'Sugar Man' on his past, his music and running for mayor of Detroit
So is Rodriguez working on a new album?
“I am,” he reveals. “But I’m booked, have touring commitments until October. So after that, I always try and put a cap on things, but the touring is, like I say, the commitments we made a while back. So we just finish those, then we’re freer. Then I’ll look at that recording. I’ve talked to a couple of producers – David Holmes and Steve Rowland – and so those two, they’re interested. The songs are more quickly musical than I’m doing right now.
“Does the pressure concern me? Yeah, I think so. I think that now, because of the space of time, and in my particular case, it’s an unusual career. So, yeah, I think in my case they’re going to say, ‘What is he going to play now?’ As to the new stuff, it will be totally new. Titles and that I have, but if I tell them my titles, they’re going to have them. It’s going to be good stuff. Music is all majors and minors. The thing is, once it’s played, it’s copied. We go to shows to do our concerts, they’re filming, they’re recording, they’re on their phones, so our audience is broadcasting, so I try not to do new stuff without thinking about it, that this stuff is going up faster than I’m going into the studio. My career, it’s been a mess. Now I’m more slow about it, so that’s why it’s such a delay.
I want to be protective.”
“We’re talking about doing a third album,” confirms Steve Rowland. “He said, ‘I’ve written a lot of songs’, and yes, we’re going to get down and talk about it. I wanted to bring him out here to Palm Springs instead of Detroit, because he’ll be out in the sun recording, relaxed, without a bunch of people around trying to get things off him, you know how people are.”
David Holmes thinks “he should go down the Johnny Cash/Rick Rubin route and record an album that’s intimate and sparse. The key to that is to record to tape in a great studio that’s been around for as long as he has, with a great console, real plate reverb or chamber, with a few choice musicians supporting him, and produced with real perfection.”
“Last time I was with him in Detroit, he played some things here and there,” admits Matt Sullivan who runs Light In The Attic. “He definitely has new material, it’s just finding the time to put it down. There is a lot of pressure. A guy who most of the world didn’t know his music, and now he’s playing in front of thousands of people a night. There’s a lot of pressure for anyone, 21 years old or 80. But he seems like the same guy, which is mind-boggling when you consider how things have evolved here. There’s a lot of interest in him making new records, but it doesn’t seem like it’s phased him. One day, he’s knocking down houses and carrying refrigerators downstairs in Detroit, the next he’s playing in South Africa for thousands of people. For him, ‘Well, this is just how it is, and I’m going to go with it.’ Rodriguez is always on his time.”
All the same, Regan admits her father is ambitions. As a child, she and her sisters would be taken by their father to the local library, where “he used to read The New York Times, Billboard, Pollstar, some of the more industry papers, because that’s the business he wanted to be in. That’s what he wanted to do all his life. That’s what he is, you know? Is he ambitious? Yeah, for sure. It’s a challenge, he’s totally up for it and having fun. When people ask him his age, he says, ‘There’s only two ages, alive or dead.’ You’re either living it, or you’re not. That’s part of him wanting to keep doing stuff. He’s just getting started.”