Rudi Protrudi – As long as The Fuzztones are around, rock’n’roll will not die

0

“The shaman of rock’n’roll”, who is 1/8 Greek, as well as one of the most genuine rock’n’roll personas, will return to Greece for one more ritual. Funny and sarcastic he shares his wisdom about rock’n’roll, the new generation who’s not exposed to it yet, while he reveals that his next release is probably going to be a solo album. Interview: Yiannis Dolas

Rockpages.gr: The last album that you released, “NYC,” was a covers album. Any plans for a new original material album coming up?

Rudi Protrudi: Well yeah, I guess you could say it was a covers album, but the concept went a bit deeper than that. We were about to go on tour to celebrate our 40 year anniversary, and we wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion. I figured that since the band was formed in New York City, it would be appropriate to do a tribute to the notorious city that spawned us. And we did that by recording our garage-style adaptations of songs by bands that had originally inspired us to move to New York in the first place – bands such as Richard Hell, Dead Boys, Patti Smith, NY Dolls… And of course no NY tribute would be complete without a version of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”!

But back to your question… yeah, there will be an all original album coming up soon, although it may not actually be The Fuzztones, but instead my first all-garage solo album: I utilized the time I spent in lockdown to catch up on my songwriting and I have 13 new tunes ready to go. I’ve already recorded a few of them and am in the process of recording more.

Rockpages.gr: If you were about to start your career now, what would you think the toughest thing would be in order to get a band going, create a fan base, make some records and earn money?

Rudi Protrudi: That’s a tough one. So much has changed since we started out. Now kids have computers, so they can use social media to promote their band. They can put videos up on YouTube. We had to schlep around in the freezing cold of winter, pasting fliers on telephone poles, only to have another band paste theirs over ours within a half hour. In that sense I think today’s musicians have it easier. On the other hand, a lot of today’s musicians seem, from what I can see, to be much more focused on fame and money than they are about writing great songs or learning to really master their instruments. And when it comes right down to it, the SONG is the main thing. You can have a great looking band, play your asses off, put on a great show, but if you don’t have good songs, you aren’t going to succeed. Period.

Rockpages.gr: They say “never meet heroes, because they might let you down.” Has this ever happened to you? You’ve met some of your idols. Was it what you expected?

Rudi Protrudi: Well it’s true that I’ve met a lot of my heroes, and even played with several of them. Some of them were true gentlemen, some were disillusioned buttholes (I won’t name names). Nevertheless, at least as far as the ones I ended up playing or recording with, I was more than glad to have gotten the chance.

Rockpages.gr: How do you see the rock ’n’ roll counter culture shaping up now in the 2020’s? What has changed and what’s different, since you became a part of it in the 60’s and 70’s?

Rudi Protrudi: Unfortunately I no longer see Rock ’n’ Roll as a counter culture medium. Sure primarily to the internet, and political correctness, it seems to have gotten very watered down and predictable. Perhaps it’s peer pressure or fear that if they don’t conform to the current trend they may not get the all-important (I’m being sarcastic) record deal, but I just don’t see bands taking chances anymore. When we started the Fuzztones, there was literally NO audience for what we were doing, and it remained that way for the first two years of our existence. We, nevertheless, persevered – solely due to our love for this particular style of music and the fun we had playing it. My advice is that you play the music you LOVE. If you don’t “make it,” at least you will still be having FUN. It ain’t much fun playing crap you don’t like, even if you’re making lots of money doing it.

Rockpages.gr: The Fuzztones have changed their line-ups several times in the past. What are the key elements that you were looking for when you were looking for new members?

Rudi Protrudi: As you can imagine, it’s almost impossible to keep a band together for as long as we’ve been going. Even the Stones have changed members over the years. People get older, get sick of touring, get sick of getting ripped off by music industry types, get married, have kids, all that stuff.

The  main thing I look for is TALENT. Band members have to really be able to play their instrument.

When the band broke up in ’85, I auditioned a lot of NY musicians to replace the missing members.

I auditioned a few very well-known musicians who, on their name alone, would have really boosted The Fuzztones fan base. But they couldn’t play our stuff! The other attribute I look for is ENTHUSIASM. Fuzztones members all LOVE Rock ’n’ Roll. For them it’s not a job, it’s more like their CALLING. Or their RELIGION. It’s certainly mine!

Rockpages.gr: Every now and then someone declares that “rock is dead.” What do you think? Can it resurface on the mainstream again like it did in the 80’s and briefly in the 90’s?

Rudi Protrudi: Rock ’n’ Roll has certainly taken a beating over the last several years. Radio and TV shy away from it, so a lot of the kids growing up today haven’t even been exposed to it! What I find is that when I get a chance to expose a kid to it, and they aren’t familiar with it, 9 out of ten times they LOVE it!

Rock ’n’ Roll is a very primal form of music in that it brings out primal instincts, primal urges… and what teenager can’t relate to THAT? But as far as whether it will ever enter the mainstream again, I highly doubt it. The music industry has made so much money from Hip Hop that they’re not about to let it die. One thing I can say, though…. As long as The Fuzztones are around, Rock ’n’ roll will not die!!!!

Rockpages.gr: After all these years, is there still something you want to do, somebody you want to work with and haven’t had the chance yet?

Rudi Protrudi: Musically? Not really – I’ve done almost everything I’ve wanted to do…. I’ve been on TV, radio, in movies, played the same stages as all my heroes, MET my heroes, PLAYED with my heroes…

I guess I could go on and on. But I DO want to keep playing out, and recording. That’S what I love, and hope to keep doing for as long as the fans want us.

Rockpages.gr: What are your fondest memories of Greece?

Rudi Protrudi: As you may already know, I’m of Greek heritage myself. My grandfather was from Athens, so I’m 1/8th Greek. Therefore I have a connection, which I’m very proud of.

Other than that, I guess my favorite memories are the usual – enjoying fantastic Greek food, meeting warm and generous fans, playing for very enthusiastic crowds and meeting beautiful girls I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know.