The Rods – Threesome For Vengeance

Saturday, 30th March 2013

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)

The Rods during the 1980’s had the opportunity through Arista Records to play some significant shows around the world, opening for artists like Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, and Def Leppard among others. Never quite making the breakthrough, they continued to put out releases on independent labels before naturally going their own ways, although not leaving due to any personal problems or band chemistry.

Twenty-five years later, we have a new album in Vengeance, one that stands out in a time period where computer generated samples, sounds, Pro Tools and auto-tuning seem to be in vogue. The Rods aren’t afraid of keeping their sound organic, bare-bones and in your face. The trio are willing to play locally and abroad to their multi-generational fan base. You get the sense that these guys are just as much metal fans as they are creative musicians. I quickly hooked up with drummer Carl Canedy who shared his thoughts on a multitude of my queries.

Blistering.com: Your seventh album Vengeance hits the streets 25 years after your last studio album. What circumstances prompted this reunion, and how did you approach the writing of this record?

Carl Canedy: We started this a few years ago, because we never really disbanded. David Feinstein [guitars/vocals] runs a few restaurants in New York, I have been busy still producing albums, and Gary Bordonaro [bass] has been playing with Savoy Brown. We all just went our separate ways. We played a benefit and we got together to see how it went. I didn’t want to be a lounge version of The Rods – there are so many other bands that do that and I wouldn’t want to make fun of myself. We did a show at The Haunt in upstate New York and things went so well it was a no-brainer to write a new album. David and I have consistently been writing material through the years, so here we are.

Blistering.com: “The Code” features one of the last recorded vocals of the late Ronnie James Dio. Tell us about this experience- and did the group pre-plan the specific track he would sing on or was it more of a spur of the moment thing?

Canedy: We did talk about this in advance between David and myself. We have a recorded version of “The Code” with me singing on it. To be honest, my version compared to his makes me sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks [laughs]. The other song Ronnie did vocals on “Metal Will Never Die” appeared on David’s latest solo album [Bitten By the Beast]. I rehearsed in the same house as Elf when I was 19 in my first band. I had known all the guys in the band but had no studio or live experience with Ronnie.

David told me that Ronnie comes in very prepared as a one-take guy- he knows what he is going to do. I was blown away by his performance on my song. He was dead on the money, and so gracious at singing the song. He would ask me if he could make a little change here and there…we gave him carte blanch to the changes. Ronnie did these two songs as a gift for David – he wanted to always work with him, and was in talks about a possible Elf reunion. In retrospect he is now deceased, but it wasn’t meant to be a legacy, he did this just because of how great a guy he was. This was the highlight of my career as a songwriter.

Blistering.com: What particular moments stood out in the recording ofVengeance? Are there any songs that proved to be a little more challenging than others?

Canedy: “Livin’ Outside the Law” was the most challenging. David writes differently than me. I tend to write at least one song on every album that has some riff that’s a little difficult for him to play because I think rhythmically compared to his guitar playing. Another aspect that came into play is we each wrote a new song that ended up making the cut to push two other tracks onto the Japanese edition as bonus material- David wrote “I Just Wanna Rock” and I came in with “Ride Free Or Die.”

Blistering.com: You’ve already got dates set up overseas in support of the record- are you surprised by the promoter and fan demand The Rods have generated through the years?

Canedy: I am and I am very grateful. That’s a highlight for me- I cannot say enough about The Rods fans all over the world. We had management that until 10-12 years ago told us that no one really cares about The Rods. They would give us a very negative image of the band and a lot of information was held back from us. Thanks to the internet we know that’s not the case. The outpouring of support from the fans is amazing.

Blistering.com: As a producer, what would you say are your two or three most memorable recordings you were happy to be a part of?

Canedy: The Anthrax albums [Fistful of Metal and Spreading the Disease] always stand out. I love the band, I knew Charlie Benante was a drummer who would change things in metal, Scott Ian has great rhythms and riffs and Neil Turbin had a powerful voice too. I mean, look at what [bassist] Dan Lilker went on to also. Nobody got it at the time. That’s insect music my friends said – and I bet them that Anthrax would be a gold selling act even back in 1984-1985. I knew this would be a changing of the guard. So it felt really good to hear that years later much of their catalog went gold and eventually platinum. Working with Blue Cheer- I watched them as a kid and I knew that’s what changed my desire to play top 40 music into playing heavy music. Paul Whaley was an influence as a drummer, as was Dickie Peterson as a vocalist. There are so many memories, Overkill, the Possessed guys, Rhett Forrester [Riot] was a character too.

Blistering.com: How would you change the music business in 2011 if you had the power to?

Canedy: I’m torn about the fact that I want musicians to get paid for their music. The internet, downloading- I like the fact that fans get music, it’s like the Wild West now. Independent artists have more power- if you hustle and have talent you can earn a living totally on your own, and eliminate the bottleneck that major labels used to have in terms of making artists successful.

Blistering.com: What you say are your personal favorite The Rods songs out of your back catalog and one album you would put in a time capsule for future generations to take in as the definitive The Rods effort?

Canedy: The first album is obviously the template of what we’ve done. In The Raw was done live, even some of the solos. The band was recorded how we would sound live. In 36 hours straight we knocked that album out. “Crank It Up” would be the song. I remember when we first did promotion for that record, we sent out 45’s of that song to radio stations hoping to get some airplay. One of the stations in Rochester, NY I called the deejay up to ask if he got the single and he proceeded to tell me they had been playing it on the radio. That was a great feeling back then.

Blistering.com: You mentioned in an earlier interview during 2010 the possibility of a DVD on The Rods. What type of footage can fans expect on this release?

Canedy: The DVD will be called Runnin’ Wild, we recorded it during 2010 at a show in Cortland, NY. I believe it was Dio day in the town. It was a long show for The Rods, over an hour and 45 minutes. We want to release it as a DVD and live CD compilation. We may put some bonus footage of interviews documenting the history of the band- including some of the early members.

Blistering.com: I’m sure people have asked for your advice through the years given your 30-plus years as a musician and producer. What do you recommend for newer rock and metal acts to focus on and what was some of the best advice you received through the years?

Canedy: My advice is always to be honest and committed to your music. When you make compromises it takes you to a different place. Whether it was hugely successful or moderately successful, at least when you have integrity you end up doing things your way. The best advice I ever got was from Doug Thaler [Elf] who told us to surround ourselves with good people and make sure you spend the money to get a great music business attorney. Do your homework, forge relationships and you’ll be able to go far.

Blistering.com: Where do you see The Rods going in the next couple of years? Have there been any countries you’ve yet to play that you would like to check off your wish list?

Canedy: Japan is a place I would like to visit. We know it’s a tragic time for them, but we would love to go there as we know we have fans who’ve been patiently waiting for us to perform for them. We have material ready for the next album and plan on playing as many shows as we can in support ofVengeance.

Blistering.com: When you play shows in America, what types of crowds do you draw? Do you think it’s tougher in today’s market to attract the youth to a style of metal considered more pure or old school given the lack of major media exposure- or does the internet and social media level the playing field for all?

Canedy: I think the latter part of your question is very true. I see for us more and more younger fans- people that may have been exposed to The Rods through their parents, their friends, or with the internet they are able to discover the music on their own. That’s been the cool thing. I guess when it comes to America, it depends on the market. Some markets are very strong, other markets are little pockets of people…that’s the metal scene in America for you.

www.therods.com