Armed with loads of fresh tunes on his newly released double CD Queen Mary Trash, Vancouver’s Rodney DeCroo plays The Vat Sept. 20-21.
The great thing about DeCroo is that in spite of his prolific musical output and remarkable talent, he’s a funny, good-natured and down-to-earth guy. And as to the abundance of tunes on his latest CD, he credits, in part, a bent towards being rather obsessive compulsive when it comes to music.
“I also have enough chaos in my life that I have enough to write about,” he says with a laugh during a recent interview.
Interestingly, he didn’t even pick up a guitar until he was 33, shortly after his marriage ended. Staying at a friend’s place, he noticed a guitar sitting there. Songs flowed naturally and as did an ability to connect with audiences.
His breakthrough disc, War Torn Man, was released in 2006.
Meanwhile, there is plenty of superb material for DeCroo fans to mull over on Queen Mary Trash which is noticeably different from his most recent project, 2008’s Mockingbird Bible — not exactly cheery and bubbly in its overall outlook but exquisitely thoughtful and wonderfully crafted just the same.
Indeed — the bio accompanying Mockingbird Bible described it as a “straight ahead depression session.”
Well, things have brightened a bit in the songwriting sentiments of Mr. DeCroo. Queen Mary Trash nicely juggles a number of moods and sentiments, but seems overall a more upbeat project. DeCroo and his band recorded a whopping 32 cuts in just five days.
Despite the speed, the discs reverberate with a warm, natural and authentic feel. DeCroo isn’t a big fan of things sounding overly perfect.
But he knew he could count on his band to pull it all together into one seamless flow of material. “It’s basically a ‘live’ studio record,” he explains. “Any my guys are quick studies. A lot of these songs they hadn’t played before. But usually in about 20 minutes, we’ll have a working song ready to go.”
Again, it’s that refreshing sense of honesty that also makes DeCroo such an engaging artist and person. “I have a lot of flaws, but one thing I’m not good at is faking things.”
That bent for telling it straight has pretty much always been there. Once he had embarked on a singer/songwriter career, he didn’t have to agonize over which genre suited him best.
“I just had to play the music that came out.”
DeCroo hails from working man’s country – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Born into a devout, hard-working family, the DeCroos came to Canada when Rodney’s father opted not to re-up for a second tour of Vietnam. Dylan was certainly an early influence – his record Saved was the only album DeCroo’s mother bought him as a teen. Being a strict southern Baptist, secular music wasn’t permitted.
But DeCroo was struck by what he heard, and somehow knew music would be his destiny.
Meanwhile, he’s pumped about hitting the road in support of Queen Mary Trash. Not that touring entirely suits his constitution. DeCroo says he finds it tough to sleep while on the road, maybe catching two to three hours a night.
“But once I’m onstage, it takes over – there’s an energy to being onstage,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be there.”