14th December 2004. They're back from their Japanese tour. Todd Rundgren and his band ( John Ferenzik, Jesse Gress, Kasim Sulton and Prairie Prince ) now have some time to work on their own projects until the next Rundgren experience is scheduled. Who knows we might even learn more about whether there are things to expect from Donald Fagen and Todd Rundgren working together? John Ferenzik updated his website and is always busy:
JF: I am working on new material for a pop cd, and also another instrumental cd. No release slated for either, just yet.
He doesn't only play piano and keyboards, the guitar has also always been one of his favorite instruments. He's passionate about one guitar in particular:
JF: I LOVE my Reverend guitar. It's a "rocco" model, with coil taps for the pickups so i can get either single coil snarks or humbucker moans out of the thing. It's extremely versatile. Fender guitars and Danelectro guitars are particular favorites of mine - and the Reverend incorporates the best aspects of those designs. But it's not a carbon copy. The guitar can sound twangy for country or dark for bebop, or anything in between. The workmanship is terrific.

12th August 2004: Hello all - checked back in and saw a few more questions for me, so here goes...
for angel

1) Why did you get into music and what is your best memory of your career?

When I was a kid, I just gravitated towards music. I liked cartoon music, especially Warner Brother cartoon music, and TV show music of the early 60's -- all that jazzy spy vs. spy and police thriller stuff. Music just seemed to make more sense than politics or religion, or just about anything; plus, it showed me that there were other ways to express yourself than merely talking, writing, or making diagrams on paper.

The best memory of my career? I'll just pick one: I saw The Who play a concert in 1968, and it was pretty great.

2) On the Donald/Todd possible tour, what do you see as the places where their musical vision intersects?

Well, I'd have to wait until I see them play together to figure that one out! I'm only guessing, but I think it'll be funky.

for Herman Roovers

Question for John Ferenzik: saw you playing with Todd and the other guys in Holland - Bospop - Weert and start a discussion about the Liars- outfit. Do you like your outfit or is it to pleasure Todd (and some fans)?

It was really a thrill to play Bospop. Personally, I'm not a big costume fan. But it helps in keeping with the themes of Todd's tunes for the Liars tour, and after all my griping, it is fun to dress up and pretend to be a bit of a character. Makes it more theatrical. The downside: You get to sweat a lot.

Ciao for now...

11th August 2004:

1. Do you by any chance own any Steely Dan records?

Yep - most if not all of 'em.

2. Which song would be your favorite?

Wow. Depends on what day it is. Today's favorite: "Babylon Sisters." Why? Because you've got to shake it baby.

3. Did you ever play any of their songs?

I used to play "Black Friday", "The Fez", "Peg", "Deacon Blues" and "Kid Charlemagne" in cover bands back in the 70s. I'm probably forgetting a few. Anyway, playing a Steely Dan song was a relief from playing stuff like "Car Wash" and "Disco Inferno" in clubs back then.

4. How did you get to meet Todd Rundgren?

I met Todd through Jesse Gress (a dear friend and fantastic guitarist) after Jesse had joined to play on Todd's Second Wind Tour. (I think that Jesse may have given Todd an audition tape where Jesse had played on some of my tunes, just prior to getting the gig - so that's pretty flattering.) Later down the line, when "The Individualist" tour needed a keyboard/guitarist, I was lucky enough to be hired on. But aside from all this, I was always a fan, dating back to when Todd played with The Nazz - I just always liked the tunes and that guitar playing.

5. How did you get to meet Mike Keneally?

I'd seen Mike play with Frank Zappa a number of times, but never got to really meet up with him until after the infamous "Zappa's Universe" gig in New York City. That was such a grand and ambitious event - hard to describe to anyone who wasn't there. Again, Jesse was the connection, and we were able to get backstage and chat a bit, and then we hung out afterwards. When there was a chance to have him play on my CD "House of Boris" I jumped on it to make it happen. He's just a fantastically creative and talented person. Oh yeah! Did I forget to mention, "nice?" He's nice.

6. Yet another big name, Frank Gambale on 'Wild Man of Borneo'. How come it seems these great musicians keep a low profile, or are they musicians for musicians mainly?

Well, Frank was cool. He happened to be passing through town. I asked if he could play, and he graciously agreed to do so. I was thrilled to have someone of that stature play on my stuff.

But to answer your question, I don't think any musician sets out to keep a low profile, or only play music that other musicians will like to the exclusion of everyone else. If what you do happens to catch on, you're Snoop Dogg or Yanni or Britney or Metallica, and if it doesn't you're more like, well, me.

7. From your point of view, is there any resemblance in the creative minds of Donald Fagen and Todd Rundgren?

I wouldn't be able to say, since I've never had the opportunity to spend any time with Mr. Fagen. But if I had to guess, I say they're both musical, so there's got to be common ground.

8. How did it all start for you, the music ..... how old were you when you started playing an instrument?

I was 5 years old when I started piano lessons. I was a terrible student. But I liked the sound of a piano and I'd noodle around a lot. Later on, I picked up playing guitar when I was about 13 or so, after my younger brother kind of gave up on it. I started on the guitar because The Beatles were such an influence, and probably because the guitar looked cooler. Besides, at that point, girls seems more interested in guitarists, and I was becoming more aware of get the picture.

9. Anything you'd like to share about your musical development and such is welcome!

Thanks for the invitation. I don't know what to say... I hope that doesn't mean I've finished developing musically!

some goofy ones:

10. Do you like food? Do you like to cook?

Do fish swim? Yes I like food. Probably too much. With regards to cooking: I like to burn stuff on the grill outside when weather permits.

11. How would an ideal United States of America look in your perspective?

It would be in the form of a circle, with more exits and better lighting.

12. When you're away on tour, do you get to see a lot of the countries you visit?

Not really. Sometime you get a day or two off, and you can go sightseeing and/or do your laundry. That's a luxury. Mostly you just get to experience the varying qualities of hotel services, restaurants, airports, rental cars and tours buses.

13. What's your most ideal venue? small crowd, bigger audiences ....?

I think an ideal venue is anyplace where the music sounds good, acoustically. After that, it's creature comforts. Are the dressing rooms comfortable or do they smell like sweaty feet (or worse)? It's the little things. As far as the audience goes, if they're supportive - or at least, not throwing anything - then that's good. Size doesn't matter.

14. the world of john ferenzik. you got a couple of albums and cd's out now. are there any musicians you got on your list, people you'd like to work with?

I don't have a list - that would mean planning! Seriously, I've been lucky to work with people whose company I really enjoy. I'm thankful and deeply grateful to all the musicians who have played on my stuff. And, if I can get 'em to do some more, that would be great.

...Finally, thanks for the opportunity to spout off! I'll check back later to see what's up.

[Back to Mizar5| M5 Interviews]