ROGER HODGSON in 69 Faces of Rock, March 2012

ROGER HODGSON in 69 Faces of Rock, March 2012



by Mark Kadzielawa


Roger Hodgson had made his name as the legendary voice of Supertramp, a band he co-founded back in 1969.

Of course, Hodgson wasn't the only singer in the band, he shared the spotlight with Rick Davies. But it was Roger Hodgson's tenor singing voice, and his songs that won the most of the critical acclaim. After a very successful time with Supertramp, Roger Hodgson left the band in 1983 to pursue a solo career. He left behind a great legacy of hits such as "Give A Little Bit," "Dreamer," "The Logical Song," "Breakfast In America," "Take The Long Way Home," and countless other great tracks.
After leaving Supertramp, Hodgson released two solo albums, "In The Eye Of The Storm," and "Hai Hai," and took a well deserved rest from touring and recording. Only to resurface in 1997 with a tour and a live album, "Rites Of Passage." Three years later, a studio album, "Open The Door," was released.
Since then, he appears to be a lot more active on the touring front, playing his new and old songs all over the globe. In 2006, a DVD, "Take The Long Way Home - Live In Montreal," saw the light of day. And 2007, finds Roger Hodgson, making a major appearance at Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium, in England. A televised event; broadcasted all over the world. Needless to say, it was an impressive return. Hodgson's latest release is a live album with new versions of his biggest hits, appropriately titled, "Classics Live."
Roger Hodgson's sound and style is instantly identifiable. Not only the specific color of his tenor voice, but the keyboard, acoustic twelve-string (or six string) guitar, or the grand piano. Whichever of these instruments he decides to play, magical sounds follow. Hodgson's songs still rule the airwaves, and many of his tracks fit a variety of radio formats. Chances are you were caught humming to a Hodgson's tune without even knowing it was him.

Much has to be said about Roger Hodgson's approach to music. He is an artist filled with a very positive energy. These days he is much more interested in bringing joy of his music to the audiences, and not necessarily ruling the charts. In person, he appears very relaxed and fulfilled. He sounds fantastic on stage, many claim, even more powerful than during his Supertramp days. And his body of work appears to be timeless.

Roger Hodgson speaks about his music, and his long road to self-discovery as an artist.

It's been 12 long years since your last studio album, "Open The Door." And while you're currently touring is there something in the works?
Roger Hodgson:
As far as getting a studio album now, there is nothing going on like that, but the thing that I've just put out is "Classics Live". Mainly because the fans had been asking for the new version of the songs. I think I sing them much better now, so I kind of felt like putting out an updated versions of the songs that became the classics.

Your voice certainly retained its strength and color over the years, and the recent live shows certainly manifest that. Is there something special you do in order to keep your natural instrument in such excellent shape?
There really isn't, other than just being healthy. Not just healthy physically, but healthy in the heart, the mind, and the spirit, and as well as the body. That really reflects how I am, and how I sound.

The new album, "Classics Live," celebrates your biggest hits. Are you surprised how well these songs held up throughout the years? And the fact that there is a still a large audience willing to hear them live?
Yeah, it's quite amazing that they stood the test of time so well. I play them every night, and never get tired of them. They don't sound old to me. They sound very fresh and they are kind of timeless. And even what I'm singing about doesn't feel old. And it's great to look out from the stage and see multi-generations too. Even a lot of young people are discovering it. I didn't know that would be the case when I wrote these songs. It's wonderful that they stood the test of time so well.

You're back touring the United States now. And this is your first tour in 30 years. Did anything change since the last time you came through the States?
I just think I'm in my prime now (laughter.) I just think that I am older and wiser now. Back with Supertramp, I was a lot more insecure, more shy, and I think I've just learned and grown a lot over the years. So, I have more to give now. I'm just much more comfortable, I enjoy people, I enjoy entertaining people, sharing my heart, sharing my songs, sharing my stories, and making people happy. I feel like I have the best job in the world. I really love it.

