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Technology: Todd Rundgren

You’re viewed as a man with his finger on the pulse of what’s new and cutting edge.

Music and an understanding of technology were always innate in me. I was fortunate in both regards that my father was, if not a musician, then a man of great taste. Career-wise he was an engineer. He knew all about electronics and he had a big collection of tools in the basement.

So you were a chip off the old block?

I guess so. I was a loner as a child and I took some solace and fascination with technology. I wanted to build myself a robot to pal around with me, and also to protect me from bullies. That’s what led me to understand, at a very early age, how digital devices worked. At ten, I knew all about binary codes. Leaving school, I had a choice: learn how to programme computers or get into a band.

Does any technology cause you problems?

Crappy design is crappy design. I spend a lot of time in hotels and I dread finding a cordless phone in the room. They’ve always got two lines and I can never figure out the combination of buttons to press to make a normal phone call. There are also technologies I eschew for other reasons. For instance, I’ve never owned a cellphone.

As one of the first musicians to embrace the internet, we envisaged you snapping up the latest model the second it came out.

Actually, I lied. I owned one when they first came out but I very quickly realised I wasn’t compatible with the cellphone lifestyle. And as time goes by, I’ve gauged other people’s reliance upon the device and I won’t go back. It’s like watching them become heroin addicts and it’s funny, I don’t like heroin that much.

How do people react?

Their eyes bug out. They can’t conceive of anyone not having a cellphone in this day and age, and that’s one of the reasons why I don’t. I’ve nothing that’s so important to say, I must say it right now.

What about samplers and auto-tuners that make stars of meagre talents?

Modestly talented stars are nothing new. I recall the era before The Beatles where we had essentially talentless, good-looking people like Frankie Avalon. I look at Taylor Swift today and I think, “I know where you came from.” She’s nothing but hair.

What’s really the future – artists selling their music without using the internet? Is it possible to be more direct still?

Anything’s possible. Virtual presence – projecting a facsimile of one’s image to another location – fascinates me. I’m not trying to destroy the concept of live performance, but the future is happening now in music, in personal communications and many different fields.

Dave Ling
Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.