. They can be super heavy but then six minutes in, you might wind up thinking you're on a beach in Jamaica smoking a joint because there's a lot of light and shade. It's wild and the guys are just great.
MSJ: Was getting back into producing easy or did you have to knock some rust off?
No, I've been recording all along. My daughter started a group when she was nine and she's almost 21 now. I wrote songs for them and recorded them. I've always kept my hand in it, even when I stopped producing other bands and focused more on family life.
MSJ: The change in technology between when you started and now has got to be vast.
Unbelievable! It's great. Thanks to Shmoulik, who got me started on recording my drums at home, it's been a huge thing for me. I just go and play my drum tracks now when I'm in the mood. I don't have to wait for certain times or conditions.
MSJ: Out of all your production work, what's the one effort you're most proud of?
Probably, Spreading the Disease by Anthrax. I'm not speaking sonically, but more in terms of elements coming together. That was an album where the singer they brought in for that was not strong. After a week of working with him in the studio, I came to the guys and said, “time to make a change here.” They were really strong, gutsy guys and did what they had to do. They fired him and then they had no singer. I went out and fortunately I was able to bring in Joey Belladonna and they loved him. The rest is history. I think it was the fact that we were able to get them the record that got them signed to a major label. I had bets with friends when I said, “this band was going to be huge” and they said, “these guys suck, they'll never be big.” Of course, they lost the bet, thank God! But there were so many elements that came together and made that such a major release.
MSJ: Was there an act that you took on that didn't work out?
If you want to talk about things I'd do differently, I guess maybe I'd do everything differently. Once I opened a commercial studio myself and got more into the engineering aspect, then things became clearer to me. It became a different world, as far as how I approached things. Now, concerning Blunken, we did great pre-production where we just went in and knocked the album out. We all knew just what we were doing. It was fun and captured the energy. There were times in the past when we'd go in and I'd try to push the musicians to be the best they could be. Maybe I missed the fact that they were already the best they could be. Maybe I tried to get more out of them than they had to give. Sometimes that would make it unpleasant. I certainly wouldn't do that now. That's not my approach any more.  Despite the technology being modern...and I love that...there's nothing really better than a well-rehearsed band making magic when they play together. I try to go for that moment as well. I use technology as needed to support that.
MSJ: Any other bands out there you can tip us off about?
Well, I'm always looking. Bands are always sending me things. I'm open to producing. Just like playing drums on Shmoulik's new album. I'm open for whatever is around. I love to play and I love to produce. Somebody comes to me with something I'm interested in, I'd love to do it. Right now, I'm just having the best time playing drums.
MSJ: When was the moment that drumming really clicked for you, when it all became effortless?
I'm not sure it ever became effortless.(chuckles) I'm always struggling to become better. I just started taking lessons from a local gentleman whom I've admired forever. He plays in little jazz combos but he has such a great feel. We went back and started from basics. The learning process is ongoing.
MSJ: What was the last CD or record you got just because you wanted to check it out?
Probably Nightmare by Avenged Sevenfold.
MSJ: If that band came knocking at your door, would you work with them?
I think Avenged Sevenfold is great. I don't think there's anything I could offer those guys. I'd love to work with a band like that, but they seem to know very well what they're doing. I love their new record. When I first heard it, I wasn't sold on it, I thought it wimped out a little bit. But the more I listened to it, the more I loved it. I figured out what they were after, as opposed to what I was expecting
MSJ: What was the last live show you went to just because you wanted to check them out?
Let's see. Five Finger Death Punch was the one that really stood out. Godsmack was headlining and they were phenomenal.
MSJ: In the long history of The Rods, is there any Spinal Tap moment you could share with us?
It's hard to pick just one from the thousands and thousands of Spinal Tap moments we had. And continue to have! I just recently met Robb Reiner from Anvil, we hung out in Toronto a few weeks ago. Robb sent me the Anvil book and in it they talk about their flash pots. It reminded me a lot of what we did when we first started out. We would come out and do these big production numbers. We'd have actual pipe bombs go off with a big loud bomb. We set them up in front but we didn't know that microphones were on and it would blow the cones right off the amps. We had several shows where we'd blow these things off and it would blow our speakers right away. We'd wind up sounding small by comparison because our speakers blew! We did that, not once, but several times! It was very expensive and very Spinal Tap. “Hello, Cleveland!” It sounded like we were playing through a transistor radio. We kept sending the speakers back to the manufacturers until finally this sound tech guy who was a friend of ours explained what we were doing wrong.  So we finally figured it out, but boy, it was a stupid thing to do!
MSJ: Any closing words for the fans?
The is where they can find all the information on the band...tour dates, merchandise, news. There are also links to Facebook as well. And finally, we just want to say, “thanks.” The fans have been there all along. Our old management never really let us know how much they were behind us. It's great to see the fans supporting us now.



MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at
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