'He's A Brick, ... Hooooowse!'
All true artists are builders. Brick by brick, they assemble a career, building their craft, amassing their stories, growing their fan base.
Talented Boston songwriter Rich Schroder is himself a builder. Heís been honing his craft since age 14, when he initially set out on his rock and roll apprenticeship. Today, his band experience on hold, Schroder has moved into the next phase of his career.
After taking a breather from performing to build a successful business, Schroder returned to his first love, this time as a singer-songwriter. He found a great sounding acoustic guitar and began writing anew.
On Your Kind Words, his debut album as a solo artist, Schroder demonstrates a flair for evocative entertainment as he makes his way through a generous handful of literate and colorful stories. It is this flair and his enthusiasm for songwriting that have served as two critical building blocks of his burgeoning career.
As a builder, what house did you have in mind when you started this journey? "Originally, I was just looking to get out of the band environment and simply write some songs on my acoustic guitar. Over time, though, I began to build a solo career. This album started out as a number of writing assignments which turned into 11 original songs. First, I recorded all the songs with just voice and acoustic guitar. But being a rocker at heart, I wondered if putting a band behind the songs might make them better. So, with the help of my producer, Ross Adams, we added a full band to the original tracks."
After playing for ten years...why the change to going solo? Did any event trigger this? "There was no real one event that triggered this new phase for me. I just needed a change, and I wasnít getting to where I wanted to be as part of a band. Itís been a big adjustment. Not just the performing aspect, but also making all the decisions, creative and otherwise for my career. Working alone certainly has its own challenges; though, right now I donít miss the band dynamic of having to build consensus or making decisions by committee. Now I get to screw things up all by myself!"
What drove you to continue to pursue music when you were 14, despite all the band breakups and failed attempts? What were you trying to accomplish? "I guess what Iím really trying to accomplish is a sense of connection with an audience (through my songs and characters). Iíve definitely had my fair share of musical ups and downs but thatís how you learn. At a basic level, Iíve always loved creating music and performing in front of audiences."
Do you think you've accomplished what you've wanted now? Or is that what this debut album is about? "Iím proud of this album, and I feel a deep sense of accomplishment from it. This is my best work for sure. But as an artist, Iíll always be striving to further my craft. I want to accomplish more and plan to continue writing and performing as much as I can."
It's interesting that you have an MBA. What motivated you to get through business school? Did you have a music angle interest this whole time or was there another reason? "I got my MBA not knowing at the time how it would influence my music career. Over time, though, it has been helpful to me to understand both the music and business sides of the industry. Also, Iím glad I can make a living for myself outside of music. It allows me the flexibility to create and promote my music on my own terms."
"Everyone thinks that most musicians donít understand business, but the reverse is also true. Many business people donít understand the creative process. Itís that place in between art and commerce that interests me. Iíve never been totally satisfied with just making music. I love taking the next step and getting my songs out to people and seeing what they think."
Where do your lyrics come from? Do you think it's easier to write good lyrics if you have hardship or is that just a myth? "Basically, from everyday life. I drew my lyrics and characters from my own experiences, news stories, books, popular culture, and even reality TV.
I couldnít tell you if itís easier to write good lyrics if you have hardship in your lifeÖ I find lyric writing very difficult no matter where Iím coming from. Thatís why I have to do some much rewriting."
What was your experience like playing with rock bands? What is touring like? "I learned a ton from playing in bands. There are pros and cons to going solo, and pros and cons to being in a band. For instance, when I drive to Portland or some other destination to play, it's just me. That's good in one way, because you don't have to worry about scheduling everyone. But there's loneliness to it. The positive side of a solo career is that you make all of the creative decisions. "
"Bands were a great training ground for me. Touring was a blast. Lots of great stories. You never know who youíre going to meet when you walk into a new club on the road. "
What's your favorite guitar? Why? What guitar/amp combo do you use and why? "Right now my favorite guitar is my Santa Cruz acoustic. I played it on the record, and I use it in all my live performances. I love the sound of the acoustic guitar, and I love that it is portable. You can bring it anywhere and be playing in seconds."
Will you ever go back to playing in rock bands or is your heart in being a singer / songwriter? "No, I donít plan to be back in a rock band in the traditional sense. I now consider myself a singer / songwriter. But this doesnít mean that I wonít work with other musicians to help record or perform my work. The musicians I collaborated with on my album were amazing, and they really helped my music come alive. "
What are your future plans? "Besides winning a Grammy? No, honestlyÖmy future is all about what I am doing now, just bigger and better. I am working on finding an audience for these songs, and that means playing them for as many people as possible. By doing this, I hope to gain interest in my music and in what I have to say. "
If you could cover any '80s (possibly cheesy!) pop song, which one would it be ... and why?! "Iíve played a few cover gigs in my day. I enjoy it. So Iíve played quite a few cheesy 80ís songs, and for some reason, I tend to steer more towards the metal bands. My top three would be: Bon Jovi: Wanted Dead of Alive, Poison: Every Rose has its Thorn and Night Ranger: Sister Christian."
Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins ... do you?! "Much love for penguins!"
Interviewed by Brian J. Hong
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Rich's new CD, just answer this easy question: Culled from this wonderful new album of Rich's, which of this songs riffs on the countryís obsession with reality TV?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before December 1st with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: RICH SCHRODER SIGNED CDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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