The Rods

Interview: The Rods – David “Rock” Feinstein

The Rods are an American heavy metal band formed by David “Rock” Feinstein (guitar and vocals), Garry Bordonaro (bass and vocals) and Carl Canedy (drums and vocals).

Feinstein had first come to mainstream attention after playing in Ronnie Dio And The Prophets, The Electric Elves, Elves and Elf, with his cousin Ronnie James Dio. The Rods sound differed considerably from Elf, adopting a more traditional heavy metal sound compared with the blues-rock sound that Elf preferred.

Their first album was originally released independently as Rock Hard in 1980 and the following year the band was signed by Arista Records, who rerecorded the album tracks and released it simply titled The Rods. Their second album Wild Dogs followed in 1982 and was re-released in 2004.

The Rods’ third album, released 1983, was entitled In the Raw In 1984 Canedy and Bordonaro played on Jack Starr’s album Out of the Darkness with Rhett Forrester of Riot and Gary Driscoll of Rainbow. Then in 1984 The Rods made their fourth studio album Let Them Eat Metal and recorded the album The Rods Live. Their album Heavier Than Thou was originally released in 1986. An album was also released that features all of the band’s members, entitled Hollywood – Canedy, Feinstein, Bordonaro, & Caudle.

Canedy is also a producer of heavy metal bands, and his credits include Anthrax’s ‘Armed and Dangerous’ and ‘Spreading the Disease’, Exciter’s ‘Violence & Force’, Overkill’s ‘Feel the Fire’, and Possessed’s ‘Beyond the Gates’.

Now twenty five years on from the release of ‘Hollywood – Canedy, Feinstein, Bordonaro, & Caudle’, the three piece are back with their brand new album ‘Vengeance’ and touring in support of the album with Dio Disciples, I had the opportunity to sit down with David “Rock” Feinstein to talk about the bands split, his career outside of music, the return of The Rods, Ronnie James Dio and more.

Be sure to check out the band at their official websites:
Official Website | Facebook | MySpace | YouTube

How are you doing?

David “Rock” Feinstein: Good, you?

I’m great thanks. I guess I should start by welcoming you back to Glasgow as it has been a while since you have been here. Am I right in saying the last time you performed here was with Iron Maiden on their tour in 1982?

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah we played the Apollo but it’s been torn down now I heard.

Yeah it was though they opened a new Apollo last year somewhere nearby to the old one but I have yet to find where and to actually go there but I don’t think it will ever hold up to the history of the old Apollo.

David “Rock” Feinstein: I remember that place because the stage was very high and we actually wanted to go look at it and check it out but then we found out it was torn down.

Yeah and it was replaced by a cinema and nightclub so it kind of ruins the history of the venue. So you just performed at Download, how was that?

David “Rock” Feinstein: That was great. We played early in the day at 11am which we thought no-one would be there to see us but the whole area we played to was full so it was really nice and I really enjoyed it. I mean it has gotten so big, there are four to five stages with everything all spread out and bands playing every stage, all day and night so I was really shocked to see how big it was.

It’s good to know that even with everything going on you still had a full audience to perform to.

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah it was nice. I remember festivals used to be one stage where bands play over one or two days on the same stage to the same big crowd but now they are much much bigger.

The Rods David Rock FeinsteinThe official European tour with Dio Disciples kicked off just after Download in Newcastle, how has that started?

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah then we played Newcastle and that was good too. It was a place similar to this [Garage, Glasgow] but maybe a little bit smaller but the crowd was good.

What sort of turn out did you get?

David “Rock” Feinstein: It wasn’t a big crowd but the people who were there were a lot of good fans.

I think having a gig leading up to or after a festival is always going to be tough to get numbers to show up as most people are likely going to the festival.

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah exactly, just have to take what you get.

Turn our attention to a bit of the bands history and I suppose we start back in the 80s. The band never officially split or broke up, it seemed more like a short break which just carried on forever so what happened back then that made you take that initial break?

