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A Dirty Dozen with KRIS RODGERS from KRIS RODGERS & THE DIRTY GEMS – June 2021

| 17 June 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Summer: it’s a time to get dirty and a time to shine. It’s only natural, then, that summertime 2021 will see the release of a collection of new songs capturing both sides of that spectrum: Still Dirty, the rollicking Wicked Cool Records debut release from Portland, Maine’s Kris Rodgers & The Dirty Gems, which drops Friday, July 23. The Portland musical staple who has both Star Wars and Star Trek tattoos, is a passionate fan of the Boston Celtics and loves his cats, is itching to get his band out on the road again as soon as touring is safely possible. In the meantime, there are summer shows planned at select Maine venues, and three music videos already poised to promote Still Dirty. The latest Wicked Cool release distributed by The Orchard, Still Dirty finds Kris Rodgers & The Dirty Gems among an impressive stable of label mates like frequent collaborator Kurt Baker.” We get Kris to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Our newest release, Still Dirty, is a dynamic collection of songs that I think everyone will like. That sounds really cliché, but I really think everyone can find something they relate to on this album. Unlike prior albums, the band wrote these songs together and the final product is a melting pot of musical styles ranging from hard rock, soul, Latin, power pop, and more. I’m a big fan of the NBA. So I think one of the biggest nuggets is we name drop Charles Barkley and then have a parody cameo from him. It’s actually me impersonating Charles, but it seems to slip people by the first few times. Charles also talks the band out as the songs fading. He says, “Come on man who is this guy, Kris Rodgers? Kenny, Shaq, let’s get outta here.”

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I was always into music as a kid, and thought everyone else felt the same way about it. Hate to say it but when I was a really little guy I was obsessed with New Kids on the Block, then when I was 6 or 7, I started tinkering around on a toy piano at daycare figuring out songs from movies. Eventually started taking piano lessons and the rest is history.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Elton John has had a huge impact on my songwriting. My parents had a lot of greatest hits tapes and CD’s growing up. They had both Elton and Billy Joel greatest hits. “Take Me to the Pilot” was an Elton song that really blew me away back then, and we actually covered it on this album.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Tom Petty. I think he’s a true master in terms of songwriting, and his music and lyrics come from an honest place. I would just want to learn from him.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour? What do you like to do to unwind?

I’m pretty nerdy when I’m not doing music stuff. I’m really into Star Wars and Star Trek. I play a lot of SW: Battlefront 2 with my friends, but other than that I’m pretty introverted and typically lay low. To take the nerd factor to the next level I also play Magic the Gathering pretty regularly.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I would describe us as a modern sounding mix of classic 60’s and 70’s rock and soul. I always think it’s interesting what different people pull out of our sound when they make comparisons. One comparison that made me cringe was that I sound like Vince Neil. Ouch.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

We’re all pretty independent with food actually. We all eat together but a lot of the time we go off to different places to get our food. I cook a little but Craig Sala (drums) is probably the most likely to fire up the grill and cook the whole band T-bone steaks at 2am. He’s usually good for breakfast most days when we have a kitchen on tour as well. Ryan Halliburton (bass) has all the gear and if someone’s got a guitar out it’s him. It’s probably a complete POS too but somehow he’s got it sounding incredible. It’s his thing. I’m getting the drinks.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I played a show that Drew Carey hosted in NYC a few years ago and had to go and do an interview with him and longtime great radio DJ Rich Russo immediately after our set. I had met Rich before but only had a few moments to meet Drew before we were live on the air. I was pretty nervous, but all the star struck stuff went away because he was really down to earth and a genuinely nice guy.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I think the best part is the traveling and the food. If I couldn’t be a musician, I would be an engineer in a studio or be doing something on the production side of music. Any dream job of mine would involve music even if I couldn’t be a musician.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I think a great question for me or any artist could be, how many times have you faced rejection? I’ve been doing this for a really long time and there have been moments when I think the whole world thinks I won’t succeed or won’t be able to do the things I’ve said I’m going to do or set out to do. There are other moments when you just don’t succeed, or you get a rejection email from a club or a radio station, etc. It takes many forms. The number of “no’s” you get as an artist far outnumbers the “yes’s”. For me, in my short career, staying true to myself and true to my vision of who I want to be as an artist in the face of rejection and constantly being told you should be something else from the outside world is one of the harder aspects to navigate. It’s very easy to lose sight and jump on a trend or new fad to try and capitalize on this or that. Of course you should take criticism and allow yourself to change/grow, but knowing when to do that and knowing when to put your head down and stay on the path is tricky. I don’t really like talking about what my band sounds like. I’ve found over the years everyone has their own take on it and I most likely completely steer people in the wrong direction. For example I never would have said I sound like Vince Neil, but I guess to someone out there I do.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Yeah, for sure. I think there’s always moments we can look back on and wish we did something else. A lot of times bands are like families and you say things to your family you wouldn’t normally say. Sometimes hurtful things. When I was younger, I had a much harsher form or leadership, that might have been a bit much at times. I still have great relationships with everyone I’ve played with, but my bandmates during those early years and I probably could have avoided at least half of the arguments, had we just had more experience and been more mature.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Am I crazy not to say Abbey Road? I gotta go with Goodbye Yellowbrick Road. It would have been magical to see that group at its peak creating that album. For me that album is transformative for Elton in that he took chances he hadn’t taken before, and it skyrocketed him to the stratosphere. I try to keep that mentality at all times now. Always take the chance. Take the risk.




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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