Todd Rundgren is back with his first new album of original material since 2008's Arena. State sees the lauded singer/songwriter/producer making a foray into electronica music while taking a quirky look at the human condition in the 21st century. The multitalented musician says the idea behind the album was inspired by the fact that he'd just signed a new record deal and wanted to deliver a collection of songs that were more accessible to a modern audience.
"I decided that I would do a lot of research on what was happening in contemporary music and production and craft a record that was sort of based on that," he tells ABC News Radio.
Musically speaking, State's 10 tracks offer up a plethora of computer-generated sounds and beats while touching on such genres as funk, soul, R&B and even heavy metal. Rundgren admits, however, that he struggled to come up a cohesive theme when it came to the lyrics.
"I had less idea of what I was going for probably than any of the more recent concept records that I've done," he notes, "and, therefore, I kind of kept everything in my subconscious for as long as I possibly could. I didn't spend a lot of time writing out lyrics."
Eventually, says Todd, something of a defining theme did emerge.
"I've kind of characterized the album, as a whole, as being a collection of cautionary tales in that the songs sometimes seem about one thing but they're actually about the opposite thing," he points out.
One such tune is State's lead track, "Imagination," which Rundgren maintains "sets the tone for the record in one way, and in another way it kind of defies expectations, with the extremes it represents."
He adds, "If you just look at the title…you think, 'Oh, it's about whatever you imagine it is,' and then the song is actually about a lack of imagination."
Another tune along those lines is "Something from Nothing," which, Todd explains, "seems to be encouraging the listener to have faith [but] is actually about how inadequate faith can be and that simply having faith that things will change…is not a substitute for actually making things change."
As with some of his other recent albums, Rundgren recorded State entirely on a laptop computer. Todd tells ABC News Radio that the digital nature of the album will "allow me to be a little bit more flexible when it [comes] to the live presentation."
To that end, Rundgren will only be bringing two other musicians -- drummer Prairie Prince and guitarist Jesse Gress -- with him when he hits the road next month to support State. The trek will feature a set that will include the new material, reworked versions of Todd's classic tunes and songs from albums like 1993's No World Order, another project in which he experimented with electronica.
Rundgren's Official State Visit Tour kicks off with a May 5-6 engagement at the Bearsville Theater in Bearsville, New York. Visit EsotericRecordings.com to check out all of Todd's upcoming concerts.
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