Exclusive Interview with Rodrigo Haddad
Why country music ?
~ I love it! It’s been the soundtrack of my life since I was a kid. I remember mom and dad with those old tapes all around our house. It’s music about real life, makes you party, comfort your sorrows, great melodies, stories that all of us can relate to. And it became more special because that music genre turned me into a songwriter. I felt the need to write my own tunes. To round it up, country music is all about great songs and for me you can’t get any better than this!
If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which two people should sing the ultimate country duet?
~ It would be awesome for me if George Strait and the late Frank Sinatra could sing live their version of “Fly Me To The Moon” in some awards show. That song came out on the Strait’s collection “Strait of the Box” in 1995 and brought the house down! Both have the greatest voices in the world!
What song you ever recorded means the most to you and why?
~ Thinking about my 15-year career, so far, I will mention “From Brazil to Tennessee” from the same album’s title track released in 2008. I remember well my first trip to Music City in the summer of ’96. Years later, after thousand miles the idea came to me. It’s a personal song and it tells stories of my comings and goings between Sao Paulo and Nashville, TN. That song really opened doors for me around the world and it’s always requested at my shows. My Brazilian fans love to sing along at the very end. It became my signature song and my slogan since its success.
Who would you like to write a song for you?
~ I’m a big fan of the songs of singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale. His talent in Country Music crossed over into other genres like Bluegrass and Americana Music. Besides that he’s been writing hits for many big stars in Music Row for the last years. We became friends when I was living in Nashville in 2007 and it will be an honor for me if this happens one day.
Whisky wine beer or water?
~ Can I take them all? I’m really a beer guy when I want to go out or just chill out for a while. Red wine I like too and here in Brazil we have special deals from Argentina and Chile that I sometimes buy. For special occasions I have a shot or two of Jack. But over the years I’m hydrating more with water “hahahaah”. I just got into running and I’m having fun doing it!
What is the question interviewers never asked you while you were always hoping they would. (and give us your answer)?
~ Did you ever feel prejudiced for being a foreigner trying to break into the music business in USA?
Actually, I only have great things to say about that. Nashville has always been so welcome to my music and me. I made a lot of friends in Music City and it’s always a blessing when I have the chance to visit though if only for a few days. The community is supportive and offers opportunities to musicians and songwriters. When I play gigs there, I already have some followers at my shows. That’s awesome! I’m always thankful for being given that chance.
Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ I had an incredible experience recording my last two albums at County Q Productions in Nashville, TN. First, the studio is located in a beautiful and quite neighborhood of Berry Hill. That peaceful feeling is essential for focusing your attention on your sessions. Their main studio is big enough for tracking a seven-piece band, with a great gear list and of course Protools HD. And the most important thing of all, they have a great team headed by Paul Scholten that will never let you down!
Johnny or June ?
~ Johnny Cash is one of my musical heroes! He is an icon for a lot of generations. His unique style of making music, with stories about the common man made his songs timeless. Once in awhile I do a Tribute to Johnny Cash with my band. We play a lot of his greatest hits from different decades. One of the things that I most regret in this life is that I never had the chance to see the Man in Black on the stage.
Give us your top 3 country songs ever.
~ It’s a tough question. It would be easier if you asked me for a Top 100. But I will think about songs that really worked for me as a milestone in my music career. These songs sparked a flame when I was a kid. For sure that flame burned and I can say that it was a turning point in my life. About that time I used to listen to a lot of rock and roll like The Beatles and Elvis Presley when these songs came to me. After that, my attention turned a lot to fiddles and steel guitars and I started to look more into Country Music. These songs that I’m talking about are not in any specific order and even after all these years I still get emotional when I listen to them:
“Forever and Ever” by Randy Travis released in 1986, “The Weekend” by Steve Wariner released in 1987 and “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” by George Strait released in 1984.
We love to bring our readers exclusive scoops, so what would you like to
share with us ?
~ Like any Brazilian kid I had a dream to be a soccer player. Everybody knows that we are the country of soccer. I could have tried cause I was quite good… but my studies and my music were always a priority. I went to college in 1994 and a year later I formed my first country band, the Pure Country Band. I can tell you that I had a ball with so many new things in my life. Finally I got my degree in Economics and at the same time my music career took off, more shows and more recognition. After fifteen years, I still pick up my guitar seeking more!
I also can tell you something about the place where I was born and raised, one of the biggest and toughest cities in world Sao Paulo, Brazil. Growing up in that scenario inspired me to write the title track of my next album “What I Know Now” due out in the second semester of 2011. Don’t think it was easy to break away from our way of life to pursue a career in American Country Music. This city is a mix of so many cultures and I have never let these circumstances change my mind. It may sound funny, although I am Brazilian living in this 10 million people metropolis, I sometimes feel alone working in this kind of business. Unfortunately Country Music is not part of our mainstream radio, but luckily I’m in an era in which the Internet makes this world a smaller place. I always knew that I really chose the hard way but as I keep that dream alive I’ll continue to live this beautiful musical journey. There's a lot of my intuition on that! By the way, anyone ready for some soccer?
For updates on WHAT I KNOW NOW, audio clips and for a full list of upcoming tour dates, please visit:
Answers given on August 22, 2011
Photos: Pedro Ribeiro