Sam Barker (Insanity): People call you Rhodes in real life?
RHODES: When I’m being Rhodes, yeah.
Okay, how’s that, good thing, bad thing?
It’s my surname. So people would always call me that in like school and things. My school friends are coming tonight and they’ll probably be like “Rhodesy”.
In some of the interviews that I’ve read, that you’ve done, you talked about how when you’re writing or when you’re doing music, you need to get in the headspace using the reverb and all that stuff, do you need to do that before you perform?
Not really. I like to sort of get lost in the sound-checks a bit sometimes and just sort of have a bit of time on the stage. I like to spend a little bit of time on my own on the stage, so probably actually yes you’re right, just with my amp up loud and feeling the space and trying to figure it out. That’s the beauty of doing live shows, is you can spend a bit more time getting to know the space.
In some of the interviews, you talk about crystals, apparently it comes from your mother?
My mum’s really into crystals’ healing energy and she does reflexology and she’s very spiritual. She got me into it, it’s nice, I think it’s something that’s quite… It’s one of those things where no-one’s ever really going to know but they’re nice things to have. I don’t have any in my pockets right now but I have a piece of kyanite, which is supposed to balance your throat chakra. My mum is always texting me saying I think you need to take a piece of amethyst today or something like that. I’ll just go to the shop and take a bit because she wants me to.
You’ve got an ambiguous feeling about that?
No I think there’s a lot of truth to be had in it. I haven’t done much research myself. I think because I’ve grown up with it, it’s always just been there and I’ve kind of been more interested in it. I spent a lot of time researching different stones and finding out what they do and their meanings and what kind of healing properties they might have. But I’ve never really thought too much about whether or not it’s real, I think it’s just because it’s always been there. I think it’s nice not to think about those sorts of things too much because it’s nice that they just exist.
That sounds kind of similar to what I believe your approach to be to lyrics. You don’t like to invest too much meaning in them, is that correct, or you like them [the listener] to get their own meaning from them?
I spend a lot of time writing lyrics, so it’s very personal. I spend a lot of time crafting lyrics. My approach to it is to leave it open, so there’s a subject, but there’s a sentiment. So the subject can be quite obvious, but the sentiment is the thing that people can relate to and then move their own meaning into it.
“Close Your Eyes” is about overcoming fear, so my fear is singing. But somebody else’s fear might be they’ve got some health problem or something like that. That’s where it’s left open, just that space where people can make the sentiment their own.
I think that’s really interesting, when I meet people and they tell me what the songs mean to them, it varies quite a bit. But with people who listen to my songs they probably know that I’ve found it hard, so they can probably go ‘right, I can tell you a little bit about that’, but to me it means this. I think that’s really cool that people can move their own meanings into things. I think I do that, I think everyone probably does too.
What’s your approach to music videos, is there a fear that you’ll invest too much meaning that people can’t find that open sense?
Music videos are a really hard one. When you’re sort of touring and on the road and recording an album and doing this and that and everything else it’s like ‘where am I going to find the time to do a music video?’ And then collaborate with people and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
The thing I think I’ve learnt over the last year and a half is that visual beauty is the most effective way of making a good music video. I think storylines and narratives can be cool but it can be hard for people to really relate to it, unless it’s visually stunning. I’m trying to make a music video at the moment and I’m trying to think about what the best approach is. I think a loose narrative’s quite cool. My favorite music videos are like the Coldplay one where he crashes the car and it’s all in reverse…
Yeah, the Scientist. They’re great music videos and they’re visually stunning. Yeah, music videos are a hard one. Before I was doing this, and before this album, I’d enjoyed watching them but I’d never thought about making one.
You’ve got a two part series of music videos: Run and then Raise Your Love.
Yeah, those were the first ones I ever did.
Are those linked just by video, or is there a link in the songs as well to you?
They’re both stories reflecting on my childhood so that’s the only real link. At that time I’d not done a lot, I hadn’t done any gigs and I wanted to keep it quite ambiguous. No one really knew who I was or what I looked like, or if I was a band or if I was a solo artist. So I didn’t want to be in them. Then I thought about filming and contacting directors. This one guy had some pretty cool ideas and so we hung out and spoke a lot about filming.
Run was about childhood adventure and growing older and reflecting on it. Even though we’re not old, I feel old compared to my 10-year old self who was running through a field with my mates. And then Raise Your Love is about my parents’ relationship breaking down and how vulnerable you feel when that happens and how the older people don’t really think that you know what’s happening, they don’t really think you understand so you have to try and escape somehow. As a kid you have to try and escape somehow from what’s happening. The guy I was working with made his own interpretations of it and we went and filmed it and, it turned out quite cool, it was an experiment and it was fun to do.
You talked about not wanting people to place you to the music, or people didn’t know who you were really; band? Solo artist? Is that why in the music video for Always it’s just the back of you?
Yeah, that was why. It was very loose, kind of a lot of light and just some space, some dust.
Just one last question, and this is because I’m deaf…
Wow, so can you, oh, can you hear me okay?
Yeah, I’m wearing hearing aids so it’s fine. It’s just my gimmick: That One Deaf Music Critic.
If there was one sound or noise you could eliminate from human existence, that you never have to hear again, what would it be?
One noise? Maybe white noise. Like when we’re sound checking and stuff. Because we wear, you’ve seen those in-ear monitors that we wear on stage? I’m kind of getting used to those at the moment, but then someone flips a switch and it’s like [groans]. So yeah.
Following this we chatted for another minute about hearing loss and deafness, but that will be my little secret conversation with David Rhodes.
– conducted by Sam Barker