RICK SPRINGFIELD Talks Influences Behind 'The Snake King'

A short interview I did with RICK SPRINGFIELD to promote The Snake King record. As published in the last Fireworks Magazine.
Rick Springfield is one of those evergreen performers that just seems to keep on going. And he never stands still, bringing his fans new music that challenges and pushes new boundaries.
In his 69th year, Rick delivers a first - a blues based album that seems him delve deep into the swampy authentic delta blues that only the bravest attempt. At the same time, the familiar elements that define his music aren't far from the front. A typically self-depreciating Rick Springfield discusses the new album 'The Snake King' and what drives him still after all these years.

So Rick, I'll keep this brief as I know you're busier now than ever before.
You're taking some musical liberties with this and indeed, the last album. Are you driven by a sense of needing to feel as if you've covered all bases while you are still able to? (Not wanting to age you here!).

I'm 68 and figure I can record music that makes me happy or at least fulfils a need in me. This is just 2018's version of that. Not trying to cover all musical bases because that would mean I would have a disco album in my future and THATS not going to happen!
We are all thankful for that! Rocket Science was a great left turn into the country sphere, but carried the same Rick Springfield essence we all know. The Snake King feels more like a left, then right....it's a lot more focused on the influence of the chosen direction. Was that a conscious decision or just how it naturally evolved?
Well it's not as blues based as I'd envisioned but I like the mix of blues and rock that it became. I don't make records anymore to be liked, I make them because I have music to play and something to say. I decided to do a blues based record but wanted to write all the songs so once I started, it took its own path.
You commented to me a little while back that you 'had to do' this album. What drove that?
Lyrically there is so much going on in my head about the world and God and whatever form the devil takes, and sex of course, that it just happened pretty organically. If you can call getting drunk and writing a bunch of stuff organic. I do. Musically it is, as always, just whatever comes through.
And would you class this as a step away from the RS catalogue, where Rocket Science fitted the mould more easily?
I am not a good judge of that. To me it sounds like me. Certainly, if you look at my whole recording career its gone through changes from time to time so I guess this is just the next change.
The cynical and lyrically unique RS is still prevalent throughout! Did Matt again co-write or were you on your own this time?
This is only my fault. Don't blame Matt. But I will write with Matt again. Especially if this one bombs as badly as I think it will. Hahaha!
Haha, ok! It would probably been easier to do an album of blues standards (but much less enjoyable for us fans). You chose to put a lot of effort into this as you would any normal RS release, yes?
I don't think anyone, including me, wanted a Rick S version of Little Red Rooster. Plus it's about what's happening in my head today so singing about some long dead woman who did me wrong wouldn't be truthful. And all those great old blues songs were done right the first time around, so I wanted to write new 'blues' songs. It's definitely not a particularly happy album so I'd class it as a type of 'blues.'
I certainly did get the overall darker tone and questioning of some common themes from past songs - God, spirituality, suicide, disillusion, relationships etc'
Ok so its not so new, theme-wise, but I think it is because it's a more universal approach. I know a lot of people who have similar feelings to me and in the end you have to write what's in your mind because that's the only way its truthful. The days are gone where I'd make up some boy/girl scenario and write that. The overall theme is I guess WTF is going on???
How about the guitar work - I know Tim Pierce guested - how much of the playing is just you - because, honestly, there is some truly stellar work within this album.
Tim and I played the guitars on this and I played more than I have in a while because my guitar style tends more towards the blues based progressions and I love to play guitar so I said "it's my record so I'm playing on it".
I did all the acoustic, dobro, steel resonator stuff, most of the electric slide and played electric on a lot of it and some of the soloing. Tim is an unbelievably gifted player and can assume any style of guitar work and his soloing and atmospheric playing is amazing on this record.
I have to ask about a couple of the songs - Land Of The Blind sounds like a great starting point - halfway between Rocket Science and this album?
Yes we thought Land of the Blind was a good one to lead off with as it's a little more familiar but still in keeping with the vibe of the record. Work our way in slowly.
But then it's straight into the delta blues with harmonica, horns and smoking blues guitar....
May as well get to it. I still think it's less bluesy than I was picturing it but that's what happens in the writing and recording process. It takes on a life of its own. A friend of mine, Russell Morris, in Australia got me thinking about doing a blues oriented record. He was a contemporary when I was in Zoot and we've been friends ever since and he did some very successful blues CD's, all his own stuff and I thought it was a good idea so I was influenced a bit by Russ.
Those two albums for Russell have been huge down here. Little Demon has a classic hard hitting sound and RS vocal - it's a more naturally you sounding track?
It's actually one of the later songs I wrote so maybe I was getting tired of the confines of the blues thing and wanted to stretch out a bit. I don't really know how to classify my music or talk intelligently about it. That's why I write in the first place, so I don't have to discuss it!
Jesus Was An Atheist is certainly not your average pop lyric - where did that stem from?
A glass or two of wine and a late night. Again, I have no real idea where the final songs come from other than me thinking for a while and then picking up a guitar and turning on a recording device. I have no more real awareness of this or what that means than you do. It's always open to interpretation. Even for me.
And Orpheus In The Underworld seems like a pretty simple "storytellers" type song, but it keeps going....and going! There's a lot of lyrics there! Is that perhaps the longest set of lyrics you've ever written?
It sounds like it bored you Hahahaha.
No, It didn't. It's just long!

Yes, I can see that. I look at it as a lyric stream of consciousness that you have to absorb if you're inclined to.
On the subject of songwriting - how do you feel when many fans (me included) thank you for being the soundtrack of their lives and in particular gaining strength through your songs to help through difficult times?
I had my own songs as a kid and it's a great compliment to be a tiny part of any other humans life. I don't take that lightly but I also think it's the individuals way of finding words and music that speaks to them as a way of helping them through tough moments.
So this is three-four albums in pretty quick succession compared to some parts of your career. Where next?
A nap. I'm thinking about the next record and looking for more good acting work as well as writing prose and other projects that interest me.
To those that would like to hear a more traditional RS album - how would you see that sounding based on where you're at and where you've come from?
I have no idea at this point. As I said it takes on a life of its own once a project is begun.
Is there anything you haven't done that you'd still like to? I can't think of anything to be honest, which is quite amazing really.
I want to be in a great and creative night time TV series so that touring can be a seasonal thing.
On a deeper topic, how do you react to the many untimely passings in the last few years - this week David Cassidy, but also your dear mum and great friends like Darryl Cotton?
It's hard to see people leaving. And someone like David C and Bowie and Tom Petty, you feel like they're friends anyway. Darryl was a difficult loss for us all who knew him because he was so vibrant and positive and such a wonderful human being that it just didn't seem right that he got sick and died so quickly. My beautiful Mum was 96 so it's more understandable but losing your Mum is brutal and she is such a powerful spirit she is still around, we can feel it.
She was loved by many. Any plans for European appearances and c'mon...let's do Australia please!!!
Nothing would thrill me more than to do an Aussie tour. We are working on it. It's just that, like Europe I haven't really been touring there so it's an unknown quantity for promoters and us both. Hopefully we will soon. I have a monster touring band and you should see these guys :)
Anything you'd like to add?
Thanks Rick, very much appreciated once again.