On September 2nd Edward Rogers will release his sixth studio album entitled “Glass Marbles”. Already released to critical acclaim in the States ; the Village Voice said “gives us a pretty good sense of what Roxy Music might have sounded like in 2016″ and The Vinyl District called it ” pop-rock classicism”. High praise for an artist born in Birmingham before moving to New York at the age of 12 just as British music exploded in America.
‘Glass Marbles’ has been written and created to present the listener with a cohesive piece of work that manages to still offer diversity of style and sound. Recorded in a mix of studios across the US with collaborations from a multi talented selection of artists, Edward fuses the NYC garage sound with British folk sensibility and vocals that are reminiscent of Nick Cave at his best. Steve Holley was lucky enough to get the chance to pose some questions to Edward and we think his answers give a wonderful insight to the way this multi talented singer songwriter works.
EP: You have a new album, your sixth solo one, about to drop in the UK. The last two have been thematic in their approach and have garnered critical acclaim. Is there a running theme to Glass Marbles and do you feel any weight of expectation with this album?
ER: When I’m writing, it’s always song by song, never a concept in mind. Having said that, there are number of songs on ‘Glass Marbles’ that look back at life in England in the 1970s. We used to go to Blackpool for our holidays, never thinking of going to Europe, getting our pocket money and going to a Jumbo sale on a Saturday and finding that elusive record, just taking our heritage for granted. That came to light recently when they wanted to tear down Denmark Street. How can you tear down a street that holds so much musical history?
EP: You started out as a drummer but an accident in the eighties left you unable to play the drums as you lost your right arm and part of your right leg. This kind of tragedy would have ended many careers but in looking at yours it seems to have almost galvanised you to write and sing. Is there any way, and please excuse any insensitivity, that you look back on that accident as a blessing?
ER: At the time, I kept asking the question “why me?” and “why both my leg and arm”? When I was discharged from the hospital/rehab, I went for a short holiday to New Orleans, still mostly in a wheelchair. I was going down Bourbon Street and a crazy, slightly deranged man, ran up to me and said, “don’t blame God, that was the devil’s work,” which I had never thought of before. I know it sounds a little preachy, but from that point on, it became a blessing, as I went after musical dreams I never would have thought possible before.
EP: From listening to your music, it is obvious what an excellent songwriter you are. What are your main inspirations and who has influenced you most in your career, both as a songwriter and as a singer? What are you listening to at the moment?
ER: There are so many songwriters who have inspired me. Besides the obvious ones, Mike Smith/Dave Clark, Duncan Browne, Steve Marriott, Pete Dello, Jimmy Campbell, Lawrence, Phil Lynott, Roy Wood, Bill Fay, Paul Buchanan, Jeff Lynne, Ian Hunter, Chinn + Chapman, Jarvis Cocker…As you can tell, I’m a real Anglophile!
I like the new Syd Arthur, Let’s Eat Grandma, Simon Love, Dr. Cosmos Tape Lab, Butterscotch Cathedral, Cavern of Anti-Matter, new Emitt Rhodes and Beyond The Wizards Sleeve. I also love the work of Amorphous Androgynous, and let me not forget two CD compilations – PYEBEAT GIRLS and DECCA BEAT GIRLS.
EP: You were born in Birmingham in England but moved to the States when you were 12. How did this affect you personally and did the success of British bands in the US at the time of your move help you decide your career path and influence you musically?
ER: What a time to leave the UK! Music was so exciting at the time. I got the USA and found every American radio station blasting Brit music. I so missed my home at the time that music became an obsession as the one common thread. I used to go to Bleecker Bobs Record Shop and spend all my pocket money on the latest singles by The Move, Small Faces – almost anything that was in the UK charts. An interesting little fact is that the sales clerk there was Lenny Kaye of Nuggets/Patti Smith fame!
EP: Don Piper, your producer and longtime collaborator, is on board again for ‘Glass Marbles’, and I have read that initially you had 50 songs written for this album. How on earth did you guys manage to get that down to the songs on the release? And what are the plans for the songs that didn’t make the cut?
ER: I have total confidence in Don and his editing ability. There are some songs that I obviously know I want to include. The hard part is cutting out the few that are on the ‘edge.’ You think they could be the right ones, but I respect and trust Don’s input explicitly. Every once in a while, I’ll sneak one in ☺. Once the project is complete, for the most part, I tend not to revisit the songs that didn’t make it. Maybe one day… but I always like a fresh start. It’s like going back to school, everything’s new and there’s promise in the air…
EP: The album is mastered by Greg Calbi. I have heard that a chance meeting led to Greg’s involvement. What did Greg’s style of engineering bring to ‘Glass Marbles’?
ER: Greg is an old mate, who I hadn’t seen in a long time when I ran into him at a NYC venue, City Winery. I was performing as part of Lenny Kay’s ‘Nuggets’ series (small world, eh?). We seem to immediately pick up where we left off and got together several times. His mastering skills are truly a work of passion and art.
EP: Being of an age that my first love will always be vinyl, I remember albums as more of a whole, immersive experience. Like a great book there was a start, middle and end. As a young man I loved ELO and felt that their albums were stories, with light and dark. The modern approach to buying music means that the listener can cherry pick tracks from albums. Do you think something has been lost for the listener by this development and if so do you pick track order with an overall story in mind?
ER: Nice question, mate. I share your sentiment. I used to love when records had a theme or were recorded as an entire piece of work, not tracks you could pick at random and disregard the rest. We took a chance on ‘Glass Marbles’ by including 18 songs, but I felt that was the song cycle that needed to be represented at the time. Having said all this, sometimes it is good to be able to cherry pick songs from albums where the quality is not consistent. When we were kids, there weren’t so many records released, and it always seemed more exciting. You had to wait for the next T. Rex single.
EP: Your first solo release ‘Sunday Fables’ was back in 2004 so this will be album number 6 in 12 years. That’s pretty prolific given the heartfelt lyrics of your songs. Are you constantly writing or do you take a break after each release and then start the writing process when you decide what your next album will sound like. I ask this because it’s almost impossible to pin you down to any given genre?
ER: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Up to now, I’ve never taken a break. I just keep writing – sentences, lines, concepts, words – that sound interesting to me. I’m currently working on my next album, and have actually made a conscious decision not to write until it’s done. I want to devote full time to the process of recording and see what happens.
EP: One of my favourite genres of music is Country music and the storytelling style and heartfelt lyrics of some of your songs would lend itself wonderfully well to that genre. Is that a style of music that has ever interested you?
ER: I adore Graham Parsons and the genuine country music, but I must admit, I am a child of the 70s UK music. There are some bands that cross the genre that I really like – Lambchop is one example. Living in America, so much of the music feels plastic to me. Just wearing a cowboy hat seems to immediately bring you an audience. For example, I’ve been a big fan of Steven Tyler, truly a great rock performer, but his latest album now has the country vibe to help sell records, I guess.
EP: Finally, what are your plans over the coming months. Do you plan to tour the album? If so will you come back to the UK ?
ER: I’m looking at some touring possibilities for the autumn in both London and Amsterdam, but nothing is confirmed yet. I did play England in April opening for Colin Blunstone. Just looking for the right bill that hopefully covers my expenses. Hey, got anybody in mind?