by LOUIS LENZMEIER
Andre Rodriguez is an up and coming musician in the Twin Cities area with a unique combination of comprehensive storytelling and a rock/pop sound. Recently, the Pulse had an opportunity to talk with the Michigan native.
Pulse: How did you get your start as a musician?
Rodriguez: Well, it was from an early age. I started playing piano when I was 4 and it sort of took off from there. My parents couldnít really stop me if they tried, I think. I learned to play classical piano and then I wanted to learn guitar. Itís funny because there really isnít much classical piano in my work, but thatís where I got my start.
Pulse: So, you learned guitar right after playing piano?
Yeah, as I was growing up, I started to play guitar as well to complement
what I did on the piano. Playing guitar helped me start to become a songwriter
and learn about the whole songwriting process and how involved it can become.
Pulse: Can you describe your songwriting process for me?
Rodriguez: Most of my songwriting is based on my emotion at the time and
the storytelling that results from it. I can get some of my material after a
stressful day and I am ready to just explode. I try not to confine myself to
a certain way or method as everything about my songwriting is relatively liberal
and free-flowing. Sometimes, I will get an idea or a hook and just run with
Pulse: Do you like writing with other people or do you prefer to write
Rodriguez: I do like it when I am writing for other people for music
they will be producing/performing. Usually, with my own music, I prefer to write
by myself. Itís not to say I donít listen to ideas, but I need to
feel the personal connection to it and I feel like I need to own the material
that has my name attached to it.
Pulse: Whatís the most difficult part of songwriting?
Rodriguez: Itís that middle part that can be the hardest. Most of
the time I will have trouble with bridges and that second verse. I donít
know why, but right now, thatís where I find some difficulty, but I am
able to work my way through it in some way, whether itís by myself or
bouncing an idea off of someone.
Pulse: You recently started working with your brother. Whatís that
Rodriguez: Yes, my younger brother Dan. Weíve been collaborating
for a little over a year now and itís been fun working with him and I
am excited about what we will do in the future.
Pulse: Whatís the difference between you and your brother when
it comes to being a musician?
Rodriguez: I would say I am more of an experimental musician than Dan
is. I like to experiment with different sounds and styles and see what results
from that. Dan is more in that rocker mold. So, itís fun when our different
styles match because it can produce good material for us.
Pulse: As a musician, who would you say your influences are? Are there
any artists out there, whether itís local or national artists who you
are just floored by and absolutely love what they are doing?
Rodriguez: Thereís so much great stuff out there that itís
hard to narrow it down. But, if I had to pick, I would say Ben Folds, Keane,
Coldplay. I admire Halloween,
Alaska. Their creativity amazes me. From a songwriting point of view, there
is no one better in my mind than Sting. I just get blown away by his material
and how he keeps doing that after all these years. I am sure many other artists
feel the same, but what he does just puts him above everyone else in terms of
being a musician.
Talk about your first album, Closed Doors Open. What was the inspiration
Rodriguez: Well, as I mentioned earlier, most my material is based on what
I am feeling at the time, whether itís a certain emotion or something
I was going through. I had recently lost my younger brother. He was only 10,
and was a cool little guy and so some of that emotion came out in the record.
A majority of the record was just based on that experience, which was obviously
a hard one.
Pulse: Look out five years from now for me. What will Andre Rodriguez
Rodriguez: Well, obviously any artist would love to have that commercial
success and be successful in that regard and of course that would be great.
I also want to be reaching more people. We have a booking agent now who will
help us get to those larger audiences. More importantly, I just want to continue
making original music and create cutting edge material. Also, just to ensure
that what I am doing is fun and the people working with me are having fun. You
have to have fun at your job and I am having fun and hope to continue to do
Pulse: What can people expect when they come to an Andre Rodriguez show?
Rodriguez: They can expect a great time and just seeing a musician and
a band who like to have fun. You will see very talented musicians having a lot
of fun and really enjoying what they do. Itís a unique sound experience
that will tell a story and an experience that we hope people will really enjoy.
Andre Rodriguez performs on Thu., Oct. 26 at the Cedar Cultural Center with
The Grassy Knolls and Jake Rowan. 7:30 p.m. $8/$10. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls.
612-338-2674. For more info on Andre, check out andrerodriguez.org.