Roger Hodgson, the voice of Supertramp, reflects on his life in music
By: Andrew Snook
Hodgson was the songwriter and, more recognizably, the lead singer of those huge hits for Supertramp, a band that sold more than 60 million records in nine years from 1974 to 1983.
As the London Times has said, "there are few vocalists instantly recognizable from the first few bars of a song but Roger Hodgson is certainly one of that unique group...his voice is as unmistakable as the distinct keyboard sound of his early hits.”
Roger Hodgson is coming to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens on August 18, 2013 and he will be performing all of those songs which are instantly recognizable as well some of his more recent music. In advance of his show I was able to chat with Roger about his life in music.
Hodgson's passion for his art was readily apparent in the short time I had with him and based upon fan reviews of his concerts that is also abundant in his live performances. With a hundred shows in 2012 in 14 different countries and more than 50 already in 2013 he obviously enjoys the opportunity to perform live. He loves the idea of "...bringing an audience together in celebration and in a spirit of joy and love, giving them two hours away from the problems they may or may not be facing in their life."
He genuinely seems to enjoy "...making a difference in people's lives, if only for a short time."
Hodgson adds, "I'm a performer that wants to give the audience the best experience they can have, I play all the songs that people have grown up with, and yet there's a freshness to them because I still love singing them."
Not only do they sound fresh because he still enjoys singing them but their timelessness is a function of their treatment of the human condition and human emotion.
"These songs are very personal, music was where I went to express my deepest questions, longing, pain, joy, and in expressing myself I expressed a lot of the feelings and emotions and experiences of so many other people around the world. That's a very strong connection I have with so many people. When I sing about "The Logical Song" or hiding in your shell, all these songs have a very profound vulnerability. The songs express a search for meaning, a search for peace. My expression of these sentiments has comforted a lot of people who felt the same way but who maybe didn't have a way to express it themselves."
Hodgson wrote those songs at a time when he personally was insecure and vulnerable and that emotion pours out of songs like "Dreamer" and The Two of Us". While he is now more at peace with himself that doesn't make the songs any less relevant to him or to his audiences, the human condition being what it is; fraught with insecurities and itself timeless.
Hodgson believes that, despite the legacy his music provides, he still has trouble breaking into the U.S. market a fact he hopes to rectify by releasing a new album. Bridging the gap between his past and his present the album will be "Classics Live II", live recordings of some of his classic songs.
Hodgson doesn't see these songs as repackaged. He sees them as "fresh, newer versions with fresh vocals. When asked to explain what he means, he laughs and adds, "I cringe, especially with the way I was singing with Supertramp, I can hear myself trying too hard, I can hear the nervousness in my voice."
Hodgson has no regret of leaving Supertramp at the peak of their fame. "At the time it was very hard, my heart was telling me I had to do it but it was hard to walk away from something that has been your baby for 14 years. I related to Supertramp more than I related to Roger Hodgson. Every sign I was getting, both on the inside and on the outside was telling me the time was right. Supertramp had run its course, the band was fragmented and I had to go my own way."
Rick Davies was his creative counterpart at Supertramp and much has been made in the media about the acrimony between the two. Hodgson believes the media has amplified the fractious nature of the band's breakup claiming that "I don't think he or I spend any time dwelling on the issue, we're just two different people who have gone our separate ways.'
Hodgson added, 'I don't bear any animosity towards him and I think the same is true the other way. Now we're thirty years on and if anything, we're further apart than we were then." So a reunion tour is not likely to happen!
As for the evening itself on August 18 at Atlanta Botanical Gardens, an evening with Roger Hodgson will be an intimate event with Hodgson not only playing all the music that people love but also relaying stories about the music's origin which "...provides a richer experience about the songs, where they came from". People should expect then, to taken along on a very personal journey with Hodgson leading the way.
Not that it's all serious and reflective, Hodgson looks forward to having fun with the audience, "...there's a lot of humor with the show", a further indication of his personal ease and comfort.
With such a personal journey it's understandable that Hodgson rarely covers other artists' music. There are two reasons for that; his incredibly deep catalog of music provides ample material for several shows and other music is not necessarily suited to his voice. He rarely makes exceptions but one song he has occasionally performed live that he cherishes pays homage to one of the bands that influenced him. The Atlanta audience should hope that he performs his version of "Across the Universe" by The Beatles. That song, with his voice would provide an incredible complementary addition to any setlist that Hodgson might perform.
Roger Hodgson is one of the most
creative songwriters with one of the most distinctive voices of
the modern rock era and yet, few people recognize the name when
they hear it. Just as Hodgson did himself, at one time, most
people relate his voice and his songwriting to Supertramp more
than they relate it to Roger Hodgson. Hopefully the concert at
Atlanta's Botanical Gardens will be one more step in the
direction of putting that to rights.