Rodney DeCroo rocks the Green Door May 4
Acclaimed Vancouver singer-songwriter showcases exciting new album
By Ferdy Belland
“This album is not like my other records,” says Vancouver’s renowned singer-songwriter Rodney DeCroo. “It’s completely different, with a completely different sound. I told my producer that I wanted to throw caution right to the wind. It’s still my album. There’s me all over it. I didn’t compromise any songs that I believed in, and I gave honest performances while the tape was rolling, but I wanted to make an album that can reach out to people. I didn’t want to be locked into any dusty genres, like ‘alt-country,’ or ‘Americana.’ I believe people will really enjoy it.”
Old Tenement Man is Rodney DeCroo’s eighth studio album (his first since 2015’s nationally-acclaimed Campfires on the Moon), and may be the hardest-rocking record he’s ever made. A sharp compilation of songs written over the past two years (DeCroo is a prolific composer), this new album cracks across with catchy grooves that propel his already-considerable emotional wallop into full fifth gear.
Working with Calgary-based producer (and multi-instrumentalist) Lorrie Matheson at Arch Audio studios, the album features stunning guitar work and solid drum attack, kicking everything up many notches. Standout tracks include ‘I’ve Got a Mirror, I’ve Got a Gun’ and ‘The Barrel Has a Dark Eye,’ among others.
“This album took a different approach to the recording process,” says DeCroo. “My last few albums have been more acoustic-folk oriented, but for Old Tenement Man I wanted to punch things up a bit with a bigger, more roots-rock feel. Lorrie already had gathered the session musicians and laid down all the backing tracks to the songs before I even walked into his studio. All I had to do was sing the songs and lay down my acoustic guitar! The results were amazing. This is an intense record. This is a rock record.”
Born in rural Pennsylvania, DeCroo is the son of a disturbed Vietnam veteran who deserted the US Marine Corps to prevent returning to the war zone for yet another tour of duty, fleeing with his bewildered young family to the backwoods of British Columbia… according to Rodney, an extremely unpleasant experience.
DeCroo’s lingering emotional traumas from his unhappy childhood and dysfunctional adolescence play recurring themes in and around his songs (perhaps most notably captured in his anthem ‘War Torn Man,’ written for his father), but the lyrical darkness doesn’t mean a constant downer to the listener.
Since 2004 DeCroo has gathered much critical acclaim across Canada and Europe as one of our country’s finer (if criminally unsung) songwriting talents; and if the music wasn’t enough, DeCroo’s whirling muse has him deeply engaged in a parallel career as a poet (2012’s Allegheny BC collection is a must) and a playwright (his 2013 play Stupid Boy in an Ugly Town was a highly-applauded feature at the Theatre Fringe Festivals of Vancouver, Edmonton, and Winnipeg).
DeCroo often draws offhanded comparison to Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt, but his identity and persona is very much his own; intense, passionate, honest.
As a seasoned warhorse of the endless Tour-Van Express, DeCroo accepts the rigors of the road as par for the course in the colourful world of the Canadian music industry.
“My current touring experiences haven’t changed since I first started,” says DeCroo. “The lows? Hours and hours and hours on long, empty highways. Lousy food. Lack of sleep. The same old bullshit. But when you’re actually ready to go at the venue, and you’re actually playing to the people…those are the highs! Making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, meeting people who appreciate my music…those are the highs for me.”
DeCroo’s upcoming Kimberley appearance (along with drummer Ed Goodine, bassist Ken Nakamine, and guitarist Bryce Jardine) is the first out-of-town stop on his three-week tour of Western Canada (which also sees him promoting the release of his new book of poetry, Next Door to the Butcher Shop), whisking him and his merry band of sonic sidekicks out to Winnipeg and back to Vancouver.
“I enjoy playing solo, but I also enjoy playing in a band,” says DeCroo. “It depends on the venue I’m playing. The band comes in handy for those shows when you’ve performing in a place that’s not really a ‘listening room,’ per se… not just because the volume drowns out the yapping and the chatter, but everyone in the band can play for each other, if for nobody else. Even with my last album, which was a quiet record, I toured with an upright-bass player and a keyboardist and fleshed out the songs that way. It adds so much to the listening experience. There’s always something new about it, every night.”
Vancouver’s own Rodney DeCroo (with special guest Sean McPherson) performs Thursday, May 4 (showtime 8 p.m.) at the fabulous Green Door Bistro in Kimberley’s Platzl. For more information please visit www.greendoorkimberley.com .