Lee Rude: The (Imagined) Rolling Stone Interview, by Lee Zukor
When I was a kid learning how to play the trumpet in New York, I dreamed of releasing my first recording to rave reviews. I would be stalked by obsessive fans and Rolling Stone would interview me, probing deeply to understand my artistic vision and the meaning of my songs.
As I write this (Summer 2004), I'm on the verge of releasing my fourth CD. Happily, much of my boyhood fantasy has been realized. My wife and boy provide rave reviews, and my mother is an obsessive fan. Alas, Rolling Stone hasn't called. If they did, here's the interview they would have conducted:
Rolling Stone: Congratulations on the release of your 4th CD, "Be Groovy or Leave". What's with the album title?
LR: It's a line from the Bob Dylan movie "Don't Look Back". It's from that scene with Donovan when someone throws something out the hotel window and Dylan comes in swaggering. Remember the scene?
RS: Um, no.
LR: I guess it's a more obscure reference than I thought. The point is that the CD is a mix of all different styles, and I think it helps to have an open mind when you listen to it. There's a cappella and rock and a lullaby and --
RS: There's even an 80s Blondie-style rap tune.
LR: I've got a basement studio now, and I've been working with a lot of loops and things. After my last acoustic CD I wanted to try something a little more...
LR: Exactly. I've also really come to terms with the idea of digital music.
RS: What do you mean?
LR: I'm really an album guy, rather than someone who listens to singles or greatest hits. But this time, rather than looking at each song as part of a collection, I just let them be whatever they were. Most of my friends listen to their iPods on shuffle. That's what I wanted my CD to sound like.
RS: You're a weirdo.
LR: Not really. Most people listen to all sorts of music, not just one. Plus, I put the whole thing together in my basement over the course of more than 2 years, so you do start to feel like a mad scientist.
RS: That's a great name for your next CD.
LR: "The Mad Scientist". I kind of like it.
CD Review: Here It Comes
The Daily Vault
November 20, 2000
By Christopher Thelen
I think I've heard the future of pop rock - and its name is Lee Rude.
Normally, you'd think I wouldn't jump at the chance to review a band with such a name - the context brings back memories of the time I mistakenly gave The Jerky Boys a chance. (Hoo boy, now there's the kind of mistake that follows you around like gum on your shoe.) But make no similar mistake with this group; singer/songwriter Lee Zukor and crew are serious about their craft, and their disc Here It Comes shows off the skills and maturity normally heard only on a major-label release, not on an independent disc.
Zukor proves himself to be an astute observer of modern life, love and loss throughout the course of these 12 songs. Even by taking a tongue-in-cheek look at his own job on "Song Of Nothing New," Zukor and his bandmates prove that wonderful thngs can even come out of nothing or uncertainty. This particular track is less of a complaint about the state of pop rock, but more of a whimsical slap at songwriting wanna-bes who do nothing but complain about the state of music while doing nothing themselves to change it. (And, no, I'm not indicting rock music critics like myself, nor do I think Zukor is doing this.)
There is much talk of love throughout Here It Comes, though it's not always of a romantic love that is verbalized. Take "Highway 65," for example. Anyone who has watched a loved one slowly waste away before their eyes will undoubtedly find this song hard to bear, as the narrator remembers someone they once knew and wishes they could replace the past: "You no longer stand and barely move your hands / Less stubborn men would never last so long / My throat is dry from all the stupid things I said / I never know what to say in times like these". Ka-pow.
Yet there are plenty of lighter moments of love throughout Here It Comes, from the promise of support even in times of trouble ("Count On Me"), the reassurances of what makes a person special to another ("That's Why," a duet with Lori Wray) and even the fear of loving someone too much ("Fearless"), Zukor and his bandmates are able to put into words what many people have trouble verbalizing - and that's no small gift.
Yet there are moments of loss scattered throughout this disc, from the hells brought on by one's own personal demons ("Unlucky") to the realization that one you love is better without you in their life ("5 AM"). A roller-coaster of emotions? Perhaps - but Lee Rude is the kind of band that can pull off these switches effortlessly, and make them sound like they were intentional all along.
Here It Comes is not the kind of disc you'd normally search for in the bins of Best Buy - but once you've heard this disc even once, you'll wonder how you ever lived without the beautiful music held within. Whoever would think that something with the surname of "rude" would be so pleasant? Lee Rude is a band that demands to be heard. All you have to do is open the door - and I'm hoping someone opens the right door for these guys... now.