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah you know how a lot of bands have bad vibes and nasty situations, it wasn’t like that at all for us, we just needed to get away for a little bit, away from the music business for a while period. We had a lot of tough breaks with the business part of the music business with management, record labels and the whole thing and we just got soured on the whole thing so we just figured we need to get away from it and do some different things and that’s basically what we did.

We got into some different things and we never really talked about getting back together until about, well in 2003 I started doing a couple of solo albums but after the one I released in 2004 I got a phone call from Carl [Canedy] and he said “I just heard your new album and I think it’s really great and it makes me want to play” and I said well maybe we could get together and ask Garry [Bordonaro] if we could do a couple of local reunion shows. It wasn’t like we wanted to get back together, get on the road and make records or anything, we just wanted to have some fun after all the years. So we called Garry, the three of us didn’t live in the same town you know, and he said yeah so we booked two shows, one in my home town and one in Garry’s which is only a half hour from where I live, in small clubs which hold about 200 people and because of the internet we got such a huge response you know like “oh The Rods are back together” and blah blah blah and we’re getting all these emails from everywhere! People were coming to the shows from out of state and stuff like that and because we had such a great response we realised that there is still a big fan base out there after all of these years which we really never realised. We played the UK but we never played Europe at all back in the day and of course back in the eighties you didn’t know what your fan base was because you didn’t have the internet. It was just whatever someone told you so we realised that there is still a huge fan base out there after all these years and when we played together it was just like when we played together in the eighties. We play very well together the three of us so after those two shows we decided to book a few jobs, kind of continue on and over a period of time we would maybe write enough material to do a new album. But you know we didn’t really take it that serious, it was a fun thing to do again and that’s basically how we started back together.

You talked about wanting to get out of the business and do different things so what did you do when you took that break before you decided to get back into making albums with your solo work?

David “Rock” Feinstein: Well you know I wanted to, myself, experience some different types of jobs because I had only been a musician as I grew up, throughout school and then I was in Ronnie’s [James Dio] band and it became my profession; I never really did anything else, I never had a regular eight hour a day job. I wanted to learn some different things so I learned carpentry, I learned masonry, and I worked for the Environmental Conservation Department as I’m interested in the outdoors. I did a number of different jobs and then I had the opportunity to get into the restaurant business so I got into that, which I still have and I’ve been doing that.

I know Garry has a very hi-tech job; he’s an engineer working in the nanotechnology department of a very high end university, Cornell University, and really he’s a brilliant person and that’s what he has been doing.

Carl is into the real estate business and also produces other bands and dabbled in the music business during that time off.

We still do those things but now we’re back!

It is always beneficial, especially in this business to have a career to fall back onto or to at least fund and help contribute to living.

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah exactly and as the last few years have developed we’re right back into it you know. We have a new album [Vengeance] out and I had a new solo album [Bitten By The Beast] come out last fall so we’re right back into everything.

What made you want to come back into music with solo albums then after that period, was it more so just missing creating music?

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah I think being a musician, being involved in music, is something that’s inside you. You can get away from it for a while but sooner or later it’s going to come back and it may not come back in the form of being a musician or playing, it may come back that you’re involved in the music industry whether you’re a producer or a manager or you might work for a record label or management firm, some music related thing, it’s not always musician. For me I had done all these jobs and learned all these things you know and I had my own business which was paying my bills but I just had this urge to write songs and this urge to play my guitar and that’s how it came about. I thought well I’m going to start a band just to make some money and that was also basically how The Rods were formed. I wanted to start a band to play a few bars to make some bucks to pay the bills and that’s when I looked around for drummers and I found Carl who I thought was a fantastic little drummer and we went through a couple of bass players before we found the right player which was Garry. From there we basically started out as a band who just wanted to go out, play bars and make some money and one thing led to another with our writing and all of a sudden we have a record deal and we’re on tour and we have all these albums out (laughs). It just almost happened naturally; it wasn’t like we wanted to form a band to be rock stars, we just wanted to form a band, play music and make a few bucks.

