Todd Underwood’s album Color and Contrast is one that brings through an impressive rock sound but a refreshingly varied collection of moods and styles – all of which makes it perhaps one of the most eclectic original projects to emerge so far this year.
We caught an interview with the artist and songwriter to find out more about his approach to songwriting and his hopes for the future, among other things. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hi Todd, thanks for the interview – congrats on the album. How would you introduce the sound, style and intention of this release?
As has been mentioned it is eclectic. It is not the same song done slightly differently 12 times over. I really struggle to select a genre when I’m asked to do so on the various streaming sites because I’m really not sure. I have done so many styles of music over the years and they all influence me, so it’s not the same thing done over and over. It’s definitely eclectic and a little bit from all kinds of genres. The intent on this album was to do just that. To “not” be an album of the same song done 12 times over. To introduce the listener to the combinations of many different genres, even in one song, and to challenge the listener to allow the music to take them on a journey and not worry about how to classify it.
Your sound is brilliantly passionate yet also impressively professional and easy to get into. How long have you been making music, and how have you honed and perfected your approach over time?
I’ve been playing and recording for over 35 years. I’ve played in bands and recorded over all these years in many various genres of music and have supported and recorded different acts with different sounds and influences over this time. I have worked as a recording engineer, producer, artist and mastering engineer and have accumulated so many different skills and appreciations for various genres of music that continue to influence me today. Because of all the various experiences I have had in music, I hate to be confined to a specific box. Good music is good music. I like a good hook and I definitely like harmony and a catchy beat. Beyond that, anything goes!
This album is fairly eclectic – how do you decide what to write about and in which direction to take things?
One of the biggest complaints I have had over the years is that my music is too eclectic; But I get bored quickly… and I hate pigeon holing music into a genre. I’ve heard so many bands where their entire album sounds like the exact same song slightly modified and called a “different song” and I hate that. It’s not that I want to completely change genres within one album but I certainly want to bring influences from all my experiences. My own influences and experiences have changed over time as well which of course has given me the background and experience to even be able to do achieve the eclectic results I get.
I truly believe in doing whatever fits the song. Rather than do what I think needs to be there in order stay within a “marketable” genre, I just do whatever fits the song, whatever makes the music the best that it can be. If I hadn’t been doing this for 35 years across all the genres and instruments etc… then I would not have the resources and background to make this happen. So many musicians and bands only know how to do things one way. Maybe if they branched out they could be more creative in their art. For me all that experience is in my brain, so that’s what comes out.
If people only have time to listen to one song of yours, which would you recommend – and why?
Color and Contrast. For 35 years I’ve been told I’m too eclectic LOL. So that song and this whole album is my big FU to that. I love it, it has a little bit of everything in it. If you like music maybe you should like something like this song… where it changes and takes you on a journey from here, to there, to the next place and back again.
What are your thoughts on contemporary rock – the rock music of 2019 so far?
That’s a hard one. It’s so hard to find new music these days despite the fact that we have more bands and more musicians than ever before in history. There are also so many different avenues for people to release music and if you are not involved on all of them you might miss some of the best stuff out there. That being said, I like real instruments, real compositions, real vocals etc. I like the melody and harmony and of course the beat.
Today’s music is so lacking in melody and harmony. There’s not a lot of innovation anymore. Anyone can sit in their home studio and use some electronic beats and sounds and make a song, but after a while it all sounds the same. I like instruments and I like when people can play them. And vocals, and when people sing real parts and harmonies etc. I was once taught that music is composed of melody, harmony and rhythm, and I happen to agree. So with today’s music there’s a lot of rhythm, a little melody and almost zero harmony. So to find a band that does all three, especially with real instruments, is very difficult. It’s not that there aren’t a bunch of bands out there, it’s just that finding one that actually makes music with all three components is quite rare, and when you find one it’s a keeper!
Will you be touring this year, and if so – what can audiences expect from a live show?
No, unfortunately not playing live this year.
What are your main hopes as an artist going forwards?
I want to continue to push the listener’s boundaries. To get them out of the “ I only like this very specific genre” mentality. To show that there’s more to music than just the same thing over and over again. Embrace it. Let the music take you on a journey and you don’t know where you will end up! Let go and let the music drive. Right now I’m working on an all-acoustic EP….
Is there anything else we should know?
I really want people to love music for where it can take you! Let the music do the driving. You won’t be disappointed! Push your boundaries and expand your mind. Once you start down that road, there’s no turning back!
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