Although there will no doubt be plenty of fans screaming to hear "Jessie's Girl" one more time when Rick Springfield arrives at River Spirit Events Center this Saturday night, you'd be mistake to think he's only capitalizing on nostalgia. Yes, the biggest hits of his career came from the early '80s, but Springfield continues to record and tour, intent on remaining relevant over 40 years into his career.
Just last year, An Affair of the Heart, a documentary feature film about Springfield and his fans debuted in April and won a handful of awards while screening at film festivals nationwide. Springfield's 2010 memoir, Late Late at Night, topped The New York Times Best Seller list with a story that chronicled his career and lifelong battle with depression amidst stardom and fame and kindled even more interest in a career that he has refused to lay down completely.
More importantly, though, Springfield released a new rock album, Songs for the End of the World, in October and is featured in Dave Grohl's documentary film, Sound City, about the recording studio of the same name. This work launches him into 2013 with a full schedule and plenty of opportunities on his plate.
When catching up with Springfield last week, he shared his excitement for the new year saying, "Things are really picking up. I've got a new album that's starting to take off, where I did some new things production wise, and Sound City is just cranking up. I wrote a song with Foo Fighters for that, so that's more music and more attention. Things are really going well."
When asked about the Sound City studio, Springfield said that he recorded Working Class Dog and Living in Oz there.
"Joe Godfried, who owned the studio, was a friend of mine. He was a great guy who died in '91. It was kind of quirky and weird, but he loved the studio. It was just this ugly hole-in-the-wall in an industrial complex in the valley, but it sounded amazing. It was like a double wide trailer, but it had the Neve mixing console and it was one of only four like it. It changed a lot of lives."
Sound City is not only where Springfield recorded these two albums, but also where Fleetwood Mac recorded Rumours, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recorded Damn the Torpedoes and Nirvana recorded Nevermind. Artists ranging from Metallica to Neil Young to Slipknot and Rage Against the Machine recorded a number of classic rock albums in the studio on that mixing board. "There was a lot of mojo there," Springfield said.
Courtesy Jay Gilbert
After Sound City closed, Dave Grohl purchased the Neve mixing console and moved it to his studio, which led to his production of a film about the studio. Upon debuting at Sundance Film Festival last month, Grohl called on Springfield and a few others who appeared in the film to play a handful of live shows, with limited dates planned in New York, London, Sydney, and Berlin.
Although accommodating the shows has been difficult, according to Springfield, "With Dave, it just started out as an interview, then turned into writing a song and turned into playing a few shows. We're all open to it, because it's been fun."
Even though the film and corresponding shows have been a fun aside, Springfield remains attentive to his own career, launching his own tour behind Songs for the End of the World. Over the past decade, Springfield has adapted to the market releasing a handful of albums on smaller independent labels.
When asked about the transition, Springfield said, "Smaller labels are just a function on the record industry right now. I'd rather be on a big label, with the label pushing it, but that's not happening right now."
When listening to Springfield's latest album, you might be surprised how lively it is. More than 30 years after "Jessie's Girl" hit radio, Springfield is still putting out energetic rock albums.
"I think touring adds energy to a record," Springfield explained. "Living in Oz was written on the road. So were my last couple of albums, Venus in Overdrive and Songs for the End of the World."
"I keep writing because my worldview is more than just sex -- although, that's still in there," he said. "Plus, I feel like I'm still on my game, musically, and I feel like I've still got something worthwhile to say. So long as that's the case and people are listening, I'll continue to play."
When listening to the new album, Springfield approaches some dark topics and themes, yet emerges with a light at the end of the tunnel. In retrospect, it's a common trend and theme with most all of the albums over the course of his career.
When asked about that, he said, "That's just how I write. Depression has been a part of my life for a long time and that's when I tend to write. When I'm happy, I want to hang out with my friends and drink wine. When I'm in a dark place, I write. That's how I deal with it and get myself out of that place. What can I say? There have been some good songs that have come from it."
Even though Springfield disappeared from the music scene for the greater part of the '90s, he has re-emerged over the past 13 years and rebuilt a solid career with constant touring and half a dozen albums to add to his 17 top 40 singles. He may always be known for "Jessie's Girl" and his role on General Hospital as Dr. Noah Drake, but you'd be remiss to discount him as simply another artists cashing in on the retro circuit.
As 2013 rolls forward, Springfield does as well, armed with an album of new songs, a featured appearance in the Sound City documentary and a handful of live appearances with Foo Fighters and the "Sound City Players." This weekend, you can see what Springfield has up his sleeve as he rolls onward with a concert appearance at River Spirit Events Center on Saturday night, Feb. 16. Tickets are still available for $40 for the 7pm show.
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