The Rods David Rock FeinsteinJumping back to an earlier thought before I forget it relating to your fan base. When you did those reunion shows after you did the solo work, you naturally would have had the fans from when you were performing in the eighties who remember you well but was there a whole new generation of fans there?

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah most of the shows we’ve played there’s fans from the eighties . The last couple of nights we’ve met up with people who were there in the eighties and went to dinner with them and stuff like that and a lot of the times they bring their kids or younger people who they have turned onto our music so there is like two or three generations of fans there with the people who are new to the music and the those who were there in the eighties. It’s pretty neat to think that the music can carry on through to other generations.

Yeah for me I was born in 1987, the year after the band went on the break so for me it was all about being introduced to the band from someone who had been there or heard about the band and I had to rely on the internet to learn and hear about the band.

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah me and Garry were actually talking about it today about the gap and how we’re classified and we think we should be more classified as Classic Rock because you know back in the eighties, well the heavy metal of today, there are so many types you know with black metal, death metal, this metal and that metal, but back in the eighties it was basic hard rock. I mean it was Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, that type of rock, you know AC/DC, that type of rock and that is the kind of thing we were involved with and basically, to me, that is all classic rock. You can call it heavy metal, it’s a type of heavy metal but it’s basically classic rock because it’s not anything like what some of the types of heavy metal are today. But anyways it’s great to be back playing and especially to see so band who remember the band over the years.

As you said you didn’t play Europe and the UK only that once so did you think you would be back here ever again and to also see that response from people who remember you when you didn’t perform for them?

David “Rock” Feinstein: No I never thought that but I had always hoped we would have the opportunity to do a new album. When we reformed the band, we didn’t have a record label, we didn’t a manager, we didn’t have an agent or anything and people would just call and say “you want to come to Germany and play the Rocktower Festival?” and we were like yeah but let’s see, give us our plane tickets, hotel rooms and pay for our food then we’re there, just basically playing for expenses and that’s what we’ve been doing the past couple of years. I never really thought we would be playing for some of the crowds that we have played for before, even though it is much smaller venues the fans are still there. It has worked out really well for us.

Although the chemistry between the three of you would have still been there, did it take time to gel again just getting into rhythm or was it just nice and easy, in a room and it was like you never stopped, especially when some of your bigger shows were in Europe when you first got back together.

David “Rock” Feinstein: It gelled instantly yeah. The first couple of jobs we did together it was just like we never quit playing together, it is one thing the three of us have that is that kind of magnetism, we play really well together.

So when you started to write for what became ‘Vengeance’, did you have any goals that you wanted to achieve as a band with this release?

David “Rock” Feinstein: No not really as Carl is an avid writer and I’m an avid writer so we just all bring it together and Carl might say that he has wrote a new song and I’ll say I’ve wrote one, then we will try them out and see what might be a Rods style song and that’s basically how we do it. We will also collaborate on songs, on the new album we collaborated on the song ‘Vengeance’ but it’s never really a planned thing, it just happens.

When you had both worked on the songs to take into the studio was the process a lot different for you, as a band, as recording has changed so much since the eighties with the general process and now technology taking a stronghold on the process? Of course you have recorded solo albums and Carl has produced but to get into that band environment again, it is now much different.

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah it is a lot different because in the eighties we were out playing a lot and we could take a song and work on it, rehearse it, play it live and then have to book time in a studio to go record it were you had a limited amount of time, you might have two weeks or a month or whatever you had. Nowadays you can be in different parts of the country to do your drum tracks in one place and your guitar tracks in another place and in some ways it’s really good and in other ways, back in the eighties, it lacks that part of the all the guys playing together and recording it together but that’s just the way the recording process is these days.

