Happy photo

1991 - World Cafe

Syndicated - November 12, 1991 (taped on October 12,1991) - with David Dye

Interview mp3 (with songs)
Interview mp3 (interview only, without songs)

Transcribed by Laura Cathcart

DAVID DYE (DD): This is David Dye with the World Cafe. We're going to do something kind-of unusual now, through the magic that IS radio, we're hooked up with Happy Rhodes, who is in her home studio in Albany, New York. We've arranged performances from her and her latest album, "Warpaint".

DD: Hi Happy, How are you?

HAPPY RHODES (HR): Hi, doing just fine.

DD: Now, for those of you who are not familiar with Happy Rhodes, we here in Philly have been playing a lot of things from her latest album "Warpaint", that has gotten an enormous response from listeners, and this is ... uh ... your record is on a tiny label with just sort of ... just yours and Kevin Bartlett, who is your Producer ... ?

HR: Uh, correct, we are co-producers, and the label is actually Kevin's; I had nothing to do with it. He started it quite awhile ago to release his own music, and he stumbled upon me and my music, and suggested I try going the same route.

DD: Well you've been recording for quite awhile, "Warpaint" is certainly not your first record.

HR: Correct, I've got four releases prior to "Warpaint."

DD: Well, we're sort-of talking about this music business, and perhaps some of the people listening to the World Cafe haven't had the chance to hear yet. I'd love it if you'd be able to do a version of some of your songs from "Warpaint." "Feed the Fire" is one of the songs that has really captured the listeners' imaginations. Is there a story behind that song?

HR: Behind "Feed the Fire?" Uhmm ... Actually, I think it was just a desire to give back to all the Artists in the world what they had given me throughout the years. I had grown up listening to artists like Queen, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Yes, Sting ... all of these people, and they affected me very deeply, and inspired me greatly, and I wanted to in some small way give something back and let everyone know that all Artists are not on their own, they're inspired by somebody that came before them; and to remember them, basically.

DD: That's a great explanation of the song, because you mention that other Artists that there's something of their feel and sound in the song that came through. How are you going to be performing that today?

HR: Well, today we've got a trio: Myself on acoustic guitar and vocals, Kevin Bartlett will be on keyboards, and we have Ray Jung playing bass; and also on one song that you're going to hear today we're going to have Mitch Elrod guest-vocalizing.

DD: Ok ... why don't we do "Feed the Fire" first?

HR: Ok.

[Song - "Feed the Fire"]

DD: Happy Rhodes live from her home studio here on the World Cafe, with a version of "Feed the Fire", we're "back to the trees" here in Philly or so they are referring to it. Great song! Now, I understand that you're set up and prepared to do another tune from the current record?

HR: Mmm-hmm. We're going to be doing "Words Weren't Meant for Cowards."

DD: Do you want to say a little something about this one?

HR: Well, this song's really funny. A lot of people that I know personally have contacted me and said "Is this song about me? I know it's about me." And it really wasn't intended for any specific person in my life. But, I think we all have to deal with people who live their lives with a facade, who really don't say what they mean. Everybody's basically, in a lot of situations, afraid to say what they mean. And I find that we all mis-communicate on some grand level that never really gets broken down to the basic facts. And it's something that annoys me a lot, it's something that alienates me from a lot of people, it's the fact that they can't be honest in all situations. And I feel like I'm the type of person that really kind-of needs that. So that's basically what that song is about.

DD: Ok, well let's hear it.

[Song - "Words Weren't Meant for Cowards"]

DD: Happy Rhodes is our guest today on the World Cafe, through the magic of radio she's in her studio up near Albany, NY ... where she's been ... uhh ... I guess you've been rehearsing this band, or bringing people together to play out live.

HR: Yeah. Actually, the only rehearsal that's actually taken place has been with our bassist, Ray Jung. Full rehearsal won't start until we've completed the band, and that just hasn't happened yet. We're close, but not there.

DD: Now, I haven't heard anything from your earlier records. They were much more acoustic-sounding than your current release?

HR: Absolutely. Right now I'm probably categorized mostly as alternative listening. Whereas the past four tapes would probably be categorized as Folk, because of the orchestration.

DD: Isn't that strange, huh?

HR: I have always found that to be strange.

DD: Have the orchestration sorta say what you do. Have you been working any of the older material into the new context now?

HR: Absolutely. I've got a large network of fans who are very, very familiar with the past four releases. And I think they'd be missing a lot if I didn't include that into a live show. So we're choosing/picking about five or six songs from each old release and working them up in new versions.

DD: Have the songs changed a lot for you?

HR: Well, certainly the meanings have changed for me because I've grown a lot since then, I think that happens to everyone. Sonically, they will be changing quite a lot, because having a band behind me is going to allow me to actualize them much closer to what I originally wanted. That's the problem with the last four releases; the music is there, the content is there, and I'm proud of that; but in terms of the way it was executed, it never met up to my standards because it was only me, I didn't have anyone helping me out at the time. So now that I've got a band behind me, it's much more to my liking, it's much more gratifying to me to perform that music.

DD: Well, you were talking about doing a song called "Giving In", which is ... um ... how was that originally done, just you and guitar?

HR: Right. Just me and a guitar with vocal overdubs. And it's actually "given."

DD: Ok, gotcha. Alright, well let's hear it.

[Song - "Given In"]

DD: Happy Rhodes and Band here in a special performance for the World Cafe. We definitely would not have been able to get the kind of sound that you've gotten here in our threadbare studios here at the World Cafe, but we really appreciate you hooking this up and being able to do this live for us today.

HR: It was a great pleasure, believe me.

DD: Well look for Happy and her records on Aural Gratification Records. Great name, and "Warpaint" is now available on CD, and the other tapes are now still available, too?

HR: They are, yup.

DD: Great, well look for them in your local Alternative Records Store. Thanks again, Happy.

HR: Thank you, too.

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