If the video for “Chance For Us” from Todd Rundgren‘s new album White Knight looks a bit like an outtake from Live at Daryl’s House, it’s not by accident.
Rundgren co-wrote and recorded the soulful track with Daryl Hall, rekindling a relationship that goes back to Hall & Oates 1974 album War Babies. “Daryl was always on the list (of collaborators) and early he said, ‘Sure, if you’ve got something…'” Rundgren tells Billboard. “I had a track that sounded kind of old school and I sent it to him and he wrote a song over it. I rewrote the B sections on it so that I would have something to sing because that particular song I wanted to be like a lost episode of ‘Daryl’s House.’ And when we did the video we tried to reproduce that at his club in New York. The stage kind of looks like the old Daryl’s House, so we set it up just like that; We’re singing to each other, and it turned out pretty cool, actually.”
White Knight is, in fact, filled with cool collaborations, including Robyn, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Joe Walsh, Bettye Lavette, Joe Satriani, Dam Funk and others. “I wasn’t interested in doing a duets album,” Rundgren notes. “I wasn’t interested in singing over the top of somebody else, or vice versa. I wanted to highlight all of the collaborators and create a space for them to do their thing without me kind of undercutting it.”
One collaboration in particular is generating considerable excitement, however — the politically charged “Tin Foil Hat” with Steely Dan‘s Donald Fagen, which the two artists worked on while Fagen was on holiday in Kaua’i, Hawaii, where Rundgren resides. “It was cathartic for us,” Rundgren recalls. “We were still pretty angry and confused about what had gone on in the election and what was about to happen, and so it was just an opportunity for us to get it off our chest in some small way. Since then the song has taken on a life of its own.”
That’s because of a Trump-slamming video for “Tin Foil Hat” that Rundgren uses in his shows while making a costume change. It’s resulted in “shouting matches” between audience members at the show as well as fears of violence that have led Rundgren and his team to increase security in certain venues. He’s suggested that Trump supporters may wish to avoid his shows, or at least that section of it, and Rundgren says he’s also received death threats since then.
“I’ve made the assumption that anybody who is on television or in the media who is making fun of Trump is getting the same death threats,” Rundgren says. “I was on Jimmy Fallon the other night and we talked a bit and I said, ‘You make fun of Trump a lot. Are you getting death threats?’ He said, ‘Yes, I did,’ and so you can imagine what Stephen Colbert is putting up with or Alec Baldwin, what he’s putting up with. I bet everybody’s getting death threats at this point.”
Rundgren wraps up his latest tour on June 10 in Syracuse. He’ll be on the road with Ringo Starr‘s All-Starr Band again this fall, but before that he’s taking part in Yes’ Yestifal tour, along with Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy. “I haven’t been full-on prog for awhile,” Rundgren says. “We’re not currently set up to go full prog, but we’ll probably keep all the guitar songs and maybe lose some of the R&B songs, I guess, to make it a little more proggy. Right now we’re still trying to figure out how to shoehorn our production into their production. I would much rather be doing my whole show, but I’d be doing it for my size audience and going out with Yes will bring the show to a much larger audience.”
Watch Todd Rundgren’s “Chance For Us” video below.