I want to touch on the songs a little from ‘Vengeance’ going off what you said that you and Carl are avid writers; we’re these all new songs or did they happen to be some old songs kicking around that you revived? You so have the big anthem hit with ‘I Just Wanna Rock’ but I think most people are really interested in ‘The Code’ which of course features Ronnie [James Dio] on vocals.

David “Rock” Feinstein: All these songs are new songs; they are not old songs from the past that we have resurrected. There two songs on the album, in fact the album was done and there were two songs, Carl brought one in called ‘Ride Free Or Die’ and I brought in a song called ‘I Just Wanna Rock’ and we had just written these songs and we were thinking these are great songs and we wanted them on the album so we pulled two songs off, recorded them at the last minute and put these two on the album. I’ve been asked a few times about that but they are all brand new songs.

Track: The Code

Artist: The Rods featuring Ronnie James Dio
Album: Vengeance

Track: Metal Will Never Die

Artist: David “Rock” Feinstein featuring Ronnie James Dio
Album: Bitten By The Beast

I just want to touch on ‘The Code’ slightly. How much does it mean to you, as Ronnie’s cousin, to have one of his last ever recordings featured on your album?

David “Rock” Feinstein: It means everything because it is a tribute to him, its part of his legacy. Just the way it worked out, it was never intended to be that in the beginning because Ronnie and I had spoken for years about doing something together again and we didn’t know if it would a Dio related thing or an Elf related thing or him singing a song on a Rods album or on my solo album that I did but we wanted to do something. He ended up coming in and recording those two songs [‘The Code’ on The Rods album and ‘Metal Will Never Die’ on David’s solo album ‘Bitten By The Beast’] three years before he passed away and when we actually had these songs recorded we put them on a shelf. We didn’t know where they were going to go if it was a Rods album, a solo album, a Dio album, Elf album or whatever but he had came in and sung the songs and we really feel fortunate and blessed to have this song as he really has taken those two songs he sung on and made them into everything they could possibly be. We really do feel fortunate to be part of that.

So when you say Ronnie came in to record those songs three years before his passing, in terms of the Rods album, how long had you been sitting on other songs if ‘The Code’ was recorded so many years ago?

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah the songs were all recorded about three/four years ago and as I said put on the shelf. Carl brought the song ‘The Code’, which Ronnie performed on for the Rods new record, as a song for us to consider and I had written ‘Metal Will Never Die’ just days prior to Ronnie coming in to sing the new songs. Then we continued just to keep working on more material whether it is for a Rods record or a solo record.

Just one little last not on Ronnie before we move on and it relates to the Dio Disciples. Does it mean a lot to you that they are performing these live shows and continuing on his legacy?

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah I think it’s a great thing for them to be doing and the three of us in the band are really happy and proud to be a part of it with it being a tribute to him and to carry on his music. It’s very difficult at times to listen to the songs because you want to hear Ronnie singing them. The singers [Tim “Ripper” Owens and Toby Jepson] that are in Dio Disciples are great singers but it’s not Ronnie singing so sometimes it’s very difficult to listen and it’s very emotional to hear the songs without Ronnie there but I think it’s a great thing that they’re doing and a great tribute that they want to keep his music alive and we’re just happy to be a part of it.

Does it make it easier for when the Rods came back that you signed to his and his wives [Wendy Dio] record label as it was something that was in the family?

David “Rock” Feinstein: It is because like you say it is part of the family, its people that we can trust and people that we want to work with. You know Ronnie and Wendy were working with this label before Ronnie got sick so even if Ronnie hadn’t became ill and passed away we would probably still be on the label and it would be all part of the family type of thing and maybe there might have been an Elf reunion or other projects that would have gone on with us being part of the family and Niji Entertainment Group as part of the full thing.

The Rods Vengeance ArtworkGetting back to the album the title being ‘Vengeance’ and the artwork being the guitar with the gun built into it. Does the name have any real meaning or was it simply taken from the track on the album as something that you liked?