Back in 1990, you were approached by Yes to become their new singer. The pairing never materialized of course, but can you explain how that came about?
They were having a lot of friction with Jon Anderson. They are a very complicated band, you see. So, as they were having problems with Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin contacted me, to see if I felt like joining them. But, that would've been ridiculous, really. But, through that I've met Trevor Rabin, and we've formed a friendship which I still enjoy to this day. We have a very strong musical relationship.

That's right, your name is credited on Yes's "Walls" from the excellent "Talk" album. That song alone sounded like you've hit the right chord with Trevor Rabin.
He and I..... That's probably the most electric writing relationship I've ever had. I mean, sparks fly when we get together. There are quite a few songs in my studio archives that hadn't been released yet.

Will there be more collaboration with Trevor Rabin? And will the existing songs see the light of day?
I don't know. Who knows. At some point I'd like to get those songs out because they are pretty spectacular songs.

When you left Supertramp, the band was still pretty much at the top of their game. When did it stop being fun for you?
I think it started when success really hit big with "Breakfast In America." It became to be more and more difficult. The band felt less unified, and everyone kind of started to think more independently, including myself. So, "...Famous Last Words..." was really a last attempt to see if we can make an album together, and it really was a disappointing result. And it was a very difficult album to make. That's why we called it that, "...Famous Last Words..."

Having been in a successful band like Supertramp, and now being a solo artist, what was the transition a difficult one?
A lot, actually. I think in a way, I was always a solo artist, in a way within a band, even with Supertramp. Even though I've never had a strong drive to be a solo artist, because I've enjoyed being in a band. And Supertamp was my kind of baby. I loved it, and was passionate about it. But, when I left it, I went through a lot. It was difficult to suddenly think of myself as the name that I was gonna go and put out records under. I was not like a Sting or a natural solo artist. It's really taken many years for me of a self-growth maybe, to become comfortable to be able to go out under my own name. And now, I don't even think of it. I'm not trying to have a huge career as a solo artist, really. I'm enjoying giving just a little bit of what I love to do to the audiences, and I'm very grateful that there are audiences that still want to see me, and love these songs. So, it makes for a very wonderful celebration, if you like. That's what I try to do, to make people go away with a smile on their face.

Supertramp obviously continued to exist and record after your departure. Was there ever any temptation to do something with them for the old times' sake?
No, not really. I was very aware that there were many fans who wanted to see Rick (Davies) and I on the same stage again. And couple years ago I did contact Rick, because he was out again playing with the other two guys. The new version of Supertramp that is. So, I've offered to join them for a few shows, but he didn't respond favorably, so it didn't happen.

As a very prolific writer with a very specific style and sound, do your inspirations change with the passing of time?
I don't know. Well, to me, every song is different. What I am interested in, doesn't really change. I'm still fascinated with the mystery of life, you know. The deeper purpose of life, meaning of life. Love and God, and creating music that really touches me and touches people very deeply. As deeply as possible, so that has to come from my deepest heart to do that. So, that's really what I write about. I think that's really why these songs lasted so long, because they weren't contrived. I never sat down, and tried to write a song. I mean I did, and I failed miserably. Later on, it just became a very natural process.

So, when you look back at your legacy, what do you think are your definite moments?
I never really think of the past that much. I live very much in the present, you know. And right now, my heart is telling me, this is what I need to be doing, and what I should be doing, and I feel like I'm helping people to get a little hope maybe. Give them 2 hours away from their problems. I mean, the world is pretty crazy, and there is a lot of stress and chaos right now. And I think just seeing an artist really enjoying himself, and sharing his heart and stories, and love, and songs, maybe is good medicine for people. And it seems to be. People are really enjoying it, and writing to me saying, "I loved it, it helped them in their life," or whatever. If I can do that, then I'll do it for as long as I can.


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