Robert Randolph Interview

57 of 131 DOCUMENTS

The Kansas City Star

February 9, 2006 Thursday

Interview: Robert Randolph puts the pedal to the metal (guitar, that is)

BYLINE: McCLAIN JOHNSON, TeenStar

LENGTH: 807 words

Robert Randolph is one of best pedal steel guitar players in the world.
He began playing pedal steel in the House of God church in New Jersey. His live shows are filled with an energy that is unparalleled in today’s music scene.
Recently Randolph called from the studio where he is recording his new album to discuss his first time onstage, his favorite song to cover and the impact of faith on his life.
Robert Randolph and the Family Band (Randolph, his cousins Danyel Morgan on bass and Marcus Randolph on drums, as well as John Ginty on keyboards) will be performing at the Uptown Theater on Friday.
You’ve been in the studio working on your new record. Where do you see the sound of Robert Randolph going?
We’ve been just writing songs and we’ve really tried to connect with everybody on this record. We’ve honed in on some really great songs and the sound has just been evolving. We’ve all become great songwriters. We’ve been learning from some of the best in the business. Working with people like Eric Clapton, Santana, Rob Thomas and Dave Matthews, it’s been great.
Do you have a favorite song out of what you have recorded so far?
Well, all of ’em are my favorite. It just depends on what songs you want to put on the record. We’ve just about figured it out and it’s been going well.
Do you have a title for the album yet?
We’re going to have one by the end of the week ’cause we got to come up with one.
You tour like crazy. Do you remember your first time being onstage?
First time onstage I was with the North Mississippi Allstars. That was in 2000 and it was such a great time. It was in New York City and we jammed and played one of my all-time favorite songs “Voodoo Child.” We had a great time. I was like a kid in a candy store that day.
How do you find it in yourself to bring so much energy to your performances night after night?
It’s the energy from the fans. When you are doing this process of touring, you’ve got so much going on, so much to do. You get taken away from just music. Once I get onstage, it becomes a whole other deal. I see the fans yelling and screaming and smiling. It puts a smile on my face and gets me happy, so I just return the favor to people.
You cover a lot of songs onstage. Do you have a favorite cover?
“Purple Haze,” “Good Times, Bad Times,” by Zeppelin. We do Michael Jackson songs, like “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” That’s a great song; I love to cover that one too.
Do you find it hard to change up the set list every night?
Everywhere we go, we like to change it up, but people start screaming and yelling that they want to hear their favorite songs. Now, we have really sat down in the studio and have written a ton of new songs. We’ve been writing songs and jams and instrumentals. We’ll be able to switch it up now even more than we used to.
Are you really looking forward to road testing some of these songs?
Yeah, it’s gonna be fun. We played some shows over the New Year. The response was great, the crowd was great and they were some of our best shows. It’s going to be a great year coming up.
As a guitarist, how do you feel the pedal steel enhances your music?
It’s a great instrument. It has so many sounds and things that I can do. Even during a show, I’ll start playing something and I won’t even know where it comes from because something magical happens onstage. It’s become a great thing. Even if I’m singing, I’ll just play an extra part and the guitar will sing on it’s own. It’s just a big thing to go out and have that kind of versatility.
What’s it like working with family members? Do you find it a challenge or are you able to feed off of it?
It’s great to be able to feed off of it. We’ve all grown up together so we know what each other is going to feel, when they are going to start, when they are going to be at the end, when they are in the middle. We pick each other up on the road and in the studio recording. That is a whole other great thing to have.
You began playing pedal steel in church. What role does faith play in your life?
It’s a great thing to have grown up in the church and on the flipside of that, be able to know how fortunate we are as people. You’ve got a guy who is making a million dollars, a person who is making $100,000, and a person that is making $50,000. That in each of those persons’ lives, they should be happy with who they are. For me, growing up in the church and getting that kind of teaching, that everybody is equal and we are all here purpose. When we are in our great state of mind and we see somebody else stumbling along the way, feeling a little down, we can be able to pick them up and get their spirits up. Things like that are really important to me.
For more info on Robert Randolph and The Family Band, please check out:www.robertrandolph.net.
To reach McClain Johnson, a senior at Pembroke Hill, send e-mail to teenstar@kcstar.com .

LOAD-DATE: February 9, 2006

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

PUBLICATION-TYPE: Newspaper

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