David “Rock” Feinstein: We just thought it was a cool name you know and it turned out that we ended up having the song on the album. The artist was Eric Philip from Belgium who has done work with us before and he kind of developed that design for us and we thought it was a really cool type of design.

Yeah so he did in general just go with the flow with the music and the name quite well.

David “Rock” Feinstein: Yeah, you know ‘Vengeance’, we’re back to reclaim the territory sort of thing (laughs).

Just to wrap up a lot of people are interested in what ‘Vengeance’ means for the band for whether it will lead to new albums or do you think as the old material is sort of long gone now that you might reissue or rerecord albums so those who didn’t know or hear The Rods in the eighties will now?

David “Rock” Feinstein: Well our plans are to keep recording and keep doing more albums and keep playing when we can, really just picking up where we left off back in the eighties. We had a lot of momentum in the eighties doing the Iron Maiden tour so we’re hoping that we can get to that level and start playing bigger venues and more high profile tours, some of the bigger festivals and really just make more records.

Not just for when The Rods got back together but did you ever see yourself in this position again with all that to aim for and possibly achieve?

David “Rock” Feinstein: My attitude is that I take one day at a time and we just work and do we what we do so hopefully it will develop into something regular and what we’re looking for. I’m very optimistic about what we’re doing as a band and a recording band and as a live band. We’ve always been successful in live performances and the response we’ve been getting from this new album is phenomenal too because you know it was hard for us to judge what it was going to be like after all these years. We wrote the music and we lived with it for a few years but there was that worry as to how were fans going to interpret it and take it but so far it has been received like 100%, very well, as they are listening to it knowing it is The Rods. We didn’t lost anything; a lot of times when bands come back after twenty/twenty five years and it’s a whole different ball game as they’ve gotten older, their tastes change and they want to try something a little different. We basically have the same tastes and styles and they carry on into the music so I think that’s what gives us the identity that we have and that is an important part of our band as well as other bands who have made it big that they have an identity.

I think that is us, you can rest easy now before tonight.

David “Rock” Feinstein: Thank you very much for coming down to talk with me. Will you be at the show tonight?

Yes I will. Suppose that actually leads me to another question, how are you putting together a set? Are you focussing mainly on the old classics or you performing a lot of the newer material to promote the new album and catch that new crowd who may have heard it?

David “Rock” Feinstein: We’re very limited in time on the set so we’re trying to do a lot more of the older songs that people will recognise and also throw in some new songs to introduce people to them but it’s breaking it up pretty good in the set.

This is Carl.

Carl Canedy: Hey how you doing Michael?

Good, yourself?

Carl Canedy: Yeah good. Let me ask you, have you heard the new CD?

Yes I have.

Carl Canedy: What did you think of it?

I liked it, solid classic hard rock album. To judge it against the older material is hard for me as I was born the year after you split so I’m not familiar with the older material.

Carl Canedy: What are you trying to say Michael? (laughs)

I think most of the statements about the album are about it being a heavy metal album but it’s definitely more so a hard rock album.

Carl Canedy: Yeah, I think you nailed it with that. Glad you liked it because it’s hard with younger audiences but so far so good as I think a lot more people are getting into their classic rock these days.

The Rods David Rock FeinsteinI was asking David about, mainly related to your shows, the generation gap between fans if it was still people who knew of you in the eighties or if there are a lot of younger people there. It is sort of difficult to get an idea of who The Rods are because it was all vinyl back in those days. Have you worked on getting CDs reproduced or possible taking the vinyl and creating digital copies from it?

Carl Canedy: The first four albums came out on CD but they are well out of print now but yeah you do see a lot of younger people coming out to the shows on their own as it used to be their dad or uncle would bring them but now they have discovered the band on their own so it’s cool.

Thank you both for your time, I know you have a bit of work to get done before you hit the stage tonight so thank you once again.

Carl Canedy: Your very welcome and yeah, some chicken tikka and then get ready for the show.

David “Rock” Feinstein: Thank you too Michael, glad you came down to talk with us.


About ??

Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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