We had an opportunity to sit down with Xavier Rudd at Bonnaroo to talk a little about production on his new album White Moth, playing with Dave Matthews Band and his participation in environmental sustainability at home and on tour.
Xavier Rudd is a Australian-born musician from Torquay, Victoria. Xavier is a frequent participant at roots (world/reggae) music festivals and has previously opened or supported Ani DiFranco, Jack Johnson and G. Love & Special Sauce.
Dave Matthews Band asked Xavier to open up eight tour dates during their spring tour in Australia. DMB unexpectedly dropped seven planned performances in April, but Xavier still opened for four at the beginning of May. On 5/5/07 he performed didgeridoo (aka the Y) on Still Water and Don't Drink the Water. On Down By the River he played lap slide guitar.
Rudd is currently scheduled to play a total of five dates at the start of the DMB 2007 summer tour in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey. You can download an mp3 of the interview, and a transcript is also provided. Many thanks to Anne Gire for conducting the interview.
Weekly Davespeak: I want to talk to you mainly about your new album, I have a few questions about the album production. Xavier Rudd: Ok
WDS: Dave Ogilve has worked with a lot of artists, including Nine Inch Nails and N.E.R.D in production remixing and making albums. What was it like having him as a co-producer for White Moth? XR: It was cool. Dave is a really cool guy. He’s really funny so he really put a good energy throughout the studio. He has a really mellow approach, he’s very talented and the way he mixed everything was incredible. It was a trip. It is more the energy factor. It was a good, bubbly vibe to record in. It was never tedious because he’s kind of a whack-job and funny the whole time.
WDS: How did you come upon Garth Richardson and record out in Vancouver, BC. XR: I don’t know Garth Richardson, but his studio was available. My manager knows him and is a friend of his and she lives out there—so she hooked it up. WDS: It’s too bad he wasn’t able to sit in on any of that, is it nice out there? XR: It’s beautiful. I think things have shut down out there, that was the last album.
WDS: With your genre of music, I want to talk to you about touring with Dave Matthews Band. Your fans are interested in knowing how you feel with Dave coming for an Australian tour and how you feel opening up for them. How do you feel playing with Dave? XR: It’s incredible. Dave’s a super nice dude. It’s a super nice group. Really, incredibly musically gifted and musically traveled was what I picked up. It is a real fascination to watch that whole thing unfold. And then to play onstage with those guys was really uplifting. I really felt connected and Dave was beside me digging what I was doing and the band was digging it. I felt really welcome and that they were excited to have me play with them over here.
This is really amazing to me. I only get to come here—not a lot. It’s a big place. Their shows are huge so to be exposed to so many people is a real treat. It’s sort of an honor in terms of being hugged by America and the music scene. It feels like a big embrace to be invited to play along with them.
WDS: I’m real excited about your album, it comes out Tuesday? XR: Ya.
WDS: I thought this was your first show in America and I thought you were starting your tour but you already been to Austin?
XR: Ya, I started in Austin—started a warm up show, and then here. And we have a couple more months. We finish with Dave Matthews Band on the East coast. We’ll go from five hundred to a thousand people to something like sixty thousand.
WDS: I know your schedule is packed, have you had a chance to see anyone? XR: I got in here this morning and have been doing media most of the day—I haven’t seen anyone yet. When I’m done I’ll check out who’s playing and definitely get to check them out.
WDS: Who is your favorite live artist? If you wanted to add some people to Bonnaroo who would you put on the lineup? XR: Who would I put on here? Feist is playing isn’t she? Emiliana Torrini, Bob Marley, Midnight—a band called Midnight. There’s so many.
WDS: And who do you have backing you up there? XR: I have a sample up of the Canadian Elder who sings the … His name is Kennetch Charlette.
WDS: I have one more question for you, how do you personally reduce your carbon footprint? XR: On the road we have a thing called the Great Notes program which is through Cliff Bar and Music Matters. It is really cool because coming from Australia, we live a fairly carbon neutral existence in small town. We’re building a fairly sustainable house this year, it’s got a worm farm and is fully sustainable in the bush.
Coming from that existence to these tour buses and the power for the PA system and in a lot of cases no recycling--it’s pretty hard to deal with for me. To have a company in the States who knows the States, who can help us bring the emissions down as much as possible is very exciting for me. It’s always been an issue for me, I’ve always felt pretty toxic.
WDS: Bonnaroo is a great experience with the greening initiatives here. XR: I think with festivals with lots of money here do that and they need to do it more. I don’t think there’s enough. You’d think the music industry would be very green and it is not. And it needs to change. People with budgets in the music industry need to initiate that change.
WDS: It was a pleasure talking with you, have a great show. XR: You too.