Rick Springfield has written a New York Times
bestseller. He's on a co-headlining tour with Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Additionally, Springfield's getting ready to star work on a new album. So, those of you who refer to him as “teen actor turned musician” for his work on General Hospital
in the 1970s or make “one hit wonder” comments regarding “Jessie's Girl” can kindly shut up. The man's career is healthy and robust.
We spoke with Springfield by phone about his new book, entitled Magnificent Vibration
, as well as the tour with Benatar and Giraldo, which stops at Starlight Theatre on Wednesday, July 16.
The Pitch: You've written a book, and it's doing really well. I wasn't able to get my hands on a copy, but it seems that everyone's mentioning how absurdist it is and referencing Douglas Adams a lot.
Yeah, I've heard that. I've heard a couple of different things that people liken it to. But so far, it's all been really positive and I'm really encouraged by it.
Now, what would you compare it to?
It's really hard – the artists can't really compare that stuff. Everybody steals or gets influenced by different things. I can't really compare songs to other songs that I've written, because I think that you take it in a certain direction that feels like it's all you, but I know we all stand on the shoulders of giants. I probably think it's as much of Monty Python in there as anything.
Monty Python seems to have been a major influence on so many musicians. I'm always surprised when that comes up.
They're very literate guys who are incredibly funny. I think, for my writing style, some of the scenes from the book could have come from the more risque Monty Python episodes.
What was the impetus for
Magnificent Vibration – either the writing of fiction, or just the genesis of the idea that somebody has God's cellphone number?
I wrote my own autobiography, without a ghostwriter, and my publisher really liked my writing style and my voice, and suggested I write fiction. This just came out of my wanting to have a conversation with God, one-on-one, and what would that be like, and I just started writing that conversation. I found out that God has an attitude and is pretty upset with the way we've been handling his very beautiful planet.
Given that the book is doing so well, is there a push for a sequel or follow-up?
I'm working on that right now. It's a follow-up – the story ends on sort of a cliffhanger, so it kind of begs to find out what's going to happen.
Now, the idea behind it – are you a spiritual person?
I would say I'm a spiritual seeker, definitely. I was raised pretty heavy religious, and there's a few shots at different religious dogmas in the book that have upset a few people, but that's my view, and I'll put it in a comedic form. God has a sense of humor too, I figure.
It reminds me a lot of
Lamb, by Christopher Moore.
Wow. Someone read it, and said it reminded them – to a degree – of the tone of God Knows
, the Joseph Keller one. I just got into that, and have been reading that, but yeah, it's [Lamb
] kind of irreverent like mine is.
Are you doing a book tour for
Magnificent Vibration, or is the concert tour more your focus these days?
The concert is. We're on a tour now, doing a summer tour with Pat Benatar, and also doing a few dates with Cheap Trick, so the focus is on the touring right now. But after I finish the second book, and then start making the new record – because I've got to keep making new music, otherwise there's no reason for me to go out and play.
That's what's been interesting about your music – you're not a nostalgia act, playing a greatest hits package. That seems to make sense, especially given you're playing shows with Pat Benatar and Cheap Trick, because they're both similar, in that regard.
I agree. I've got to keep looking forward, 'cause it keeps the show fresh, it keeps it exciting, it keeps it kind of young feeling to me. I've a great band, and they're a very powerful band. The new songs fit fairly well with the old stuff, because we play the old stuff quite a bit heavier than it was originally recorded. It's a real loud rock 'n' roll show, and the new songs fit right in.
I find it kind of surprising that you seem to get excluded from discussions of bands like Cheap Trick, or Dwight Twilley and the like. Does that bother you at all?
No, no, no. It used to, but I think it's kind of a General Hospital
thing and repercussions from that. Obviously, those bands don't feel like that. They feel like we all play the same kind of music, and the Dave Grohl thing kind of proved that, too – the Sound City documentary proved that we all play the same kind of music.
There's no way around that for me – when people have made up their mind that I'm some “soap guy” who got lucky with a couple of hits, I can tell 'em I've been playing guitar since I was 13 until i'm blue in the face, but you can't change some people's minds. All you can do is keep doing the work that you do and enjoy it. I don't feel like I have anything to prove. I have confidence in my ability and what I can do, and what I can write, and how we play, so I'm not torn up about some people thinking that I'm some soap geek.
Well, it all seems to have borne itself out. It's interesting, in that your career sort of mirrors that of another Rick – Rick Nelson – who started out as a TV actor, and then found great success as a musician.
Yeah. I've actually thought of that a couple of times: that it is similar. It's quite a burden to have that teen thing, and it's a tough one to get out from under – although he certainly did it – and all you can do is keep doing the best work you can do. All the articles in the world won't change anyone's mind. You've got to get out there, put music out, and hope it resonates.
Rick Springfield performs at Starlight Theatre on Wednesday, July 16, with Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Details here.