Rundman explores "Sound Theology" on new pair of discs
OMC: I like the mix of sounds of the record. The instrumental acoustic guitar performances of hymns, the moodier songs with great drum loops. How did the songs grow sonically? What was your recording method I guess is the simpler version of the question.
JR: Thanks! I'm thrilled with how it turned out sonically. I recorded the whole album on a Sony Mini-disc four-track, did all the vocals and acoustic instruments through one mid-level AKG mic, mixed it down onto my computer hard-drive using 1996-era editing software, and burned discs of the final mixes.
It was a very primitive process compared with what's available now, but it turned out pretty cool. A lot of the drum loop stuff happened by necessity. Halfway through the album I moved all my recording gear into my apartment, which means I no longer could play drums or loud electric guitars 'cause it would've disturbed my neighbors. I had to dig through pre-recorded drum tracks of old demos, etc., and make digital loops out of those tracks so that I had the illusion of real drums on the songs. It forced me to be creative and I got some fun results.
OMC: What has the response been so far from fans? The press?
JR: Well, the album isn't officially released until Oct. 31, but a lot of folks have picked it up already by seeing me in person (at gigs), and I'm really happy with their feedback. I was pretty worried that the album was gonna be too weird and too vast for the average listener, but it's turning out that those are the qualities that people like about it.
Even folks who aren't active in any church seem to appreciate it, so I'm relieved. I'm just sending it out to press right now, so you're one of the first journalists to respond. I decided to release it to the press just like a normal rock record, and not try to push it as some "Christian project" or whatever. I'm curious if the press will be able to listen to it objectively or if they'll say stuff like "Local Rocker goes Christian" or something cheesy like that. We'll see how it goes.....
OMC: Although the music is rarely similar, the discs remind me a lot of The Clash's "Sandinista!" because you seem as willing as they were to take chances. The result is a wide-ranging project that still has an underlying theme and the diversity and ambition are threads that hold it all together. Are you familiar with that record? Are there others that served as a model?
JR: The only Clash record I have is "Combat Rock," but thanks for the cool comparison. I list some of the album's inspiration in the liner notes, but some of the bands that really shaped the sonic nature of the album were The Eels, who also do cool stuff with drum loops and vintage keyboards, and maybe the Wilco "Being There" album, although I'm kind of sick of that band. Other faves of mine include Aimee Mann, Lisa Germano, and the new record by Chuck Prophet. I just saw Joan Osborne in concert last night and she was very very good...Mitchell Froom produced her new album and I love what he does.
OMC: What will you to follow a two-disc, 52-song project? A three-disc, 75-song record?
JR: Actually, I think I'm gonna work on a 10-song old style rock & roll album with no songs about the church. I totally love this "Sound Theology" project, but it'll be fun to do a mindless pop record again!
You can see Jonathan Rundman live Sat., Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, W156N8131 Pilgrim Rd., in Menomonee Falls. Cover for the all ages show is $5. For more information, call the church, (262) 251-2740. "Sound Theology" can be purchased at the show or via Rundman's website, http://www.saltlady.com.
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