RGM INTRODUCING WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN DUO ROBBIE RAPIDS
What made you decide to start the band / become a soloist?
It’s like a 2-man band when recording then a 5 piece band when playing out. Since I’m the main writer and investor in the music I knew I had to be solo. So, I go under the solo name Robbie Rapids. Rapids is taken from Grand Rapids, MI – my hometown.
I have many original songs that can compete with the cover songs I was learning and playing out in my Top40 rock cover band project and I realized I wanted to again do original music which I hadn’t done in over a decade. The light really flashed for me when we were supposed to play a concert opening for the Jayhawks (playing covers) and I love that band, I cover a couple of their songs even. I wish I was playing my originals songs and had them ready with a band for the concert but I didn’t. Then I started and continue to work in this direction.
Introduce us to the members and your musical project?
Not a lot of musicians want to do covers or can write & record their own parts perfectly for a recording. So, after some failures I started to work with David Levene to record my songs. David and I at one time did a 60-70s Psychedelic British Rock Tribute Act and I was aware of his session work and recording abilities. Eventually he helped me finish and improve upon my songs.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
The pandemic had me working 3-day weeks so I had time on my hands. Unfortunately, my day job salary was also cut 30% so it probably wasn’t the best idea to buy musical equipment but I felt I needed to buy items to achieve certain sounds. So, I bought many guitar pedals, microphones, and software plugins I didn’t fully utilize yet.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
Years back I was the lead guitar player in a band that had a weekly gig doing originals / covers and we were given a budget by the club owner. One night we went all out we had an ice luge setup at the bar, alcohol reps, models, and a professional cameraman. This goes back 15 years but people were a fun kind of crazy to get on film doing luge shots off the ice onto body parts etc. We also had some theatrics with our show but that is too tuff to explain in words.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Blinding lights, not being able to remember words and having a fog machine that dried on my voice and I couldn’t sing for a set. Also Having equipment go out / power go out.
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about?
As I said, I’m a solo artist but am recording this Robbie Rapids project as a 2-man project. David Levene who has a better recording studio and professional recording experience was actually quite famous when young. He made 2 records with Laghonia and played in front of thousands in Europe. Later in life he was endorsed by guitar amps like Matchless before opening his own recording studio.
If you had to describe your band/music to an alien how would you describe it?
Telepathically, unless I had a guitar. Then I’d just play and sing the song, lol.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
My songwriting, I hope. My songs are mostly first-hand experience of how I dealt with events in my life. Each song is special to me and comes alive once I finish the lyrics. Then it develops as it’s recorded into its own unique sound, mood, and character. One song may be blues, another pop, but most will fall under Rock. This is also what is great about working with other musicians and they bring their own touch and flavor to a song.
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?
Music Critics. Some love my voice some don’t. Some tell you the song is too complicated while another one tells you it’s too simple. The music industry doesn’t just look at a song and say this is a great song. They want it to be close to something else that is already successful unless you have status. From my perspective trying to get on playlists, it seems everyone is a roll of the dice.
What’s your favorite song to play live and why?
“Fishing the River” which I haven’t released yet. The audio has been professionally recorded but I haven’t made the video yet. That one strays from the recording and is always developing a little more each time its played over the last year. I may record another more country version.
I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it?
“April’s Gonna Rain” was just released on July 15th with a music video to support it. It’s a rock funk song reworked during the pandemic. It’s about a coworker I had a crush on from years back, who told me all her emotional issues and was engaged to be married, complained about it, but accepted the status quo. Somehow as the song developed it turned into her name April but also the Month of April and her emotional issues became the clouds raining down tears as if she is mother nature with supernatural powers. Kind of a song where I blended reality with fantasy.
Talk me through the thought process of the single?
This song started with a couple of riffs and chord progressions 20 years back. Probably I got the funky guitar riff in the verse from playing too many covers of Prince. Either way I gave an old 4-track converted to digital recording to David and said, “Can we do anything with this old idea?” He loved the dark mood of the song and the funky groove. It also had a great guitar fuzz sound I had accomplished with my Digitech 2120 rack. He made some arrangement changes and an auto-wah guitar solo that is just unheard of. We worked fully remotely on this song during the pandemic and I recorded my vocals in my home studio. I rewrote and added another verse and what used to be the chorus now became the bridge. Just within the last year, I rerecorded the vocals again in his studio for more clarity, harmony, and annunciation.
What was the recording process like?
We both use Avid Protools and EZ drummer so we can go back and forth with ideas. Typically, I record either a live drummer or use EZ drummer and record the rhythm guitar and vocals. Usually David does the bass, keys, lead guitars, mixing, and sends out for mastering.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?
I started out marketing it without the loud gritty electric guitar. The song wasn’t receiving good feedback or playlist acceptance like we thought it would. This song does not fit a playlist as it’s a cross genre. Its been called Art Rock, Post-Grunge, funky rock, new wave rock, etc.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
No. I love it and David loves it. When we both agree, we move on to the next one.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
Continue recording original song ideas and making videos for them to help explain the song. I’ve got 12 done in the studio and a few still need little edits. I’ve become pretty good at video editing over the years with Adobe Premiere. However, I still send out to professionals on Fiverr to get ideas etc. My goal is to record every good song idea I’ve had. Have 15-20 originals songs on Youtube, Spotify, etc. and market via live shows and music influencers.
We set up RGM USA to share music with America and the UK, good idea?
I’ve had more success outside of US with Spotify than in US. It’s great to have a lot of followers but if they don’t live around you they won’t come to local shows, lol. Youtube has worked better for older generations who use FB in the US. However, New Rock has not been the dominant music type that it used to be in the US. Teenagers have a better chance of hearing Rolling Stones and all other classic rock than hearing anything new on the radio. Only those who use Spotify and like to go outside the normal realize that bands are still playing shows and releasing original music in the US. However, Radio Stations and Satellite radio do almost nothing to help out and take a chance.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I appreciate you reading this or hearing this and hope you enjoy some of my music art.